A Course in Miracles

Chapter 2 - Illusion of Separation

Fear as Lack of Love

You believe that “being afraid” is involuntary; something beyond your control. Yet I have told you several times that only constructive acts should be involuntary. We have said that Christ-control can take over everything that does not matter, while Christ-guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.Fear cannot be Christ-controlled, but it can be self-controlled. It prevents me from controlling it.

The correction is therefore a matter of your will, because its (fear's) presence shows that you have raised the unimportant to a higher level than it warrants. You have thus brought it under your will, where it does not belong. This means that you feel responsible for it. The level confusion here is obvious.

The reason I cannot control fear for you is that you are attempting to raise to the mind level the proper content of lower-order reality. I do not foster level confusion, but you can choose to correct it. You would not tolerate insane behavior on your part, and would hardly advance the excuse that you could not help it. Why should you tolerate insane thinking? There is a confusion here which you would do well to look at clearly. You believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think.

The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.

What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by “giving” autonomy to behavior. This (behavior) is controlled by me automatically, as soon as you place what you think under my guidance.

Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate, or have not allowed me to guide it. It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome (behavior) of mis-thought can result in healing. When you are fearful you have willed wrongly. This is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of will.

You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where creation is possible. The term (correction) does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work. The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not.You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions which have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a separated-mind willingness. At that level, you can help it. ou are much too tolerant of mind wandering, thus passively condoning its miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you will to do anything, ask me if your will is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.

Fear is always a sign of strain, which arises whenever the will to do conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways;


You can will to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behavior, which is intolerable to yourself because the part of the will that wants to do something else is outraged.


You can behave as you think you should, but without entirely willing (wanting) to do so. This produces consistent behavior, but entails great strain within the self.

In both cases, the will and the behavior are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not will (want to do). This arouses a sense of coercion, which usually produces rage. The rage then invades the mind, and projection (in the wrong sense) is likely to follow. Depression or anxiety is virtually certain.

Remember that whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your will is split, and your behavior inevitably becomes erratic. Correcting at the behavioral level can shift the error from the first to the second type of strain described above, but will not obliterate the fear. It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your will under my guidance without much conscious effort, but this implies habit patterns which you have not developed dependably as yet. God cannot ask morr than you will. The strength to do comes from your own undivided will to do. There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognize that it is also your own.

Correction for Lack of Love

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 wills, thus producing inevitable strain because willing and doing become discordant. This cannot be corrected by better doing, but it can be corrected by higher willing.

The first corrective step is know first that this is an expression of fear. Then say to yourself that you must somehow have willed not to love, or the fear which arises from behavior-will conflict could not have arisen. Then the whole process is nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy.

These steps can be summarized as follows:

1. Know first that this is fear.
2. Fear arises from lack of love.
3. The only remedy is Perfect Love.
4. Perfect Love is the Atonement.

We have emphasized that the miracle, or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of real respect from the worthy to the worthy. This worth is re-established by the Atonement. It is obvious, then, that when you are afraid you have placed yourself in a position where you need Atonement, because you have done something loveless, having willed without love (because you have forgotten your worth). This is precisely the situation for which the Atonement was offered. The need for the remedy inspired its creation. As long as you recognize only the need for the remedy, you will remain fearful. However, as soon as you remedy it, you have also abolished the fear. This is how true healing occurs.

Everyone experiences fear, and no one enjoys it. Yet it would take very little right-thinking to realize why fear occurs. Very few people appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if anyone hopes to spare himself from fear, there are some things he must realize, and realize fully. The mind is very powerful, and it never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating, and always as you will. Many of your ordinary expressions reflect this. For example, when you say, “Don’t give it a thought,” you imply that if you do not think about something, it will have no effect on you. And this is true enough.

On the other hand, many other expressions clearly illustrate the prevailing lack of awareness of thought-power. For example, you say, “Just an idle thought,” and mean that the thought has no effect. You also speak of some actions as “thoughtless,” implying that if the person had thought, he would not behave as he did. While expressions like “think big” give some recognition to the power of thought, they still come nowhere near the truth. You do not expect to grow when you say it, because you do not really think that you will.

It is hard to recognize that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally "move mountains." Matthew 17:20

It appears at first glance that to believe such power about yourself is merely arrogant, but that is not the real reason why you do not believe it. People prefer to believe that their thoughts cannot exert real control because they are literally afraid of them. Many psychotherapists attempt to help people who are afraid, say, of their death wishes, by depreciating the power of the wish. They even try to “free” the patient by persuading him that he can think whatever he wants without any real effect at all.

There is a real dilemma here which only the truly right-minded can escape. Death wishes do not kill in the physical sense, but they do kill spiritual awareness. All destructive thinking is dangerous. Given a death wish, a man has no choice except to act upon the thought, or behave contrary to it. He thus chooses only between homicide and fear. The other possibility is that he depreciates the power of his thought. This is the usual psychoanalytic approach. It does allay guilt, but at the cost of rendering thinking impotent. If you believe that what you think is ineffectual you may cease to be overly afraid of it, but you are hardly likely to respect it.

