Lesson 281 • October-8

I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts.


Practice Instructions

See complete instructions in separate document. A short summary:

  • Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
  • Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
  • Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
  • Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
  • Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.
  • Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
  • Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Practice suggestion: Think of something that seems to be hurting you, and say:

This outer thing cannot hurt me. Only my thoughts about it hurt me. Let me see it through God's Thoughts, for they can only bring me happiness.

Commentary

If I am perfect I cannot be hurt; it would make me less than perfect. Our reasoning tells us our life would be perfect if it were free from pain, but we are not free from pain, and therefore we must not be perfect. The Course's reason works in the opposite direction: we are perfect; pain would mean imperfection; therefore the pain must be some kind of illusion. "When I think that I am hurt in any way, it is because I have forgotten who I am, and that I am as You created me" (1:2). In other words, we only think we are hurt. If we remembered who we really are, we could not be hurt.

Another way of thinking about this is to say that my true Self cannot be hurt; only my illusory self can be hurt, and that, only by my own thoughts. Granted, we make some pretty darn good illusions! But that is all they are: illusions.

Pain comes when we put our own thoughts in place of the Thought of God (1:4). The cause is always in my thinking and nowhere else; nothing outside my mind can hurt me. When I feel attacked, it is always me attacking me. Not even the unloving thoughts of my brothers can hurt me if my mind is thinking God's Thoughts with Him. Early in the Text we are told:

In reality you are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love. These can be from yourself and others, from yourself to others, or from others to you. Peace is an attribute in you. You cannot find it outside. (T-2.I.5:6-9)

What I am in truth is "far beyond all pain" (2:2). The Holy Spirit is our Teacher to help us remember that this is who we are. As Lesson 248 tells us:

Whatever suffers is not part of me. What grieves is not myself. What is in pain is but illusion in my mind. (W-pII.248.1:3-5)

Not only is pain an illusion; the illusion of pain is experienced by an illusion of myself. It is my thoughts, specifically my thoughts about myself, that cause this illusion. When I think I am what God created not, I experience pain.

Let the words "I will not hurt myself today" be much in my mind today, my Father.

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