Reading A Course in Miracles: The Relinquishment of Attack

There are two ideas that I want to pull out of this section. The first is that attack confounds are ability to communicate with God. And the second is that challenging idea – at least to this thinker – that safety lies in giving up attack altogether. I think it is also worth noting that this section – which is on the brief side – is essentially an introduction to the lengthier and more substantial Lessons of the Holy Spirit which closes out chapter six.

There is a great line in this section pertaining to how the Holy Spirit functions. “By attacking nothing, He presents no barrier to the communication of God (T-6.III.1:4). This is one of those ideas that seems so obvious as to almost go without saying. Yet it has really stayed with me these past two days. The Holy Spirit is able to maintain his channels of communication with God because he doesn’t attack. I have a hard time maintaining communication with God. Perhaps it’s because I’m so partial to attack, however much I might wish otherwise?

To attack is to see in others – to project – what we will not accept in ourselves. Abundance is a good example. It is used to reduce people to bodies separated from mine and to judge them as unworthy, or less than me, in a vain attempt to bolster my own credentials. Attack thoughts can be extreme and crazy – wishing somebody was dead – or they can be mild – I wish that person would stop annoying me by talking so much. But the apparent difference in degree is insignificant – it doesn’t matter. Once we’ve attacked to any degree, the game is up. We’ve endorsed the separation and perpetuated it.

Perhaps what this section really teaches is that we cannot have the separation and God both. We have to choose one or the other, and until we do all we’re going to get is some variation of separation. Attack thoughts are fear-based. We’re scared of how crazy we seem and so we project the crazy elsewhere. All that fear and guilt at having broken with God? We can easily make someone else responsible for it.

But those attacks render us fearful – we expect the very attack we’ve projected. We fear it. And so we’re locked in a vicious circle. What the Course teaches us here is that there is no middle ground. We have to give up attack altogether if we want to be free of fear.

Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack. No compromise is possible in this (T-6.III.3:7-8).

If we heed the rules of the world and the ego, this will make absolutely no sense. Even if we’ve got a good grounding in A Course in Miracles, the idea of completely abandoning attack might seem impossible, one of those ideals that it’s nice to consider but nobody actually gets there. Yet there seems to be equivocation here. I’ve said before, the Course is meant to be taken literally. If we can’t give up attack thoughts, then we’re only going to experience separation.

What saves this from becoming too discouraging, is that we don’t have to do any of this alone. The Holy Spirit – our right minds, the part of our mind that recalls God and maintains a clear communication channel to God – is always at work, always ready to reinterpret what we see through fear. Our projections can be let go because they’re not real and can be replaced by extensions of love. All we really need to do is make the effort to avail ourselves of the Holy Spirit’s grace. It’s there inside us – literally a part of us. The relinquishment of attack is its job – ours is simply to want it just a little.

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