Is it possible to have peace without letting go of fear? Is it possible to love without letting go of fear? This question is from the title of Gerald Jampolsky’s, “Love is letting go of fear,” which is based on “A course in miracles” (published by the Foundation for Inner Peace). Jampolsky’s thesis is that once we learn to love without fear, we will find inner peace. But first we have to find our inner selves; we have to look within. Before, I comment on Jampolsky’s solution to spiritual illness, let us get more acquainted with him. Here are a few excerpts from his “Love is letting go of fear,” (1981 Edition, Bantam books):
“We have been given everything we need to be happy now. To look directly at this instant is to be at peace now (p. 7).”
“Today there is a rapidly expanding search for a better way of going through life that is producing a new awareness and a change of consciousness. It is like a spiritual flood that is about to cleanse the earth. This transformation of consciousness is prompting us to look inward, and as we explore our inner spaces, we recognize the harmony and at-one-ment that has ALWAYS (Jampolsky’s emphasis) been there. As we look inward we also become aware of an inner intuitive voice which provides a reliable source of guidance…listen to the inner voice and surrender to it…In this silence…we can experience the joy of peace in our lives” (p. 11. my underlining).
Deep below the dark regions of discord and strife lies the treasure without price longing to find you, the real you. Transform your consciousness and you will find your true self. This “transformation of consciousness” is the “foundation for inner peace” (which is also the name of the publisher of “A course on miracles” on which Jampolsky’s book is based). The “transformation of consciousness” is, of course, also the foundation of Eastern thought systems such as Buddhism and Yoga, which has become a key ingredient in Western psychotherapy. “Hatha Yoga brings about the Unity of the mind, body and spirit. Through this practice, the body is toned, strengthened and healed so that a transformation in consciousness can occur.”
Jampolsky’s “Love is letting go of fear” has the same aim as the physical practices of Hatha Yoga and of the Buddha (“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without”) of Mahatma Ghandi (“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances”).
Jampolsky’s “transformation of consciousness” is not about, meditation, navels and third eyes. It’s about the singular goal of achieving peace of mind through giving:
“In brief, this is a book about self-fulfilment through giving (p. 13).” “To give is to receive is the law of love (p. 51).“Peace of mind as our single goal is the most potent motivating force we can have. To have inner peace we need to be consistent in having peace of mind as our single goal” (p. 23). These sentiments echo one of the biggest American best-sellers, “Peace of Mind” by another Jewish psychiatrist, Joshua Loth Liebman.
I am reminded of Philip Yancey’s remark about “peace through giving” on the radio programme “Unbelievable,” where he was discussing his book “What good is God”:“You don’t find your life by accumulating more and more; you find it by giving it away in service to others.”
Here is Jampolsky again: “To give is to receive is the law of love” (Jampolsky, p. 54). And what is the most important part of giving? Forgiving: “With peace of mind as our single goal, forgiveness becomes our single function ( Jampolsky, p. 24).
So far, I have described Jampolsky’s (moral) values. Next, I examine the philosophy on which Jampolsky bases those values. All values are based on a world view, on a philosophy. Whether the term refers to a world view, or an academic discipline, “philosophy” deals with three main questions:
- A. How should we treat one another? (moral values, ethics)
B. What are we and the world made of? And is there any “force” (or “God”) beyond the material world (Existence, or “being”).
B.What can we know and how do we arrive at what we know (principles of knowing).
How we treat one other depends on what we know about one another and about “God.” And what we know depends on the how we learn about it.
Jampolsky’s moral values of giving and forgiving are shared by all religious and psychological systems. What about his view of “God” on which he bases these values? For Jampolsky, love is another name for “God.” But “God” for him is not a personal God, which is the God of the Bible.
The source of love, for Jampolsky, is within the eternal inner man. When you discover that source – through transforming your consciousness – you will discover that your fear was a mere figment. Here is Jampolsky:
“…wouldn’t our lives be more meaningful if we looked at what has no beginning and no ending as our reality. Only love fits this definition of the eternal. Everything else is transitory and therefore meaningless…..fear can offer us nothing because it is nothing (p. 17)…all minds are joined…we share a common Self, and that inner peace and Love are in fact all that are real…Love is letting go of fear (.p.18)…we can choose our own reality. Because our will is free, we can choose to see and experience the truth (p. 21).”
Jampolsky’s God is the “Eternal common Self,” which is, of course, an Eastern metaphysic. “We can learn to receive direction from our inner intuitive voice, which is our guide to knowing (p. 28). The “inner intuitive voice” is the voice of the eternal common Self. And the essence of that self is love: “Let us awaken to the knowledge that the essence of our being is Love and as such are the light of the world (p. 131).The essence of God is also love. So, for Jampolsky God is the “Eternal common Self,” which resides in every human heart.
The nub of Jampolsky’s philosophy is this: Once we learn to love without fear, we will find inner peace. But first we have to find our inner selves; we have to look within. And here’s the rub – summarised by the Hindu guru, Swami Muktananda: “Kneel to yourself. Honour and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You.” As you transform your consciousness, you will begin to realise that you are God, and others are God, that “I” am “you”, which are sparks of the same eternal “I.” In this way you hone your giving, your forgiving, your love, and find peace.
Many of Jampolsky’s values are also Christian values. But the source of his values are not Christian at all. For one, ‘I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18). Jampolsky says that “I” am the light of the world. But Jesus said that He is the light of the world. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The New Testament describes human beings as dead in sin, in need of a Saviour, a Saviour who is outside the inner man. (See Tony Pierce on “Yoga and new trends in Christianity”).
In the Christian world view, how does the light and the treasure without price relate to each other?
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:21-23).
I understand this to mean that the source of true light comes from outside, from the Saviour, the Son of God. And so, if your eyes are clear, the Saviour will fill your inner man with that light. If, however, you think that your inner man is the source of that true light, you are deceived, because this “inner light” is nothing but darkness, a darkness that your fallen consciousness transforms into deeper darkness. But there is more, which is not spelled out in the above passage: all men are born blind. It is the Saviour, Jesus the Christ, who opens the dead eye that it may see.
That Saviour is also the Creator, who creates out of nothing:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know (Job 38:1-5).
Finally, what about Jampolsky’s main thesis that the foundation of inner peace is love without fear? The Christian response is twofold, where the one response is balanced – by the grace of God – in constant tension with the Other.
The one response is: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
And the Other (Psalm 111:10):
and so I conclude with the end of verse 10:
His praise endures forever.