Section 8 - Pleasure and Pain


Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole IDEA of sacrifice. And to ACCEPT the peace He gave, instead. WITHOUT the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit YOUR awareness of it. For what He gives MUST be extended, if YOU would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God's release. It is not THIS you would be rid of, and having it, you CANNOT limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you. And so am I. And He Who IS our Home, is homeless WITH us.


Is this your will? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what MUST fail? Faith in the eternal is ALWAYS justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience, and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. But it can unite only with what ALREADY is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; not pain nor joy. It is a means, and NOT an end. It HAS no purpose of itself, but only what is GIVEN it to do. The body will seem to BE whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you ASSIGN to it.


Only the mind can set a purpose, and only mind can see the means for its accomplishment, and justify its use. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be ATTAINED. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that called them forth, and therefore is COMPATIBLE with it. But think you which it is that is compatible with YOU. Here is your choice, and it IS free. But all that LIES in it WILL come with it. And what you think you are can NEVER be APART from it.


The body is the great SEEMING betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness. But ONLY if you asked of it what it CANNOT give. Can YOUR mistake be reasonable grounds for your depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your ERROR as the justification for your faithlessness. You have NOT sinned, but you HAVE been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of YOUR mistake will GIVE you grounds for faith.


It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body, and NOT find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not REALLY punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself WITH the body, which is the INVITATION to pain. For it invites FEAR to enter, and become your PURPOSE. The attraction of guilt MUST enter with it, and WHATEVER fear directs the body to do IS therefore painful. It will share the pain of ALL illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will BE the same as pain.


Is not this inevitable? Under fear's orders, the body WILL pursue guilt, serving its master, whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of his existence. This, then, IS the attraction to PAIN. Ruled by THIS perception, the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully, and obeying the idea that pain IS pleasure. It is this IDEA that underlies all of the ego's heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship which it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To YOU, it teaches that the body's pleasure is happiness. But to ITSELF it whispers, "It is death."


Why should the body be ANYTHING to you? Certainly what it is MADE of is not precious. And, just as certainly, IT has no feeling. It transmits TO YOU the feelings that you WANT. Like any communication medium, the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has NO feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this. And both also recognize that here, THE SENDER AND RECEIVER ARE THE SAME. The Holy Spirit TELLS you this with joy. The ego HIDES it, for it would keep you unaware of it.


Who would send messages of hatred and attack, if he but understood he sends them to HIMSELF? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn HIMSELF?The ego's messages are ALWAYS sent AWAY from you, in the belief that, for your message of attack and guilt, will someone OTHER than yourself suffer. And, even if YOU suffer, yet someone ELSE will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but, as the "enemy" of peace, it urges you to SEND OUT all your messages of hate, and free YOURSELF. And, to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure, and OFFERING it to you as freedom FROM attack.


Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has DEDICATED the body to the goal of sin, and places in it ALL its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body's praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego's rule. Not one but MUST believe that YIELDING to the attraction of guilt is the ESCAPE from pain. Not one but MUST regard the body as himself, WITHOUT which he would die, and yet WITHIN which is his death equally inevitable.


It is not given to the ego's disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. This has been OFFERED them, but they have not accepted it. And what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father, and offering His messages unto the Son. Like to the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and receiver. For what is sent through Him RETURNS to Him, seeking itself along the way, and FINDING what it seeks. So does the ego FIND the death it seeks, returning it to YOU.

A Course in Miracles - Urtext material - reproduced with permission from the Foundation for Inner Peace (, and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles ( ©2021 Paul West