A Course In Miracles Lesson 72
A Course In Miracles Lesson 72 states: Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
This lesson can be a bit challenging to understand because it uses phrases that the modern mind may not readily relate to. The phrase “God’s plan” does not register well in my mind and so I translate this phrase to instead be, “Nature’s inherent Grace.” When we use this phrase, today’s lesson reads:
Holding grievances is an attack on Nature’s inherent Grace.
Nature’s inherent Grace is a complex system of astounding orchestration. Like a meadow with all its thousands of systems in place (large and small), Life’s creative power thrives when left to its inherent nature. What prevents life from thriving? Today’s lesson wants us to consider grievances as the primary disruptor of peace, wellness, and grace. What is a grievance?
A grievance is a complaint about unfair treatment. A grievance is a feeling of resentment over something wrong or unfair. When we do not let go of thinking about how someone interacted with us in a harmful way we hold that upset feeling as our primary experience in life. A grievance is a perspective of having been wronged.
Today’s lesson is one of the more challenging concepts to understand because there are so many situations of being wronged in this world physically, mentally, or emotionally which are truly unjust and how a grievance feels like a perfectly understandable response to real injustice. We are not being asked to force ourselves into feeling peaceful in the face of violence. We are not being asked to impose a lofty unreasonable spiritual philosophy of serenity upon actual conflict and violence in an effort to maintain an ideal spiritual stance. So long as you are alive, you will be affected by the events that happen around you. And many of those events will hurt. If violence befalls you, there is no way your body or mind will be able to maintain serenity. Today’s lesson is providing information that can bring a resilience to that pain and speed the recovery process when faced with pain. Understanding the mechanism of grievances in our hearts and minds helps us understand where the real cause of the pain is coming from and to see all the ways violence perpetuates itself.
Once something happens, there is no way to make it not have happened. A grievance is not ever going to find the resolution it longs for until that longing is released because what a grievance wants can not occur. It is impossible to undo what has occurred. All we can do is respond in a way that does not perpetuate the wrong. To release the longing that a grievance generates, we begin by asking ourselves if that pathway of response really leads to where we think it will lead. Is our response to a situation stemming from an impulse to lash out? If so, we can know for certain, the results will only be a perpetuation of the pain we want to end. When our behavior is motivated by a grievance, we are seeking peace where it will never be found. Righting a wrong is an exercise in frustration. There is only navigating wrongs rightly whenever they arise. To navigate a wrong in a right way, we acknowledge the sorrow of how it could have gone so much better but didn’t. We do not know why things went the way they went. We only know that they did and we are very sad. We wish for better.
Wishing for better is not the same as holding a grievance which functions from the belief that what has happened should not have happened. Since it HAS happened, a belief that it should not have occurred will only cause suffering until we release the belief that we are living in a wrongness. We are not living in wrongness. We are living in that which we do not understand. The motivations behind violent, painful actions come from those holding grievances and a belief that their actions will bring relief. In this they are mistaken.
We can not rid ourselves of all the ways grievances will cause disruption and pain in this world, in the same way, we can not rid the whole planet of alcohol. But we recognize that a grievance in the mind is very similar to getting drunk, we can choose to refrain from engaging in a grievance in the same way we can refrain from drinking a martini. The mental effects of holding a grievance are as damaging as alcohol. We do not have to let that harmful substance into our bodies, minds, or spirits. When something occurs that is painful or violent, we can respond from pain and sorrow, but not revenge and righteousness. The ego will argue that the wrongs of the world must be put right. Those suffering can not be abandoned to the pain and injustice of the world. The second statement is true while the first statement is impossible. What has happened has happened. If something wrong happened, there is no putting it right. There is only preventing more wrongs from occurring by behaving rightly from where we are. Navigating a violence and a wrong in the right manner involves putting down the drive for retaliation, putting down the usual reactions we take up when we have been wronged.
When we can see and understand the physics of violence the way we might see the physics of how a jigsaw puzzle fits together, we then see how our hostile responses contribute to keeping the experience of violence activated. At those critical times when we feel wronged and diminished and compelled to lash out and reassert power, it is important for us to remember that above all else we want peace. At such moments, if we can remember today’s lesson we can learn how to refrain from getting pulled into the cycle of violence by adding to it.
