Copyright 2012 Nouk Sanchez
Note: Tomas Vieira passed on Dec. 5th 2010. His life was a remarkable journey in learning to “live” the principles of A Course in Miracles. Tomas was (and still is) my soul buddy and teaching partner for more than 26 years. He and I (Nouk) co-wrote the best-selling book, Take Me to Truth; Undoing the Ego
Tomas had awakened quite some time before he left the body. There was no individual, personal Tomas left. He was like the Christ – open, loving, and joyous regardless of all appearances with the body. It was not his body after all and he knew this. He had decided to use the illusion of sickness (cancer) to awaken quickly. He chose to prioritize peace above all else quite literally. He invited the Holy Spirit to help him reinterpret what the ego made (disease) as a means to awaken within the dream. He didn’t try to save his life out of fear. After all, what was there to save his life from, if God’s Love is all there is?
While this seems to be an extreme lesson, choosing to see past all appearances contrary to Love, is an invitation to instant awakening. Many of us say we want to awaken from suffering but we don’t prioritize peace consistently. Daily we have a multitude of earthly priorities that top our list of goals and mindfully choosing to perceive peace is usually our last ditch attempt at problem solving. We’d much rather see change outside our mind, in our body, a situation or another’s behavior. Tomas faced a situation and his choice was to use it to awaken. And he did so by consistently choosing only peace in each moment when “appearances” tempted him to believe that he was a body and not an eternal Being.
Only hours before Tomas passed, his body slid into rapid decline and was quickly shutting down. He was incredibly lucid during this phase but I, Nouk, had a melt-down as I tried to make him as physically comfortable as possible. I saw the body falling away and I wept out of sheer frustration and confusion. Tomas was not able to speak, so he motioned to me for pen and paper. And while I sat beside him sobbing, he scrawled out the following note to me: “Noukie, look beyond appearances…we turn every doubt, every fear and every appearance over to Christ. We trust in His Plan for our Salvation – one moment at a time. Then we witness that we are still here, but more than that, we witness the stillness and peace and we know that it can only be Him Who is achieving this goal…we must be on track.”
The particular discipline he chose was to surrender all concern for the body to the Holy Spirit. I believe that you cannot do this and not awaken quickly. After all, the body (physical and emotional desire) is our greatest distraction and obstacle to remembering that we are one in God.
Our daughter Rikki and I returned to our home in New Mexico in December after Tomas had passed. And it was then that I experienced the darkest night of the soul I could have ever imagined. My dilemma was not so much that Tomas had left his body because we have such a Holy Love between us that I knew the absence of his body could not threaten our consistent communication. One huge advantage to undoing the ego and special relationships is discovering that the Love between you can never be threatened by anyone or anything including death.
My real test was confusion over two irreconcilable beliefs…fear and Love; or death and Life. As far as I understood mostly intellectually at the time, Jesus teaches that even in the dream, once the mind is healed and the Christ is restored to awareness as our Self, there is a reversal of the ego’s laws when we embody knowing that we are under no laws but God’s. In this knowledge, dominion over all ego laws is established. God’s Laws prevail over the ego. This means that once one lives out from the Christ within, he can heal the sick and raise the dead (Miracle Principle number 24 in ACIM).
Living out from the Christ, to me, meant the body was no longer used to demonstrate attack. It was no longer a weapon of ego but the temple of the Holy Spirit, having only one purpose while needed and that was to extend God’s Love and healing. Sickness and death were non-issues as the Christ lived through the body in place of the ego. This being so, there was no need for attack in the forms of disease and suffering because these are ego projections of self attack. Instead of death as we know it, Jesus tells us that when the time came to leave the body once and for all, it would be a willing, peaceful and joyful event. It was certainly not brought about by the ravages of disease, aging and pain. Jesus teaches that the body, once surrendered completely to Spirit, becomes the most important vehicle through which we learn to overcome the ego world and more importantly the ego’s central dream, being physical death itself; just as Jesus did. (Note: To read more about why Jesus’ teaching is the quickest of all Spiritual paths, click on this link)
Later as my own learning and trust strengthened, I came to realize something profound. That Jesus is calling for us not just to awaken in the dream as Tomas had done, but to awaken from the ego dream of sickness and death altogether; to break the cycle of birth and death entirely. The means by which this is accomplished is to embody the invulnerable Holy Self completely, through forgiveness and accepting Atonement fully (the undoing of fear and guilt). The outcome is the literal reversal of the ego’s dream. It is the overcoming and undoing of everything we originally made to attack ourselves and to separate from God as our Holy Self. This is the glorious state that Jesus calls the Real World or happy dream. (Note: For the forgiveness/Atonement process, click on this link)
While taking care of Tomas those last few months, I had developed a major attachment. I believed that Tomas would completely recover and be a living witness to these deeper teaching of Jesus. I didn’t know at the time that we both had not fully grasped these teachings experientially. And so his passing by means of disease was an especially challenging one for me. At the time, my level of trust in only God’s Will was weak…because I still had a personal agenda and I still felt confused and doubted the Atonement’s perfect healing.
I see that Tomas did not suffer and was joyful and in great peace. Where I came unstuck was with these questions: “Why did Tomas leave through disease? Why didn’t he awaken in a healthy body?” And as I write this I see that he had a simple priority – to awaken now, not later, but now. The means by which he did this took the form of disease. It gave him a vehicle through which every temptation to perceive fear, pain and death, was challenged unflinchingly. He prioritized peace and consistently chose it, totally disregarding ego appearances. I doubt that without this extraordinary challenge he would have awakened so quickly. I guess in Tomas choosing disease, it offered him an intense vehicle that required vigilant discipline to choose only Love. In doing this he chose to travel at warp speed along a one-way street to awakening “in” the dream; whereas most of us choose to meander along many two-way streets for lifetimes.