The world is full of examples of how man has depreciated himself because he is afraid of his own thoughts. In some forms of insanity, thoughts are glorified, but this is only because the underlying depreciation was too effective for tolerance. The truth is that there are no “idle” thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level. The reason people are afraid of ESP and so often react against it is because they know that thoughts can hurt them. Their own thoughts have made them vulnerable.

You who constantly complain about fear still persist in creating it. I told you before that you cannot ask me to release you from fear, because I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I merely intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect, the most fundamental law there is in this world.

I would hardly help if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully except for a small part of the day, and somewhat inconsistently even then. You may feel at this point that it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true.

Men are not used to miraculous thinking, but they can be trained to think that way. All miracle workers need that kind of training. ACIM Workbook For Students

I cannot let them leave their minds unguarded or they will not be able to help me. Miracle working entails a full realization of the power of thought, and real avoidance of miscreation. Otherwise a miracle will be necessary to set the mind itself straight, a circular process which would hardly foster the time collapse for which the miracle was intended. Nor would it induce the healthy respect for true cause and effect which every miracle worker must have.

Both miracles and fear come from thoughts, and if you were not free to choose one, you would also not be free to choose the other. By choosing the miracle you have rejected fear. You have been afraid of God, of me, of yourselves, and of practically everyone you know at one time or another. This is because you have misperceived or miscreated us, and believe in what you have made. You would never have done this if you were not afraid of your own thoughts. The vulnerable are essentially miscreators because they misperceive creation.

You persist in believing that, when you do not consciously watch your mind, it is unmindful. It is time, however, to consider the whole world of the unconscious or “unwatched” mind. This may well frighten you because it is the source of fear. The unwatched mind is responsible for the whole content of the unconscious which lies above the miracle level. All psychoanalytic theorists have made some contribution in this connection, but none of them has seen it in its true entirety.

When man miscreates he is in pain. The cause and effect principle here is temporarily a real expeditor. Actually, “Cause” is a term properly belonging to God, and “Effect,” which should also be capitalized, is His Son. This entails a set of Cause and Effect relationships which are totally different from those which man introduced into his own miscreations. The fundamental opponents in the real basic conflict are Creation and miscreation. All fear is implicit in the second (miscreation, just as all love is inherent in the first (Creation). Because of this difference, the basic conflict is one between love and fear.

It has already been said that man believes he cannot control fear because he himself created it. His belief in it seems to render it out of his control by definition. Yet any attempt to resolve the basic conflict through the concept of mastery (controlling) of fear is meaningless. In fact, it asserts the power of fear by the simple assumption that it need be mastered. The essential resolution rests entirely on the mastery of love.In the interim, the sense of conflict is inevitable, since man has placed himself in a strangely illogical position:He believes in the power of what does not exist.

Two concepts which cannot coexist are “nothing” and “everything.” To whatever extent one is believed in, the other has been denied. In the conflict fear is really nothing, and love is everything. This is because whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished. What man believes is true for him. In this sense the separation has occurred, and to deny this is merely to misuse denial. However, to concentrate on error is merely a further misuse of defenses. The true corrective procedure is to recognize error temporarily, but only as an indication that immediate correction is mandatory. This establishes a state of mind in which the Atonement can be accepted without delay.

It should be emphasized, however, that ultimately there is no compromise possible between everything and nothing. Time is essentially a device by which all compromise in this respect can be given up. It seems to be abolished by degrees, because time itself involves a concept of intervals which do not really exist. The faulty use of creation made this necessary as a corrective device.

“And God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16

needs only one slight correction to be entirely meaningful in this context. It should read,

“He gave it (the real world) to His only begotten Son.”

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all the Souls God created are His Sons, then every Soul must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. You do not find the concept that the whole is greater than its parts difficult to understand. You should, therefore, not have too much trouble in understanding this. The Sonship in its Oneness does transcend the sum of its parts. However, this is obscured as long as any of its parts are missing.That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the Sonship have returned. Only then can the meaning of wholeness, in the true sense, be fully understood.

Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness, if he so elects. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement. We have already briefly spoken about readiness, but there are some additional points which might be helpful here. Readiness is nothing more than the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some will to accomplish, but this is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a shift of will.

Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasized that only love can be mastered. In case this be misunderstood to imply that an enormous amount of time will be necessary between readiness and mastery, let me remind you that time and space are under my control.

One of the chief ways in which man can correct his magic-miracle confusion is to remember that he did not create himself. He is apt to forget this when he becomes egocentric, and this places him in a position where the belief in magic in some form is virtually inevitable. His will to create was given him by his own Creator, Who was expressing the same Will in His Creation. Since creative ability rests in the mind, everything that man creates is necessarily a matter of will. It also follows that whatever he creates is real in his own sight, but not necessarily in the Sight of God. This basic distinction leads us directly into the real meaning of the Last Judgment.

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