Friday, March 28, 2008

LESSON 23 I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.


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 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 this 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.


Lesson 23

“I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.”

This lesson is helpful to me because I still need to be reminded that I am the image maker. The world I see is coming from my thoughts. It invites me to take responsibility for seeing a world of separation, a world of bodies that are separate and alone. I need to be reminded that it is the thoughts I am holding onto in my mind that are giving me this experience. Jesus reminds me, “Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts.” (2:2)

This lesson tells me that the images I have made have been replaced. “Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now.” (4:4) If I am not seeing the replacement, then I am still holding onto the images. These images are like a barrier to the Love that is behind them.

It does not seem like these images are attack thoughts. But from the Course I am learning that any thought that does not come from the oneness of God is trying to separate from the oneness of God. Any thought of individuality is an attack thought. It appears to be ‘out there,’ but what is ‘out there’ is really coming from my mind. This is called projection. This is called image making.

I need practice in owning the thoughts that are the cause of the world I see. I am the one in charge of giving up these attack thoughts. As I am willing to give them up, I will realize that these images I have made have been replaced. As I let them go, I realize again that only Love is real. All forms of separation are really just false ideas that I held in my mind a while. I am willing to hand them over to my true Self Who will shine a light on them and show me that they are nothing. I am willing to give up attack thoughts.

The ego disguises some attack thoughts with cloaks it calls compassion, caring and sympathy. If I see someone injured and I cringe at the pain that I think this person must be suffering, that is an attack thought. If I worry about a loved one, that is an attack thought. If someone shares with me about their loss and I join in their perception of loss, that is an attack thought. These are attack thoughts because they are perceiving the Son of God as weak and vulnerable, capable of being harmed. These thoughts are attacking the truth by perceiving God’s extension as weak.

Because a creator can only create like itself, the creations must be like the creator. If I perceive God’s creations as weak, I must also perceive God as weak. Yet the Course is telling us that the Love of God is all there is. And that God is our strength.

This lesson is a step toward recognizing the investment the ego has in perceiving vulnerability and is telling us that letting go of those thoughts of vulnerability is the way we escape from this world. It is our function to recognize every thought of attack (falsifying the truth) and let it go.

The Holy Spirit is in our mind to help us do this. We need only the willingness to turn over every attack thought to the Holy Spirit. He will take them gladly and show us their replacement in the brilliant Light of Love. As we learn to do this, fear recedes and we experience the strength of Love more and more.

When a friend comes to us in pain, we do not identify with the pain, but with the strength of Love in our friend. From this peaceful and loving place, we can be guided by the Holy Spirit in our minds to offer our friend whatever is truly helpful in that moment. It may be a loving touch, a word of comfort or just a thought focusing on the truth of them in our mind. If we let the Holy Spirit be our Guide, we will be led in each moment to be helpful.

Everyday there is a lesson to pay particular attention to, but what does this one really mean to me? Do I physically escape from the world I see? No, not really. I escape mentally and emotionally from identifying with ego fears and needs. I let myself be cleansed with the energy of Love. I let Love wash me of lingering muddy fears that hide my true nature.

As the fears are washed away, I see fresh and clear. I see my light, my love, and then that others are just like me. Others are light and love underneath their muddy fears. Everyone needs a bath of light and love to show us our one true self, and Holy Spirit is happy to oblige as the great washer.

We can escape the mud. We can live shining and sparkling, if we are willing to recognize that we have muddy thoughts and are willing to let them go. Today I am willing to allow myself to be washed in the sea of Love. I am willing to shown my sparkling self. I am willing to be set free. I am willing to see the Oneself.

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