Saying this, I now recognize that Tomas did awaken in the ego dream. However he did not awaken from the ego’s dream of death as Jesus teaches us in the Course. There is a fundamental difference between these two awakenings. And this subject is covered well in The End of Death.
My Dark Night of the Soul
When I arrived back home in New Mexico after Tomas had passed, I slipped into a fearful state of confusion and grief. Our daughter Rikki helped me to remember that only Love is real. How could separation be real as well? How could Tomas be anywhere but here and now? After all he hadn’t gone anywhere. If there was grief then there must also be a belief in separation…that Tomas had indeed died and that we could no longer communicate.
On the night of my darkest experience, even darker than when we nearly lost our daughter a few years before, hell made itself known in my mind. Even with all the trust in Holy Spirit that I had developed (or more like despite all the trust I had developed) – it all appeared to fall away that night. What was left was a godless hell in my mind. That was when I realized I must be hallucinating. Either this was real or I was delirious, insane. I had two major breakthroughs at this time. My desperate desire to understand exactly what happened to Tomas had overshadowed the trust that I had developed in Holy Spirit. The result was a dreadful sense of separation and I cried out for help.
An answer came almost immediately but it wasn’t at all the answer I was seeking! I heard Tomas’ voice in my mind ask me this question: “Do you want to understand or do you want peace?” – And then…I got it. The need to understand was an ego ploy… while choosing to accept without understanding would bring me back to peace and open communication with both Spirit and Tomas.
The second breakthrough came when I pulled an ACIM card and this is what it said: “…if you want peace, you must give up the idea of conflict entirely and for all time.” T-7.VI.8:9 And that was that! From that moment on I let everything not of God just fall away. Any thought, any emotion, any manifestation – they were all just “appearances” and I chose to look past all appearances and onto the face of Christ.
So the most astounding thing about all this was the lack of grief for me. I see now how in each moment that I consciously choose joy and peace, when I decide to be in the now moment without judgment, without believing a story; that Tomas is here too. It’s impossible to be separated unless we go into the personal mind, the past and sentimental (special) love which has nothing to do with the real Love we share. How can I miss Tomas if I have been blessed with the awareness that he is still here and more accessible than ever before? Sure, it’s a bit weird not to have him around in a body but this is another lesson that proves that form is temporary and forever changing. And thank God we are truly eternal and unchanging!
From our experience in the journey of the development of trust, I am not going to let this change of form (seeming death) cause me to doubt. Contrary to what the ego teaches, I am still learning that it is safe to surrender the form (in this case, Tomas’ body) in order to keep the content which is the Love we share. The last time Tomas and I did this was when we went through a huge transformation of our relationship. We joined in allowing our special relationship to be transformed into a Holy Relationship.
As I mentioned earlier, we were guided to end our marriage (form) in order to save the relationship (content). While this sounds insane to the ego, for us it was a real test of faith; one which revealed a profound Love that could never be threatened – not by anyone, or anything, not even death. To experience a Love like this while in the world is absolutely life-changing. It delivers us from the ego’s addiction to the fickle and fragile realm of human love that is constantly under threat by self, others, life situations and finally, by death itself. It is this desire for special human love that is responsible for keeping us separate and isolated. It’s this seeming love that poses one of the greatest obstacles to remembering the real eternal Love that we are.
Now I feel I’m being asked to embrace an upgrade of our earlier test with our relationship. Accepting that there is no break in communication with Tomas now seems to pose a larger challenge than the one we had earlier (ending the marriage to save the relationship). However I remember what Jesus says in the Course: There is no hierarchy of illusions and there is no order of difficulty in miracles. I can sustain this wonderful perception as long as I stay vigilant and consistently choose to look past all appearances contrary to Truth, to Love and to changelessness.
Tomas said this to us: “I am not going anywhere. And I pledge to expose the lie that death is! Stay tuned…” And so, we believe that he will help expose the lie of death. And Jesus in the Course says the following:
“In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for minds are joined without the body’s interference, and where there is communication there is peace. The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication. And if you understand this lesson, you will realize that to sacrifice the body is to sacrifice nothing, and communication, which must be of the mind, cannot be sacrificed. T-15.XI.7.1-4
I continue to learn, allowing the blocks to the awareness of Love’s presence fall away. I see now exactly what our greatest power is here in the dream. It is the power to choose in every single instant. This means that in any moment our buttons are pushed, we can choose to look past all (ego) appearances and onto the Face of Truth. If God’s Love is all there is in reality, then we must learn to deny anything not of Love, the power to hurt us. This is true forgiveness. It’s a discipline. And we don’t really make this consistent choice for peace until we have had enough suffering.
Jesus talks about making this choice:
“I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you [must] be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognizing this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching [what] to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.” T-6.V.C.4:2-10
Tomas leaves me with one lesson now and if I can vigilantly hold to his magnificent demonstration of faith and trust, this one lesson will indeed take me to Truth, to the one Love that we all are. I hope, no – I trust that you too will join me on this journey in remembering to choose only Love, only peace regardless of so-called appearances.
Note: Nouk Sanchez is co-author (with Tomas Vieira) of best-seller, Take Me to Truth; Undoing the Ego. Nouk has since authored bestseller, The End of Death, available via www.endofdeath.com