"There is a peace that Christ bestows on us."
(See Part II Practice Summary, and also Part II Introduction)
I find myself a little resistant to the lesson today. I judge it; it isn't "inspiring enough," or it doesn't tell me anything new. It asserts this wonderful peace, "a peace so deep and quiet, undisturbable and wholly changeless, that the world contains no counterpart" (1:1). I'm not experiencing that this morning. I'm not fraught with anxiety or anything, but I have only a limited peace; it doesn't feel changeless; I think I could be disturbed. So I feel a bit frustrated. I know that aloneness, for instance, is there, gnawing away at the peace. If the right thing came up, my peace could disappear. I think this is something most of us feel at times while reading the Course.
The lesson says that God's peace is a gift, "come to us to save us from our judgment on ourselves" (2:2-3). It offers a prayer: "Help us today...[to] judge it not" (2:2). How do we judge the peace of God?
I judge peace as inappropriate due to my circumstances. The peace of God is here, now, and part of my mind believes that, but I refuse to let myself accept it and feel it because my mind judges that peace would be inappropriate because of some external circumstance. "I can't be peaceful until this changes, until that changes, or until this happens." It is an assertion of a belief that something other than the will of God exists, something which has power to take away my peace. God gives the peace; something else, something apparently more powerful, removes it. There is no other will, nothing more powerful than God, but my refusal of peace is asserting a belief that there is.
"You see what you believe is there, and you believe it there because you want it there" (T-25.III.1:3).
The Course teaches that in reality I do not have peace because I don't want peace. The first obstacle to peace is my desire to get rid of it (T-19.IV(A))! That is the only reason. Since nothing really exists that can take away the peace of God, my insistence that there is such a thing is a delusion chosen to excuse my refusal of God's gift. "It isn't my fault!" I can cry. "This person, this circumstance, did it to me. I want Your peace but they took it away." I am projecting my refusal of peace onto something else.
There is another way I judge God's peace. I judge it as weak and vulnerable, easily disturbed.
Why would I want to get rid of peace? Why would I refuse God's gift? In T-19.IV.A.2, the Text asks the same question: "Why would you want peace homeless? What do you think that it must dispossess to dwell with you? What seems to be the cost you are so unwilling to pay?" There is something, Jesus is saying, that I think I will lose if I accept peace. What is it?
It is the ability to justify attack against my brothers; the reasonableness of finding guilt in them (T-19.IV(B).1:1-2:3). I want to be able to place the blame somewhere else. If I simply accepted peace I would have to give up, forever, the idea that anyone else can be blamed for my unhappiness. I would have to give up all attack, and behind that is the fact that in order to give up attack, I need to give up guilt, I need to give up feeling separate and alone, I need to give up separation. I need to give up the belief in my own incompletion, which is the foundation of my belief in my separate identity.
The peace of God "has come to save us from our judgment on ourselves" (2:3). I judge myself as sinful, as unworthy, as incomplete. That judgment is behind my need to hold on to attack as a defense mechanism, my need to have someone or something else to blame for the inadequacy I see in myself.
If I accept the peace of God as unconditional peace it feels to me as if I am giving up all hope of ever having things, and other people, the way I want them. It feels as if I am saying, "It is OK if you don't love me and leave me alone. It is OK if you take my money. It is OK if you ignore me or mistreat me. None of this disturbs my peace." Unconditional means it does not matter what the conditions are. And I don't want that! I want the conditions the way I want them!
Unconditional peace! The very idea scares the living daylights out of my ego. Everyone is seeking peace; of course they are. But we want to achieve peace by adjusting the conditions according to our own idea of what will bring peace. Jesus is offering to give us peace regardless of the conditions. "Forget the conditions," he is saying. "I can give you peace in any circumstance." We don't want unconditional peace; we want peace our own way. "Peace?" we ask. "What about the conditions?" We don't want to hear that they don't matter.
The truth of the matter is that our world reflects our mind. We see an unpeaceful world because our minds are not at peace. We think the world is the cause, and our peace--or lack of it--is the effect. Jesus is saying that our mind is the cause, and the world is the effect. He approaches us on the level of cause, not effect. He isn't going to change the conditions to give us peace; He is going to give us peace, and that will change the conditions. The peace of God must come first. We have to get to the point of saying, "The peace of God is all I want." We have to give up all other goals, goals related to conditions. Accept the peace, and the world projected from our mind will change accordingly--but that is not the goal. That is not the healing we seek; it is only the effect of the healing in our minds.
Father, help me today to accept the gift of peace, and not to judge it. Let me see behind my refusal of peace my judgment on myself as unworthy of it, and my desire to attack something outside myself and place the blame on it. In the eternal sanity of the Holy Spirit in my mind, I do want peace. Enable me today to identify with that part of my mind. Let me see the insanity of holding on to grievances against anyone or anything. Speak to me of my wholeness. Let me understand that what I see that contradicts peace is not real and does not matter. It is only my self-judgment (which is not real) projected on the world (which is not real). Heal my mind, my Father. Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still. I am home. I am loved. I am safe.
What is the Second Coming? (Part 5)
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