October 2010 – “If I defend myself I am attacked.”

“Who would defend himself unless he thought he were attacked, that the attack were real, and that his own defence could save himself? And herein lies the folly of defence; it gives illusions full reality, and then attempts to handle them as real. It adds illusions to illusion, thus making correction doubly difficult. And it is this you do when you attempt to plan the future, activate the past, or organize the present as you wish.” Workbook, page 252, Lesson 135.

We defend ourselves because we feel threatened; and we feel threatened because we feel weak; we feel weak because we identify solely with our physical bodies (and theyare weak.) So we defend ourselves when someone accuses us of something, and we defend our nation when another nation attacks us. A Course in Miracles is not telling us not to defend ourselves if we are attacked physically in the streets, for example; neither is it telling us not to defend our country. Obviously, if we are attacked physically we have to do whatever we can to protect ourselves. But what it is saying is that we need to transfer our identification from our body to our mind – but not to the lower or wrong-minded portion that follows the ego. We need to become “right-minded” and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Lesson 200 could be used to help one identify a little less with the body: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.”

The body is merely a “little pile of dust and water” that our (ego) minds believe must be protected. But, we are told, “The body is in need of no defense. This cannot be too often emphasized. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish. Such attempts, ridiculous yet deeply cherished, are the sources for the many mad attacks you make upon it. For it seems to fail your hopes, your needs, your values and your dreams.” Workbook, p. 253.

It is encouraging to realise that the body will be strong and healthy when it serves the Holy Spirit. How does it do that? Throughout the Course we are told the only function of the body is communication. It is a neutral thing that can be put to serve God’s plan, if it is used to communicate with others and help others awaken from the dream and, above all, if it is used to forgive others. But if it is used merely as a tool of the ego, to serve its own separate interests and reinforce the idea of the separation from God, then it is not fulfilling its divine function and it will appear in need of defence.

As we read in the Workbook, on page 425: “The body is a fence the Son of God imagines he has built, to separate parts of his Self from other parts. It is within this fence he thinks he lives, to die as it decays and crumbles.” However, it is not all gloom and doom because we can actually use the illusory body to awaken from the dream.“…But we can change the purpose that the body will obey by changing what we think that it is for. The body is the means by which God’s Son returns to sanity. Though it was made to fence him into hell without escape, yet has the goal of Heaven been exchanged for the pursuit of hell. The Son of God extends his hand to reach his brother, and to help him walk along the road with him. Now is the body holy. Now it serves to heal the mind that it was made to kill.”

We are told that when the body becomes holy by serving Jesus or the Holy Spirit and it reaches out to help others, we will not have to worry about its safety, and so we will not feel the need to defend ourselves. We will also no longer feel the need to, “…attempt to plan the future, activate the past, or organize the present…” We will simply trust that we are being guided.

But how are we guided by the Holy Spirit? Some people are fortunate enough to actually hear His Voice in their heads. But that is not the only way to receive His guidance. He could speak to us through our dreams, through our gut feelings or when we get flashes of inspiration, which make us feel compelled to take action. By being guided in this way, we tend to plan less and not worry so much about the future. We move from fear-based actions to love and trust; we become more Self-reliant as opposed to self-reliant, where the “self” is the ego portion of the mind. Whilst it is human nature to make plans for the future, and it is something we all do, the more we trust in God and in His guidance, the easier it becomes not to plan so much; we can now sit back a little and see where life takes us.

There is a very important section in Chapter 2 of the Text, which shows us how to move from fear to love. It explains that all conflict is an expression of fear, produced by our separated or split minds. Then we are advised to take the following steps in order to undo the error in our minds: “Know first that this is fear. Fear arises from lack of love. The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love. Perfect love is the Atonement.” Text, p.30. It should be recalled that the Atonement is recognition that the separation from God never took place. So once we remember this, we realise that we are as we were when God created us as eternal spirit; One with him in Heaven, loved by Him and safe forever. In this state we will not feel the need to defend ourselves. But it does take a great deal of mind-training and practise of the Course to reach this state.

Further on in the same section is another most interesting statement regarding the creative powers of the mind. “Everyone experiences fear. Yet it would take very little right thinking to realize why fear occurs. Few appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if you hope to spare yourself from fear there are some things you must realize, and realize fully. The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating. It is hard to recognize that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains….There are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level.” Text, p.31.

Therefore, if we realise how powerful our thoughts are, we can put them to good use by using them to help us awaken from the dream; by recognising that the world is an illusion; by practising the lessons of the Workbook; by following the instructions of the Holy Spirit; and by letting Jesus take us by the hand and lead us Home. Furthermore, we should, ideally, never become ill again; we can simply use our minds to visualise ourselves healthy and whole, with a healed mind. ACIM tells us that when our minds are healed our bodies will automatically be healed as well. And in this place of inner strength and love, we will not feel the need to defend ourselves. We will have become more alive, happier, freer and have a sense of inner purpose that will light up our eyes. But to reach this happy state we have to complete all our forgiveness lessons so that not a trace of fear or guilt remains in our minds.

It is so important to make the journey from fear to love because, as we read on page 35 of the Text, “No one who lives in fear is really alive.”

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