It won’t feel great. We will burn with a need to avenge and assert our value. But refraining from actions motivated by grievances will ultimately feel much better than the temporary satisfaction of brief domination. We will free ourselves of the never-ending cycle of frustration in seeking peace through violent means. Peace can not be found in hostility or violence. By refraining from contributing a hostile response, we may not end the violence altogether, but we certainly end our bonded connection to it. We can gain a small platform of peace when knowing our response did not add fuel to the fire. We can be at peace within ourselves.
The way to navigate violence is to not navigate it. Violence is a situation we walk away from rather than analyze or try to reason with. Violence can not be reasoned with because insanity will never behave sanely. If it could, it would have by now. Insanity believes its incorrect logic is correct when in reality, it is and will always be misguided. We can avoid getting lost in the confusion of mistaken logic by recognizing that feeling a grievance is actually a belief that we have been wronged in a way that is unbearable. We may have been wronged. But that event need not be unbearable. Asking the temporary world to be reliable and fair will always lead to suffering. Understanding that the temporary world is a tricky place that can be navigated with minimal damage will increase the amount of time spent in enjoyment and diminish the amount of time spent in suffering. Resilience is a matter of reconnecting our awareness to a context larger than this one life, larger than this one body or this one situation. We go on. We can describe what happened to us in a way that strengthens our sense of Self rather than perpetuates a feeling of powerlessness. Do not feel uncomfortable rewriting a narrative in your favor. What happened is in your power to define.
Being wronged is a very common occurrence in this world because this world functions from the belief in separation rather than unity and wholeness. While we can not prevent dangers or wrong-doings in this world, we do have the ability to minimize how long we suffer the pain of those actions. A resilience to harmful words or actions comes from a certain mindset that has an understanding of the real root cause of the pain we are experiencing. A mental resilience to wrong-doings is not a forced resolve to be strong and unhurtable. It is not possible to be unhurtable. But it is possible to recover from injury with swiftness.
Resilience and an ability to recover from harmful words or actions come from a dedication in us to understand what today’s lesson is teaching. A Course In Miracles Lesson 72 wants us to really see exactly what is keeping the pain in place for us. When we are harmed we feel powerless. Our impulse is to restore our sense of power as quickly as we can. But there is an effective way to restore our sense of power and there is an ineffective way to try but which will never lead to a restoration of personal power.
Seeking revenge will never restore our power. Returning the harm we received causes deep sorrow for our inherently gentle nature which always leads us to feel remorse for having attacked. This remorse, being painful, is something we try to get away from by maintaining a defense and a long list of why we were justified to respond as we did. This is what A Course In Miracles calls a grievance and it will never achieve the peace we believe it will achieve. Acts of revenge or holding grudges about how we should not have been treated the way we were treated will never resolve our pain because the fact is, we were treated that way and nothing can change that. It is over, except our minds will not let it be over.
If we could see clearly how holding a grievance and taking revenge actions do not ever resolve our conflict, we would stop using that behavior as a strategy for peace at once. Impulses to reassert one’s power after power has been challenged or lost will only ever offer a temporary sense of triumph which will quickly turn into fear of retaliation because we know an assault from us will be countered by an assault on us. We will be expecting, at every turn, the retaliation we ourselves engaged in. Actions of attack will never bring peace. Only peaceful action will bring peace. A grievance is a belief that power has been taken from you in some manner and A Course In Miracles wants you to reconnect to the fact that power, in truth, can never be taken from you because you are not a temporary thing. You are an eternal state of expanding adventure and discovery. You have not been hurt in the way your body feels hurt. Your body is very hurtable. And when we engage in fights we put our bodies and our lives in danger. But our Being is never in danger. Our Being is waiting for us to remember what we are, which is unassailable.
Think of a grievance like a small cinder of coal burning in your mind. Do not let it catch you on fire. Distance yourself from that burning pain just by releasing your gripping thoughts. Remind yourself, you do not want these painful thoughts. What has happened can not be undone. Disappointment and sorrow will naturally follow but the way we find our way out of a lasting grief (a grievance) is by remembering that we do not understand this world and we do not perceive our own best interests. The decisions we made led to where we are now. We made the best decisions we could with the information we had and now we have more information and will choose different responses. We did our best at that time and we will do our best moving forward. Nothing has happened that we could have prevented. More informed now, we will respond more effectively to what comes our way.
