Chapter Two: The Illusion of Separation
II. The Reinterpretation of Defenses
18 When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you. Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. This means that you believe in what you value. If you are afraid, you are valuing wrongly. Human understanding will inevitably value wrongly and, by endowing all human thoughts with equal power, will inevitably destroy peace. That is why the Bible speaks of "the peace of God which passeth (human) understanding." This peace is totally incapable of being shaken by human errors of any kind. It denies the ability of anything which is not of God to affect you in any way.
19 This is the proper use of denial. It is not used to hide anything but to correct error. It brings all error into the light, and since error and darkness are the same, it corrects error automatically. True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. This kind of denial is not a concealment device but a correction device. The "right mind" of the mentally healthy depends on it. You can do anything I ask. I have asked you to perform miracles and have made it clear that miracles are natural, corrective, healing, and universal. There is nothing good they cannot do, but they cannot be performed in the spirit of doubt.
20 God and the Souls He created are completely dependent on each other. The creation of the Soul has already been perfectly accomplished, but the creation by Souls has not. God created Souls so He could depend on them because He created them perfectly. He gave them His peace so they could not be shaken and would be unable to be deceived. Whenever you are afraid, you are deceived. Your mind is not serving the Soul. This literally starves the Soul by denying its daily bread. God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy because that is what you have received, and that is what you should give.
21 Justice is a temporary expedient or an attempt to teach man the meaning of mercy. Its judgmental side arises only because man is capable of injustice if that is what his mind creates. You are afraid of God's Will because you have used your own will, which He created in the likeness of His own, to miscreate. What you do not realize is that the mind can miscreate only when it is not free. An imprisoned mind is not free by definition. It is possessed or held back by itself. Its will is therefore limited and is not free to assert itself. The real meaning of "are of one kind," which was mentioned before, is "are of one mind or will." When the will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.
22 Denial of error is a powerful defense of truth. You will note that we have been shifting the emphasis from the negative to the positive use of denial. As we have already stated, denial is not a purely negative device; it results in positive miscreation. That is the way the mentally ill do employ it. But remember a very early thought of your own"Never underestimate the power of denial." In the service of the "right mind," the denial of error frees the mind and reestablishes the freedom of the will. When the will is really free, it cannot miscreate because it recognizes only truth.
23 False projection arises out of false denial, not out of its proper use. My own role in the Atonement is one of true projection; I can project to you the affirmation of truth. If you project error to me or to yourself, you are interfering with the process. My use of projection, which can also be yours, is not based on faulty denial. It does involve, however, the very powerful use of the denial of errors. The miracle worker is one who accepts my kind of denial and projection, unites his own inherent abilities to deny and project with mine, and imposes them back on himself and others. This establishes the total lack of threat anywhere. Together we can then work for the real time of peace, which is eternal.
24 The improper use of defenses is quite widely recognized, but their proper use had not been sufficiently understood as yet. They can indeed create man's perception both of himself and of the world. They can distort or correct depending on what you use them for.
25 Denial should be directed only to error, and projection should be reserved only for truth. You should truly give as you have truly received. The Golden Rule can work effectively only on this basis.
26 Intellectualization is a term which stems from the mind-brain confusion. "Right-mindedness" is the device which defends the right mind and gives it control over the body. "Intellectualization" implies a split, while "right-mindedness" involves healing.
27 Withdrawal is properly employed in the service of withdrawing from the meaningless. It is not a device for escape, but for consolidation. There is only One Mind.
28 Dissociation is quite similar. You should split off or dissociate yourself from error but only in defense of integration.
29 Detachment is essentially a weaker form of dissociation.
30 Flight can be undertaken in whatever direction you choose, but note that the concept itself implies flight from something. Flight from error is perfectly appropriate.
31 Distantiation can be properly used as a way of putting distance between yourself and what you should fly from.
32 Regression is an effort to return to your own original state. It can thus be utilized to restore, rather than to go back to the less mature.
33 Sublimation should be a redirection of effort to the sublime.
34 There are many other so-called "dynamic" concepts which are profound errors due essentially to the misuse of defenses. Among them is the concept of different levels of aspiration, which actually result from level confusion. However, the main point to be understood from this section is that you can defend truth as well as error and, in fact, much better.
35 The means are easier to clarify after the value of the goal itself is firmly established. Everyone defends his own treasure. You do not have to tell him to do so because he will do it automatically. The real questions still remain. What do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these two questions and to bring them into all your actions as the true criteria for behavior, I will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. You have not learned to be consistent about this as yet. I have therefore concentrated on showing you that the means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save a lot of time if you do not extend this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.
36 The Atonement is the only defense which cannot be used destructively. That is because, while everyone must eventually join it, it is not a device which was generated by man. The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement itself began. The principle was love, and the Atonement itself was an act of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation because the time-space belief did not exist. It was only after the separation that the defense of Atonement and the necessary conditions for its fulfillment were planned.
37 It became increasingly apparent that all of the defenses which man can choose to use constructively or destructively were not enough to save him. It was therefore decided that he needed a defense which was so splendid that he could not misuse it, although he could refuse it. His choice could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of all other defenses. The Atonement thus becomes the only defense which is not a two-edged sword.
38 The Atonement actually began long before the crucifixion. Many Souls offered their efforts on behalf of the separated ones, but they could not withstand the strength of the attack and had to be brought back. Angels came, too, but their protection did not suffice because the separated ones were not interested in peace. They had already split their minds and were bent on further dividing rather than reintegrating. The levels they introduced into their minds turned against each other, and they established differences, divisions, cleavages, dispersions, and all the other concepts related to the increasing splits which they produced.
