If I defend myself I am attacked.
Did you ever build a fort as a kid? I remember building lots of them, both indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, my forts would be in the woods using natural resources, and indoors, I would use sheets and blankets to make a roof and various rooms within a room. I loved how the imagination could run wild within one’s fort. I would go in there and play as if I was defending myself from the Evil Wizard Gargamel, protecting my fellow Smurfs. Or I would use my fort as a place to read or even simply fall asleep. My forts seemed so secretive and cozy, making me feel like I was covered in Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility. There was something so warm, inviting, and safe about the space I created around myself.
I realize, now, many years later, I never really stopped building forts, they just changed to a more mental fortress then an actual cool play space in my house. I traded defending myself against the evil Gargamel to defending myself against the apparent horrors of the world. Have you done the same, translating a “once upon a time” playful imagination tool, to your adult every day life? Recognize how that both scenarios share in the same purpose of playing pretend as we believe the defenses of our mental fortress makes us much safer in a world full of fear.
“Defense is frightening. It stems from fear, increasing fear as each defense is made. You think it offers safety. Yet it speaks of fear made real and terror justified” (ACIM Lesson 135 3:1-4).
Today, we look more closely at how we still perpetuate fear by maintaining our defenses rather than exploring the true security of our vulnerability. First we are prompted to explore the masks and roles we wear to defend ourselves and what it is we are truly defending. This is where the body gets misused for the separation rather than the remembrance. As we look around with human eyes we believe that everything that is dear to us is the body and everything encased in the body (the mind, brain, organs, heart, etc.). We fall for the old trick that “seeing is believing” rather than “believing is seeing.” In Truth, what we are is so much bigger, vast, and more powerful than the human body. The body alone could not contain this magnitude of potential force. What we truly are actually encases the body, like a force field. It is our auric field, our light body, and our connection to That above, That below, That which extends beyond. How could we ever build a fort big enough and strong enough to defend this essence that is truly Us? The answer is simply, we can’t. But why would even need to or want to?
“The body is in need of no defense. This cannot be too often emphasized. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish” (ACIM Lesson 135 7:1-3).
We have come to recognize through the misuse of our body as a defense mechanism that it is our mind that we have been defending. Thus it is not the body but the mind that needs to be healthy, aligned, and fortified with the Light. It is because we misemployed the body that we can see our error and begin to use our experience as our learning tool to correct the mind. This is a crucial piece to our journey as through our experience we learn the gift that is the body when it is used as a tool for the remembrance. In this way can the body be our teacher as we master our journey Home.
“A healed mind is relieved of the belief that it must plan, although it cannot know the outcome which is best, the means by which it is achieved, nor how to recognize the problem that the plan is made to solve. It must misuse the body in tis plans until it recognizes this is o. But when it has accepted this as true, then is it healed, and lets the body go” (ACIM Lesson 135 12:1-3).
Once attention gets turned to the mind we come face to face with what we truly fear, our attacking thoughts. It is our thoughts that make us believe we must plan, control and be the one in charge, or else….Yes, the infamous, damning “or else…” We hear those words whispered from the voice of ego and we jump and get into battle formation. Today, this is what we are correcting because as we prep for battle, a battle will be sure to arrive at our gates, as it is our perception. That is the power of our thoughts.
Take a moment and think about a time when you prepped yourself mentally to be around someone expecting he or she would be the usual tyrant. How much space do you leave for this person to have changed on his or her journey? How much space do you leave for you to practice witnessing this person is a Child of God, as You are? When we go into a situation already prepped for war, that is what we will see. No matter what happens around us, we are already looking for the signs of war, ready to release our ammo at any small nuance. It is relaxing in our vulnerability and defenselessness that gives peace a chance not the solidity of our fortress or our preparations for battle.
“A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that 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” (ACIM Lesson 135 11:1-5).
We go from tearing down the fortress, as we thought it was the body that needed to be protected, to releasing all plans of the mind. Do you see how the means of putting down our defenses is letting go? A fellow spiritual teacher, John Mark Stroud (One Who Wakes), once shared with me a practice he did to encourage the act of releasing his grip on things he tried to control. He used two blocks of wood, put both hands flat them, then ducted taped his hand in this manner so as not to hold onto anything. This created a mental shift for him around the act of releasing, and I can completely understand why. Do you notice how often you clench your hands, tighten your shoulders, rub your forehead, or use another means of to display your “gripping” mechanism? This is another way in which the body alerts us to moments where we can release more.
Our gripping, controlling, planning, and anticipation only hinder our journey. It does the opposite of what our childhood fortresses did, it does not really protect us from the evil Gargamel because Gargamel is already inside the fortress, it is ourselves, it is our attacking thoughts. Yet in order to experience our safety and security, we must let go so that we can see that it so. It has already been shown throughout our lives, we just have not been aware of it. Think about it, have you not always been cared for in some way, shape, or form? Have things not always magically worked out? Knowing what you know now, wouldn’t it be nice to let go of the efforting and just relax into peacefully witnessing how we are always comforted and taken care of?
“What could you not accept, if you but know that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life” (ACIM Lesson 135 18:1-4).
In our practice periods, we come to understand the safety that is our defenselessness. It is through our sweet surrender do we look up and see the light that has always enfolded us. It is through observing that which we defend that we learn how we are still playing the game of pretend as we see the nothingness that our fortress is protecting. Like the monster under the bed, we come to realize we are only scared of ourselves and the thoughts we think we have.
“Without defenses, you become a light which Heaven gratefully acknowledges to be its own. And it will lead you on in ways appointed for you happiness according to the ancient plan, begun when time was born” (ACIM Lesson 135 20:1-2).
There is nothing we need do except recognize the nothingness we created. In doing so, our minds become open as we hear the Voice of God speak to us in each moment acknowledging the next step on our journey. We embody the trust in knowing that everything is always working out for the greater good of all. How could it not be when we are the Light of the world? We will know exactly what to do when the time comes to do it. We will know exactly the piece of knowledge that we need to know the moment we need to know it. This is not to say that one should never study or learn new things. It is to say, however, that you will be guided in that direction by God rather than by your fearful thoughts that you must grasp a certain piece of information. It is one of those things where you look back and realize the perfection of the journey and how you couldn’t have orchestrated it better with your own planning. It had to have been of Her Will all along.
“If there are plans to make, you will be told them. They may not be the plans you thought were needed, nor indeed the answers to the problems which you thought confronted you. But they are answers to another kind of question, which remains unanswered yet in need of answering until the Answer comes to you at last” (ACIM Lesson 135 23:1-4).
Today, as the saying goes, we stand naked before God. We release all roles, masks, and controlling mechanisms so that we can fully become aware of the guidance and care of our Comforter. Although it has been fun to play pretend in our magical fortress, we now upgrade to the Real Magic of our Miracle Lightship. Playing with the Gargamel within was fun but it does not compare to the eternal joy, peace, and wonderment that comes in each moment when viewed with the eyes of Christ. It is in the unknown that we become fully known.
May we all enjoy how playful our nakedness can be. Maybe even dance naked in your house for a while as you take a moment to remember the innocence of the naked baby, the innocence that You are. May we see how truly safe we are in what appears to be our vulnerability. Our real fortress is that we need no fortress at all. Happy dismantling! Namaste.