Why Do We Torture Each Other?

The Inquisition, which began in the 1100s in Europe, was made up of organizations within the Catholic Church. The Inquisition had as its aim the repression and elimination of beliefs and religions that did not agree with Catholic beliefs and the Catholic religion. Eventually, the Inquisition tortured people to get them to change their minds about their beliefs, and if they did not say their old beliefs were wrong, and accept Catholic beliefs, they were sometimes killed.

The people who held beliefs that were different from Catholic beliefs were called heretics, and their “wrong” beliefs were called heresy. The Catholic Church claimed that those who did not follow the Catholic Church and its beliefs were not acceptable to God and would burn in hell forever. Therefore, some of the Catholic leaders justified their torture of heretics by claiming that they were trying to save people’s souls and keep them from hell.

A Course in Miracles uses the idea of the Inquisition to explain how we often treat each other:

The analysis of the ego’s “real” motivations is the modern equivalent of the Inquisition, for in both, a brother’s errors are “uncovered,” and he is attacked for his own good. What can this be but projection? For his errors lie in the minds of his interpreters, for which they punish him.
A Course in Miracles: Complete & Annotated Edition, T-12.I.6:1-3

Let’s look at the words in this quotation and try to understand what they mean. The “ego” is the part of us that wants to be separate, and which denies the spiritual union that we are all a part of. When we analyze or interpret someone else’s motivations, we are trying to discover the reasons why he acted the way he did. For example, if someone hit me, I might try to discover why he hit me. I might decide that his reason for hitting me was because he was an evil person, and thus he hit me because he was evil and his motivations were evil. However, how do I know that his motivations were evil? I can only see evil and sin in another person if I see it first in myself. If I see evil in myself, I will also place that evil on other people, and this transmission of bad motivations from myself to another person is called “projection.”

I do not really know that the other person is evil. I just want to call him evil so that I can be justified in attacking him after he seemed to attack me. However, if I forgive myself for all of the things that seem like my sins, if I don’t think of myself as evil, then I won’t project my own “evil” motivation onto another person, and I won’t feel the need to attack him. A Course in Miracles says that there are only two types of actions: acts of love, and acts that ask for help and healing. If I project my own feelings of being evil onto another person, then I won’t be able to offer him the help and healing that he requests and needs. Both loving and unloving acts call for a loving response on my part.

If I project my evil motivations onto another person, and punish him for being “bad,” this just shows that I have not forgiven or accepted myself. If the other person accepts my evaluation of his “bad” motives, then he might either give up hope of being saved from his “bad” self, or project his “bad” motives back onto me and feel that I am treating him unfairly and cruelly. In order for him to get rid of feeling like the worst person in the world, he might analyze and interpret my motives and project his guilt feelings onto me and call me inhuman or cruel for my unloving response.

The way to get out of this cycle of projection and attack is to practice forgiveness. As long as we have not completely forgiven ourselves, we will value projection and attack. If we cannot attack physically, because we are afraid of what society will do to us, then we attack verbally. And if we cannot attack verbally, then we attack by ignoring the person and denying him our love.

Our ego, the part of us that values separation and attack, is something that we made to replace the self that God created. The holy self that God created shares God’s nature and character, but at one point, we believed that our wish to contradict God, our wish to sin, had real effects, and we believed that we deserved to be punished by God for our imagined sin.

However, nothing that God creates can really sin or be corrupted, and it is only our belief in sin that keeps us apart from love and alienated from God. Our false self, the ego, simply needs to be released, and not cherished, so we can know who we really are, know our real self. It took thousands of years for us to make this ego-oriented world of attack, but each time we overlook, or forgive, a “bad” action in ourselves or another, we get closer to the real world of love and forgiveness, and this “real world” on earth is simply a stepping stone to our home in heaven.

The Hounds of Happiness

The hounds of happiness have been taught well
By master Guilty Fear to seek out all
The hearts where mirth and joyful feelings dwell;
The sound of glee and laughter is their call.

