Above the battleground: Applying the Course to the Iraq War

by Greg Mackie

Note: Robert Perry, Allen Watson, and I have already written about a similar situation: the terrorist attack of 9/11. Our article on 9/11 was also entitled "Above the Battleground." What we said there certainly applies to this situation as well, and so I invite you to read that article as well as this one. The URL for that article is (W-pI.14.4:5). Its unreality means that no matter how horrible the carnage may seem to be, the true Self of everyone involved is totally unharmed. Everyone is thus perfectly innocent in truth; seeing this in a deep way is forgiveness.

If the war is not real and we should forgive everyone involved, does it follow that we as Course students should do nothing to speak out against the war and the decisions that have brought it about? I have heard some Course students speak less than charitably of the peace activists who sought through political action to prevent the war (and are still seeking to end it). Some claim that such activism does more harm than good, because all it does is make the error real. Is this true? Does the Course's way forbid us to act? Does it call us to refrain from standing up actively and publicly for peace?

I don't think so. Yes, the Course tells us the world is an illusion, but it also calls us to be bringers of healing within the illusion. The pain of this illusion feels terribly real, however unreal it may be in truth, and so the Course implores us to bring the light of God's Love to all who suffer. This is how the illusion and all the pain that comes with it are undone. I believe the Course intends to produce people who are positive, active catalysts for peace and love in this world—true miracle workers. Our miracle working can take many forms, and one form for some of us may be taking a strong public stand for peace. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were miracle workers of this sort, as are Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter. They and others like them have demonstrated time and again that the fruit of true forgiveness is not inaction, but compassionate action grounded in love for all beings.

I myself have felt called to stand up publicly for peace in my own small way, and so I have participated in several peace marches. (I carried a sign that said, "Forgiveness sets us free," which I hope had some effect on those carrying the more virulent anti-Bush signs.) Of course, others may be called to express peace in different ways—the Holy Spirit is our guide in this. The key is that whatever we feel called to do, our action must flow from that place in us above the battleground, that place of eternal love and peace that is our true nature. As Gandhi said, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

In that spirit, I would like to present a visualization by Robert Perry, which he created for his workshop on ACIM conflict resolution. This visualization was designed to be applied to a situation in which you are having a conflict with another person. For that reason, some of the lines only make sense in a situation in which you have had an actual interaction with the other person. However, this visualization can easily be adapted to apply to Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, or anyone involved with the war who arouses thoughts of anger and unforgiveness in you. Please feel free to change the wording as needed.

I hope you will find this visualization helpful in your efforts to look upon the Iraq war from a Course perspective. May we all find the peace of God above the battleground, and extend it to all of our brothers and sisters who are suffering in our war-torn world.


Rising above the battleground

A visualization based on T-23.IV

Call to mind your conflict and watch your behavior in this situation.
See how reasonable you have been,
or at least how justified and necessary your harshness has been.
You had good reasons for everything you did, no matter what it was.
You really had no choice.

You've tried to be considerate of the other person.
You've refrained from striking back so many times.
You've held your tongue.
You've tried so hard to be good.

Now be willing to consider that beneath this considerate and reasonable facade
there has been attack in your mind, in your unloving perception of the other person,
in your drive to get your needs met even if it meant sacrifice for them.
Most of the time you probably don't even notice this attack, yet its signs were there.
Do you recall feeling any of the following things:

"a stab of pain,
a twinge of guilt,
and above all, a loss of peace"? (6:3).

These are the signs that your justified exterior was concealing the intent of murder.
The Course says, "What is not love is murder.
What is not loving must be an attack" (1:10-11).
These are the signs that you have been on the battleground.
Can you see yourself on the battleground?
Maybe you've been on the offensive.
Maybe you've been hiding in your trench.
Perhaps you've been trying to lure the enemy into an ambush.
Perhaps you've been waiving a white flag while you held a gun behind your back.
One thing is for sure: you've been going after the spoils of war.
What exactly have you been trying to win on this battleground?

Now ask yourself: "Can it be anything that offers me a perfect calmness, and a sense of love so deep and quiet that no touch of doubt can ever mar my certainty? And that will last forever?" (adapted from 8:8-9).

These blessings can only be found abovethe battleground.
And "you can see the battle from above" (6:1).

Imagine yourself rising up—physically,
but also mentally and emotionally.
From this higher perspective, you see the battle as inconsequential and trivial.
Its forms are small, its sounds remote.
"The senselessness of conquest is quite apparent
from the quiet sphere above the battleground" (9:5).
In this quiet sphere you realize that this battle cannot touch you,
that your brother's body and personality cannot harm you in any way.
In this quiet sphere you realize that the battle is not real, and easily escaped.

And in this place you say to yourself: "I choose a miracle instead of murder."(adapted from 6:5).

This quiet sphere is more than just an absence of battle, it is a place of peace.

Repeat these words to yourself:
"In this place I want for nothing.
Sorrow of any kind is inconceivable.

Only the light I love is in awareness,
and only love shines upon me forever.
It is my past, my present, and my future; always the same, eternally complete, and wholly shared. I know it is impossible my happiness could ever suffer change of any kind" (adapted from 8:2-7).

Do you feel tempted to return to the battleground,
because you still think there is something you can win there?
If so, ask yourself again if it could possibly offer you
the deep, eternal peace and love you find above the battleground.

And so repeat, "I choose to remain above the battleground.
And God Himself and all the lights of Heaven
will gently lean to me, and hold me up.
I choose a miracle instead of murder"
(adapted from 6:5-6).

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