The Detour into Fear

To understand how “the detour into fear” came about, it’s necessary to let go of worldly concepts of personal individuality, which are constructs of the mind, and allow a deeper understanding to take root, one that bypasses the intellect and is anchored instead in the heart. The heart is our connection to God’s Mind, to Self, and can comprehend what our limited minds cannot.

The detour into fear came about as the result of a choice freely made with God’s Will. Contained within the knowing of I Am is the potential of there being an opposite: That-Which-I-Am-Not, or other. That single idea seeds separation by allowing God’s Mind to entertain of Its own free will the idea of otherness, and allowing Itself to enter into an experience where It seems to be what It is not—where something separate from itself can exist. The Mind, with its power to insert itself into its own imaginings, much like we have the power to insert ourselves into our daydreams and lose ourselves there for a while, felt the fear of separation arise within this imagining, and instead of turning from it, took the detour into fear and seemed to lose itself in the dream. Thus did the separate self arise.

This didn’t happen in some long ago past. Past, present, and future all belong to time, which is a mental construct meaningful only to the limited mind of the separate self in the world of form. When this is fully comprehended it becomes easy to see that salvation lies only in healing separation Now.

Any attempt to articulate the process giving rise to the separation is merely metaphorical. The limited intellect of the self can think only in terms of time and space and objects, while understanding how the split occurs requires letting go of the need to think with those terms. Because of Who we are, though, we can understand how the separation comes about. But not with the intellect.

Deep within is a Knowing that knows, and that understands, and remembers. This is the Self, the Truth of us, That which knows Its wholeness in God, and which calls to us to relinquish our misunderstandings and return to the knowing of the truth of ourselves as happy, whole, and loving in God.

“To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create…The inappropriate use of extension, or projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth…These related distortions represent a picture of what actually occurred in the separation, or the “detour into fear.” None of this existed before the separation, nor does it actually exist now. (T-2.I.1-2)

“Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time.” (T-27.VIII.6)


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Evil thoughts

“The might of God’s teachers lies in their gentleness, for they have understood their evil thoughts came neither from God’s Son nor his Creator. Thus did they join their thoughts with Him Who is their Source. And so their will, which always was His Own, is free to be itself.” (M-4.IV.2:8-10)

“…the ego has no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say “I am not real.” Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.” (T-8.I.2)

“Have faith in (your brother) who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked.” (T-31.VII.5:1-4)

Thoughts arise as part of a process outside our own agency. They are not of our doing. We need take no responsibility for their appearance. Our one responsibility is to evaluate them on the basis of whether they rob us of peace, and give them over to be removed from the mind if they do and we don’t want that result.

This is the process of purification, and while it is not done by the self, its doing is accomplished through the agency of the self, whose sole choice is whether to choose separation. That simple decision—whether to experience separation—gets reflected by the mind, such that choosing for separation will bring more of such thoughts, which are then projected out into the world of form. Likewise, choosing to relinquish separation causes a gradual cessation of such thoughts over time, and projects peace out into the world.

This is how relationships serve salvation. They give us the opportunity to observe the thoughts that arise in the context of relating with others, and to question those thoughts which keep us from peace, and open the mind and heart to a different understanding, one that sees past separation and hate to love and wholeness.

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Choose Again

A common belief holds that God gives us free will to choose whether we do right or not, and that we’re subject to God’s punishment if we make the wrong choice and don’t repent.

The Course states something radically different, that free will isn’t given to us, but is instead inherent in each of us as an extension of God Himself. We share His Will as a natural result of this, and want for ourselves what God wants for us—perfect happiness. When the first choice was made to listen to ego, we believed the erroneous thought system it represents. This choice was freely made, but once made the choice itself was forgotten as we were plunged into the confusing and dark illusion of separation.

In choosing to listen to the voice of the ego, no wrongdoing has been done. The idea of choosing against God’s Will is an ego idea. The choice for ego is reflective of God’s Will in that it is chosen freely. In choosing it, however, we experience unhappiness, and then seek for happiness within that thought system where it can’t be found. But we can never be completely lost—always the true happiness at our core keeps calling to us to return from the unhappiness of that one choice and all the seeming choices that were made since.

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Separation is not a mistake

“The Garden of Eden, or the pre-separation condition, was a state of mind in which nothing was needed. When Adam listened to the “lies of the serpent,” all he heard was untruth. You do not have to continue to believe what is not true unless you choose to do so. All that can literally disappear in the twinkling of an eye because it is merely a misperception.” (T-2.I.3)

The ego did not initiate separation. Ego is nothing; it has no power to do anything. Ego is simply an activity of the mind reflective of the idea that separation exists. The decision to believe the thoughts generated by that activity is what creates “the detour into fear”—the belief that separation actually has occurred.