The hounds don’t live in time, or dwell in space,
But they can always find a place on earth;
The minds and hearts of people they do chase,
For they devour jealously all mirth.

The hounds detect all sounds and smell each scent;
Each laugh is heard throughout their darkened sphere;
They shred your life until your days are spent,
And chase to hell where there’s no hope or cheer.

We can escape the growling hunting hounds,
When fear is gone and only love abounds.

Chaos Isn’t King

This poem says that there is only one will–God’s will–and that sin (opposition to God’s will) is only a temporary mistake in the world of illusion. Mistakes should not be punished but gently corrected.

If God does reign with power, truth, and light,
Then nothing real can overcome his might;
If we believe God’s will has been suppressed,
And some other will has His will oppressed,
Then truly God does not exist as Lord,
And He should not be worshiped or adored;
If we could truly overcome His will,
Then chaos would become a bitter pill,
And oneness would become a cruel joke,
And hope would vanish into wisps of smoke;
But, really, only one will does exist,
And this one will is what we can’t resist;
When we suppose that we have thrown it down,
That we have taken all His strength and crown,
We only need to know that we are wrong,
And can’t live in this dream world for too long,
And we must know that chaos isn’t king,
For only dreams can make disorder sting;
If dreams were real, then sinners would be king,
And death would be what all the poets sing;
For sin calls for the death of God on high,
And killers soon would feel the need to die;
For who could kill God and His holy will,
And feel like he should go on living still?
But if the thought of sin is just an error,
Then there’s no need at all to live in terror;
For errors are what a mind thinks when alone;
To God, illusions always are unknown;
So, even though we think that we are right
To think we can put out the holy light,
Our thoughts of sin in time do not affect
Eternal life, with which we can connect;
For God is love, and God does still receive
His Son, when he does truth and light perceive;
And never will God’s son be left outside,
For when his tears are wiped away and dried,
He’ll see there was no need at all to hide;
Soon after will His love and joy abide
Within His Son, when he discards his pride;
A grave and hopeless problem, sin did seem,
Until the Son awakened from his dream.

From Light to Light – Revised

The Light
There is a light that embraces all things,
And carries all people in gentle wings;
It is intelligent, loving, and warm,
And there are numberless beings that swarm
Within its peaceful and welcoming mien;
It cannot, with the body’s eyes, be seen;
And this light can never be sensed or viewed
While estranged beings have oneness eschewed;
There is no stranger thrown to the outside,
And no being can within the light hide;
For the pure light has no shadows or shades,
And within there are no degrees or grades;
The light knows everything that does exist,
And no one can the light wholly resist;
For everything made is light eternal,
And each light knows its brothers fraternal,
The light has a sense of humor sublime,
Which nothing can weaken–not even time;
This is not a joy that mocks anyone–
It is a joy that includes everyone;
It lifts all to higher levels of light,
And these levels have no limits in height.

 
The Darkness
Can you feel the guilt, fear, and angst inside?
Do you feel that goodness and hope have died?
Your enemies are all you ever see,
And the dangers tell you to fight or flee;
No one cares about your safety or health;
Everyone tries to stab your back with stealth;
Your friends and family have private ends;
Each has money that he hoards and defends;
They really think they would be better off,
If all other people they could knock off;
People only share to get something back;
When they don’t get it, they quickly attack;
Greed is the norm, and giving is a joke,
And people compete so they don’t go broke;
They are afraid to escape this nightmare;
To leave this wicked world, they do not dare;
But what people don’t seem to realize
Is that nothing that lives ever just dies;
And if they so choose, they can fly away,
And easily escape without delay;
But if there is disorder in their mind
They might not leave it all quickly behind;
Before they can hear the call of the light,
They must leave their guilt, and the fear of night.
 

