Many years ago I was in the hospital for surgery. Due to some minor complications, I was required to spend the night for observation. Following the dissipation of anesthetic drowsiness and the full reactivation of my senses, I was terrified.
Not only was I in excruciating pain and unsure of where I was, but someone in an adjacent bed was moaning a most dreadful sound.
It was the middle of the night and well before the days of omnipresent nurses. My cries for help went unanswered as my fear skyrocketed.
I called out to the person in the other bed. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
His pained response was in a non-English language for which I could not translate. I left my bed, pulled open his curtain and saw a man with his head screwed into the bed. I subsequently learned that he had been shot, suffering some sort of spinal injury requiring the immobility of his skull.
He pointed to the bedpan and I understood at least one source of his distress. I held the pan while he relieved himself and then returned to my own section of the room. With far less fear and greatly reduced pain.
A Course in Miracles analogizes the ego as a “hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come to die.” (W-pI.190.6) It’s a gruesome, yet fitting description. Everything about the ego is painful - either overtly experienced or temporarily repressed through drama and distraction.
But the reason the course calls it a hospital for pain is because we actually believe the ego can help us. The ego is our guide to identity and independence. It gives us life as we know it, however perilous that might be. And knowing nowhere else to turn, we beseech curative measures of the ego.
Yet a different type of recovery awaits but our choice. One that truly makes well. A hospital for healing in which we experience no separation between us and anyone else. What the course calls the right mind of spirit, a reflection of heaven, the source of love.
When we see our brother as ourself, pain and fear dissipate. In that moment we realize our purpose is to return awareness to the mind and allow love to flow through and embrace everything around us.
This hospital for healing cures the source of all distress - our choice for the ego mind.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of healing and how we can practice choosing the only helpful hospital there is. I look forward to seeing you then.