Commentary on Lesson 23: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

by Robert Perry

This lesson continues the theme from the previous two lessons of attack thoughts. While yesterday's lesson focused on the world produced by our attack thoughts, today's lesson is about escaping that world through letting go of its cause.

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This paragraph makes big promises about this lesson: The is the only way out of fear (the fear of being attacked). No other way will work, but this way can't fail. If that is true, then we should be paying very close attention at this point.

What is this way out of fear? "Giving up attack thoughts." That is not only the thrust of the lesson, but is also the thrust of the Course.

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The paragraph opens by stating what the previous two lessons told us: attack thoughts (thoughts of anger) are the cause of the world we see. That is a sobering thought. Therefore, it is these thoughts in particular we need to get rid of if we want a different world.

The rest of the paragraph can easily sound contradictory: the world can't change/the world will change automatically. The key lies in understanding cause and effect. If the world is just an effect, and you change the effect, while leaving the cause unchanged, the cause will continue generating the same (or a very similar) effect.

The old projector analogy works quite well here. If the world is a projection, and you want a different world, then you've got to change the film.

By the way, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to change the world in the sense of saving the world. The Course speaks frequently of our role as saviors of the world. But the root of that role is a new perception of the world. What we aren't supposed to do is seek our own peace by rearranging the outside world-the effect.

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I love that line: "Each of your perceptions of 'external reality' is a pictorial representation of

your own attack thoughts."This is quite a shocking line. Every single thing I see is a pictorial representation of my own attack thoughts?

This statement is followed by the same idea I said was implied in yesterday's practice. If all I'm seeing is my attack thoughts projected outward, then I'm not seeing anything real. I'm engaging in a process of fantasy which yields a result of hallucination.

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If we can just remove the cause of the world (our attack thoughts), we will see the replacement for our world that is already there. In this new vision, loveliness will light the images we made in hate, for we will no longer be making them alone. We will be making them with the Holy Spirit and as a result we will actually love them.

Who of us wouldn't want to be given a replacement for the world we see, a replacement we actually love?

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This paragraph contains a three-step process that is often quoted by Course teachers.

  1. Identify the cause (of the world I see), which is my own attack thoughts.
  2. Let it go—let go of my attack thoughts.
  3. It will be replaced for me. This includes both my attack thoughts and their pictorial representations—the images I see. Technically speaking, Step 3 is me seeing that the cause and its projected images have already been replaced.

These three steps mean that I am not trapped in the world I see. This should be a tremendous relief.

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Purpose: to learn "that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed" (5:1).

Exercise: 5 times, for about 1 minute

  • Repeat the idea slowly as you look about you.
  • Then close your eyes and search your mind for thoughts of attack and being attacked. Hold each one in mind and say: "I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about______."

Remarks: It is important to include thoughts of attack coming from you and thoughts of attack coming at you. The lesson says that these are just two different forms of the same thought. In fact, if you look closely, you will notice that every attack thought contains both aspects. When you are angry with someone, there is always an element of, "He caused me pain in some way (which means he somehow attacked me) and that's why I am angry." And whenever you see someone attacking you, there is an accompanying anger, displeasure, or frustration directed at him. Thus, it is all the same, and it is all attack. Seeing this can motivate us to let it all go.

Response to temptation: whenever you notice yourself having attack thoughts

Repeat the idea as a way of dispelling those thoughts. You might want to make it specific by using the same form as above:"I can escape the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about______."

One Comment

  1. Martin Pettet
    Posted January 23, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I think a further refinement of this lesson, following directly from the Course’s logic, is to extend the concept of ‘attack thoughts’ to essentially ALL thoughts, positive or negative, which are made in judgment, as based on identification with the physical body. Thus, for example, wanting to possess another is definitely an attack, and even judging someone positively (implying that there is a negative to compare them with) is an attack thought. This is not stated in this early lesson, maybe so as not to confuse beginners, but it is implied, and is definitively stated in other places in the Text and Workbook

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