Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now
Lesson 23 I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.
- The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.
- If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.
- The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not a fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?
- You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.
- The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in the process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.
- Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind, say: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ___________. Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.
- In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.
Notes and Personal Application (2019): Today I did my best to change the cause and refrained from making judgments in thought and word as much as possible. There were a few lapses: A cutting remark I said about a dear one spilling her guts about a “betrayal” on Facebook; another remark about a shortcoming of another family member. Some thoughts about this one and that one may not have been attack thoughts, but for practice, I included any thought that had a hint of attack or defense.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about Tara.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about Norma.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about my sister.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about politics.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about Merck getting our hopes up about a job near home!
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about my Versa exercise tracker not working properly.
I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about my iPhone needing a new battery already.
For the most part, I did my utmost to turn attack thoughts into benign thoughts of no judgment, no condemnation, just let whomever and whatever I was thinking about exist without my opinion about their behavior or appearance or personality quirks. Reminding myself: “My thoughts have no meaning,” and paraphrasing it to say, “My opinions about that are not important,” also helped in giving up attack thoughts. I truly want to see the world differently! I am so tired of my own and everybody else’s opinions, judgments, and ego views. I want to see the real world – the real creation.
Thank you, Teacher for my lesson today.
I ask Christ to guide and protect me and keep me on the right path. I have followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit in studying the Course, and I trust in Him to protect my mind.
Notes and Personal Application (2020): This morning we had a short devotional before James went off to work. We went over the exercise for today and we were both caught up in a realization. The two most begrudging, judgmental, condemning, opinionated, people we ever knew are no longer gripers and finger-pointers. Over the course of this last year, even though I was the only one studying A Course in Miracles, and James was just hearing about it secondhand, we have changed! We have given up attack. We just looked at each other in amazement. When did that happen? We could not think of a single person we held a grudge toward – and oh how we had cherished our grudges! We could not think of one attack thought. We could not remember the last time we had ranted and raved over a misdeed. We searched our minds.
What about politics? I asked him. He shrugged. What about those Trump haters? I prodded. He shrugged again, the week before last he had posted unfavorable things on Facebook about liberals. We were so relieved to find something that we could practice our exercises on today!
“I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts on those who show no respect for the president.”
This job isn’t what he had thought it was either, so he could practice on that.
“I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts on this job which is not what it was cracked up to be.”
This week we were given a room without a stove at the hotel and I missed baking, but it was no cause for attack or resentment. Still, I could practice with it:
“I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts on this room which has no oven where I can bake.”
In wonder and gratitude I told him that I can not remember the last time anything or anybody made me go into attack or defense. I have had my feelings hurt a few times over a social snub, an unloving remark, or unpleasantness, but this morning I was happy to report that those kinds of things no longer find a place to rest in my mind. I have been vigilant, I said, to keep all thoughts that do not bring me love, peace, and joy at bay.
Taking in his calm, pleasant face, his smooth brow, I said, “You have been right there with me, James!” I could not remember the last time he went off in a tirade about anything or anybody. Even when he comes home bone-tired and nearly cross-eyed from work, he thanks me for cooking a delicious meal, he goes to the gym, he reads, takes me out for ice cream, picks up after himself, and doesn’t grumble and complain. There are times we feel like honeymooners!
We really had to fish today to find attack thoughts, so forgive me if they seem too trite. We have come to realize how banal and of no account our opinions, judgments, and condemnations are. We are tired of our grudges and find them stupid and boring. We prefer to have fun and exploits in wholesomeness, holiness, and love.
It reminds me of trading in my fear of motorcycles for adventures on two- (and three-) wheels. All the fun I would have missed if I had held on to that fear! All the pleasure I would have denied my husband if I had stayed home and he would have had to ride alone. Now we have a treasure trove of memories – riding through Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore, and Yellowstone to name a few.
Attack thoughts are fearful thoughts. They say, “This world is a frightening place and God is not my friend. I have to protect myself and all I hold dear because everybody is out to hurt me and make me suffer.”
Giving them up is an act of love and faith. Giving them up says: “God loves us and His Will for us is Love. I will put my hand in His and trust in Him for the result. There is nothing we can say, no place we can go, nothing we can do that would stop His love and affection for us. He is God and His Will is done.”
The Certainty of God relieves us of all that would darken our path or hinder our journey.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 23 I can escape…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition, p. 34-35.