Chapter Three: Retraining the Mind
IX. Creating Versus the Self-Image
72 Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference which we have discussed already. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which men live. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system which is based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a Child of God is without power. It is essential to realize this because otherwise you will not understand why you have so much trouble with this course and will be unable to escape from the prisons which you have made for yourselves.
73 You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your minds. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you know the strength of the mind. You also know that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The "devil" is a frightening concept because he is thought of as extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of the Souls He created. He deceives by lies and builds kingdoms of his own in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are seen as willing to "sell" him their Souls in return for gifts they recognize are of no real worth.
74 This makes absolutely no sense. The whole picture is one in which man acts in a way he himself realizes is self-destructive but which he does not choose to correct and therefore perceives the cause as beyond his control. We have discussed the fall, or separation, before, but its meaning must be clearly understood without symbols. The separation is not symbolic. It is an order of reality or a system of thought that is real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer.
75 The fruit of only one tree was "forbidden" to man in his symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His Children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The "tree" which was forbidden was named the "tree of knowledge." Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation which sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying their own purpose is in error.
76 Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for incorporating into the self the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His Souls are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the "self concept," a concept now made acceptable by its weakness and explained by a tendency of the self to create an image of itself. Its fear aspect is often ascribed to fear of retaliation by a "father figure," a particularly curious idea in view of the fact that no one uses the term to refer to the physical father. It refers to an image of a father in relation to an image of the self.
77 Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. Man can perceive himself as self-creating, but he cannot do more than believe it. He cannot make it true. And, as we said before, when you finally perceive correctly, you can only be glad that you cannot. But until then, the belief that you can is the central foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defenses are used to attack ideas which might bring it to light. You still believe you are images of your own creation. Your minds are split with your Souls on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.
78 The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the "devil." It is powerful, active, destructive, and clearly in opposition to God because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Never underestimate the power of this denial. Look at your lives and see what the devil has made. But know that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth because its foundation is a lie.
79 Your creation by God is the only foundation which cannot be shaken because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to this beginning. Much has been perceived since then, but nothing else has happened. That is why your Souls are still in peace, even though your minds are in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you, as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.
80 The Bible says that the branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of Life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are willing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and man can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is conflictless. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created and for whom it waits.