In spite of our best intentions to be kind and loving, we are all bothered by negative thoughts that we’d rather not have. Even if we realize that upsets are never caused by externals, but are a choice of the mind (albeit unconsciously), the first of us to claim to never choose any judgment or negativity may throw the first stone. In chapter 23 of the text of A Course in Miracles, Jesus offers us his essay on “The laws of chaos”. Jesus describes in painstaking detail how these senseless laws drive the unconscious part of the mind to reject and condemn, and why we stubbornly insist on living by these laws; again, in spite of our best intentions to be kind and loving. A surface-reading of “The laws of chaos” may come with feelings ranging from uneasiness to outright depression, but to transcend and happily discard them, we must look at them calmly and closely (T-23.II.1:4). After all, you can’t change your mind if you don’t know what to choose between. Let’s briefly review these laws, which are not laws at all, but merely beliefs that we think serve a certain purpose.
“The first chaotic law is that truth is different for everyone.” (T-23.II.2:1). Setting aside mathematical logic, truth in this world is always linked to values and value. It is the stubborn insistence that separation and differences are true. Truth is therefore relative. Your truth differs from my truth. This negates the first principle of miracles that there can be no order of difficulty in miracles since all illusions are the same. This first law of chaos holds that illusions differ in value, and that each separate living thing establishes truth based on what is regarded as more valuable. This ‘law’ originated with the tiny, mad idea that we could establish truth apart from God. “To hell with oneness — differences are true, as a simple look around you will confirm without a doubt”, so the ego loudly claims.
The second law of chaos follows ‘logically’ from the first. If your truth is different from my truth, you are in error, and therefore deserve to be rejected and punished. The polite surface patch “We agree to disagree” is never free from underlying hate. Since your truth differs from mine, you must be wrong. This is the root of all hate and anger, which again originates from the ontological tiny mad idea that God is wrong and I am right. God and I (the ‘ego’ I) are different and must be enemies forever. “Fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator” (T-23.II.5:7). Note that the laws of chaos exclude the possibility that it might just be a mistake. We perceive everyone as different and therefore evil, including God.
This leads to the third preposterous law that God must hate his Son. Since we are different and therefore enemies, there is no way to turn to God for help. “Now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the savior has become the enemy. There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God.” (T-23.II.7:5). This, of course, refers to the ego’s image of God. Since projection makes perception, the way we perceive God determines the way we perceive the world.
Having accepted as gospel truth that we live in a threatening and dangerous world, we now succumb to the fourth law of chaos: the belief that we have what we take. You lose what I take from you, and vice versa. As Jesus explains: “All other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another; nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, because they keep it hidden from your sight.” If you do not attack, you will lose what little you have, becomes the reigning mantra of wrong-minded thinking. Therefore, I feel I am forced to defend and attack as well, lest I lose everything I feel I have.
What makes this fourth law particularly vicious is that we secretly ‘explain’ every lack we perceive in ourselves to be the result of a sinful attack on us by our enemies. And what do we feel we lack? Our peace; ultimately our innocence as child of God. My enemies stole it from me. I must take it back, and I am fully justified in doing so. This leads to the fifth and final law of chaos, which holds that there is a substitute for love and salvation: wresting the unrighteously stolen innocence back from other bodies will lead to salvation. This results in either the special hate relationship (in which I bluntly attack you, to “hurl you over a nameless precipice”, T-24.V.4:3) or in the special love relationship (in which we passionately adore each other’s body as long as you give me what I think I need to be complete).
Jesus concludes: “Never is your possession made complete. Never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love, and kill you both.” (T-23.II.13:1) Since all bodies inevitably die, we are constantly reminded by the ego that these laws of chaos are definite and true. And so in explaining these ‘laws’, Jesus has made conscious the mechanisms of our unconscious wrong-minded thinking: “You who believe you walk in sanity with feet on solid ground, and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: these are the laws on which your “sanity” appears to rest. […] And it is here you look for meaning.” At this point the ego, sensing its imminent unmasking, protests that of course we do not believe these senseless laws, nor act upon them. Upon which Jesus calmly replies: “Brother, you do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take, with content such as this?” (T-23.II.18:3).
We merely need to attentively observe the interpersonal dynamics between people on a social party to recognize that underneath the smiles and kindness, these ‘laws’ operate with vicious certainty. Secretly, almost everyone compares his or her ‘state of fortune’ with that of others; physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, you name it. How much have I compared to others in the group? Even though we congratulate others for a particularly impressive success, we secretly hate them for it, for we feel success belongs only to us, since we are the only one who is right about what is right and true. And so we constantly keep the mechanism of rejection and attack in effect, thereby guaranteeing the continued existence of the separated ego. And although “life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it”, to quote Mony Python, I at least exist as an individual personality.
As always with A Course in Miracles, the way out of hell is forgiveness. Since all laws of chaos are based on the premise that there is an order of difficulty in miracles, the root of undoing these ‘laws’ lies in accepting the fact that all illusions are the same, including the illusion that we separated from God. Truth does not vary, and we are certainly not the ones to establish it. Truth is of God. As the one Son of God, we are an extension of Love in the mind of God. In truth, we can only extend that same love; all else is illusory. Even in the dream world of duality this is true: if you share an idea you strengthen it. The more love you give, the more love you’ll receive (though perhaps not immediately). This reverses the fourth and fifth laws of chaos: I have the love that I have shared with others.
This does not mean that I give away all my earthly possessions, expecting to receive much more back in return. God’s laws operate on the nondualistic ‘level I’. On level II, the dualistic dream in which we experience separation, differences, time and space, “even an advanced therapist has some earthly needs while he is here” (P-3.III.3). These will be provided for if we choose to experience level II as a classroom; a process in which we slowly learn to see God in all the seemingly separated life forms we meet. Since everything we perceive is a projection, this is the way to remember God in ourselves, which enables us to finally forgive the tiny, mad idea that in reality never happened. We don’t fight the laws of chaos; we merely calmly look beyond them. Remember, “forgiveness is still, and quietly does nothing. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not (W-pII.1.4:1-3)”. So try to be aware of how the laws of chaos seem to operate in this world, and then forgive, out of the realization that “God thinks otherwise” (T-23.I.2:7) . Since the laws of chaos seem to have operated successfully for some fourteen billion years, don’t expect to be enlightened today — it’s a slow learning process. But each time we succeed in following the Holy Spirit’s counsel, we may be saving thousands of years of pain (W-pI.97.3). Who wouldn’t want that?
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: