"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
A Course in Miracles
TEXT

CHAPTER 23
The War Against Yourself

III. The Laws of Chaos 19-31

 1 9 The "laws" of chaos can be brought to light, though never understood. Chaotic laws are hardly meaningful and therefore out of reason's sphere. Yet they appear to constitute an obstacle to reason and to truth. Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are, not what they would maintain. It is essential it be understood what they are for, because it is their purpose to make meaningless and to attack the truth. Here are the laws that rule the world you made. And yet they govern nothing and need not be broken; merely looked upon and gone beyond.

20 The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts which sets him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ and those who hold them seem to be unlike and therefore enemies.

21 Think how this seems to interfere with the first principle of miracles. For this establishes degrees of truth among illusions, making it appear that some of them are harder to overcome than others. If it were realized that they are all the same and equally untrue, it would be easy, then, to understand that miracles apply to all of them. Errors of any kind can be corrected because they are untrue. When brought to truth instead of to each other , they merely disappear. No part of nothing can be more resistant to the truth than can another.

22 The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshiper of sin, is that each one must sin and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors call for punishment and not correction. For the destruction of the one who makes the error places him beyond correction and beyond forgiveness. What he has done is thus interpreted as an irrevocable sentence upon himself, which God Himself is powerless to overcome. Sin cannot be remitted, being the belief the Son of God can make mistakes for which his own destruction becomes inevitable.

23 Think what this seems to do to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Now it appears that they can never be one again. For one must always be condemned and by the other . Now are they different and enemies . And their relationship is one of opposition, just as the separate aspects of the Son meet only to conflict but not to join. One becomes weak, the other strong by his defeat. And fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator. The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here.

24 Here is a principle which would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken. This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, then He must accept his Son's belief in what he is and hate him for it.

25 See how the fear of God is reinforced by this third principle. Now it becomes impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the "enemy" Who caused it and to Whom appeal is useless. Nor can salvation lie within the Son, whose every aspect seems to be at war with Him and justified in its attack. And now is conflict made inevitable and beyond the help of God. And now salvation must remain impossible because the savior has become the enemy.

26 There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins, there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it to overcome His Son. Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants . That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.

27 The ego values only what it takes . This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another's loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognize that you can never take away save from yourself . Yet all the other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another, nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, just because they keep it hidden from your sight.

28 All of the mechanisms of madness are seen emerging here: the "enemy," made strong by keeping hidden the valuable inheritance which should be yours; your justified position and attack for what has been withheld; and the inevitable loss the enemy must suffer to save yourself. Thus do the guilty ones protest their "innocence." Were they not forced into this foul attack by the unscrupulous behavior of the enemy, they would respond with only kindness. But in a savage world, the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.

29 And now there is a vague unanswered question, not yet "explained." What is this precious thing, this priceless pearl, this hidden secret treasure, to be wrested in righteous wrath from this most treacherous and cunning enemy? It must be what you want but never found. And now you "understand" the reason why you found it not. For it was taken from you by this enemy and hidden where you would not think to look. He hid it in his body, making it the cover for his guilt, the hiding place for what belongs to you. Now must his body be destroyed and sacrificed that you may have that which belongs to you. His treachery demands his death that you may live. And you attack only in self defense.

30 But what is it you want that needs his death? Can you be sure your murderous attack is justified unless you know what it is for ? And here a final principle of chaos comes to the rescue. It holds there is a substitute for love. This is the "magic" that will cure all of your pain; the missing factor in your madness that makes it "sane." This is the reason why you must attack. Here is what makes your vengeance justified. Behold, unveiled, the ego's secret gift, torn from your brother's body, hidden there in malice and in hatred for the one to whom the gift belongs. He would deprive you of the secret ingredient which would give meaning to your life. The substitute for love, born of your enmity to one another, must be salvation. It has no substitute, and there is only one. And all your relationships have but the purpose of seizing it and making it your own.

31 Never is your possession made complete. And never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love and kill you both. You who believe you walk in sanity, with feet on solid ground and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: [These are the laws on which your "sanity" appears to rest.] These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. This is their purpose; they were made for this. There is no point in asking what they mean. That is apparent. The means of madness must be insane. Are you as certain that you realize the goal is madness?

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Lesson 254
Let every voice but God's be still in me.

