VI. Fear and Conflict, P 6
6 It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance without conscious effort, but this implies a willingness that you have not developed as yet. The Holy Spirit cannot ask more than you are willing to do. The strength to do comes from your undivided decision. There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognize that it is also your own. The lesson here is quite simple, but particularly apt to be overlooked. I will therefore repeat it, urging you to listen. Only your mind can produce fear. It does so whenever it is conflicted in what it wants, producing inevitable strain because wanting and doing are discordant. This can be corrected only by accepting a unified goal.
When I have been in fear (which for most of my life was a familiar feeling) it has felt very real and very much outside my control. It seemed to be caused by something outside me, and it seemed that unless I could control the thing that caused the fear then I was in danger. If I was afraid of heights then I must stay on flat ground.
If I was afraid of relationships then I must avoid them or at least put up a wall between me and the other person so that I would not get too close. If I was afraid of poverty, then I must find a good job and work very hard and impress my boss so he would value me and I would never be fired.
There is a problem with all this careful planning of life. It seems that it is impossible to control life and just as I get a handle on one issue, another blows up in my face. In seemed that avoiding heights would be easy since I live in a really flat state, but then I get the best job I had ever had, and it turns out to be constructing a very high building. I wind up many feet above the ground walking on rebar so I see all the way down between feet. And I make too much money to quit. This is so typical of the ego world, desire and fear colliding and leaving me with no “safe” choice.
All of life is like this, protecting and defending only to be undone by my very efforts, and the sense of failure just intensifying the fear. There are too many goals and they often contradict each other. It feels like nothing ever gets done, that I run around in the same fruitless circle all my life, constantly trying to build my walls and control the uncontrollable. The best I could achieve was temporary success and even then there was the fear that inevitably my house of cards would come tumbling down.
One of the most important things I have learned as a student of the Course is that I have one goal, one purpose in life. My goal is to return my mind to God. I begin by acknowledging my oneness with my brother and this leads me accepting my place in the Son of God. My short cut to saying all this is, “My goal is to awaken.” I want to stop dreaming and start living. I want to awaken from this dream of separation.
Having one unified goal, it becomes simple to make decisions. Do I want to earn more money? Is that my goal? Or do I want to wake up? It does not mean I cannot earn more money and wake up, but it does mean that I cannot have two goals and expect to be at peace. I cannot have two goals and still have a unified goal.
Making more money will not wake me up, so my goal remains that I want to awaken. I leave the care and support of the body to the Holy Spirit Who knows what to do with it, and I give my mind to Him to heal. I still do things with and for the body, but it is just what must be done and what I do with it is not my purpose.
The only time I feel afraid about money is when I forget my single purpose and take on another purpose. The work on my new house is almost finished and in looking at the bill for this work, I felt panicked. It was much higher than I ever expected. I started going through my bank accounts and listing all my other bills and obligations and the more I did it the more fearful I became.
I started out with the goal of seeing how to fit the cost of the remodeling and repairing the house into my budget. Then there was the goal of planning for future work on it and so I needed to save for that. Then I remembered that I am going to have to buy a new car in one or two years at most and maybe any day now, since my present car has so many miles on it. So I have to save for that, too.
Then the ego reminded me of all the possible problems that require a monetary solution that could come up in the future, health problems for example. Even with careful planning I cannot foresee what might be required to remain solvent. No wonder I felt fearful. My goal had become to control the uncontrollable.
And in that goal I had many other goals, some of them conflicting with the others. The idea of restricting my spending to the degree that would be necessary to meet some of these goals was disheartening. I was very conflicted as I wanted to meet one goal but didn’t want to give up another goal to do so. I don’t understand how I used to live like this all the time. It is awful.
Fortunately, I remembered that I have only one purpose here. It is not to remain financially solvent; it is to awaken. The ego screams at me to be sensible. It says I cannot just go all metaphysical on this, and that I need a concrete plan and contingencies. But I have had years of practice watching my mind for ego thoughts and bringing them to the Holy Spirit for healing. I know what to do with these thoughts, and I know that my one unified goal is to awaken from this dream.
I asked the Holy Spirit what He would have me do now, and I followed His guidance in trust. Will I wind up losing this home I just bought because I spent too much money on the repairs? I don’t know. That is not my business. My one unified purpose is to wake up and I do that by using everything in my life as a classroom and by making the Holy Spirit my only Teacher. I am at peace because I have one goal. I am doing what I am guided to do as I listen to that one Teacher, and my mind remains unconflicted so there is no fear in doing so.