In truth separation has not occurred. Differentiated forms which are experienced by the mind are appearances in the mind, which itself is an extension of God’s Mind, a segment of God’s Infinite Being individuated from the Whole so that a subject (“I”) can know objects (the world of form). This is the mechanism of creation, the means by which That which is infinite can know the finite. It is a process undertaken within God Itself, and has nothing to do with ego or the separate self as cause.


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“A healed mind does not plan”

“A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.” (W-135.11)

When I immersed myself in the Course years ago, I was visited by an inclination to teach its message at a medium security prison for men in a neighboring town. Never before had I even considered doing anything related to prison work. But every time I had followed other inclinations in my life, they led me to great things. So I didn’t hesitate to follow this one, too.

I researched the opportunities for volunteering at the prison, and to my great surprise and delight discovered a program that was based on the Course and its teachings of forgiveness. I made some inquiries, and found out that the path to becoming a participating volunteer was quite long—about six months given all the hoops that had to be jumped through. On top of that the leader of the program had no interest in sharing any part of her leadership with another volunteer. I was welcomed to join as a participant, but nothing more.

I felt deterred. The urge that kept prompting me included I lead such a program—and soon—and not go through a protracted period to end up as just a participant. But the urge remained strong, and no other paths in a similar direction had opened themselves to me at the time, so I moved forward despite the obstacles that appeared.

Somehow what took six months for others happened almost immediately for me, and I soon found myself inside the prison as a volunteer for a tangential program that  welcomed new leaders.

My path crossed with that of the leader for the Course based program, and when she invited me to participate in her next twelve-week series, I said yes, despite her intention to lead the program by herself well into the foreseeable future. I entertained the idea of abandoning this path, but felt a discernible sense of loss when I did. This sense of loss, like a sort of bereavement feeling for me, had always been the indication for me to stay the course. When the next series began, I joined as a participant along with the incarcerated men.

Four sessions into the series the leader took me aside and said I had an excellent understanding of the program’s principles, and that she was considering retiring, and would I be willing to take over the leadership?

Thus began an intense period of teaching and learning I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else in such a short period of time. Both the men and I gained insights into ourselves and each other that led us to experience the profound unity underlying appearances. It was a time of seeing the truth of everything that the Course teaches, including that I needn’t plan anything myself, that I need simply wait and listen for what to do, and then do it, even when it seems like insurmountable obstacles are in the way.

When I’d been leader for a while and the prompt came to stop,  I stopped. Stopping left an empty space, though, and one day while driving near the prison I wondered if maybe I should go back. I looked across the busy intersection to the prison on the far side, and as I did so saw a hawk rise up from the prison parking lot, gather itself, and fly directly towards me. It didn’t waver as it headed straight for my car with me in it, and when it got close enough , it swooped overhead, and flew off and away. Message received. My time of volunteering at the prison was over for now.

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One Self, Infinite Expressions

Just as a prism refracts light, and separates it out into an infinite variety of colors, so does Mind refract God, and separate out limitless expressions of Infinite Being. And just as refracted colors are never apart from the light from which they receive their illumined quality, the self is never apart from Infinite Being from which it receives its beingness.

This doesn’t make sense to the separate self, which perceives only in terms of separation and limitation. But when the mind relaxes, a different kind of knowing happens. This knowing isn’t experienced by the separate self, but by Self, which is prior to the thought of separation.

This knowing is often experienced in moments when the mind relaxes enough that thoughts of separation slip away: in the shower, where body and mind are soothed by warm water and the routine act of cleansing; in the car on an unhurried drive to a welcomed location, where the destination is set and the mind and body need respond only to the needs of the moment as they arise; or in meditation, or those twilight moments just before falling sleep. The separate self can’t know these moments of knowing; it is the obstacle to this knowing. It can know only in a vague way that such an experience has happened, but never that it is happening.

“I do want to share my mind with you because we are of one Mind, and that Mind is ours.” (T-7.V.10:9)

“You are one Self, and it is given you to feel this Self within you, and to cast all your illusions out of the one Mind that is this Self, the holy truth in you.” (W-95.13:5)

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Consciousness and the brain

“You also believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea.” (W-92.2)

One of the most vexing—if not the most vexing—problems in science is known as “the hard problem of consciousness”. Science can find no explanation as to how matter gives rise to consciousness, and while it’s obvious that consciousness is experienced, consciousness itself can’t be proved to exist in the physical world of which the brain is a part. This is because the world of form is experienced in consciousness, and not the other way around. In science, consciousness remains elusive as a by-product of form because consciousness is that in which form is experienced.

The conventional view states that consciousness is a product of the brain’s functioning. But relinquish that idea and it becomes possible to observe that the only “place” thoughts can be said to be experienced is not in the brain, but in consciousness. In fact anything known of the brain is known only in consciousness.

The thoroughness with which we’re inculcated to identify consciousness as a function of the brain is so total that the mind struggles with the reversal of this ingrained paradigm. But when the reverse of this paradigm is truly grasped, the truth of what we are can be fully comprehended, and the brain and body seen for what they are: the means by which Spirit can be embodied in form within a world of form.


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