"There is no cruelty in God and none in me."
Purpose: To look dispassionately upon the god of cruelty and choose to call it god no longer, and so to give your eyes to Christ and your voice to God.
Morning/Evening Quiet Time: 5 minutes - at least; 10 - better; 15 even better; 30 or more - best
Hourly Remembrance: as the hour strikes, for more than 1 minute (reduce if circumstances do not permit)
Sit quietly and wait on God. Thank Him for His gifts in the previous hour. And let His Voice tell you what He wants you to do in the coming hour.
Frequent Reminder: Repeat idea.
Response To Temptation: Whenever you feel tempted, repeat idea.
The basic thought today's lesson contains is that our attempts at defending ourselves are what make external attack seem real to us.
We fear because we believe, somewhere deep in our hearts, that we have attacked, and deserve punishment for our attack. We sense within ourselves a belief that "to hurt another brings you freedom" (1:4). This belief lies behind every attack we attribute to self-defense. No matter how hard we try to justify our attacks, something in us knows that our intent is to hurt the other person because we believe that hurting them will somehow free us from something. In a nutshell, we believe that we are inherently cruel.
We project our belief into attack onto something external; we see the attack as coming from outside of our own mind (but there is nothing outside of mind). We are the ones who attack ourselves by our guilt, but we believe we see the attack external to ourselves, justifying further attack on our part. Thus fear and defense become the means of preserving ourselves. And "love is endowed with the attributes of fear" (5:3); that is, because love would counsel us to lay down our defenses, it becomes something to fear. Love becomes dangerous.
From this persepective, fear and cruelty become a "god," an idol, something to be preserved at all costs. To let go of fear becomes the ultimate danger. We fear being without fear more than anything else; we cling to our fear, believing that it protects us.
Taken to the extreme, this "worship" of fear and cruelty ends up being projected onto God Himself; we see Him as a vengeful God, breathing fire, threatening us with hell, ready to dupe us with His talk of love, laughing with savage glee as we go down to defeat. In fact, it is our fear of God, buried as well as we can, disguised in many forms when it leaks out of our unconscious, but ever present, that is "the basic premise which enthrones the thought of fear as God" (9:4). Ultimately, all our defenses are defenses against God. Buried deep in our psyche is our conviction that the universe is out to get us. Most of our lives, if we look at them with honesty, are spent in butressing our fortifications against "things" that seem to threaten us.
The Course calls on us to lay down our defenses as the only way of discovering that the threat is unreal (2:6-7). God is not angry. The universe is not out to get us. If God appears to us to be separate from us, only the walls we have erected make it seem so. We are the victims only of our own defenses.
We have no reason to fear. We are not cruel; we cannot be, for God Who created us has no cruelty in Him. There is no punishment hanging over our heads. We are the innocent Son of God, the Son He loves. Without that primal fear, there is nothing to project upon others; when we cease to project our fear, there is no perception of attack from without; when no attack is perceived without, there is no need for defense.
If we assess our "god" of fear and defense honestly we have to see that it is made of stone. It has no life; it cannot save us. Fear begets fear; attack begets attack. The wars of the world testify to this endlessly. Hurting others never makes us safe; it only adds to the cycle of fear and attack.
To realize that our trusted method of securing safety is worthless, that our champion warrior is a traitor, can be a terrifying moment. The missile silos in which we have placed all our trust are pointed at our own hearts! "This moment can be terrible. But it can also be the time of your release from abject slavery" (8:1-2). To think of giving up defense entirely can momentarily paralyze us with fear. But it can be the moment in which we are free to recognize that what we fear does not exist, and the "enemy" we have striven to keep out is allowed to enter, bringing His peace with Him.
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