Love or a Call for Love

What a depressing idea is the ego! This false idea believes that guilt can never be escaped, that sin will forever hold us bound. We find misery on the one side, misery of the ego; we join, on the other side, the Holy Spirit. Which will we choose? The Course’s particular understanding of the world must be addressed in this context.

Traditional Christian belief holds that sin is real, but that through the grace of God we can be led to forgive any evil, however black. But this part of belief has always been a particular stumbling block, because the effects of sin (pain, suffering) are first made real (by belief) and then a superhuman effort must be made to forgive.
The Course’s cosmology is different. Believing that this world is an illusory one based on madness, it does not make something real before one is asked to forgive. One forgives because everything that happens is either an expression of love or a call for love. One does not dwell on the mistake (“sin”), but quickly overlooks it, thereby not making it “real” in one’s consciousness.

A call for love begs answering, and if one in madness has done wrong, both the realization that one actually needs love, and the realization that one is mad, inspire the other to rush to her side with help and love.

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How Is God’s Peace Recognized?

1 – Everlasting Quiet

“First, how can the peace of God be recognized? God’s peace is recognized at first by just one thing; in every way it is totally unlike all previous experiences. It calls to mind nothing that went before. . .The past just slips away, and in its place is everlasting quiet. Only that. The contrast first perceived has merely gone. Quiet has reached to cover everything. (M51)”

2 – Personal Experience

This morning, a Sunday morning, I am experiencing some of that peace of God told us in this passage. There is no preparation that is for certain; the peace comes out of the blue; prayer doesn’t necessarily precede it.

3 – Personal Experience II

I am sitting on my screen porch while the rain pelts down. The ambiance may have created some of the mood necessary to feel God’s peace.

4 – Surreal Peace

The quiet comes unbidden, but then it stays and stays, if we are lucky. The peace is almost surreal. It truly does feel like nothing experienced before, as the passage says.

5 – Presence of God

I know that this mood of mine, this Presence of God, felt, will not last. But while it is lasting, it is blessing me. And I hope that knowing it comes to anybody else can encourage a hope in you that the peace will descend upon you just as unexpectedly.

6 – Satisfy the Conditions

“How is this quiet found? No one can fail to find it who but seeks out its conditions. God’s peace can never come where anger is, for anger must deny that peace exists. (M51)”

7 – Avoid Anger

I am not angry at all this morning. Perhaps that is one key, as this passage suggests. If we seek out the conditions of this peace, what will we seek? We will strive to stay on an even keel with our moods (though sometimes this may seem impossible). We may pray without ceasing, and this too is calming to the mind and negates the ego’s striving to “get.”

8 – War

“How is the peace of God retained, once it is found? Returning anger, in whatever form, will drop the heavy curtain once again. And the belief that peace cannot exist will certainly return. War is again accepted as the one reality. (M51)”

9 – What to Avoid

The stress in these passages is to avoid anger, but I think that this does not mean that we suppress anger. We use our minds to get us out of the anger. We know that whatever we are experiencing is coming about because we don’t recognize another’s attack as the call for love and the call for help that it truly is. When we answer a call, we are no longer bound by the negative feelings that will come up if we don’t answer, if we just try to suppress.

10 – Mindfulness

Our own mindfulness, really noticing each thing that we do, will create conditions welcoming to the relief of anger. Mindful breathing and mindful walking are two techniques recommended by the well-known Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Perhaps today we all need to take a cue from his teachings.

11 – Justified Anger?

“Who sees anger as justified in any way or any circumstance proclaims that peace is meaningless, and must believe that it cannot exist. (M51)”

12 – Call for Help

Anger, it is said elsewhere in the Course, is actually a call for help. It may also be viewed as a call for love. Our task is to run to our brother or sister’s side, and to offer solace–that help or love that is really wanted. We may not do this overtly if the other person is not receptive. We may only pray for our brother or sister, or smile at them, or even just make small talk. Ask for guidance in the thought or action that is needed. We must be sensitive to the plight of our brother or sister, and overt action may not be desirable.

13 – Take Peace to Heart

So we see that anger is never justified. Peace is not meaningless. God’s way is right, and peace can exist. These are wonderful concepts to take to heart.

14 – Retaliation

As long as the ego is in charge, we will be tempted to return attack for attack, but responding in this way is always wrong. Attacks is what Jesus calls a “magic thought,” and anger is thus not justified. We need to the inner quiet and calm that ensures that we will respond to magic thoughts of others (and ourselves) with compassion.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I immediately recognize anger on my own part and that of others to be a call for help, meriting compassion rather than anger. May I offer the help and love that is needed. May I be gentle to myself, and may I be gentle to others.

Peace is what I want above all else. I do not want to do anything that renders peace meaningless. Please help me in this.

Amen.

The Only Remedy for Lack of Love Is Perfect Love

“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. (T30)”

Affirmation: “The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.”

