A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 23: The War Against Yourself

Section II. The Laws of Chaos

Read ACIM Chapter 23, Section II (pages 489-494)

What is the Course referring to when it speaks of the laws of chaos?

The laws of chaos are the rules the ego makes up in order to “see” an imaginary universe of separate bodies in an illusionary world of time and space. The laws of chaos are simply false (insane) ideas that we join with and agree to believe in in order to experience the opposite of what we are in truth.

The laws of chaos are the opposite of Love’s laws, which knows Its oneness and extends all Its Love to all of Itself. Love’s laws share all of Itself with all equally. Love’s laws see no differences and never change.

What is the first law of chaos and how is it undone?

“The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others.” (2:1-2)

When we accept this ego law as true, we will experience ourselves as separate bodies with separate minds that are different instead of the same. We will experience ourselves as unique and different from what we see as outside of ourselves instead of being one with the united Mind of Love. This chaotic law reinforces that each “individual” has separate thoughts which make them different from the rest. In this chaotic world of individual, private minds, each mind has its own truth, which it experiences through its own set of constantly changing judgments.

“This principle evolves from the belief that there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies.” (2:3-5) In this world made up by the laws of chaos, we must constantly judge what is true for us; we must be in a constant state of judging what everything means to us in order to hold this illusionary world in place. As we learn that every illusion of separation is equally untrue, this first law of chaos falls apart and is undone.

What is the second law of chaos and what experience does it bring to us?

“The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshipper of sin, is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors call for punishment and not correction.” (4:1-2)

This ego law of chaos decrees that once we have bought into the idea of separation, we are guilty and deserve punishment and death. That is why all our “lives” as separate ego’s are filled with experiences of trial and error, struggle, vulnerability, victimhood, sickness and finally death. We believe we are guilty at an unconscious level and the ego thought system then brings us thoughts of seeing the guilt in “others” to try to alleviate the pain of feeling unworthy and guilty for our rejection of our one Self.

Along with the belief that we are guilty for rejecting our Creator, the second law of chaos insanely believes that our Creator is now our enemy to be defeated by dreaming of our own death. In this insane belief system, the ego tells us that we defeat God by our own destruction and God Himself is powerless to change this.

In the Manual for Teachers we are told, “Sickness is a method, conceived in madness, for placing God’s Son on his Father’s throne. God is seen as outside, fierce and powerful, eager to keep all power for Himself. Only by His death can He be conquered by His Son. And what, in this insane conviction, does healing stand for? It symbolizes the defeat of God’s Son and the triumph of his Father over him. It [healing] represents the ultimate defiance in a direct form which the Son of God is forced to recognize. It [healing] stands for all that he would hide from himself to protect his “life.” If he is healed, he is responsible for his thoughts. And if he is responsible for his thoughts, he will be killed to prove to him how weak and pitiful he is. But if he chooses death himself, his weakness is his strength. Now has he given himself what God would give to him, and thus entirely usurped the throne of his Creator.” (M.5.I.1:7-9, 2:1-8)

Here we see just how insane the ego thought system is. We think we separated from God, our Source and we are guilty for it. We decide that God is now our enemy. “Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken.” (6:2-4)

What is the third law of chaos and how does this relate to our definition God?

“This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is, and hate him for it.” (6:5-6) In this insane thought system, the foundation stone is that we are the deciders of what we are and what God is. (See Chapter 2 Section l. The Origins of Separation, paragraph 1 on page 17 for a further description of the steps we took in our mind to go from extension to projection.)

In this flawed thought system, because we believe we are guilty and hate ourselves for it, we project this belief onto God and now we are the deciders of what God believes about us. And because we believe we are guilty for the sin of separating from our Source, we believe that God believes this too and is now punishing us for our sins. We now believe that God is the enemy and is to be feared for his vengeance for what we have done. Now God becomes the reason for all sickness and death. God becomes the cause of all disasters. (An example of this is that destruction in the form of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the like are called “acts of God” in insurance contracts and legal documents.)

Now that God is the cause of all our problems, he is now the enemy and we have nowhere to turn. We are now at war with God (oneness). In this insane scenario Jesus reminds us, “Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants. That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.” (8:6-7)

How does the fourth law of chaos deepen the insanity and what form does it take in the stories made up in this world?

The fourth law of chaos follows from the other three: First we believe that we can have separate thoughts, which set us apart and make us different.  Because our values and what we deem important are now different, we are enemies. Second we believe that because we attacked God’s laws, we are sinners and therefore deserve attack and death. Third we believe that God also believes this about us and hates us for rejecting His laws and separating from Him. God now becomes our enemy to be feared.

Jesus tells us: “The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this another’s loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognize that you can never take away save from yourself.” (9:1-4)

This law is the basis for competition in the world — between countries, between ethnic groups, in the work place, in family relationships and sporting events. Competition is seen as a means to take specialness for ourselves to give us more value and devalue the other. It appears to be a necessary “fact of life,”  yet it is really the playing out of attack and murder in an acceptable disguise. We also see this law of chaos reflected in the constant warring since time began — battles over land, battles over differences in religions (beliefs), battles over a continuous series of grievances, which stimulate the need to attack and defend.

Here we are seeing that clinging to these laws of chaos only dig us deeper into the hell we made for ourselves. Because the ego values only what it takes and the instrument of the ego is the body, thoughts of ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘kill or be killed’ are born. “But in a savage world the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.” (10:4) Here we see that all these thoughts of attack and defend are the effect of joining with these flawed laws of chaos, which just stem from joining with thoughts of separation from God’s Love.

What is the fifth law of chaos and what are its effects on us?

The fifth law of chaos tells us that there is a substitute for Love. “The substitute for love, born of your enmity of your brother, must be salvation.” (12:10) The substitute for love, in the ego’s eyes, is separation or uniqueness. In chapter 24, Jesus calls it specialness. (See Section I. Specialness as a Substitute for Love on page 499.)

To the ego, in order to see ourselves as separate and special, everyone must become our enemy because we are in competition with everyone, including God. Here we are seeing that we get the effects of the laws of chaos because we have bought into it and still want to make it appear real to us. Jesus tells us, “These are the laws on which your “sanity” appears to rest. These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. …Are you as certain that you realize the goal is madness?” (13:4-9, 13)

We are now seeing that it is only our belief in this insane thought system that keeps us prisoner to it. As we continue to believe we are separate and alone, we will continue to experience fear and vulnerability and death will continue to appear real to us. Jesus encourages us to let the laws of chaos go when he says, “Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is not your friend.” (17:10-11) This means that when we are attracted to competition, to judge or condemn another or to make specialness (seeing differences) real in any way, that we are really attracted to the laws of chaos, which is the same as saying that we are attracted to experiences of fear and death.

Jesus calls us to return Home when he tells us, “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven, life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere.” (19:1-6)

How do we free ourselves from our belief in these laws?

In the last paragraph Jesus tells us how to free ourselves from following the laws of chaos: “How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.” (22:6-13)

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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