Tag Archives: religion & spirituality

Seek to Master Love, Not Fear

“We began this section with an attempt to correct the fundamental human error that fear can be mastered. The correction was that only love can be mastered. Even if you are ready for revelation, though, that does not mean that you have in any way mastered that form of communication. Mastery of love necessarily involves a much more complete confidence in the ability than you have as yet attained. Readiness, however, is at least an indication that you believe this is possible. This is only the beginning of confidence. In case this be misunderstood as a statement that an enormous amount of time will be necessary between readiness and mastery, I would again remind you that time and space are under my control.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-2.XII.10:1-7)

Yes, time and space are under Jesus’ control, and here he is trying to get us to do what seems impossible to us—to master love. We often attempt to do the reverse, master fear. We are in pain when we experience anxiety, and we just want to get rid of the feeling. But we are limited in what we can do until we turn our bodies and souls over to love. Then, when love is attained, and even mastered, our fears drop away. It is just that simple.

I have long been prone to anxieties; they have dogged my every step through this life. But when I am immersed in love, feeling love with every bone in my body, I notice that there is no trace of fear/anxieties. And this is what Jesus is talking about. We master fear by first mastering love.

Of course, we don’t stay in a cloud of love all the time. This world drags us back. But as often as we retreat from love, and then feel fear, we can try again, take another step in a better direction. We move forward and retreat throughout our lives. Only in Awakening are the vicissitudes altered. Then we have smoother sailing.

So: Seek to master love, not fear. The benefits are stupendous. The way opens to God Himself, for God is but Love.

Fantasies Are a Means of Making False Associations and Attempting to Obtain Pleasure from Them

vangogh_cafe1888“Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them. (T15)”

Affirmation: “May I not indulge in meaningless fantasies.”

Reflections:

1 – Fantasies Are Untruths

Many of us are prone to this unreality. We are bade to leave fantasies behind, as they are untruths that do not lead to the real world. The “false associations” are just that–lies that we tell ourselves. And would we not do well to stop lying to ourselves?

2 – Personal Experience

I once spent a an unhealthy amount of time in fantasies, not just for trying to get “pleasure” in my fantasies, but because the fantasies seemed to me to be a type of dream in which I could learn something. I wanted to learn more about my life and how I fitted into my overall picture of living. I wanted to know how I fitted in with the other people whom I knew and whom I wished to know. So I let my mind rove freely in reverie, which is a kind of fantasy.

3 – Continued. . .

Of course, I derived pleasure from these reveries as well, or I would not have continued so long in them. They were particularly prevalent, as the fantasies are for many people, when in high school I discovered boys. My first boyfriend, when I was 16, was a rich source of material for fantasy. But was this healthy? And is it healthy for anybody? I think not.

4 – Fantasies from Vivid Dreams

Later on, I had vivid dreams that seemed to me to tell me something more about my life than daily life could tell. And I enlarged on these nighttime dreams by “listening” in reverie. I do not discount that some of this fantasy may have been an attempt to make contact with the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. But in this passage for today, Jesus does not recommend such meanderings in the thought process. He will later tell us that we are much too prone to “mind wandering,” and that every thought creates form at some level.

5 – Creation of Form

While we cannot understand this form creation, we can see that we are on dangerous ground. And we can pull back.

6 – This World

When we live totally in this world, it is almost inevitable that we will find ourselves lost in fantasies. These fantasies are a way of coping in a world that seems far too cruel to allow us to live easily. But there is another way, a better way. And the Course always says the same thing: Turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance. He will lead us out of an illusory present into a real world that will bring happiness.

7 – We Do Not Have to Learn through Pain

We may still know pain, though Jesus assures us that we do not have to learn through pain. In our world, though, pain as a means of learning is more common than any other way. In the pain, we turn to God. We do not have to learn this way, but if it happens to us, we would be foolish not to take the new pathway that God points to–away from the pain. Fantasies then have no meaning in a world made anew by turning to spirit for answers and finding the wholly satisfying nature of true reality.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I have indulged in fantasies when the world seemed too cruel. Fantasies were an escape. May, instead, I welcome Your teaching that will free me from unreal concepts of the world. Then I will find joy instead of sorrow.

May I leave fantasies behind as I follow the Holy Spirit into the real world, a world of forgiveness and joy.

May my brothers and sisters in this world also see the value of leaving behind an illusory world of fantasy. Perhaps the more we leave behind fantasy, the more ready for the real world we may become.

Amen.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

vangogh_selfportrait1889“Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.
But
Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist. (T14)”

Affirmation: “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Reflections:

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.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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.

Amen.