Jesus thus exposes the myth of the face of innocence, typically expressed as: I had no choice but to attack, for you attacked me first, or threatened to do so, and if I do not defend myself you will attack me, my loved ones, my country, or the groups with which I identity. Yet this is not innocent, but attack with “intent to hurt,” and therefore cruel.
Thus Jesus brings to our scrutiny the ego’s thought system of attack and defense, the heart of which is separation – I would not defend myself unless I fist perceived you as separate from me. Thus I know I am in my ego, for the truth of God and His Son is perfect Oneness, in which there is no separation and therefore no attack. It is irrelevant whether I perceive you as attacking me, or vice versa, for either way I have identified with the thought system of separation, fragmentation, and attack.
The archetypal thought underlying existence, therefore, is that if I do not destroy God, seize His power, and usurp His role, I will not survive. Since my survival comes first, I am justified in what I do. That is what every “living thing” encased in a body, lives out in this world. It is the heart of the dream, the core of which is fear of our death and loss of self.
To repeat: With fear comes the thought that if I do not do something, I will be destroyed. Therefore, I am justified in attacking others, which Jesus tells us not to defend or call by pretty names: attack is attack is attack, and is always cruel – an attempt to place our needs over someone else’s, and the justifying our actions by invoking the face of innocence.
The thought system of the ego is one, whether you speak of a paramecium or a government. It is helpful to consider how our daily lives exemplify this, for we are in a perpetual state of fear, lack, and deprivation, believing that by cannibalizing another – special hate or special love – we will be better off: safer and happier.
If we could remember that projection is the ego’s solution for the mind’s fear, we would know this world makes no sense for we have accomplished nothing by making it. Again, the ego cause us to forget its strategy so we have no awareness that what we do is a maladaptive and ineffective defense against a problem that is never resolved. In fact, the problem is so cleverly protected by projection that we do not escape its underlying and illusory premise of separation and punishment.
The purpose of defenses is to protect us from our fear, but they merely reinforce it. This establishes a vicious circle, but with no memory of the problem’s origin, there is no way we can resolve it. This is why no one’s body is truly healed, and no problem in the world is truly resolved: no one goes to the source of the problem – the mind’s decision to be on its own. Thus guilt over our attack inevitably breeds the fear that others will attack us, inevitably requiring the defense of counter-attack.
Jesus calls for an attitude of defenselessness: “Lay down your arms.” He does not speak of changing behavior, but attitude: the shift from believing survival comes at someone else’s expense, to understanding that shared interests alone will protect us. This shift from defensiveness to defenselessness results from examining the ego’s underlying premises, which make no sense and do not work.
Thus the ego tells the Son:
“Come with me and I will protect you, for I am your hope, security, and life. God with God and you will be destroyed, for love is to be feared.”
Jesus is telling us that it seems there is an external enemy: our special love or hate objects. Yet all we do is reinforce the split within our minds between God and the ego. Outside I see sin and innocence, with me being the innocent victim and you the sinner. However, this is but the projection of the inner split, wherein I perceive myself as the innocent Son about to be destroyed by the cruel and vengeful Father.
“As the ego begins to evolve its defensive strategy, it takes the mind’s sin – our self-accusation of attacking God – splits it off so now there are two seeming figures in the mind: the innocent Son and the sinful, cruel Father. We have “perfect faith” the split is real, because we have no awareness of what we have done. The cruel world to which the go has taken us has become the reality, for once we projected our sin onto a punishing God, we forget the sin of cruelty originated in ourselves, aware only that cruelty is outside us in a wrathful deity. Insanely, we think our safety and security lies in believing this.
To recap, love’s characteristics have been stolen by the ego and taken up residence in the innocent self I now believe is me, all the while my sin has been split off and seen in this projected figure of cruelty.
Taking the ego’s lies as truth, we turn to specialness for safety and solace. When we are upset, we do not go for help or comfort to the love of Jesus, but to the world of idols. For example, we make the Course’s words holy and seek comfort there, without moving beyond them to their meaning. We will see in a later lesson Jesus’ thoughts on words: for now let us mention that their importance lies only in where they lead us. However, if we fear the meaning of his words, we will use them as substitutes – idols – for the process of forgiveness they symbolize. (PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF WHAT I JUST INPUTTED, MUCH FOOD FOR THOUGHT!).
Therefore, apply these lines when you are in need of comfort, watching the temptation to run to your specialness instead, having listened to the ego’s counsel that escape from anxiety and fear comes from itself, and not the love that will destroy you. It is essential to apply these abstract teachings in very specific ways; otherwise the idols of specialness will remain.
Thus we are afraid of Jesus and his love. In his presence we would lay down our defenses, setting aside identification with the physical universe as our home, and the body as our self. In order to protect ourselves from this end of our existence, the ego says:
“I am your friend, the Holy Spirit is your enemy.”
Now are the ego’s attributes seen in love: the danger is not guilt, but love, and true safety is found in fear.
Where Jesus says, “Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane”, Ken writes:
This is when the ego becomes vicious. If we begin identifying with the Holy Spirit’s thought system, we question whether the ego’s demands of cruelty are really “sensible or even sane.” The ego’s warning, though, rises to the surface: “if you listen to this course and question me, you will soon sacrifice your identity.” At that moment terror strikes our hearts at the “harsh punishment (to be) meted out.” We fear losing our self and flee to the ego for comfort. If pain is a defense against the Love of God – as we will see in Lesson 190 – it becomes our friend, and we worship its cruelty as our god. Whether I inflict pain on you or myself is irrelevant. Either way, I keep love away from me – the ego’s goal.
We think the ego’s enemies are insane, which includes Jesus and his course. They are unreasonable, demanding, and make no sense, and we were much better off before we ever laid eyes on him and his books. Almost all students know whereof I speak. If you do not, the chances are there is something missing in your practice of the Course, for the fear of losing your special identity would inevitably cause you to question the truth of these words and their teacher.
Learning to look at the ego’s cruel idol of specialness we made as substitute for truth is the meaning of forgiveness. Yet we must look “dispassionately” at this thought system, which means without emotion, judgment, or guilt. (NOTE: we look without emotion, judgment, or guilt. I find this challenging much of the time! To look at the ego I have chosen in a detached manner without crucifying myself.)
In 7:1 where Jesus says, “today we look upon this cruel god dispassionately”, Ken writes:
Thus in this single workbook sentence you will find a lovely summary of the process: You look at the ego’s cruelty with dispassion – without judgment.
Placing your trust, hope and safety in an idol is to place them in nothing, because nothing outside can help you in any way. Apply this specifically to your special relationships, otherwise ACIM will have no meaning for you. Watch yourself defend against God’s Love with the insanity of specialness, and look upon your worship of its idols without judgment.
The rest of the lesson consists of a direct reference to the fourth obstacle to peace – the fear of God – where Jesus speaks of our standing before the final veil, deciding whether to pass through or wander off, only to return.
What typically happens with students of ACIM is that they forgive, and for a brief moment feel peaceful and happy. Then the fear sets in:
“If I do not have my special relationship, what will be left but the Love of God, and there is no individuality in that!” At that point we quickly rush to make another special idol, investing cruelty in yet another form. Jesus asks for our mindfulness as we study and practice his material, so that we not be blind-sided by the ego.
In the past, we have wandered off rather than pass through the final veil, refusing to accept that the world and body are defenses against losing our individuality, defenses we still have chosen to retain. Jesus now places us at the point in the journey where we realize that our last defense against this recognition is no longer worth it to us. Only the true God will suffice. Thus when we truly realize our mistake and let Jesus be our teacher, we look upon this world differently for his eyes become our own. We do not see terror, cruelty, or fear; only silly mistakes with no power to hold us back from the light. We are in the real world, the transformation of prayer from process to song. And we give thanks, as does our Creator.
We are like Him, for we share the attributes of love, not fear. If we perceive ourselves or others as cruel, we are saying God is cruel, too – ideas leave not their source. However, if we realize that people’s seeming cruelty is their call for love, and love is at the core – ideas leave not their source – we affirm that God is love as well.
I have no expectations that my posts will be read or not read.
I write because I want to, but also, I write because inputting many excerpts from Ken’s books helps me to stay focused.
Many of my posts are very long.
I am very aware of that.
I don’t seem to be getting any guidance at all that I shorten them, particularly with the longer lessons and where Ken has written countless pages to dissect each and every paragraph or, in some cases, a sentence!
I understand that my using Ken’s excerpts doesn’t resonate with everyone and, then again, maybe they do, who knows?, doesn’t matter.
Just as I read posts from Rev. Deb and others who post on a given forum, I see Ken and all of them as the Holy Spirit speaking through them to me. When my mind is open and I am free from defenses, they have helped me in an immeasurable manner to want to see things differently.
It just may be that some of the passages in the text or even in the workbook seem too evasive or elusive so… ah…. I can read a post, and get it. Whether it is short or long, matters not. Same with Ken’s thoughts, he is no-nonsense about the Course in its non-dualism, and I am now more aware of how easy it is to believe the ego’s lies and remain in darkness. He has helped me to have eyes wide-open about being or becoming a blissninny, believing ACIM is all about light and love when it’s ALL about Jesus or the Holy Spirit helping us to remove the blocks that prevent us from experiencing the Love of God.
Tomorrow, we plunge into 10 days of review. Yeah, nice just to practice the last 20 lessons in a peaceful and gentle fashion.
Have a lovely day!