One of the challenges expressed during the recent Weekend of Freedom Retreat was the issue of pain and physical disabilities. This deserves more attention and clarification than we had time for over the weekend. It is also relevant to many, many people. So let’s look more closely at how the ego consumes us with fear about pain and physical disabilities, and how to douse the flames of this ego fire.
Contemporary mystic Mooji asks, “Are you suffering your experience or experiencing your suffering?”
When you suffer your experience, you are identified with pain and helplessness. Not only is your mind focused on the unpleasantness of what you are feeling, it is also fearing the future and imagining the worst possible outcomes.
When you experience your suffering, there is detachment from pain, helplessness and future outcomes. There is also a knowing that all is well no matter what your circumstances. You rest in God. Having placed yourself in His Hands, the body is now used for His Purpose, as a communication link tuned in to His Channel. Pain may be felt as sensation, in varying intensities, but when unidentified with, it loses its psychological power.
Physical pain may seem different from psychological pain, but it is actually a variation on psychological pain. From A Course in Miracles perspective, all pain boils down to psychological pain. It is the meaning you assign to pain that makes it seem real, important, and a valid distraction from finding out Who you really are.
Embodied Spirituality invites you to explore pain and physical disabilities in a holy new way.
If you use pain as a reminder to turn to God, it can be an accelerated path to awakening! Ego will tell you that the pain is all-consuming and overwhelming, but the clue that this is not true is that unless you are unconscious, no matter how agonizing the pain, it is observed. This Observer is the Holy Spirit, your Inner Teacher, Who is always here for you to choose instead of the ego.
I am not minimizing your physical experience; I am empowering you by inviting you to turn your attention away from righteous immersion in the pain and back to your Source.
Again, you may protest that you want to turn your attention away but you cannot. This is why I use the word “righteous.” Righteousness may be disguised as helplessness or self-pity, but it is really a way of maintaining ego identity.
You may also feel ashamed or guilty about no longer being physically healthy and independent. This, too, is the ego talking. There is no greater power than God and when you depend on Him, He will assuage your fears about human dependencies.
Many enlightened masters encountered physical pain and suffering as part of their karma. Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj both died of cancer, as did Helen Schucman. Don’t cop out by telling yourself that you are no enlightened master. Jesus tells us in the Course that we are no different than he, “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain.” (T-1.II)
Remember, the most meaningful prayer is to request to recognize what you already are — not a request for physical healing. Use the ACIM forgiveness practice to give all pain to the Holy Spirit. This empties you of false personal identity and restores the connection with your true Self. The natural outcome is Peace and Freedom no matter what the condition of the body.
Jesus tells us in Chapter 9, “An individual may ask for physical healing because he is fearful of bodily harm. At the same time, if he were healed physically, the threat to his thought system might be considerably more fearful to him than its physical expression. In this case he is not really asking for release from fear, but for removal of the symptom that he himself selected. This request is, therefore, not for healing at all.” It may be hard to swallow that you selected your symptoms, but Jesus means this in the general sense that we all chose to believe we are separate from God.
He goes on to say, “The Bible emphasizes that all prayer is answered, and this is indeed true. The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked for anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him will ever be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you.“*
The body has an expiration date. This is inevitable. The pain and dysfunction of the body can go on for many years before that date arrives. The ego uses the time-body to testify that pain is real. The Holy Spirit uses the body for the purpose of awakening. Which do you prefer?
Once you choose the Holy Spirit as your guide, pain is tranformed. It may still be there, but as you give it to your Father, it is used for a healing purpose. The pain in your body is not only yours. It is a human condition shared by many! Be a living demonstration of grace under pressure by surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Not only will you be used as a conduit for miracles, you will awaken to Who You truly are. In this way, you will discover that all is well.
Few do it, but it is possible to say “thank you” to pain and physical disabilities. This “thank you” is a grateful surrender to not knowing anything; in the big picture this pain may be seen very differently than you do now. Perhaps it is the motivator that forces you to your knees and helps you complete your awakening. Perhaps it breaks through complacency and personal identity. If good health had motivated you, you wouldn’t be intimidated physical health issues now. Therefore, now is a perfect time to open your mind to hearing the answers to your prayers which are waiting for you to receive them!
Let me know how it goes: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on illness and the body, please visit https://www.facebook.com/ACIMBodyImage. Also, You may also benefit from reading Ego says, “You need me,” How to Deal with Your Worst Moments, and Body Health Is Not a Measurement of Spiritual Unfolding
* Emphasis mine.