A Course In Miracles Lesson 23
A Course In Miracles Lesson 23 states:
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.
As stated before, this world we see does not exist outside of how we think. And how we currently think is actually quite hostile. We are not fully aware yet of just how hostile our thoughts are. It is this hostile condition that A Course In Miracles is gently showing us when it explains that we are preoccupied with the past and that we have no neutral thoughts. Everything we see has a charge. Charge is not peace. Thoughts that are charged are not peaceful and it is these charged thoughts we want to change because it is our thoughts and only our thoughts that determined how we experience our life.
To improve our experience of this world we can only ever improve the quality of our thoughts. We can have very little lasting effect on the outside world when we approach it from the outside. Addressing how we perceive the outside world will have real and lasting effects. We must improve the conclusions we make about what happens to improve what happens next. Your perceptions (how you see) leads to either peace or pain.
A running theme in the lessons of A Course In Miracles is the difference between that which is temporary vs that which is eternal.
Put simply, temporary is defined as not real because it goes away. Eternal is defined as real because it is always there. What goes away is not real. Since everything about this world goes away, this world is considered not real. It is considered to be an illusion, a dream, a hallucination. This world is in a constant state of change. This world is comprised of physical matter that breaks down and shifts.
Albert Einstein fully agreed with this observation when he stated, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Wanting the temporary to last will always only cause pain. Expectations of stability placed upon that which can not ever provide stability will always lead to fear, anger, and sorrow. This world is not and can not ever be permanently stable. Physical matter is unreliable and must be enjoyed as it is while it lasts. Our experience and perceptions of this world, however, can be stabilized and peaceful when we navigate our beliefs accurately. These lessons are such navigation.
Today’s topic addresses the idea of attack thoughts. Attack thoughts (impulses to lash out and avenge that which has disappointed, injured, or failed us in some way) are an indication that we are expecting stability where none can ever be given.
Hostile thinking is painful and causes a world you do not want. Hostile thinking occurs when you expect temporary conditions to be eternal. You do not want hostile thoughts even though the logic and sensations of those thoughts convince you that they will empower you. In this their logic is always wrong. Anger may empower you briefly and can effectively carry you out of despair but to sustain anger as a source of lasting strength will only bring more weakness. Expressing that anger will always only ever bring regret.
Today’s lesson is asking us to grasp the negative effects of meeting someone’s anger with reciprocated anger. We can free ourselves from the violent world we see around us when we put down the impulse to return attack with attack. The logic that believes returning harm with harm could not be more misguided. This belief is the core error made in this world that perpetuates all other errors.
If you are harmed by someone, returning that harm to them (or worse, perpetuating harm forward onto someone totally uninvolved with the original offense) will never restore peace, no matter how much it may feel it will. If you are slapped, slapping someone back will never bring lasting peace. You will feel briefly empowered and avenged and then you will feel very sorry for the violence you perpetuated. To escape that remorse you may take up defending your right to attack as a way to avoid the remorse your violent actions will always cause you to feel. Attack and retaliation will never heal the original pain of the initial injury. That you were hurt can not be undone by any further acts of hostility. Just be with the pain. Do not perpetuate it forward.
Today’s lesson asks that you let all violence end with you. Give up impulses for revenge and perpetuate violence no further. Revenge thoughts are a quest for power which indicates a belief that power has been lost or taken from you. Nothing that is truly yours can ever be taken from you because you are much more than this physical life. That which can be taken in this world was never yours and can never be defended permanently.
This world is an effect, not a cause. It is an effect of the way in which we think. What causes all things in this world to happen to us in the way they happen is our attention and our interest in those qualities. Recognizing more accurately where exactly our interests lie and recognizing the hostile nature of those interests will change the path towards negative effects at once.
Today’s lesson guides us to identify when we are having hostile thoughts and to say to those thoughts, “Letting you go will lead me towards peace.” My attack thoughts are causing my unhappiness. I can put down and be done with avenging wrongs committed against me. I can forgive harm done to me as I am forgiven of the harm I have done to others. I have harmed. I no longer want to engage in a violent world. To release myself from that world, I refrain from returning violence. I give up attack thinking.
But what then do we do with the very substantial volume of anger (even rage) that we are burdened with? How do we unburden?
A Course In Miracles has an answer and a resource for the anger problem. Keep reading. In the first half of the course, we are dismantling misguided logic. Rest assured that the installation of sound, sane, reliable logic is very much on its way to you as you make your way through the lessons. Taking down the old way of thinking is necessary first. Doing so will lead temporarily to states of confusion and vulnerability as we begin to realize we understand nothing about this world. This world is not possible to understand. Any anger or overwhelming pain is not something you of yourself can ever deal with alone. As we will learn in future lessons, the way to properly navigate volumes of anger or sorrow or fear is to ask those burdens to be lifted. Who do we ask? We ask our source origin for help. We ask the ever-caring Source of our being our desire to no longer experience such states, and to let them be taken from you. Give it to God, Christ, The Field, The Tao, The Source from which you come. That Source is much better equipped to handle what you can not.
This requires a belief on your part that such a Source exists and that help can happen for you. An unwavering belief in a benevolent Reality that wants your joy is the logic we are heading towards.
This world is based on violence and is insane. Insanity, by definition, can not be understood. It can only be turned away from and released from our awareness. We make peace with the confounding violence of this world by stating the obvious: I do not understand this world and do not want this violence. I want peace. My wanting determines my seeing. What I want paves the way for what that wanting is. Me wanting peace is the creation of peace. I need not stress over the overwhelming pain of this world. I need only concern myself with learning how to be calm even as I do not understand. It is okay to be in a lack of understanding. I can wait calmly for clarity to come. Clarity is most certainly on its way, always.