When mistakes occur, either from our actions or from someone else’s actions, we can keep in mind that fixating on the mistake with a grievance and a belief it should not have happened will only keep our life experience in a state of agony. While pain is unavoidable, prolonged agony is in our power to end. We are an inherently healing system. We heal from injury as a matter of course. Resilience is our natural and eternal state. Scrape your knee and watch how in a matter of days the injury vanishes. Whatever has befallen you, it is in your power to recognize it as a scrape and nothing more. Let your inherent nature dissolve the injury from your heart and mind. Remember your eternal, flawless nature the next time you feel wronged.
Do not try to convince yourself you were not wronged. A blow is a blow and it will hurt. But A Course In Miracles wants us to remember what, exactly has been assaulted? Your body? Your stuff? Your eternal, unassailable nature? Remember where you came from. Love created you and so love is what you are. Peace created you so peace is what you are. Power created you so power is what you are. A grievance indicates a belief that you are an isolated and vulnerable physical being when in truth, you are an eternal continuum of magnificent peace and wholeness.
When someone behaves violently towards you, you are not dealing with what that person really is. You are dealing with someone who has forgotten what they are. Do not forget with them. Do not let yourself be convinced of the concepts of separation that so many people will try to persuade you to believe. In you, and in them there is the light of the Source that created all of us. This does not mean let a snake bite you. It means see the snake for what it is. Something you do not understand and do not need to engage. Leave the snake to its own path and take yours towards peace. If we have been engaging dangerous snakes for so long that we do not feel it is possible to stop, acknowledge that belief is mistaken. Acknowledge that what you thought would bring peace did not do so. Can we admit the error we made and stop making it? Or will the frustration of having made the error drive us to willfully try and find peace through violent means because we are too furious or ashamed to have made an error?
If you have been suffering pain beyond a few days or weeks, it is time to realize that the pain you are feeling is coming from a grievance you are holding about the fact that this world is impermanent. You are asking that the physical world be reliable in a way it can never be. It hurts when what we hold dear fades away. We can’t prevent the pain but we can let its course run swiftly by letting go of wanting the impermanent to be permanent. This world teaches release. This lesson does not have to be a painful one. It is possible to learn through joy and gratitude for the adventures we went on.
Turn away from the belief that life is isolation and pain. Turn towards the belief that life is connection and joy and that you have been brought to the exact place you are most needed right now to help others discover this same truth. You are where you need to be to help nature’s inherent Grace unfold from where you are. Choosing to feel connected is deciding not to believe what the ego tells us. The ego philosophy shouts loudly from every corner of our culture. Its message of isolation and suffering are what fill our news, music, TV, and books. The voice of disconnection is a loud, relentless voice determined to blot out the still quiet knowing within you. Creation is not a physical thing. Creation is that which creates physical things (and even more than that)
Today’s practice sessions aim to bring awareness of the true results we get when we hold onto feeling wronged. Not moving on past the pain of injustice is the cause of suffering. Nothing has happened that can not be recovered from. Your peace of mind is in your power to maintain because your peace of mind is within you, not lost out in the world.
For the practice sessions today we are asked to let today’s lesson become a part of our logic. A grievance is what causes suffering. A grievance is a misguided belief about what this world is. We are asked to sit quietly and realize we do not know how to stop feeling grievances. We are then asked to ask for help. Turn to the small, still presence within and ask, “what do I do with this pain? What do I do with this anger? I do not know how to resolve it. I do sense there is Someone greater than me who does know. I ask for Their help now.”
After asking for help from the Creative Field, sit quietly and wait for Creation to answer. Be aware that the answer will come to your mind in the perfect way that will not distress you. It will fit perfectly with the logic you are running as either a memory, a vision, a word, or a small occurrence that makes you laugh which will also be touched with a deep residing Presence…
Take several moments throughout the day to close your eyes and remind your thoughts that feeling grievances keep you in a painful holding pattern. Ask Grace to lift that grievance and then… let it be lifted. Refrain from trying to figure the grievance out on your own. You, of yourself, can accomplish nothing. You, connected to Creation can accomplish anything.