No one attacks without intent to hurt.
This can have no exception. When you think
that you attack in self-defense you mean
that to be cruel is protection; you
are safe because of cruelty. You mean
that you believe to hurt another brings
you freedom. And you mean that to attack
is to exchange the state in which you are
for something better, safer, more secure
from dangerous invasion and from fear.
How thoroughly insane is the idea
that to defend from fear is to attack!
For here is fear begot and fed with blood
to make it grow and swell and rage. And thus
is fear protected, not escaped. Today
we learn a lesson which can save you more
delay and needless misery than you
can possibly imagine. It is this:
You make what you defend against, and by
your own defense against it is it real
and inescapable. Lay down your arms,
and only then will you perceive it false
It seems to be the enemy without
whom you attack. Yet your defense sets up
an enemy within; an alien thought
at war with you, depriving you of peace,
splitting your mind into two camps which seem
wholly irreconcilable. For love
now has an enemy, an opposite,
and fear, the alien, now needs your defense
against the threat of what you really are.
If you consider carefully the means
by which your fancied self-defense proceeds
on its imagined way, you will perceive
the premises on which the idea stands.
First it is obvious ideas must leave
their source. For it is you who make attack,
and must have first conceived of it. Yet you
attack outside yourself, and separate
your mind from him who is to be attacked,
with perfect faith the split you made is real.
Next are the attributes of love bestowed
upon its enemy. For fear becomes
your safety and protector of your peace,
to which you turn for solace and escape
from doubts about your strength, and hope of rest
in dreamless quiet. And as love is shorn
of what belongs to it and it alone,
it is endowed with attributes of fear.
For love would ask you lay down all defense
as merely foolish. And your arms indeed
would crumble into dust. For such they are.
With love as enemy must cruelty
become a god, and gods demand that those
who worship them obey their dictates and
refuse to question them. Harsh punishment
is meted out relentlessly to those
who ask if their demands are sensible
or even sane. It is their enemies
who are unreasonable and insane,
while they are always merciful and just.
Today we look upon this cruel god
dispassionately. And we note that though
his lips are smeared with blood and fire seems
to flame from him, he is but made of stone.
He can do nothing. We need not defy
his power. He has none. And those who see
in him their safety have no guardian,
no strength to call upon in danger, and
no mighty warrior to fight for them.
This moment can be terrible. But it
can also be the time of your release
from abject slavery. You make a choice,
standing before this idol, seeing him
exactly as he is. Will you restore
to love what you have sought to wrest from it
to lay before this mindless piece of stone?
Or will you make another idol to
replace it? For the god of cruelty
takes many forms. Another can be found.
Yet do not think that fear is the escape
from fear. Let us remember what the course
has stressed about the obstacles to peace.
The final one, the hardest to believe
is nothing, and a seeming obstacle
with the appearance of a solid block,
impenetrable, fearful and beyond
surmounting, is the fear of God Himself.
Here is the basic premise which enthrones
the thought of fear as god. For fear is loved
by those who worship it, and love appears
to be invested now in cruelty.
Where does the totally insane belief
in gods of vengeance come from? Love has not
confused its attributes with those of fear.
Yet must the worshippers of fear perceive
their own confusion in fear's enemy;
its cruelty as now a part of love.
And what becomes more fearful than the heart
of Love Itself? The blood appears to be
upon His lips, the fire comes from Him.
And He is terrible above all else,
cruel beyond conception, striking down
all who acknowledge Him to be their God.
The choice you make today is certain. For
you look for the last time upon this bit
of carven stone you made, and call it god
no longer. You have reached this place before,
but you have chosen that this cruel god
remain with you in still another form,
and so the fear of God returned with you.
This time you leave it here. And you return
to a new world unburdened by its weight,
beheld not in its sightless eyes but in
the vision that your choice restored to you.
Now do your eyes belong to Christ, and He
looks through them. Now your voice belongs to God,
and echoes His. And now your heart remains
at peace forever. You have chosen Him
in place of idols, and your attributes,
given by your Creator, are restored
to you at last. The Call of God is heard
and answered. Now has fear made way for love,
as God Himself replaces cruelty.
"Father, we are like You. No cruelty
abides in us, for there is none in You.
Your peace is ours. And we bless the world
with what we have received from You alone.
We choose again, and make our choice for all
our brothers, knowing they are one with us.
We bring them Your salvation as we have
received it now. And we give thanks for them
who render us complete. In them we see
Your glory, and in them we find our peace.
Holy are we, because Your Holiness
has set us free. And we give thanks. Amen"