In 2019 Rev. Kelly was the Assistant Minister of Community Miracles Center. She wrote the following article directly for publication in this magazine.
Happy May for all who are reading this! We are just a couple weeks (if even that!) from the 2019 Boston A Course In Miracles Conference. Rev. Tony and I are quite busy preparing to fly to Boston and join with 420 other students of A Course in Miracles. It's exciting. It's exhausting. It is what we both feel called to do. We also have started planning the 2020 Conference "20/20 Vision for the Real World" to be held in Los Angeles, California! Yay!
During the last two Conferences, I had various aches and pains that I was dealing with. Most in attendance were not aware of my challenges because I dealt with them mostly by ignoring and / or medicating them.
In 2016, for the three months leading up to the Conference, I had been dealing with excruciating back pain. Despite having had 2 trips to the Emergency Room, x-rays and MRIs, an epidural, and a plethora of different medications, I was still often experiencing very severe pain.
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I finally ended up taking multiple opiate medications (under the strict supervision of my doctor) so that I could get through each day. Only after I was feeling better and weaned myself off of the medications did my doctor tell me that he had never seen someone fully recover when they had experienced the severity of the pain that I had requiring the amount of medication that I had been on.
While I was still on the medications for my back, I got disoriented and fell down the stairs at the Community Miracles Center (CMC) on Market Street (our old location had very steep stairs for entering and exiting). Initially, I was diagnosed with having sprained my ankle. Several months later, I still had limited movement in my ankle and had surgery after it was realized that there was much more damage to my foot and ankle than first diagnosed. I was still recovering from that when we were preparing for the San Francisco Conference.
I also developed a stomach problem in late 2017 which was causing extreme nausea. Like my back, when I asked medical professionals, "What is causing this?" and "Why now?" I was met with little more than a questionable diagnosis and a shrug.
So for both the 2016 and 2018 Conferences, I pushed through like a trooper. I also had undergone testing for insomnia, which I experienced both as having trouble getting to sleep and as waking up for hours in the middle of the night. Testing for that was also inconclusive.
I did the treatments the doctors told me. I had Reiki done. I did meditations sending healing light to my body. I was on the prayer list. Yet, as one injury or illness receded, another took its place.
After moving to Washington state in April of 2018, it took me several months to get an appointment with a new family doctor. When I did, he reviewed my history and after about 5 minutes of poking and prodding, diagnosed me with fibromyalgia1. He explained that many of the things I had experienced were very common for patients with fibromyalgia. So in December, 2018 when I received the diagnosis, I was put on an extensive regimen of nerve blockers, muscle relaxers, and other medications.
Now I am headed to the Boston ACIM Conference with about 200 pills (including vitamins and supplements). It's my attempt at managing all the diagnoses for the two weeks I will be there. While there, I will be working as the co-organizer for the Conference which has the theme of "The Power to Heal." The irony is not lost on me.
I have spent much time contemplating how to balance the seeming needs of each diagnosis I've received over the years without sinking into a pit of despair thinking I wasn't spiritual enough to heal my mind and body. I am not only a teacher of A Course in Miracles and the Assistant Minister of the Community Miracles Center, but I have studied and done my best to apply spiritual concepts most of my life. I remember reading Shirley MacLaine's book, Out on a Limb, when I was in third grade as I had a longing to know God even then.
So if being spiritual was enough to heal, why have I had so many medical challenges throughout my life? Am I to blame? And if I am to blame, how do I deal with the guilt and helplessness that threatens to consume me when it seems my spiritual studies have been in vain if measured by my bodily health?
A Course in Miracles has a plethora of quotes that can be volleyed around by those who wish to maintain their facade of spirituality while at the same time condemning their brothers. Related to illness, these include:
• "The sane mind cannot conceive of illness .…" (OrEd.Tx.5.64)
• "Sickness is a decision." (OrEd.WkBk.136.8)
• "Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain." (OrEd.Mn.5.2)
• "… all sickness is illusion." (OrEd.Mn.8.5)
• "All mental illness is some form of external searching." (OrEd.Tx.2.17)
No wonder so many of us feel guilt when we think we have a cold, are diagnosed with an illness, or experience some sort of painful injury. If we were sane, we wouldn't be sick. If we just stopped valuing the illness, we'd be healed. If we just stopped choosing injury, we would be without pain. If we just searched for the Kingdom within, all our mental health problems would be resolved. "Gosh dang it!" Why can't we just be spiritual and well?
I've spent my whole life seeking God and yet I'm plagued with all these medical conditions. It must be my fault that I'm not more spiritual, right? However, I will say, "Yes, but who is the 'I' and how much spirituality is 'enough' to be healed?"
