III. Love Without Conflict 1-5
- It is hard to understand what “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” really means. This is because it is not understandable to the ego, which interprets it as if something outside is inside, and this does not mean anything. The word “within” is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? This is the whole message of the Atonement; a message which in its totality transcends the sum of its parts. You, too, have a Kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego’s illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your Creator will always be. Be confident that your creations are as safe as you are: The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.
- This is written in the form of a prayer because it is useful in moments of temptation. It is a declaration of independence. You will find it very helpful if you understand it fully. The reason you need my help is because you have denied your own Guide and therefore need guidance. My role is to separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength the ego cannot prevail.
- It is surely apparent by now why the ego regards spirit as its “enemy.” The ego arose from the separation, and its continued existence depends on your continuing belief in the separation. The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is its own. Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakable being. No one who has experienced the revelation of this can ever fully believe in the ego again. How can its meager offering to you prevail against the glorious gift of God?
- You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get.”
- There is a kind of experience so different from anything the ego can offer that you will never want to cover it or hide it again. It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter. The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask. This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions. It is the glorious condition of what you are.
As we come to our devotional practice today, Jesus introduces us to the idea of love without conflict. In the ego, this is impossible. What we call human “love” is not love at all because it is conflicted, it is unstable, it is uncertain, it can change. Human love gives us a run for its money. We must fight for it, hang on to it for dear life, wrap it up in charms and magic, make vows, break vows, make new vows – it is a mad dog from hell, some say – what humans call love. We all want it, we crave it, we even kill for it, but it never lives up to its promise.
Jesus begins love without conflict by revealing to us what the inner Kingdom really means. To the ego, the inner kingdom means nothing. Because the ego cannot perceive the Kingdom of God, the ego is only vaguely aware of it and deathly afraid of it. Jesus tells us today that the inner Kingdom is what we are. It is the only thing we are. We may think we are humans; we may think we are egos, but this is only temporary, this is only an outward expression which cannot begin to define our identity. Our spirits and our egos are not co-creators, they are not companions, they do not speak the same language, they do not communicate. But our spirits have never left God; they are protected by God, and nothing the ego does can harm either our spirits or what we create with God.
This is our declaration of independence, our freedom song. Ask the Lord to elucidate the meaning of this to help you understand both the continued safety and productivity of our spirits even while we experience humanity. When I asked the Lord to clarify the meaning of this to me, I was shown a rather pithy, human illustration, which may be helpful to you. If I suffer some brain damage and have to be committed to an asylum to keep me from hurting myself or others, my husband would continue to keep our house and all that we have safe and secure until I recover my marbles, return to my senses, and am able to come home and perform my functions as mate, teacher, writer, and matriarch. Even while I am in a state of active insanity, James would pick up the slack, just as I would do for him – because we love each other, because we believe in each other, because our commitment to one another is beyond sickness and health. It just is.
We have denied our Guide and we need help to return to our senses. Jesus helps us to separate the tangled web of truth and falsity that our madness has made of Creation. Our minds have become a bewildering maze of perverted truths, half-baked theories, and ever-changing suppositions. Only until our minds are healed can the light of truth shine again. Becoming one with Jesus simply means asking for and accepting His guidance. And His promise is that our united strength is invulnerable to all tactics of the ego.
The ego regards spirit as its enemy. The only way it continues to exist is the continued belief we have in the separation, in being an outcast of Heaven, of fearing God rather than loving Him. Ego rewards us for believing in the cast-out-of-the-Kingdom version of reality with a temporary existence which begins at birth and ends with death. Ego convinces us that this is all the life we get, because it is all the life it gets. It is a leech that feeds on the sad belief in its lies, its perversions, its impermanence, lack of love, disease, decay, and death.
And yet once we remember, once the light of truth begins to penetrate our darkened minds, once we have experienced the truth of God’s eternal love and devotion, to who and what we are in Him and to Him, the ego’s hold upon our minds is loosened. We can never fully believe in its lies again.
As long as we identify with our human body, our ego, our human condition we will not believe God loves us. No matter how much we value our bodies, we can not truly love ourselves in the flesh! We eat too much; we drink too much. We slink about concerned that our flesh is somehow better or worse than other flesh. We tell lies, we talk about our brothers behind their backs. Our bodies smell foul and get infected unless we bathe every day and twice on Sundays. We plot and scheme. We gush over people for all the wrong things. We love someone one day and cannot stand them the next. We are in constant need of gratification. Take away our food and water and we become ravenous beasts who wolfishly gobble whatever we can to fill but never appease our rapacious appetites. Whether we live one year or a hundred years, all of our flesh withers away from the bone and turns to dust. This is what we get when we deny our identity in God. We make a hellish substitute – one in which we find impossible to truly love and one in which has no love nor allegiance to us.
Jesus tells us that the ego cannot conceive God’s love for us because the ego has only ever known the conflicted love of this world. It is ambivalent. For in the world of physicality love is hard work, it is stressful, it is demanding, and it is never satisfied. It is the humans we “love” the most who stress us the most, whom we complain about the most, who drain us not only of our time, our energy, our money, but of our joy, our happiness, and sense of well-being. Our ego expectations of those we love demand their loyalty, their sacrifice, their willingness to be all that we expect them to be. And vice versa. We trade freedom and liberty of the Kingdom for the iron balls and heavy chains of love ego style – conditional, conflicted, and coerced.
Jesus promises us in today’s reading that we can go beyond the ego’s substitute for love. We can have and be the real deal. Love will enter the minds of those who truly want it without conflict. There is no “drive to get” in real Love. This Love delivers us from the ego version once and for all. This does not mean that we will not make a few mistakes; it simply means that the real deal is so unlike the ego’s version that ego’s version will never be a real ongoing temptation again. We will be more and more willing to expose the ego, to no longer give it a place in our minds, to bring it to the light of God’s Love. To let go of its insatiable drive to get, to lay down its feeble replacement for Love and ask for the real deal.
The gifts that God has for us are immeasurable. They are beyond perception. They are beyond the limited and limiting scope of the ego’s greedy grasp for that which never satisfies. We ask that we may receive. We must ask because our Spirits are free and there is no coercion in Love. Love does not show up at our mind’s door and barge in unwelcome. Light does not show up in darkness – the uninvited guest. Ask, Jesus says. Welcome with no fear, no ambivalence, no conflict.
We will end today’s reading at paragraph five. Tomorrow we will complete the final paragraphs of Love without Conflict. Continue in your prayers for enlightenment, for illumination, for ways in which the concepts can be personally illustrated and applied in your life. Pay particular attention to the second sentence of the last paragraph of today’s reading: “It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter.” When you read the news, watch a movie, or simply observe human interaction as it goes on around you in any setting – watch for indications of the belief in darkness and hiding, pay attention to the times we fail to welcome the light of love. The other night I watched a movie called Bliss, which unlike its title, provided me plenty of opportunity to take note of the belief in darkness and hiding. Darkness and hiding are lies of the ego – there is no real power in harming, in getting for one’s self, in replacing one temporal circumstance or relationship for a “better” one. Dare to imagine a different scenario where light and transparency are offered in place of darkness and hiding, where helpfulness and harmlessness heal, correct, and replace the ill will and harmful practices that spin and keep on spinning the deceitful web of ego-world. Ask God with a sincere heart and an undivided mind to save you from all substitutes, substances, and subversions of the ego and give you the immeasurable gifts which are not only for you but are You. Pray in the name of Jesus for He is our Brother, our Savior, and our Guide.
A Course in Miracles. Chapter Four Illusions of the ego III Love without conflict. 1-5. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
For 2021 daily Workbook Lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.
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