The Return to the Light
How can any person who fears the light
Encounter within it lasting delight?
He must learn that light’s one reality
Is to shine without partiality;
He must learn that only loving thoughts last;
All else will fade into the distant past;
He must into his fearful mind invite
Only the all-encompassing light;
While guilt and fear still have some attraction,
The darkness will create a distraction;
But when he sees that he’s wholly guiltless,
He will love all beings, and only bless;
Forgiveness will rest with a true blessing
On all those whom guilt had been oppressing;
And a thought reversal will be produced,
And all of the false judgments will be loosed;
Pardon will let all people recover,
And people will not attack each other;
And all that people will see is pure light,
And people will never return to night;
Joy and gladness will increase without end,
As oneness does all divisions transcend.

Which Side Are You On?

This is a sonnet about a decision that we make every day. Our actions reveal which decision we have made.

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26 NASB)

 

Some people will do whatever they can
To preserve their body another day;
They think that the flesh is what makes the man;
The instinct to live is what they obey.

Some try to nurture their soul while on earth;
They believe that self-knowledge is king;
They see that flesh goes through death and rebirth,
And that life is a spiritual thing.

It is important to think and decide,
Whether the soul is more worthy of care,
Or with our flesh and bones we should side,
For our loyalty we always declare.

When at last your body yields to decay,
Will you look on your soul with dismay?

Dancing With The Dead: The Fall Of Civilization And The Return Of Life

What have we done with the world? With our civilization, we have sought to make the permanent out of the impermanent, the eternal out of the temporary. We have eternity in our hearts, but we don’t understand that this world is not eternal and cannot be a firm foundation for our hopes. Bodies and other physical things are, by their nature, changeable and temporary. How could they, then, be forms worthy to house eternal beings? Bodies will never be suitable homes for us to live in, eternally. In a body, we can learn that we don’t need a body to live. However, if we place our hopes in a physical body as an eternal home for our spirit, we will always be disappointed with our body, and we might even attack our body for not being what we want it to be.

In order to make this world more orderly and less frightening, we have done many things. We have made buildings of uniform temperature and size, and we have made highways with smooth, even surfaces and with few unexpected twists and turns. We have paved the world with flat, uniform surfaces because we are afraid of the unusual and unexpected. In our civilization, we have made the world as we want it to be, and we simply cannot see or perceive anything else. We collect the books, music, and movies that reinforce our view of the world. Our books tell us only what we want to know. Our music makes us feel only how we want to feel.

Civilization is not decaying. It is dead. Something that is decaying still has life and can be used as nourishment for another type of organism. Civilization is dead because it is frozen in one type of thinking. It is a closed loop in which few challenges to the expected norms can enter.

Why have we made this kind of civilization? It is because we are afraid of change. According to A Course in Miracles, we are afraid of change because the first change we experienced was the change from oneness, love, joy, and knowledge, to a state in which we are without these things. We don’t realize that another change is needed to help us return to our original state of joy, love, knowledge, oneness, and peace. Creation is currently shattered, separated out into isolated bodies and objects. We make our environment uniform so that we won’t be so afraid of it and so it will resemble the oneness that we lost. However, when we try to make physical things uniform and permanent, we only temporarily delay the change that is in their nature. Our spirits are indestructible and eternally secure, so we don’t need to worry about them. Our bodies are impermanent and changeable, so we don’t need to worry about them, either. We don’t need to worry about anything.

The following quotation is from a book of prophecy called Jeremiah.

