Section VI. Fear and Conflict 1-5
- Being afraid seems to be involuntary; something beyond your own control. Yet I have said already that only constructive acts should be involuntary. My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does if you so choose. Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled. Fear prevents me from giving you my control. The presence of fear shows that you have raised body thoughts to the level of the mind. This removes them from my control, and makes you feel personally responsible for them. This is an obvious confusion of levels.
- I do not foster level confusion, but you must choose to correct it. You would not excuse insane behavior on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by “giving” autonomy to behavior. This is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance. Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me to guide it.
- It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of misthought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.
- The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a willingness to be separate. At that level you can help it. You are much too tolerant of mind wandering and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.
- Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways: First, you can choose to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behavior, which is intolerable to you because the part of the mind that wants to do something else is outraged. Second, you can behave as you think you should, but without entirely wanting to do so. This produces consistent behavior but entails great strain. In both cases, the mind and the behavior are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not wholly want to do. This arouses a sense of coercion that usually produces rage, and projection is likely to follow. Whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your mind is therefore split, and your behavioral level can shift the error from the first to the second type but will not obliterate the fear.
In paragraph one Jesus teaches that we think that we are afraid because we believe in the made-up versions of reality that are fearsome. Love does not generate fear, nor does it seek to correct or heal it. Love is truth; fear is a lie. A lie has no correction except to be replaced by the truth. Jesus therefore cannot save us from fear unless we choose not to believe in the lie of it. No matter what we are afraid of – be it the dark, or those who creep about in darkness performing dirty deeds – having fear means that we have let our trust in God fall away and have put our trust in a lie. The responsibility for not choosing fear is up to each one of us. We have a choice to trust in God or trust in fear. When I choose to identify with my body, God is no longer in charge of my mind and fear enters in. I am back in charge of me because I have chosen fear.
In yesterday’s reading, Jesus assured us that our lower-level needs will always be taken care of when we trust in God and put Him in charge. Miracle workers around the world will be given a means to support themselves. They will not have to worry about food and clothing and warmth and shelter and other necessities and even luxuries. We will have confidence that we will always have enough and be good enough. We will not have to concern ourselves about wild beasts tearing our flesh from our bone nor mean-spirited people forming alliances and plotting against us. The Lord provides for those who put their trust in Him.
However, when we begin to fear for the protection of our bodies, we have taken our trust away from God and put fear in charge. Jesus cannot deliver us from that because it is a choice we made. It was our fear of God and not our love and trust in Him which caused the separation, and it is our fear of God and not our love and trust in Him that would keep the separation going!
Jesus clarifies the problem of level confusion for us, but we are responsible for correcting it. Do we put our trust in God or in lies? Do we search for truth in the world’s daily fear-riddled newsreel or trust in God’s love, devotion and care for us? Fill our minds with media forecasts– we are going to be afraid. Jesus is asking you and me to recognize that the thoughts we think are to be under His guidance, but He does not come unwelcomed. This means that we must recognize that fearful thoughts are not thoughts from God, they are from a source that is full of lies, suspicions, and untruth. Fearful thoughts are miscreations that are not based on the Atonement, which is the Principle of Love. Jesus does not make the choice for us between fearful and loving thought – we must make that choice by learning to recognize and pay attention to our thoughts and their source.
When things arise in our lives that are the result of our mistaken thoughts, there is no healing. When we are afraid, it means we have chosen the wrong place in which to place our trust. We have decided to separate Creation into one side being good and worthy of our allegiance and the other side as being evil and depraved. We have set our sights on being higher than another, or conversely placing another person as worthy of that which only belongs to God. This reminds me in my own life how I would make a big blunder and then pray for the results of that blunder to be somehow made right and good and work out for me! It is not until we correct the cause of the blunder that there can be healing. I cannot expect the people that I backstabbed and built a case against to forgive and love me as long as I continue to hold judgment and ill will in my thoughts toward them and toward myself. As long as I see them as somehow being inferior to me, no behavior on my part will heal the rift between us. I can bake them cookies and send them gift cards and pray for them until the cows come home, but it is only as I begin to see them and myself as equal and worthy Sons of God that healing can take place. The world’s weak forms of charity and forgiveness may seem to patch things up temporarily but for true healing to take place, the mind must be under the control of our older and wiser Brother Who only offers His guidance and control when welcomed.
Correction of fear falls upon our shoulders. When we ask for release from fear, we are asking Him to do our work for us. The language we use should reflect our very best understanding of Atonement and the principle of Love upon which it stands. We are to pray for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. When I begin to build a case against someone, I am willing to separate myself from that person because I have held fearful thoughts toward them. I am more willing to think of them as an enemy, than I am to take this relationship to God and ask for Atonement for myself and them as equals. I am not standing with Christ when I am willing to see division in the Brotherhood rather than healing and unity, I am standing with anti-Christ. This is the point where I need help. When I begin to see the whining, self-promoting, and irksome behavior of one of my nearest and dearest through the eyes of fear and loathing instead of love, forgiveness, and thoughts of helpfulness – when sneering thoughts occur to me instead of loving and forgiving ones, this is where I call for help and correction. I take those snide and unloving thoughts to God and say, “I don’t want to think of my dear brother in this way. I do not want to think of so-and-so with thoughts of fear and loathing. Please take these and give me thoughts of her goodness and love. Remind me of all the fun we have together, our happy memories, our precious times we share…”
Jesus says that we are much too tolerant of our miscreations. We think it is perfectly reasonable to think of others in terms of mooch, pest, narcissist, bully, and stupid, defining them by their mistakes in mortality rather than their divine reality as God’s Creation. This leads to fear because the labels we place on God’s Creations are the very labels we place upon ourselves.
We are afraid, Jesus says when what we want – peace and love and joy – conflicts with what we do. Years ago I was praying for peace and love and joy – and yet what I was doing was thinking sour, mean thoughts towards my loved ones whom I thought of as having failed me in my greatest hour of need. I held grudges and dwelled upon their selfishness, their jealousy, their lack of appreciation, and so forth. I thought of all the things I did for them, which they failed to recognize or reciprocate. In my mind they began to take on forms of caricatures that symbolized all that was unworthy of my love and affection. Because of a sense of family loyalty and keeping with tradition, I continued to pretend that everything was okay. I communicated my hurt feelings over their mockery, bad manners, lack of respect, support, and goodwill, not in a spirit of healing, but in a spirit of grievance and complaint. While I sincerely wanted peace and love and joy, I also wanted to be the big cheese, the one everyone loved the most, the one who had all the answers! Jesus explains that this conflict between what our minds really want and what we are doing leads to outrage.
When the shit hit the fan, there was no point asking God to heal the outcome of all that negativity for it was my own miscreation. As long as I am unwilling to believe the truth about my family’s love and devotion, their beauty and goodness, but rather trust in the fearful report based upon the false witness of perception, any so-called “healing” will be temporary and unstable. When I choose thoughts of love, of truth, of peace and joy, I will know my loved ones as God’s loved ones, all equal in our need of Atonement, all equal in our need for correction and healing. This can only take place in my mind. We cannot correct separation anywhere except in the mind where it was created in the first place. And God does not do this for us. We are responsible for the thoughts we choose to believe about ourselves, about others, and about God.
If I were a different kind of person I may have chosen the second path that leads to conflict. I know that there are some people who having more self-discipline than I do, have forced themselves to go for years behaving as they thought they should. Being taken advantage of and letting others usurp their time and misuse their resources, all the while not necessarily complaining or talking trash, but knowing on some gut level that this was not right or proper. This leads to a sense of coercion, Jesus says, that leads to outrage and projection. Accusing others for our refusal to take responsibility to set proper limits and fair boundaries is saying that it is someone else’s duty to read our minds and telepathically know our needs. Nobody should be put in that position! Blaming others for denying us what we feel is our fair due does not at all impress the God in us, for it is absolving our responsibility for our thoughts and for the conflict that arises when we do not communicate truthfully with God or others, allowing the misperceptions that come up to stand for truth in our minds.
We will close today’s study with paragraph five, but I urge you to continue reading the rest of section six on your own. We are compelled to come clean with our selves and take responsibility for what we have become all too comfortable blaming others and asking God to do for us. Ask God to illuminate the meaning of this part of the text for you in a way in which you can apply it to the fear and conflict that appears in your own life in time and space. Meditate and take notes in your personal Course journal and be sure to share it with someone – for when we share we are trusting in the principle of receiving to give and giving to receive.
Thank you for listening and have a blessed day.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 2: VI Fear and conflict. 1-5. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com