39 Not being in their right minds, they turned their defenses from protection to assault and acted literally insanely. It was essential to introduce a split-proof device which could be used only to heal, if it were used at all. The Atonement was built into the space-time belief in order to set a limit on the need for the belief and ultimately to make learning complete. The Atonement is the final lesson. Learning itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary. The ability to learn has no value when change of understanding is no longer necessary. The eternally creative have nothing to learn. Only after the separation was it necessary to direct the creative forces to learning because changed behavior had become mandatory.
40 Men can learn to improve their behavior and can also learn to become better and better learners. This serves to bring them into closer and closer accord with the Sonship, but the Sonship itself is a perfect creation, and perfection is not a matter of degree. Only while there are different degrees is learning meaningful. The "evolution" of man is merely a process by which he proceeds from one degree to the next. He corrects his previous missteps by stepping forward. This represents a process which is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms because he returns as he goes forward.
41 The Atonement is the device by which he can free himself from the past as he goes ahead. It undoes his past errors, thus making it unnecessary for him to keep retracing his steps without advancing to his return. In this sense the Atonement saves time but, like the miracle which serves it, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan does have a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is finished, its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time's end. At this point, the bridge of the return has been built.
42 The Atonement is a total commitment. You still think this is associated with loss. This is the same mistake all the separated ones make in one way or another. They cannot believe that a defense which cannot attack is the best defense. This is what is meant by "the meek shall inherit the earth." They will literally take it over because of their strength. A two-way defense is inherently weak precisely because it has two edges and can turn against the self very unexpectedly. This tendency cannot be controlled except by miracles.
43 The miracle turns the defense of Atonement to the protection of the inner self, which, as it becomes more and more secure, assumes its natural talent of protecting others. The inner self knows itself as both a brother and a Son. You know that when defenses are disrupted, there is a period of real disorientation accompanied by fear, guilt, and usually vacillations between anxiety and depression. This course is different in that defenses are not being disrupted but reinterpreted, even though you may experience it as the same thing. In the reinterpretation of defenses, only their use for attack is lost. Since this means they can be used only one way, they become much stronger and much more dependable. They no longer oppose the Atonement but greatly facilitate it.
44 The Atonement can only be accepted within you. You have perceived it largely as external thus far, and that is why your experience of it has been minimal. The reinterpretation of defenses is essential in releasing the inner light. Since the separation, man's defenses have been used almost entirely to defend himself against the Atonement and thus maintain the separation. They themselves generally see this as a need to protect the body. The many body fantasies with which men's minds are engaged arise from the distorted belief that the body can be used as a means for attaining "atonement."
45 Perceiving the body as a temple is only the first step in correcting this kind of distortion. It alters part of the misperception but not all of it. It does recognize, however, that the concept of Atonement in physical terms is not appropriate. However, the next step is to realize that a temple is not a building at all. Its real holiness lies in the inner altar around which the building is built. The inappropriate emphasis men have put on beautiful church buildings is a sign of their fear of Atonement and their unwillingness to reach the altar itself. The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. The Spiritual eye, on the other hand, cannot see the building at all because it has perfect sight. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity.
46 For perfect effectiveness, the Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation, the mind was invulnerable to fear because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations of the mind which must be undone. This is what is meant by "the restoration of the temple." It does not mean the restoration of the building but the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation and places within man the one defense against all separation mind-errors which can make him perfectly invulnerable.
47 The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. In fact, both time and matter were created for this purpose. This appears to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision. If you review the idea carefully, however, you will realize that this is not true. Everything is limited in some way by the manner of its creation. Free will can temporize and is capable of enormous procrastination. But it cannot depart entirely from its Creator, Who set the limits on its ability to miscreate by virtue of its own real purpose.
48 The misuse of will engenders a situation which in the extreme becomes altogether intolerable. Pain thresholds can be high, but they are not limitless. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a perceptual turning-point. This ultimately reawakens the Spiritual eye, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two types or levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict for a long time and can become very acute, but the outcome is as certain as God.
49 The Spiritual eye literally cannot see error and merely looks for Atonement. All the solutions which the physical eyes seek dissolve in its sight. The Spiritual eye, which looks within, recognizes immediately that the altar has been defiled and needs to be repaired and protected. Perfectly aware of the right defense, It passes over all others, looking past error to truth. Because of the real strength of Its vision, It pulls the will into Its service and impels the mind to concur. This reestablishes the true power of the will and makes it increasingly unable to tolerate delay. The mind then realizes with increasing certainty that delay is only a way of increasing unnecessary pain, which it need not tolerate at all. The pain threshold drops accordingly, and the mind becomes increasingly sensitive to what it would once have regarded as very minor intrusions of discomfort.
50 The Children of God are entitled to perfect comfort, which comes from a sense of perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means is already provided and does not involve any effort at all on their part. Their egocentricity usually misperceives this as personally insulting, an interpretation which obviously arises from their misperception of themselves. Egocentricity and communion cannot coexist. Even the terms are contradictory.
51 The Atonement is the only gift that is worthy of being offered to the altar of God. This is because of the inestimable value of the altar itself. It was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection. God is lonely without His Souls, and they are lonely without Him. Men must learn to perceive the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed.