A Course In Miracles Lesson 26
A Course In Miracles Lesson 26 states:
My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.
“My invulnerability” could also be phrases, “my eternal nature.”
You may have noticed by now that our thoughts are often quite violent. They often feel intrusive, as if we can’t stop them. Like a TV show or movie that suddenly shocks us with an unexpected disturbance, our mind often attacks us (itself). As people, we are in two different dimensions at once. We function in time and we function it the timeless. We are simultaneously physically temporary and also spiritually eternal. We are both finite and infinite. Getting our physical awareness to communicate with our spiritual aspect is the goal of this course.
We are first asked to take a look at the quality of our thoughts and notice the hostility in them. Notice the impulses we have to seek revenge for feeling attacked. Today’s lesson is explaining that the hostility we hold in our thinking is a self-made, self-sustaining misery that is trying to harm a part of us that can not be harmed. This lesson is trying to draw our attention to an invincible quality in ourselves. To our ego part (the part living in time) the idea of an invincible, eternal part of us will feel like a fictional and unattainable ideal. Our eternal dimension will feel irritating to the part of us functioning in time. And that irritation could delay our release from the pain that is an inherent part of experiencing time.
An awareness of our infinite nature will not occur naturally from within time. That is something we must actively seek out, against the ego (time-based) logic that seeks to validate an opposing definition of reality. Time-based logic has validity and need not be villainized. Since it is occurring, it is wanted by Creation To feel at odds with an aspect of ourselves is not what our eternal Self wants. And rest assured, our eternal Self never feels conflict. To feel at odds is what our time-based part wants, until the futility of conflict is finally realized by that part of us. When in a meditative headspace this idea of our eternal Self can be received with some ease. But when we are busy in our earthly and timely mindset, today’s lesson can be irritating and come across as insensitive if not downright delusional.
Not every lesson in this book is going to forge an effortless pathway into higher logic for us. The course is very clear from the beginning that it does not require you to agree with or understand the lessons. Engaging them is enough to lay the groundwork for deep change in how we perceive. Engaging them even while doubting them or irritated by them shows a larger will (desire) to find and follow the truth even during the times we can not perceive it. This may be just such a lesson. It is our way of thinking that we are shifting with these lessons. There are 365 of them. Some lessons simply won’t be accepted by our way of thinking and they will feel like we are facing a brick wall. It is up to us to recognize when this happens and not allow frustration to persist in an unproductive way.
Personally, I find the 1st three paragraphs in this lesson disjointed and barely comprehensible. I have concluded that the message here is underdeveloped for my reading comprehension capacities. What the first few paragraphs are saying is unclear to me and their vagueness could easily become an invitation into a theoretical debate leading nowhere. We must not let that happen because there is great value in the last four paragraphs for today’s lesson which describe the exercise we are asked to do six times. This exercise is of so much useful value that it is worth overcoming the confusion of the text above it just to get to that enlightening exercise.
My purpose in taking this course is to build a way of thinking that spends more time in a positive and enjoyable experience than in a negative one. While it is not possible to avoid negative experiences altogether, it is my aim to develop the logic that minimizes how much time I spend in painful logic. I want to release the process of learning through pain and increase my ability to learn through experiences of peace and joy. I attempt here to translate what this day’s lesson is saying and I also work hard to not become lost in too much analytical thinking. The exercise at the end is a real stand-alone gem if you can find your way to it.
The first paragraph in today’s lesson presents a series of logic statements that do not exactly relate to one another with any natural flow. This disjointed quality makes it difficult to understand what the lesson is trying to say. A cohesive point does not seem to be made. But here is a translation and a brief discussion of what I understand the day’s statements to be saying.
26.1.1 If I can be attacked, I am vulnerable. (this is a bit like presenting a math problem of “if/then” structure. If X equals 5, then…) Only by phrasing it with the “if” a subtle suggestion is being made that we are not vulnerable. If we are, we can be hurt. But if we are not vulnerable, we can not be hurt. This is a logical statement of clarification before going on to discuss the role belief plays in the conditions of vulnerability and invulnerability.
26.1.2 I see being attacked as a real grave danger. (The unstated reason of course is because an attack is painful.) Again, this statement is indirectly suggesting that an attack is not a real danger. This comment is impossible for the world-based part of us to accept. To view ourselves as invulnerable goes against all physical common sense. But the point of engaging the lesson is to at least disrupt our common sense thought patterns. So irritation here is perfectly understandable.
26.1.3. The reason I perceive attack at all is because I believe myself to be capable of attack. (This comment suggests that ACIM is saying we are not capable of attack which would be understandably off-putting to our earth-bound perceptions which register attack capacities everywhere and consuming all media. To suggest we are not capable of attack goes against our perceptions of this world, which ACIM is working to identify as not real, as in not eternal.)
26.1.4. “What would have effects through you must also have effects on you.” Another way of saying this is: What we experience we believe to be real. An experience is a form of validation of realness. We believe what we experience is real. This actually means we are highly suggestible creatures. If I read a scary story or watch a disturbing movie, I can be fully aware that it is not happening to me, that it is fiction. But I will experience the “reality” of the tension all the same and that experience has a lasting effect. It shapes what my life is. What we experience bears weight and authority to us regardless of how real or unreal it is. Is a scary movie real? The effects are lasting regardless of how unreal it might be. Having a belief about something validates its realness to me. What I believe may not be true. I will, however, believe that it is true until I stop believing that belief.
26.1.5. This quality of the nature of belief (to validate things as real which may not be real) can also be used to convince me of other, more helpful beliefs which could ultimately validate what is truly real in an eternal way and bring about a much more peaceful and progressive experience of the world than the one my current beliefs are causing. Because of how this law of nature regarding beliefs works, we can learn how to guide our beliefs into validating actual truth (which ACIM explains is spiritual and metaphysical in nature). This would bring about a much more enjoyable life experience. A Course In Miracles calls this, building the “happy dream.”
This first paragraph seems to be suggesting that we ought to view ourselves as invulnerable to attack. It seems to be asking us to realize our eternal and invincible nature. On a practical level, this suggestion goes against the common sense about our physical mortality. To consider the idea that I, in my current physical state, am invulnerable to attack is asking me to deliberately engage in a delusion in relation to the physical world. I do not think ACIM is suggesting I think in such a way, but that is the form our resistance to the eternal will likely take.
If a spiritual text is to be helpful, it will not ask us to disregard the importance of our physical life. It will provide tools for navigating physical life with care and compassion rather than devising ways to detach from it. It is just such a misunderstanding that likely led many religious mystics of the past to denounce their bodies and try to live in a way that will always be impossible for a physical being. This lesson does not directly state this misguided idea, but the wording of whatever it is saying is unclear enough to cause me to question the message and feel a need to clarify it.
It is not possible or necessary that we denounce our physical condition and try to live in full physical awareness of our ultimately eternal and invincible true nature. It is true that metaphysically we are unassailable and impervious to attack. But in the physical dimension, that truth is theoretical and “impractical” most of the time while we consider our temporary bodies as real. Establishing an enduring awareness of our temporary and eternal natures enables us to be “in the world, not of it.”
Our eternal nature is always what we ought to turn to when in need of help. But it is annoying and irresponsible to ask us to dodge the practical realities of our physical life situation by saying that our life conditions are of little importance. A true spiritual leader would not take an excessively “meta” stance when helping someone through a worldly challenge. It would be insensitive and unhelpful to say, “Well, just drop this concern. Nothing in this world really matters anyway. It is all a dream-illusion” Spiritual high-ground does not develop compassion which is the long-lasting way we connect with our fellow man.
I do not think A Course In Miracles Lesson 26 is suggesting such things but I do feel the wording of this lesson leaves a lot of space for misunderstanding which often invites debate. Debating metaphysical concepts is like eating salty chips. Eventually, we will just have to stop and we won’t feel exactly wonderful after our efforts. If the reader can get past the first two paragraphs without falling prey to an intellectual spiral argument with the book (which will never be able to add another word to its finite text), they may find the day’s exercise quite helpful for a variety of practical reasons. The exercise for today is one of the most helpful therapy exercises I have ever encountered. It is not a problem if I do not grasp every line of every lesson. And it is not a problem if I find the text wanting. It is not a perfect text. Nothing in this world can ever maintain perfection.
The day’s exercise- practiced six times – is a very practical resource that helps to follow the specific network of logic and beliefs we hold around our fears. In this way, it does guide us towards the understanding of how our thoughts shape our environment. It helps us gain greater awareness of our fears and how we very often are attacking a majestic, infinite source of love, power, compassion, and creativity.
Some of our thoughts are quite hostile. Those hostile thoughts are ultimately an attack upon our own Greater Self which we are often not connected to. This is like having a mouse attack the toe of an elephant. Today’s lesson wants us to connect with our larger, stronger Self and remember that we can handle what comes our way. I can not avoid frustration or fear but I can decide how long I spend experiencing these states. I can learn how to turn my attention towards that inner dimension within myself which is a constant resource of help. Learning how to connect more frequently with our larger, stronger, greater Self can help us get through life challenges in ways more graceful than we could ever imagine.
My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability. I am more than these thoughts. I can release myself from hostile thinking.