First, let's get some things out of the way. I am in no way telling you to stop your medications. I get my feathers ruffled a bit when people try to insert their own spiritual practice into someone else's life over the medical treatment that has been advised and that the person has been following – maybe even having had success with. Though God and Holy Spirit can use us as instruments to carry a message to someone, ultimately God and Holy Spirit are to be the other person's guide – not us. Whether the other persons choose with us or not, judgment from us should not be of concern when others make decisions about their medical treatment. We need to trust that they are following their guidance, doing exactly what is the best for them because, "All things work together for good." (OrEd.Tx.4.69)
Secondly, the Course says, "It does not follow, however, that the use of these very weak corrective devices is evil. Sometimes … it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief .… The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is truly used, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver[, not the giver]. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language which the recipient can understand without fear." (OrEd.Tx.2.57-59)
If a person finds themselves in fear over not using an external source of healing such as: medication, diet, surgery, etc. – perhaps they should use those things as the means for healing! Whether a person's body was healed through the laying on of hands, or was healed through the use of a medication, that their body was healed can be seen as a miraculous manifestation event. The method of which the physical miracle occurs is not nearly as significant as the outcome being the release from fear when the mind remembers "... that what it sees is false." (OrEd.SpTp341.1) So the Course is telling us to not put judgment on what form a healing takes for us or for a brother.
I have heard it said, "It is difficult to meditate when you are hungry." Now I do not deny that some can meditate when they are hungry. Some can meditate and rise above any consciousness of physical hunger or cravings. However, for those who are distracted by hunger pains (most all of us!), it would be better they have a snack before meditating than to sit and bemoan their empty stomach without any focus on communing with the supernatural. Likewise, it often is hard for us to meditate when we are sick, injured, or experiencing illness. So the Course advises to take care of the body's healing in whatever means one finds effective so that we can then accept the miracle. The ultimate purpose is to grow in the miracle – not to avoid medications.
Some might argue that treating the body with medical healing techniques is treating the body as real and solidifying it within the illusion. However, "The body is merely a fact in human experience .… it is almost impossible to deny its existence. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial." (OrEd.Tx.2.56) The Course does not want us to deny the "fact" that in our human experience, we have bodies! It's not saying that the body is eternal. It's not saying the body is the temple of God. It's saying it's part of our experience and we shouldn't deny that. Whether it is real or not, it seems to be while we seem to experience our lives on earth.
Let's move forward with the understanding that we are having the experience of a human body and that using an external source of healing is not evil. Yet the quotations that I included at the start were seemingly very clear that illness was a choice. Sickness is an illusion. A sane mind cannot see illness. Mental illness is seeking without, and being sick is perceived as being of value to the sickly.
A few months back, I shared a shorter article in Miracles Monthly discussing the idea that "My Mind Alone Does Not Create My Experience." (Vol.32.No.6/Aug.'18) Though some of the following is a duplicate of that article, I want to discuss it in the context of sickness, injury, and mental illness.
A Course in Miracles says that "… you say, 'Just an idle thought,' and mean that the thought has no effect …. It is time, however, to consider the whole world of the unconscious or 'unwatched' mind. This may well frighten you because it is the source of fear. The unwatched mind is responsible for the whole content of the unconscious .… You cannot understand unconscious activity in these terms because 'content' is applicable only to the more superficial unconscious levels, to which the individual himself contributes." (OrEd.Tx.2.89.96)
In saying this, I believe the Course is validating what many other religious traditions have taught over the millennia, that is the concept of the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, and the superconscious mind. This passage seems to reference the conscious mind when it mentions our idle thoughts – in other words, the things that we believe to be generated by our human brain, the words and ideas that we throw to and fro in our day to day activities.
Then the passage says it is time to consider the unconscious mind, that which might be defined as the beliefs that we are often not aware of yet are the root cause of our conscious thoughts and actions. When we find ourselves doing something that we might deem as being out of character for us, it is likely that we were actually doing what is consistent with our core character. We are acting consistent with that which dwells within the unconscious mind. The conscious and unconscious minds are described here as primarily related to the individual.
Finally, it says, "... 'content' is applicable only to the more superficial unconscious levels, to which the individual himself contributes." (OrEd.Tx.2.89.96) The implication here is that there is are deeper unconscious levels to which the individual does not contribute. As mentioned above, some traditions call this the superconscious mind, or may be referred to as the universal consciousness, joint consciousness, etc.
Yet, A Course in Miracles rarely distinguishes the type of mind to which it is speaking. The word "conscious-" (with the varied endings of -ly and -ness included) is only used in 20 passages of the Course, only one of which is specifically the "conscious mind." The word "unconscious" is only used in 12 passages, none of which are specifically the "unconscious mind." "Superconscious" appears in only 3 passages of the Course.
