“Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.
Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist. (T14)”
Affirmation: “Perfect love casts out fear.”
1 – Syllogisms
Jesus seems fond of syllogisms. There are a number in the Course, but this is phrased in perhaps this most beautiful way of all of his syllogisms.
2 – Perfect Love
How is it possible to live in perfect love? We are aware of how often we fall short of this ideal. And this makes us feel that there is no hope for progress toward Awakening. By ourselves, we cannot live in perfect love. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can move closer to satori, which is a glimpse of Awakening. These glimpses can come more and more frequently as we walk the pathway. We will be so warmed by these satori that we will know that our walk is not in vain.
3 – Fear
And we must let fear fall by the wayside. How do we do this? My greatest way is to pray, heartfelt prayer. I am especially likely to become fearful when I awaken in the middle of the night, sometimes after a bad dream or even nightmare. I feel anxious, and I do not always even remember that prayer is what I need (though prayer is an obvious answer). When I get out of bed, get a drink of water, breathe deeply a few times, then return to bed, my next step is simply to ask God (or the Holy Spirit) for help. God cannot resist a request for help, and He comes immediately. The help usually comes by way of remembered conversation, reading, or my own earlier musings. These words come to mind unbidden. And they comfort in the extreme. If I am lucky, I will drift back off to sleep. But if I don’t, I tell myself that there is a reason that I am awake, praying. I recall from the New Testament that Jesus often went away from his disciples and prayed deeply. Can we not follow his example?
4 – Unreality
Here, in the exposition of the difference between love and fear, A Course in Miracles goes to the heart of the unreality in which we live. We live in illusions, not the real world, at all–at least most of us. (The real world comes near the conclusion of our pathway back to God.) When we live in illusion, we know that all of our brothers and sisters are innocent; nothing has actually happened, except in illusion, and so how could we and others not be innocent of actual happenings of wrongdoing? We are all worthy of forgiveness, and this matter of forgiving one’s brother is the way to salvation, from the viewpoint of ACIM. We do not pardon real happenings. Everyone is doing the best that he/she can, given understanding at the moment. All of us try.
5 – Self
Our illusions mean that we do not have to fear what comes, because our real Self has not been touched.
6 – Bad Dreams
Perfect love and fear are completely incompatible. This is what this passage is saying. Because most of us still feel fear upon occasion, we are lost in dreams–and not the happy dreams of the Holy Spirit. There is a danger that we will feel depressed upon reading these words. But elsewhere Jesus cautions us not to lose heart. If the way seems long, once begun the way back is always found in the end. If the way seems long, we are to take heart and to know that we will find our way back, ultimately.
In reality, only perfect love exists. But we frequently feel fear, and so we are not experiencing the real world on a consistent basis. When I feel anxious, I know that the best antidote is to pray to You. You set all things right–not some, but all. And in that assurance is my anxiety always eased.
May we experience the real world. If this seems a long way off, may we in the interim experience the happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings.