True safety resides in our willingness to offer only empathy and compassion to our brothers and sisters. When we love even our enemies – when we are even willing to love our enemies – then we no longer have enemies. Love is our protection.
Love is the secret to true safety. And Love holds everything.
Love is the protection of the other as well. If we refuse to indulge conflict – if we decline both attack and defense – then conflict no longer exists, and the other is as safe as we are, even if they don’t believe it.
Defenselessness is strength. It testifies to the recognition of the Christ in you . . . Defenselessness can never be attacked, because it recognizes a strength so great attack is folly, or a silly game a tired child might play, when he becomes too sleepy to remember what he wants (W-pI.153.6:1-2, 4).
Given the option of nonviolence, people often ask: “does this mean I should let people walk all over me?”
It’s a fair question. But it only makes sense from the vantage point of the body, and the separated self that is supposedly indelibly associated with that body. In other words, it only makes sense if what we are can be walked on. If it can’t, then it doesn’t matter what happens to the body.
Which – surprise surprise – is exactly the point A Course in Miracles makes in its framing of Jesus’s crucifixion.
The message the crucifixion was intended to reach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assult in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely (T-6.I.4:6-7).
Turn the other cheek indeed.
I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn and finally killed (T-6.I.9:1-2).
I want to be clear here. If somebody punches you, walk away. If somebody moves to hurt your child, protect your child. If you need help getting away from violence, ask for help. Ask me. I will help you. Refusing to suffer means refusing to let others be a cause of suffering – it is a gift we give, not a privilege we protect.
A Course in Miracles is a response to an identity crisis. It is a correction to the erroneous perception that we are bodies in a world. The deal is, we work together to minimize harm and maximize happiness in order to remember what we are in truth.
In my experience of studying and practicing ACIM, nonviolence is the quickest means by which to remember that we are not bodies and there is no world and thus to properly contextualize this dream and no longer be troubled by it.
Nonviolence starts with not hurting others. Yet we have to notice how much of “hurting others” occurs outside our awareness. It’s easy to realize that when we shout at somebody or cheat on somebody that it’s bad. It’s easy to say “I”m sorry.”
What is hard is realizing the way in which our deepest thoughts and biases are themselves violent, and that because of them – and because we are not investigating them – they feed the communal nightmare by which school shootings, Jesus grifters, factory farms and conspiracy-thinking gain traction and momentum.
I am suggesting there are levels of being where you realize not only that you are doing this to yourself (e.g. T-27.VIII.10:1) but you are also doing [insert heinous act here] to others.
We do not want to see this about ourselves – we do not want to wade through an endless fog of confusion to reach fetid swamps anger, hatred and fear.
When we do this – when we reach the juncture where we are utterly repulsed by our own self – then suddenly (as if all along we were attended by a loving friend) we will discover that we can no longer hate anybody. The worst of all of us is inside us. We see that we are the problem, and then (as if all along we were attended by one who has already walked this walk), we feel only compassion for our brothers and sisters – especially the ones, near and far, who threaten us the most.
This is Love, and this Love will direct us in very specific ways (e.g., T-1.1:4:2-3).
I say this a lot because it is a core principle of our spiritual practice as students of A Course in Miracles: there is only love and the cry for love. And the response to both is the same: love.
I speak here only to my own experience. I am a friend saying “this worked for me,” not an expert saying “this is the law and the prophets.” Be kind to yourself, for you merit kindness, and don’t be afraid to face your ghosts and demons, and their facsimiles in the world. They are nothing before the light of what you are in truth.
Sean I’ve arrived at this place that you are writing about today,seeing clearly that this is the way. Seeing the truth in it makes it an almost joyful task. Exhilarating actually. I know now I’ve been brought here not by my own will but by love. All searching is over now for me. It’s become so blindingly obvious that what you say in this post is the way the only way. On your last few posts I say Amen. For me you have levelled the hills and filled the valleys im so grateful for you
Thank you, Sean. That feeling of joy – and that feeling of no longer needing to seek – is truly a blessing. I am grateful that we share it together. Thank you for being here.
I live in Portland Oregon and I have been having a lot of trouble with the so-called Homeless problem and how misunderstood it is. When I am at my best I see that YES there are people who are, through circumstances, without money, food and shelter. Sometimes there are children involved. It makes me sad and it makes me want to be part of the solution. Here’s where the BUT comes in. Those people usually get help. Portland is one of the most liberal, eager to help, understanding and non-God-fearing cities in America. Lots of atheists here and they are proud of it. But they are the OPPOSITE of what many modern Christians would call “heathen”. They believe it is their job to provide solutions in the name of humanity, if not God. I love that aspect of Portland. However, much of the HOMELESSNESS is drug addiction, legalized drugs and the ridiculous belief that Police are there to instruct and smile, and not to do the original job they were hired to do. Our city is in a terrible dilemma which is not being solved by being understanding of all the WRONG THINGS. I am a retired person who needs to have a drug store and a food store to stay safe and ALIVE. I have no place to go if Portland fails when (as WalMart has already done) businesses shutter and move away due to theft and shoplifting and a Police Force is prevented from arresting people. I personally have been totally surrendered to ACIM and my life has changed accordingly. To say I don’t have some discomfort would be dishonest. I want to help. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to see people hurt or their lives disrupted. But in trying to help people who don’t want it and ignoring property owners whose home values are crashing and old people who are afraid of victimization is not working either. I am in for the duration and I want to be there for ALL my brothers. I will do whatever it takes to be a Light and not focus on the other UNREALITY.
Thank you, Luke. This is a heartfelt comment. I hear you.
For me, the very presence of an external crisis – whether it’s homelessness, or a mean co-worker, or it rains when I wanted to be outside gardening – means that I have not yet accepted the atonement for myself, and am still accepting the ego’s framework.
This is not a crisis! It is very important that I not judge against myself when I find myself collaborating with the ego to produce unhappiness. Really, it is a chance to begin again with the Holy Spirit.
The problem is never what is outside of me; it is always the mind that is choosing to see a certain way. So the work is to prayerfully and gently invite the Holy Spirit to help me see this differently.
In my experience, when the Holy Spirit responds, its response is always constructive. There is a way forward, which both lessens my own stress AND allows me to contribute meaningfully to the so-called problem appearing outside of me.
This usually has to do with acceptance of uncertainty inside and a willingness to be of service outside.
It is important that we not deny our feelings and thoughts. There is absolutely no value in this. We are allowed to speak our truth; we are allowed to hold our truth; we are allowed to seek a better world for all of us.
I know that none of this is precisely or particularly responsive to the problem you are experiencing, which is real for you. I am saying that I hear you and that this is a chance for you to both reconnect with the Holy Spirit AND help your brothers and sisters.
But enter that prayerful reconnection with the Holy Spirit in a state of openness – whatever the solution is, it will not conform to your expectation. It will take some other form that you don’t anticipate.
Trust God, and trust yourself. The two are not separate but one. It is not possible for Love to fail.