Ask: About Non-Violence, Morality, and Why Bother to Study
“I have one thing keeping me from embracing ACIM, and that is that I still don’t understand non-violence. My question is, ‘If violence does not exist, then wars don’t exist, genocide does not exist, because it is all an illusion? Then there is no good nor bad, and one can do whatever they want?’
But then, nothing has meaning, and studying the book, and learning to think right also has no meaning, and no merit. I simply don’t understand, the thinking seems circular to me.
I must be peace, killing an animal is peaceful? If I had the opportunity to kill Hitler in the middle of his act, with the thinking of non-violence, I should let him live?
I am lost with this work. Please help me.” – Anonymous
You actually have three questions here so it is no wonder you feel lost! One is a question about non-violence, another is about morality, and the last is about why you bother to study at all.
With regard to non-violence, A Course in Miracles does not take a stand one way or the other on non-violence. As you say, it teaches that there is no right or wrong so how could it take a stand on any moral issue? It does not. This brings us to your question about morality.
ACIM makes a distinction between “sin” and a “mistake”. Sin is the idea that there is an absolute-morality decreed by a god and which, when defied, would be unchangeable. Once you sinned you would always be a sinner. You could make amends or do penance or be punished, but these would not undo the sin. Only by the arbitrary whim (“grace”) of a god could you be forgiven – but you’d still be a sinner, just one that was unworthily let off for your sin, thereby increasing your guilt. The belief in an absolute-morality, sin, and a judgmental god is what the ego (personal thought system) fosters in your mind to make it seem real to you.
ACIM teaches that there is no such thing as sin and that your perception that the experience of the universe of form is reality is a mistake that can be corrected. In fact, because it is not real, it is already corrected. There is no sin, no mistake, so no cause for guilt.
Quite apart from this, we do need in the world social-morality to attempt to live harmoniously with each other. Social-morality is not absolute, but is arbitrary, depending on time and place and culture and values. This is why it is only an “attempt” to live harmoniously with each other and is often the cause of conflict! Social-morality should be examined and questioned from time to time to see if what we have learned in time requires changes in our morality.
So, yes, you can do whatever you want in the world and there is no god out there to punish you for doing it. But in the world you cannot do whatever you want without consequences. Some of those consequences, in your guilt, you may bring on yourself. Some may be brought on you by society or cause and effect at the level of form.
This brings us to your third question about why you should bother to study and learn right thinking. Just to clarify, “right” and “wrong” mindedness in ACIM does not refer to moral right and wrong. It would be more apt to say “helpful” and “unhelpful” mindedness. And the helpfulness or unhelpfulness would have to do with what helps you to be aware of Truth and so be at peace.
You do not learn of Truth to cause some future effect. You learn of Truth as an effect of the cause of Undoing (Atonement, or correction) of the idea of not-Truth. The idea of not-Truth was undone by Truth’s All-encompassing nature the moment it was thought. But in time, the opposite of Timelessness, the idea of not-Truth seems to have begun long ago and it seems as though it will be undone in some indefinite future. So in the story of time when you become aware of Truth you become a manifest Undoer (teacher of God) of not-Truth. This shows up as you feeling moved to become aware of Truth through study and practice. And you will take your study and practice as far as it is your role to play in the Undoing.
As for killing animals and Hitler, those are matters for social-morality. Some think killing animals for any reason is wrong. Others think killing animals to eat is okay. Some think killing Hitler (there were attempts) would have been a great good. Others think it would have made the killers as bad as Hitler. As I pointed out above, social-morality is arbitrary. These are issues that one has to work out for themselves.
You can learn more about how the ego (personal thought system) hijacks social-morality for absolute-morality to increase guilt in my e-book, Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace (www.amazon.com, www.lulu.com). I put a lot of everyday examples in the book.
Why burn with questions? Sometimes answers only beget more questions so a one-on-one conversation can delve deeper. If you have questions holding you back email me at Liz@acimmentor.com to set up a telephone appointment. Learn more at www.acimmentor.com.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others, email it to me at Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.