1 Father, today I would but hear Your Voice. In deepest silence, I would come to You to hear Your Voice and to receive Your Word. I have no prayer but this: I come to You to ask You for the truth. And truth is but Your Will, which I would share with You today.

2 Today we let no evil thoughts direct our words or actions. When such thoughts occur, we quietly step back and look at them, and then we let them go. We do not want what they would bring with them. And so we do not choose to keep them. They are silent now. And in the stillness, hallowed by His Love, God speaks to us and tells us of our will, as we have chosen to remember Him.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 254
Let every voice but God's be still in me.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
If we are to hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit, we have to look past the constantly jabbering voice of the ego that does not tell us anything true. We have to choose to no longer listen to it or pursue its goals and plans for achieving them, as they don’t serve us. The ego is constantly sending us on a search for happiness and peace that can't be found in the world. Only when we turn to the quiet Voice within, which is the Voice of Truth, will we find the peace and joy within us. It is the Voice of our true will.
 
It is not about trying to silence our distracting thoughts as much as noticing them and choosing to turn away from them. The ego demands retaliation, defense, attack, revenge, and anything that will accumulate more guilt and more suffering. When we see what the ego is up to, we will voluntarily choose to no longer listen to its demands. When we want above all else to return to sanity and peace, our motivation to apply forgiveness to every situation is enhanced. Forgiveness is the only way to sanity. It is to recognize that nothing here has meaning, nothing here is real, and therefore, what we believe our brother has done to us has not really happened, and so we are called to overlook it. It is all a dream of our own making. Everyone who has been called into our lives is simply playing out the roles we have assigned to them.
 
When I am angry or upset about something my brother seems to have done to me, I can choose to see the situation differently. I have interpreted it incorrectly if I am not at peace. When I give my thoughts to the Holy Spirit, He shows me another way of seeing. He shows me that everything is either love or an expression of a deep call for love. There is nothing else. If I see my brother as guilty, I am making his error real. I am seeing something not there. When I realize forgiveness is all I want because guilt only brings me more suffering, I turn to the quiet Voice within for His help.
 
If we fight our ego thoughts or try very hard to silence the ego, we will meet with frustration. Instead, we can distance ourselves from these thoughts when we look at them and realize that we can ask for help in recognizing that these thoughts need not be taken seriously. The first step in this process is to watch the thoughts, inquire more deeply into their origin in the mind, and be willing to place them on the inner altar. This is where the Holy Spirit replaces them for us when we give them over to Him. It is how our minds are shifted from the grievance to the miracle. Our part is to look at our anger and pain and accept our own thought system as the cause of all our suffering. No one has done anything to hurt us. When we see it this way, we can give our pain over to the Holy Spirit. He substitutes peace for the pain and suffering that we give over to Him. This is the choice we make when we decide that we no longer want to turn to the ego as our guide. We no longer want its offerings.
 
We spend our days attending to all kinds of pursuits we think will meet our needs. The hopes, needs, wants, and desires that I think I have are just ego distortions of my real desire, which is to know my Christ Self and to know God's Love in me. All of the frenetic activity comes from thoughts in my monkey mind. These thoughts can be replaced with stillness when I give them over to the Holy Spirit. By now, we know this takes a great amount of practice.
 
Silence is a rare commodity in the rush of events in our lives. When I was in Sedona, in the year 2000, studying the Course and spending lots of time in nature, climbing mountains, and meditating, it seemed easier to be still. I did not engage in as many distractions as in my daily life in Edmonton. After becoming acclimatized to the quiet meditative experience of living in Sedona, I took a trip to Scottsdale and went to a busy mall with a friend, something I had not done for the previous six months. It was such an assault on my senses that I couldn't wait to return to the quiet of Sedona. Later, on my return to Edmonton, I initially felt overwhelmed by the demands of life. I was amazed at how quickly I acclimatized to the frenetic pace of daily life. The contrast was very apparent. Having said that, I realized that peace can be available in any situation and is not dependent on outside circumstances. However, to connect deeply to the peace within, withdrawing from the frenetic pace as much as we can is essential.
 
Taking time for stillness can seem like just one more demand to add to the day. Yet it is important to withdraw from the world and find time for stillness and to connect with the quiet place within. It is to connect with the Child in us. "It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father's house. You are His home as well. He will return. But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love." (W.182.5.1-7)
 
A couple of days ago I was waiting for Don to finish what he was doing so we could go home. I started to notice thoughts of impatience in my mind when he was delayed. “Why was he taking so long?” “I have lots to do.” “There are groceries to get.” “We have company for dinner.” “My time is important!” Then I was reminded of the Lesson and asked for help to use this time to turn away from the ego and take advantage of the opportunity to be still and listen within. I realized the time spent waiting could be a gift if I were willing to no longer listen to the ego and turn within. No one but me is responsible for how I choose to feel in any situation. It takes a lot of mind training. I reminded myself that the happiness I experience, or not, has nothing to do with anything outside of my own mind. It has only to do with my decision to let the ego, or the Holy Spirit, be my guide. I find this kind of positive self-talk helpful. It motivates me to turn away from the ego on behalf of my own happiness.
 
In turning our thoughts over to the Holy Spirit, we are simply agreeing that they don't make us happy. We are seeing our own minds as the cause and the world as the effect, not the other way around. We are seeing that no one can take our peace away from us. If we don't have it, we have chosen to throw it away. When we are willing to have our thoughts reinterpreted from a higher source, we experience a touch of Heaven. "The goal is clear, but now you need specific methods for attaining it. The speed by which it can be reached depends on this one thing alone; your willingness to practice every step. Each one will help a little, every time it is attempted. And together will these steps lead you from dreams of judgment to forgiving dreams and out of pain and fear." (T.30.IN.1.2-5) (ACIM OE T.20.I.1)
 
In finding our way to stillness, through forgiveness, we are reminded that our will is not separate from God's Will. Today, I commit not to engage in thoughts that disturb my peace, but simply to step back, look at these thoughts, be willing to have them replaced, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Yes, it does take a willingness to do the practice. We need to be gentle yet firm with ourselves in this process. The ego will retaliate because it does not want us to give up our dependence on it. It sets things up so that we would stay dedicated to its demands and requirements. We can all be grateful that we have been given this spiritual groundwork to take us home to our Self. We need to be gentle and patient with ourselves and put our trust in the process. It is a gradual process and requires commitment, dedication, and desire.
 
"Today we let no ego thoughts direct our words or actions. When such thoughts occur, we quietly step back and look at them, and then we let them go. We do not want what they would bring with them. And so we do not choose to keep them. They are silent now." (W.254.2.1-5) Our minds never stop the chatter, and when we get upset, our obsessive thoughts really dig in, creating such a seemingly deep rut in the mind that we find it hard to disengage. Yet with mind training, we can enhance our ability to catch our thoughts. The sooner we do this the better. Otherwise, the story becomes a drama and then it is harder to unwind from it. So as the thoughts arise, instead of judging them or turning them into a story that justifies our anger, we can simply remember to stop, step back, and release our thoughts and beliefs to the Holy Spirit. He will do the rest. We can't change ourselves. We need His help to bring about the miracle.
 
Stepping back means we look at these thoughts from the perspective of a non-attached observer. We don't judge. We don't evaluate. We don't examine the thoughts, nor analyze them. We merely, quietly step back and look. We identify the cause and "then let go, so that it can be replaced." (W.23.5.2). This can seem difficult when we are obsessing about a situation. It is all about the willingness to detach from the thoughts. Our willingness to do so is based on our decision that we don't want what these thoughts bring with them. In other words, we don't want to experience the guilt and suffering that result when we hold onto these thoughts.
 
The work is all about releasing thoughts in whatever form they arise. We think we like some thoughts, but it is just the way the ego keeps us engaged in the world. The world of the ego is not where we will ever know the deep peace and joy that comes from connecting with the holy Child within. We need to get honest with ourselves as to whether we want our idea of what will bring us happiness or whether we are willing to release our own ideas and allow God to work in our lives through the Voice of the Holy Spirit.
 
When we invest in ego thoughts, they direct our words and our actions. When we step back from the thoughts, look at them, and realize that we don't want the effects of these thoughts, then we can let them go instead of expressing them or taking some kind of action based on those thoughts. The Truth is in our right minds. God's Will is not an alien will, but, in fact, it is our own. While it may seem threatening to us because it is not in keeping with our personal choices, it serves our best interests. Our own choices never do. So today, we do not let our ego thoughts guide our actions. We affirm, "I do not want this thought." "Let every voice but God's be still in me." (W.254)
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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