There is a line in the familiar FIP Course that always puzzled me. After being told that “attempting the mastery of fear is useless,” we are then told, “The true resolution rests entirely on mastery through love” (T-2.VII.4:4). I could never tell what that meant. Apparently, I am supposed to attain some kind of mastery (of fear?) “through love.” What does that mean?
That passage as originally dictated, however, is quite clear and evokes an entire picture of my proper goals in life: “The essential resolution rests entirely on the mastery of love.” “The mastery of love.” Now the meaning is clear: Don’t try to limit the effects of fear by mastering it. Instead, dispel fear entirely by mastering love. What a remarkable thought! Think of the things you have tried to master and all the energy you’ve poured into them. Now imagine putting the same energy into mastering love.
Let me try to describe the picture here. Fear seems to happen of its own accord, and yet its effects are debilitating. So we basically try to stick it in a cage, as if it were a mischievous dog. It’s still there, it’s still whimpering, gnawing, and barking. But at least it can’t wreck everything. It’s not in control anymore. We are the master.
Jesus is saying that this ultimately doesn’t work. This is why the word “courage” never appears in the Course. Courage is doing the right thing in spite of fear; in other words, mastering your fear. Yet Jesus says that trying to master it just affirms its power.
Instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to master fear, we need to instead master love. We must master love in the same sense that one would master the violin. Once we do that, fear will automatically be dispelled. When love fills our minds, there will be no room for fear.
Have you ever thought about trying master love? Have you ever set that as a goal? What a sublime goal! We have all sorts of goals in life: finding the perfect partner, getting ahead in our careers, losing weight, saving for retirement. Can you imagine your #1 goal in life being to become a master of love?