Volume 7 Number 3 September 1996
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
THE FEAR OF GOD AND COMPASSION FOR OTHERS
We can now answer the four questions presented in the first paragraph of this article:
1. What kind of mind could have had such a thought (the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom)?
A split mind that has embraced the ego thought system would constantly experience the emotion of fear, since the thought of separation from God was intended specifically to make an opposite to love, which of course is fear. Therefore, the part of the split mind wherein the thought system of the ego dominates is always in a state of unconscious fear, although the person might consciously have pleasant experiences. Meanwhile, the unconscious hell still brews in the mind that has embraced these thoughts, which explains the utter violence and ferocity of humanity’s thoughts and actions in this collective dream we call life.
2. How is it that that thought resonates so clearly with the biblical audience, then and now?
Obviously, part of the split mind, which contains the thought of annihilating God, must live in constant terror in the belief that it has accomplished its goal. This mind then only experiences the specific and concrete—fear and hate—therefore proving that God is non-existent since God is abstract (i.e., non-specific) love. The ego thought system of the world continues its development by making up a god who has the same emotions as the dream figures we call human beings, because people are comfortable with such an omnipotent authority figure that mirrors their own unconscious ego. And so when individuals in past times had read the tales of God, the prophets, the Children of Israel, and Jesus and his apostles, they reinforced for them the unconscious thought system of specialness with which they were so identified. Likewise today, the same stories find an equally receptive audience in those who still seek to prove that their thought system of separation and individuality is the correct one, while the reality of Heaven’s oneness is a lie.
3. Why is it today that sermons are still given in temples and churches throughout the world on this theme?
Our answer is a continuation of the previous one. We must understand the satisfaction that the ego obtains from having us believe that we must supplicate and placate an inconsistent god, who loves one minute, and murders the next. Absolute rulers have used this ego need well by having religions align themselves with the totalitarian rule of the state, and using the fear of God as a weapon against people who might question such a fearful dictatorship or deity. Religious leaders obtained great followings in the past, and continue to do so in the present, by talking about sin, hell, damnation, and fear, and how our so-called disobedience to the ego-made god can be absolved by their intervention, or the intervention of some holy figure that they espouse. The God business in the ego thought system is big business, and as long as people believe they will be punished by the alien god-figure that religion portrays, the churches and temples will continue to present sermons about this god. In the end, it is our individuality that is the victor—that special self of the religious leaders as well as of their followers—and our reality as Christ that is seemingly vanquished and lost to our awareness.
4. Why are children still brought up today to believe that fearing God is a good thing?
Since the purpose of the ego’s thought system of individuality and hate is always to perpetuate itself, then this motivation is reflected here within the dream by having parents seek to inculcate in their children the self-same belief system that has sustained them. Jesus emphasizes in A Course in Miracles that as we teach, so do we learn, for we are reinforcing the thought system—the Holy Spirit’s or the ego’s—we have first made real in our own minds. And so those people who are parents, seeking to reinforce their own individual existence—part of this identified with their roles as parents—will inevitably therefore teach their children the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear that they, the parents, wish to learn and reinforce about themselves.
Given all that we have been discussing about the fear of God, it stands to reason that followers of this strange biblical god, born of their need to reinforce and preserve their individual and special identities, could hardly be truly compassionate towards others. After all, in their belief system, God’s compassion is limited to his chosen ones, his favorites, and so why should theirs not be as well? Therefore, unless belief is withdrawn from this image of a feared and punishing god, and the trickle-down consequences of such belief, a new paradigm cannot be born into the consciousness of the people. And so, we are compelled to repeat the same dysfunctional patterns of selfishness and hate—over and over again—that make societies and civilization what they are, and which leave humanity hopeless and despairing of any real change, with true compassion remaining but an unrealistic dream.
Indeed, throughout history, many attempts have been made to form groups or organizations that address society’s ills, demonstrating what appears to be a more responsible and compassionate attitude. However, as noble as their missions have been and continue to be, they never obtained mass support, nor did they succeed in elevating the mass consciousness to compassion. Yet how could they succeed when the underlying thought system of the ego, along with its vengeful god, was never truly addressed, either in the world they were trying to help, or in the group members themselves, the helpers? That is why Jesus issues this caution, well known to most students of A Course in Miracles: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough” (T-18.IV.2:1-2). As we are reminded throughout the Course, expressions of love are impossible without first removing—with the Holy Spirit’s help—the ego thoughts that block such expression. We quote only one of many such reminders:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).
The clear implication here is that before we would seek to undertake an act of compassion, we first would have to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help in undoing all the ego blocks that interfere with our having an attitude of compassion, the obvious precursor to any loving and caring action. Indeed, it is the content of compassion that must be universally applied, since within the world, the forms in which compassion is expressed are obviously limited. Interestingly enough, even though the concept of compassion towards all is an integral part of Jesus’ message to us in A Course in Miracles, the word itself appears only once, in a passage that relates directly to the fear of God:
To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. For only if they share in it does it seem fearful, and you do share in it until you look upon your brother with perfect faith and love and tenderness (T-19.IV-D.11:1-3).
In other words, as long as we identify with the ego thought system of separation and individuality, of sin, guilt, and the fear of God—all part of one insane package—then true compassion, born of the unified perception of God’s one Son, is impossible. Along the same lines, Jesus teaches us early in the text about the impossibility of love in his world because of our ego-identification:
You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get” (T-4.III.4; italics ours).
If we are unable to accept love for ourselves, there is no way we can love all those who are a part of our true Self. Only the shift in thought systems from the ego’s fear and hate to the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness and love can bring about true compassion for “everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). The key word here is everyone, for if compassionate love is true, it must embrace the entire Sonship, without exception. Indeed, when our compassion is limited to special groups or special individuals, expressed at special times and in special circumstances, it is always the telltale sign that our ego’s unconscious thought system of separation and specialness has once more reared its ugly head, in remembrance of its vengeful and punishing god. As we are instructed about the ego’s use of empathy, a synonym for compassion:
The clearest proof that empathy as the ego uses it is destructive lies in the fact that it is applied only to certain types of problems and in certain people. These it selects out, and joins with. And it never joins except to strengthen itself (T-16.I.2:1-3).
When the red flag of our judgment and specialness is thus waved before our eyes, our single responsibility is to go to the One who knows only of compassion, asking that His vision of God and His Son replace our own. He would teach us that compassion is justified for every seemingly separated fragment of the Sonship, for all of us believe that we are miserable sinners, doomed to suffer certain destruction at the wrathful hands of a vengeful god. Thus are we all one within the ego system—without exception—and this recognition is the prerequisite for remembering at last that we are one as Christ. By learning, therefore, that God loves all His children equally and as one, we are inspired to reflect that love through our compassionate attitude for victim and victimizer alike: the poor, the rich; the good, the bad; the powerless, the powerful. Only then can we know our true Identity—shared with all—as God’s one Son, the Christ He created one with Him.