There is no cruelty in God and none in me.
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 do you perceive it false.
It seems to be the enemy without that 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, love 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 the 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 and 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 text 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 with 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 there. 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 for 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.
What does this lesson mean to me?
I kept going back and reading this lesson because I just could not take in the word cruelty. I never thought of myself as cruel. It just didn’t make sense to me. This was obvious resistance because Jesus is clear when he says all attack is done with the intention to hurt and that is cruel.
I used to tell myself that I attack because I think it was necessary to my defense, and that was my excuse and the reason I could see attack as something less than an intent to cause harm, and the reason I could reject the idea of cruelty. After all, would defense be cruel? It seemed that it was necessary, and even sensible to protect myself when I was fearful.
But now I see that in reacting to fear with defense I separate myself from the one I would attack and anytime I separate myself from another, I separate myself from God. It is in defending I would be convincing myself that the cause of the fear is outside of myself and thus out of my hands. Defense would convince me that I am weak and vulnerable and in need of defense. This is a vicious circle that would imprison me within its solid walls so that my life would become an endless cycle of fear, of defense and attack.
If I tell myself that fear is my friend, and alerts me to eminent danger from which I must protect myself through attack, then I am saying that love is the weak link and of little value. It is in this way that I dethrone Love as God and instead choose fear, cruelty, and attack as my gods. Even though they are ineffectual gods I would cling to them, believing they are my only defense and my only safety. In defense, I am actually saying that God cannot help me, so I must depend on fear and cruelty to save me.
I now see that my resistance to see attack for what it is allows me to keep attack in my life. As long as I justify defense then attack is justified, and this is the same thing as saying cruelty is justified. I see why Jesus used this harsh word because it woke me up to what I have been doing. When I attack I am cruel and not to just the person I attacked, but ultimately to myself because I am reinforcing the mistaken belief I could be in need of defense, that I could be separate from this brother I see as enemy and that I could be separate from my Creator.
My salvation is that thoughts leave not their source. As Jesus says in the title of this lesson, there is no cruelty in God and none in me. I am a thought in God’s Mind and have not left my Source, so I am not cruel. My cruelty is the result of believing that I did leave my Source and am now different from God. This is just a belief; no matter how devastating the effect seems to be, it is just a belief. I am free to choose differently.
Here is something that happened when I was beginning to understand this lesson. This situation really helped me to realize that I don’t want to attack anyone for anything.
My granddaughter got some kind of stomach virus the other day, and last night my daughter had it. I stayed up quite late helping out and woke up feeling tired. I also worried that I would get it next. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me use this situation to understand the lesson. First, I see that the ego is using this situation to reinforce the idea I am a body. Sickness comes from other people and I have no control over what happens to me because my body is defenseless against it.
Thinking of it like this, I see that I feel attacked by these sick people and need to defend myself against them. They are making me sick by spreading their sickness. It seems unfair and I remind myself that they did not get sick just to attack me. But I still believe they are a danger to me and I need to surround myself with some kind of protection against them; I don’t know, maybe a cloud of Lysol. At first, I stayed barricaded in my room, then the mom gene kicked in and I went to help.
This morning as I went around in a fog of exhaustion and wondered if I was going to get sick too, I was able to be honest enough to notice that I felt resentful toward them. I hated looking at that and wanted to just push that feeling away as unworthy, but instead, I accepted it as a real feeling that I am having, and saw that it is an attack and indeed cruel.
It is easier to see this as cruel because I cannot justify my resentment. But I also see that as a trap. All attack is cruel, and justification is the way I keep attack and continue to see myself as separate and attack as necessary. In other words, if I become defenseless I will see that God is right and I am wrong, and I will give up my individual self, which I see as the ultimate attack and one coming from a cruel God. This is what I am really defending against.
My message from Holy Spirit
Me: I notice that as I am talking this out with you, Holy Spirit, in a willingness to see differently, I am feeling better. I think I understand that feeling tired was part of my defense strategy.
Holy Spirit: The ego would like to “catch” their stomach upset because it would prove that you are being attacked and need to defend yourself. The ego would then be able to show its innocent face and say, “See, I did nothing to deserve this. I put my own self-interest aside to help others and was attacked for my trouble. They are the guilty ones, and I am obviously innocent.” This would, of course, justify your defense against them.
What I say to you is that you do not have to play this ego game. You have not left your Source. You are truly innocent and do not need defense. They are equally innocent and harmless to you. They cannot give you anything you do not want.
If you choose to accept sickness and worship at that altar, it will only be because you still feel a need to protect yourself from God’s love. Do not think you must do this. Let this be the moment when you choose to hear the Voice for God instead of blindly following the ego voice. Each moment of your life you are given the opportunity to change your mind. Why not make this the moment you do so?
Me: Thank you, Holy Spirit.