These differentiating terms are only used in a total 35 sections of the Course. 35 already seems pretty small, but when put it in the context that the Course uses "mind" in 455 passages, it is obvious that some discernment will need to be applied by the reader.
Sometimes the context can help determine what type of consciousness the Course is referring to, but other times not. It is particularly vexing when someone has taken the quote and throws it about with no more context than if it was read from a bumper sticker. To add complexity to this problem, as in the passage above, multiple types of mind are being sometimes discussed and not always with as much clarity as that section had. We will come back to this concept later.
I would like to propose the idea that both the ego and Holy Spirit have input upon all three types of mind. I think it's easy for us to say that they both affect our conscious mind but what about the shared consciousness of all beings (superconscious)? I'd like to note here that I do not believe the ego to be like the bogeyman. It's not "out there" trying to get us though the Course seemingly uses that language in an attempt to explain things at a level we can understand. Rather, the best definition that I believe the Course offers us is "the ego is an idea, though not a reality-based thought." (OrEd.Tx.4.25) The ego is an idea – a thought system that is incorrect – being the belief that we are bodies, separated from God and all the thoughts that flow from that.
Does it not seem logical upon seeing the ego as no more than an idea, that the superconscious – the universal consciousness that we share with our brothers and sisters – might include thoughts that are in error?
Often, the Course makes statements very similar about the body as it does regarding sickness, injury, and mental health:
• "The idea of separation produced the body …" (OrEd.Tx.19.8)
• "The second obstacle that peace must flow across … is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers."(OrEd.Tx.19.59)
• "It is only the messengers of fear that see the body …"(Or.Ed.Tx.19.62)
• "These are among the many magical beliefs that come from the conviction you are a body. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea." (OrEd.WkBk.92.2)
And maybe, just maybe, that is a thought of the superconscious / universal mind that really needs correction. The problem isn't that we as individuals are wrong to perceive ourselves as sick or injured. The thought needing healing is of the superconscious / collective / universal mind that believes there is a planet upon which we all are bodies with our own thoughts and brains.
The Course hints at this when it discusses the symbols of this world. It lumps medications with money, protection with clothing, and prestige with magic. It says: "Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols – pills, money, 'protective' clothing, 'influence,' 'prestige,' being liked, knowing the 'right' people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness which you endow with magical powers .… All these things are cherished to ensure a body identification." (OrEd.WkBk.50.1)
Yet, we focus on "All physical illness represents a belief in magic." (OrEd.Tx.2.54) as a means to shaming our brothers. We guilt ourselves into fear, while ignoring that getting dressed this morning was just as much a reliance on magic as is going to the pharmacy. Looking both ways before crossing the street is just as much reliance on magic as is having surgery. Working for a promotion at work is just as much reliance on magic as is any other medical intervention that we may utilize. In other words, sickness, illness, and injury, are to be shamed no more than any way in which you care for and function with the belief that you are a body. Being sick or injured is merely a predictable outcome of believing that you are a body. The thought to be changed is at the superconscious level that we are bodies.
So, "Yes," I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I have been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I have been diagnosed with cat allergies and seasonal allergies. I've been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. I'm sure there are more that I have been diagnosed with over the years as well.
I also got dressed this morning and generally prefer being able to breathe, because I believe I am a body and you do too. Otherwise you wouldn't be holding this magazine with your hands, using your eyes to read, and your brain to understand all that I have written.
So, I will not stand in shame for any of those or beat myself up trying to expunge some artificial guilt for being sick or even for being a body. I won't pretend my body feels okay when it doesn't. I also won't stop living my life to the best that I can. I take it very seriously when A Course in Miracles says, "God's will for [me] is perfect happiness." (OrEd.WkBk.100.2)
I will also join with each of you individually and collectively to release our ideas of limitation and being separated from God. We all need to let go of our thoughts of judgment against others. We all need to take responsibility for how we experience this world. And I know that "When I am healed, I am not healed alone. And I would bless my brothers, for I would – Be healed with them as they are healed with me." (OrEd.WkBk.137.17)
I will leave you with this one final thought: "Put all your faith in the Love of God within you, eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you today." (OrEd.WkBk.50.3) and whether that answer looks like a physical healing or not, I know that does not change God's Love for me or you – even in our bodies. ♥
Rev. Kelly Hallock is CMC's 89th minister. She was ordained by the CMC on September 13, 2015.
1. Fibromyalgia causes a person to feel aches and pain all over the body ... people with fibromyalgia can also have: trouble sleeping, stiffness, headaches, irritable bowell syndrome, painful periods, sensitivity to loud noises / bright lights, depressions and anxiety. (medicine net.com)
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the May 2019 (Vol. 33 No. 3) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.