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.”
(Jeremiah 2:13, NASB)

What is life? Our spirit already has eternal life. Our body does not have any life of its own. It is merely a vehicle for the spirit, and it will disintegrate when the spirit leaves it. What does the quotation above mean? God says that we have made two mistakes. We have abandoned God, who gives us life (who is a “fountain of living waters”), and we have made containers for ourselves that cannot hold or contain or preserve life. I think that God is saying that we cannot find or preserve life with our dead civilization. God must inspire us with his thoughts each moment if we are to have real life. His thoughts teach us what is real and worthy and what is unreal and unworthy of a spiritual creation of God. Bodies and buildings are not worthy houses for unlimited, free spirits. However, because we have made the mistake of thinking we can find eternity in a changeable world, we think that we can preserve our spontaneous ideas and thoughts in a book and call those frozen thoughts knowledge. We think that we can preserve our spontaneous joy in a music file. And we think that we can buy and sell our knowledge and joy. However, knowledge and joy are our inheritance, and not something that can be bought and sold and preserved in physical objects. Our physical objects cannot hold spontaneous life (or “living water”). They can only limit life.

When we realize that our spirits are eternally secure, we won’t put our trust in crumbling bodies and we won’t try to preserve knowledge and joy in material objects. Instead, we will look to God for continuous inspiration and life. Our happiness will come from the assurance that once we learn that all of our mistakes cannot permanently keep us in a state of separation from God or each other, and that we don’t need to feel guilt or fear for our mistakes, we will be free to let God take the final step of lifting us up out of this temporary world into eternity.

Before we all return to eternity, however, we will have the opportunity to prepare and purify our minds in a world that civilization cannot touch, a world in which fear of change does not disturb the happiness and love we feel for each other, a world in which the spirits, temporarily using bodies, interact with each other in freedom and harmony.

The Merry-Go-Round

This poem is a Shakespearean sonnet.

The roundabout is going in reverse,
And people see and judge the fading past;
The riders greet each other with a curse;
The music makes a screeching, blaring blast.

The carousel begins to slow, and then
The ride and music stop, and all is calm;
And after endless time has passed, a wren
Appears and breaks the silence with a psalm.

The ride again begins to move around;
The riders, moving forward, now can see;
The blessings falling from their lips abound,
And music from their hearts does set them free.

So how did ride and riders change their course?
By spreading love and pardon from the Source.

Not My Beast

Many people turn against politicians, point their fingers at them, and blame them for all of their problems. However, this world was made to be opposite to heaven and to oppose God’s will, and as long as the world is valued as a way to be separate from God and different from heaven, there will be no end to problems.

We can use this world to learn what we want to learn. We can learn that God is our friend or that he is our enemy, that God should be loved or that he should be feared. If we believe that God should be feared, we will put our faith in something besides God. Some people believe in only themselves, but others feel the need to believe in and belong to something that is greater than themselves. But if we join a group that includes less than everyone, we deny God’s oneness, inclusiveness, and love. A group that includes some and excludes others is a group that I will call the Beast in this essay. The Beast is different from God in the following ways:

1) The Beast includes some in the group and excludes everyone else. God includes everyone in his love and acceptance.
2) The Beast says that the insiders are better than the outsiders. God weeps for those who are temporarily lost outside in their isolation.
3) The Beast uses fear to control people. God uses love to unite all of creation.
4) The Beast uses hatred and suspicion to divide people. God uses forgiveness to reconcile people.
5) The Beast rewards loyalty with money, gifts, and short-lived fame. God gives everything of worth to all of his children.
6) The Beast claims that the insiders are superior and special. God knows that all of his children have special abilities, but when everyone has returned to heaven, everyone will possess all abilities.
7) The Beast uses secrecy to maintain power. God promotes true communication as a way to restore minds to sanity and love.
8) The Beast speaks with dark and contradictory words to divide and confuse. God communicates with one will and one voice to all who will listen.
9) The Beast claims that physical things, such as bodies and money, are the most important things. God knows that only the eternal is real and that the body is only a temporary learning device.

No one can serve two masters. We can choose to serve God or the Beast, but we cannot serve both at the same time.

Those who feel the need to belong to something greater than themselves will not be satisfied until they join God’s complete creation. This might require giving up the body and this world, but these two things have no value in themselves. They merely exist to help us learn to give up their empty gifts and accept the joy of knowing that we are not alone, that we are part of God’s universal brotherhood.

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