Reflections:

1 – Poetry

This is another beautiful blank verse poem from the Course. It is also a syllogism, which Jesus seems to appreciate a great deal, for he uses syllogisms from time to time throughout A Course in Miracles.

2 – Fear and Love

It is unlikely that we will understand this poem completely without reading our way through the entire ACIM. Basically, the poem refers to the fact that the only two emotions are fear and love, and that only lack of love makes fear. And even when we have studied diligently, the poem works as a Zen koan, always teasing us out of thought.

3 – Atonement

The Atonement is a shift in perception that allows us to see that we are actually innocent children of God. Heretofore we have believed that we were guilty of black sins that will require retribution. Throughout A Course in Miracles, we learn that reaching perfect love is the ultimate end of our journey here. Knowing only love, we will fear no longer. This too is the Awakening.

4 – Love and a Call for Love

This blank verse poem also calls to mind the admonition in ACIM that only love and a call for love really exist, because fear (being of the ego) is an illusion. We can forgive other people, especially our significant others, by remembering that their anger and attack (never justified, as explained elsewhere in ACIM) are always “distress that rests on error” (from the Text of ACIM). Also, anger and attack are madness, the madness of which we all partake until we see the real world and we experience Awakening. Recognizing insanity is all of us can be a decision that helps us get through the day. We would not blame severely a person acting out of mental illness, even if the deeds were lamentable, and all of us have elements of madness in us. We need therefore to reject fear as unwanted vestiges of the ego in us, and turn to our best expression of love. We need to forgive, even when what has happened does not appear to deserve forgiveness. It does deserve forgiveness, for all actions and thoughts are innocent; we have been guilty of nothing, for we live an illusion, and God’s Sons and Daughters are only sometimes mistaken in their choices. We should not hold an error against anyone. And errors are all that the ego perpetuates, and which of us can say that the ego has really died? Only the Awakened, and this percentage is very tiny in our world.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I find the day hard-going, may I realize that my love is imperfect. Imperfect love makes for a bad day.

May I find the perfect love that You have promised all of your children. May I leave fear behind as I find this perfect love.

I have long sought to see the ego wither away in me, but it is still there, because I do still feel anxiety–a form of fear. Help me to remain calm and at peace today, for I know that the test of perfect peace is evidence that I am listening to You. Thank You for being there in the middle of the night when I am agitated. Things always look better in the daylight. May I take the light of Your day into every 24/7.

Amen.

Fear Is a Call for Love

“If only attack produces fear, and if you see attack as the call for help that it is, the unreality of fear must dawn on you.  For fear is a call for love, in unconscious recognition of what has been denied. (T217)”

Affirmation:  “Fear is a call for love.”

Reflections:

1 – Improving Our Relationships

This passage will go a long way toward smoothing our relationships with each other.  If another attacks us, it is best if we can see it solely as a call for help.  If the attack unnerves us or makes us angry, we are only being fearful.  And, the passage says, we are calling for love.

2 – Love in ACIM

A Course in Miracles sees everything in our world as either an expression of love or a call for love.  If we can believe this, we will be led to forgive our brother, regardless of the form of attack that he might use.  (Note:  This includes our “sister.”)

3 – Fear = Feeling Unloved?

When we feel fear, we have felt unloved.   But this passage speaks of the “unreality of fear,” and this is an important point.  The overarching thought is that the world itself and all that happens in it, outside of love, is an illusion.  This is part of the worldview of ACIM.  When we can truly believe, and let ourselves be comforted by the passages that we read, we will turn loose our hold upon fear.

4 – Choosing Fear

Many of us have chosen fear because we knew no better.  Something went awry in our world, and this threatens us, and before we know it, we are consumed by anxiety.  Jesus would not have it thus.  He asks us to pray for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about (a Text tenet).  He indicates that he cannot resolve the fear, because cause and effect are real, our minds are real, and we have brought fear upon ourselves by not watching our minds closely enough.   Jesus believes that he would be tampering with a most basic law of the universe if he came between our minds and the fear that our minds have made.  Fear is not real, but it seems real to us.  Sometimes fear has a sufficient hold upon the mind that we must turn to magical means for solace.  These magical means are our physical medications, which Jesus does not deny us.  We should not try to heal with the mind if the mind is particularly vulnerable to the results of attack.  A temporary expedient may be needed, if the hold of fear on the mind is particularly tenacious.  (These are all paraphrases from the Text.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would choose to express love today, knowing that this is what You want.  You have no other advice, actually.  If we feel love and express that love, we will let fear fall away, and, with it, the ego.  The ego, a part of my belief about myself, has given me many anxious days and nights with troubled dreams.  I would leave aside all this nonsense immediately.  I give my all to You.

Be with me as I seek to follow Love’s pathway only.  When I slip back into old ego-oriented, anxious ways, help me to know that the best way, the only sane response, is to forego fear.  Why would I cling to something that has made me so unhappy?  It is only because I did not understand Your way well enough.  Help me to understand and to live Your way today.

Amen.