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.