Chapter 6: The Lessons of Love

Introduction and Section I:

“The Message of the Crucifixion”

Paragraphs 1-7

Commentary by Robert


1. 1The relationship of anger to attack is obvious, but the relationship [Ur: inevitable association] of anger to fear is not always so apparent. 2Anger always involves projection of separation, which must ultimately be accepted as [Ur: entirely] ones own responsibility, rather than being blamed on others [this final phrase was apparently composed by the editors]. 3Anger cannot occur unless you believe that you have been attacked, that your attack is justified in return [Ur: the attack {on you} was justified], and that you are in no way responsible for it [the attack on you]. 4Given these three wholly irrational premises, the equally irrational conclusion that a brother is worthy of attack rather than of love must follow. 5What can be expected from insane premises except an insane conclusion? 6The way to undo an insane conclusion is to consider the sanity of the premises on which it rests. 7You cannot be attacked, attack has no justification, and you are responsible for what you believe.

Editing changes have unfortunately changed the original meaning of this paragraph. It begins by saying that we all understand how anger leads to attack, but we probably don’t understand how anger leads to fear. Here’s how. To begin with, anger is always an act of projection—projecting onto others the responsibility for your separated condition, your condition of being alone and deprived. You yourself caused this condition, but then you projected this causation onto others. You see them as attacking you (first premise). You unconsciously see their attack as justified (second premise)—otherwise, why would you give it any power? And you see their attack as an objective fact, rather than a belief chosen by you (third premise). In this view, your fear of them is totally justified, and this is how anger/projection leads to fear. In this view, your attack on them is totally justified as well. Indeed, the idea that attack is justified is the only conclusion one can derive from those three premises.

Yet the paragraph ends by saying that this conclusion must be insane because all three premises are irrational. First, no one can attack you (we’ll see why later). Second, their attack on you is totally unjustified—so why give it any power? And third, you—not your attacker—are responsible for your belief that you have been attacked. The real conclusion? This person deserves only love, not attack.

2. 1You have been asked to take me as your model for learning, since [Ur: and we have often said that] an extreme example is a particularly helpful learning device. 2Everyone teaches, and teaches all the time. 3This is a responsibility you inevitably assume the moment you accept any premise at all, and no one can organize his life without some [Ur: any] thought system. 4Once you have developed a thought system of any kind, you live by it and teach it. 5Your capacity for allegiance to a thought system may be misplaced, but it is still a form of faith and can be redirected. [Ur: You have been chosen to teach the Atonement precisely because you have been extreme examples of allegiance to your thought systems, and therefore have developed the capacity for allegiance. It has indeed been misplaced. Bill had become an outstanding example of allegiance to apathy, and you have become a startling example of fidelity to variability. But this is a form of faith, which you yourselves had grown willing to redirect. You cannot doubt the strength of your devotion when you consider how faithfully you observed it. It was quite evident that you had already developed the ability to follow a better model, if you could accept it.]

The three premises and their inevitable conclusion are basic pillars of our thought system. Once we embrace this thought system, we can’t help but teach it, with our every word and every deed. We can’t help but act as enthusiastic salesmen for it in every interaction. Perhaps we thought we could keep such ego-based beliefs to ourselves, but we can’t.

Jesus stands forth as a model for a different thought system. What is great about adopting him as a model is that he is such an extreme example. Extreme examples are wonderful because even if they pull you only partway toward them, they pull you far from where you are now.

We may feel too committed to our current thought system, but that very commitment is a power we have employed and can redirect. We can give it to a whole new thought system. This is Jesus’ point about Helen and Bill. Bill was “an outstanding example of allegiance to apathy,” while Helen was “a startling example of fidelity to variability.” Notice the irony in being zealously committed to apathy and unwaveringly faithful to variability! It’s a situation that cries out for solution, and this solution was in their power. Having developed the capacity for allegiance, they could redirect it by following a better model. And so can we.

I. The Message of the Crucifixion

1. 1For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again [this sentence appears to have been composed by the editors]. 2I did not dwell on it [Ur: the crucifixion] before because of the [Ur: its] fearful connotations you may associate with it [“you may associate with it” was added by the editors]. 3The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. 4Nothing, however, can be [Ur: But we know that nothing can be really] explained in negative terms only. 5There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.

Now he launches into his reconsideration of the crucifixion. He discussed it quite passionately in the opening paragraphs of “Atonement Without Sacrifice” (3.I). There, however, all he was doing was negating its “fearful connotations” (1:2). He was saying that the crucifixion was not a case of him taking on the punishment for humanity’s sins in order to appease an angry God. I can never get over the irony of us spending centuries tearfully thanking Jesus for his great sacrifice on our behalf, and then, after all that time, he steps forward and calmly states that we have gotten it all wrong. 

All he did in that previous discussion, however, was explain what the crucifixion did not mean. Now, however, having laid that groundwork, he is ready to tell us what it did mean.

2. 1The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. 2Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. 3It can be, and has been, misunderstood. 4This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. 5I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger [5.II.11:1]. 6I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless [Ur: foolish] journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents [Ur: it should means {sic}] release from fear to anyone who understands it [4.In.3:1-2]. 7While I emphasized only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led [Ur: led] to the resurrection was not clarified then. 8Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.

Already the difference between his way of looking at the crucifixion and the traditional way is apparent. In the traditional view, the crucifixion was a one-time transaction with God that paid for mankind’s sins. Here, however, the crucifixion is “nothing more than an extreme example” (2:1). He also calls it a “teaching device” (2:2). Those two phrases imply a basic orientation to the crucifixion, one that is fundamentally different than the traditional view. 

