Rules of Engagement

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Rules for Decision


As a child, I remember rehearsing my defense.  In my imagination, I was being attacked and I needed to lay out arguments to ward off the assault.  These days, I don’t spend a lot of time running through such scenarios in my head, although when something or someone is really getting to me, I still revert back to the old ways.  It is shocking to me how ingrained the habit of defense is in me.  A recent daily lesson stated, If I defend myself I am attacked, and it reminded me that ”You operate from the belief you must protect yourself from what is happening because it must contain what threatens you.”  I mentally plan to be attacked.  This is not the first time I’ve caught myself at this, but somehow the lesson is going deeper into my bones.  As we read the end of Chapter 29, The Forgiving Dream, in our ACIM group, and began Chapter 30, The New Beginning, the crux of the matter was brought to light: The slave of idols is a willing slave. We did this to ourselves.  We made our nightmares.  We made the decision to play at what it would be like to be separate from God.  It’s a game – an illusion that pretends that what never happened is reality.  But we can awaken the moment we decide to give up judgment and listen to the part of us that never stopped being connected (the Holy Spirit).  We (I) don’t have to continue pretending we are something we are not – apart from God; outside the circle of Love.

Our reading last week was the guidebook to how to do that.  Rules for Decision is perhaps one of the most important parts of the Course.  Of course, ego is not thrilled with these instructions, which begin with the simple declaration: Today I will make no decisions by myself.  This requires giving up judgment, giving up the idea that we (I) know what anything is for(Lesson 25!).  As the Manual for Teachers says, “The giving up of judgment, the obvious prerequisite for hearing God’s Voice, is usually a fairly slow process, not because it is difficult, but because it is apt to be perceived as personally insulting.”


Yeah, we(I) need get over the impulse to judge, to think that we (I) already know the answers.  “This means that you are choosing not to be the judge of what to do. But it must also mean you will not judge the situations where you will be called upon to make response. For if you judge them, you have set the rules for how you should react to them. And then another answer cannot but produce confusion and uncertainty and fear.

3 This is your major problem now. You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do. And what you hear may not resolve the problem as you saw it first. This leads to fear, because it contradicts what you perceive and so you feel attacked. And therefore angry. There are rules by which this will not happen. But it does occur at first, while you are learning how to hear.

“You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do.”

I do not enter the situation as a blank slate.  I think I know; even though the reason I am asking for help is because I am miserable – pissed, frustrated, angry, and definitely not seeing Christ is my brother!  The Course suggests that we decide what kind of day we want to have and then surrender to  that experience.  Specifically it says, “Throughout the day, at any time you think of it and have a quiet moment for reflection, tell yourself again the kind of day you want; the feelings you would have, the things you want to happen to you, and the things you would experience, and say:

If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me.”

Of course, I don’t about you but I have to tap into my willingness sometime to even be able to be honest about the kind of day I want.  When ego has its tentacles deeply entrenched in my mind, I am perfectly capable of choosing my own destruction for the sake of being “right.”  I have to remember that I want to be peaceful; I want to be happy.  The Course tells us that when this happens, we have actually lost sight of the question. “But there will still be times when you have judged already. Now the answer will provoke attack, unless you quickly straighten out your mind to want an answer that will work. Be certain this has happened if you feel yourself unwilling to sit by and ask to have the answer given you. This means you have decided by yourself, and can not see the question. Now you need a quick restorative before you ask again.”

At which point it instructs us to say, “I have no question. I forgot what to decide.”

I am dancing with folly.  It’s like I forget that it feels better to be peaceful.  It feels better to be in alignment with Spirit.  It feels better to step back and let Him lead the way.

“But I want to do it myself!” screams my inner stubborn child.

(“…It is apt to be perceived as personally insulting.”)

It is not that God thinks us incapable buffoons; it’s that when we have forgotten who we are we make “bad” choices.  God isn’t judging them as “bad,” it’s just that He is aware that there is an easier, gentler way of being in the world.  There is a way of being that allows the beauty that surrounds you to knock your socks off.  There is a way of being that allows ease.  (I need do nothing.)  Lord only know why we (I) make it harder than it needs to be.  The Course tells us it is because we want to usurp the power of God, which is a little beyond ridiculous since He gave us all power.  We just use it badly because when you’re busy thinking from an us-versus-them mentality, you can’t see that the striving for specialness is blocking the happiness that surrounds you.

So the Course gives us these rules for decision, or as I think of them, rules of engagement.  They tell us how to move through the world. They instruct us in how to make it all easy instead of so damned hard.  Quit trying to be separate.  Quit trying to control everything.  Enter flow, where you will be told what to do.

But you do have to ask.  Free will and all that.

Today I will make no decisions by myself. Or at least that’s my intention.

Namaste, my friends, Namaste.





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