Let’s look at that difference. Rather than being a ritualistic transaction with God designed to change God’s Mind, the crucifixion had nothing to do with God. It was a public display put on for us, designed to change our minds. It was not some magical act meant to alter our status in God’s eyes. It was an example we were meant to follow, a teaching device we were meant to learn from. It represented a decision we were meant to share.

2:4. Yet our ego has done with it exactly what it did with those Bible verses in 5.VI. It has interpreted it fearfully, as evidence of a God Who wants to punish us for our sins. On this issue, the ego has indeed spoken first. But now the Holy Spirit offers us another interpretation.

3. 1You have probably [Ur: You have] reacted for years as if [Ur: as if] you were being crucified. 2This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. 3Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. 4The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another [Ur: a brother]. 5This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. 6Otherwise, [Ur: In fact, unless it is fully understood as only that,] I cannot serve as a [Ur: real] model for learning.

We really need to see this paragraph as another version of the discussion in the first paragraph of the Introduction. We have projected onto others the responsibility for our own separated condition. This angry act of blame provokes others to assault us, and interprets them as doing so (“anger fosters assault”). And this makes us afraid (“assault promotes fear”). We now seem to be surrounded by people who are crucifying us. Clearly they are responsible for our miserable condition. Yet we are just assigning them the blame for what we have done to ourselves. 

The crucifixion was designed to address this very situation. It was designed to be an extreme mirror of the condition we already see ourselves in: one person surrounded by a ring of vicious attackers. In this utterly familiar situation, it modeled a different response, one that sees being assaulted as actually impossible. This is how we must see Jesus as our model. Rather than emulating his choice to let himself be crucified for a higher good, we need to emulate his choice to see himself as invulnerable to crucifixion.

4. 1Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. 2There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. 3Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. 4Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. 5To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. 6The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. 7If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.

If you are a mind, formless and without boundary, then how can you be attacked? Only a form can be attacked and wounded. An egg is easy to crush, but how can you crush something that has no form? This is why only the body can be assaulted. You as a mind are invulnerable. 

Yet the body is not real, and so its destruction cannot be real, either. “Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger” (4:4). What a line! This means that you are not justified in getting even a little annoyed with someone who is murdering your body. If you think you are, then you are believing that you are a body, which means you are “regarding yourself insanely” (4:7) and teaching this insanity to others (4:5). We, of course, have made teaching this into our full-time job.

The crucifixion was designed to show us a radical alternative. Jesus realized that he was not a body and that his mind was unassailable. And so, even as his body was being murdered, from his perspective he was not being assaulted. Nothing was being done to him.

5. 1I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. 2You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. 3When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. 4And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. 5I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. 6If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.

Jesus has told you that you and he are equals, but this equality only comes out when you make the same decision (5:1). How can you do that? When you feel persecuted, remember what he demonstrated in the crucifixion. Remember that he did not perceive himself as being persecuted. If you can share this perception, you will undermine the global belief in vulnerability to attack, just as he did (5:4). And you will help him teach the world the real message of the crucifixion: that we are all immune to attack.

Application: Think of a situation in which you feel persecuted or attacked in some way. Now dwell on these lines: 

Let me remember what Jesus demonstrated in the crucifixion.

Like him, I will refuse to see myself as being attacked

I will join him in his decision and thereby strengthen it.

I will help him teach the world that we are all immune to attack.

6. 1As I have said before, As you teach so shall you learn. 2If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution. 3This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realize [learn] his own salvation. 4Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realize [Ur: know] that it cannot be assailed. 5Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. 6You are not asked to be crucified, which [Ur: because that] was part of my own teaching contribution. 7You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. 8There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. 9Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. 10Remember always that what you believe you will teach. 11Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.

Notice the recurring trio of believe then teach then learn. 

“Believe with me” (6:11). Believe with him that you are perfectly immune (6:4) and therefore that you never have any cause for anger (6:7-9). In how you see your tiny crucifixions each day, follow the example he laid down in his vastly more extreme crucifixion. 

“Teach your own perfect immunity” (6:4). Teach others your belief that you can’t be attacked. How? By being free of anger in the face of attack, and by being defenseless, by refusing to protect yourself. If you believe with Jesus, you can be every bit as powerful a teacher as him (6:11). What a promise!

Learn: “As you teach so shall you learn.” If you teach that you are perfectly immune, you will learn that your being transcends the threats of time and space. You will learn that you are saved (6:3).

7. 1Your [Ur: Your] resurrection is your reawakening. 2I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. 3God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever. 4I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true [Ur: made it true forever] for me. 5Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. 6My brothers slept during the so-called agony in the garden, but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not be abandoned. [Ur: Peter swore he would never deny me, but he did so three times. It should be noted that he did offer to defend me with the sword, which I naturally refused, not being at all in need of bodily protection.]

This section is really about how Jesus got to the resurrection (2:7) and how we can get there. Resurrection is rising to a life that is above all the damaging winds of this world. Resurrection is the full realization of that perfectly immune core in you. It is “the dawning on your mind of what is already in it” (7:2). Jesus needs you to join him in teaching everyone that this liberating invulnerability lies in each of us. But to teach it, you have to believe it yourself. For you teach it most powerfully not by your words but by your example, just as he taught it by his.

The final part of the paragraph shows that he taught it not just in the crucifixion, but also in the events leading up to the crucifixion. He taught it in the garden of Gethsemane, by not being in agony over the fate that awaited him. He knew that that fate was merely a teaching demonstration to put on for his brothers. He taught it in that same garden by not being angry with his disciples for abandoning him. He knew he couldn’t be abandoned. And he taught it by refusing Peter’s offer to protect him with a sword. He knew that protecting his body was unnecessary, since his reality was eternally safe.

Introduction to Chapter 6 and “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T-6.In-I.7)