In A Course in Miracles attack is the willful – the active – refusal to see a brother or sister for what they are: a perfect child of God. It is denial at its most destructive. And it is the opposite of forgiveness because its focus is always on the seeming error, the seeming sin, the seeming shortcoming. Attack never sees a call for love. It cannot bear either gentleness or kindness.
And it can be quite subtle, too. Recently, my wife was expressing strong feelings of anger and frustration about some circumstances in our lives. And I realized in the midst of listening that I was being very cold and clinical. There was an almost complete absence of compassion. Why? Because I saw her feelings as an attack on me, even though at not point did she suggest that was the case.
It is both strange and sad that a beloved’s pain can so quickly become fodder for our ego.
Attack is a creature of projection. Hurling our fears “outside” of us we fear their imminent and even violent return. Because we project, we believe that we are always under threat of attack. And the mind that believes in attack also believes that attack is the best defense.
It is a painful and vicious circle, the undoing of which requires divine intervention.
And the problem is not just that we lose the opportunity to be compassionate towards a brother or sister, though that is a big loss. The chance to offer love in response to a call for love is the very essence of salvation. That is how we find our way to Heaven.
No, the real problem is that because we are One in truth, our attack – however it manifests at the external level – always ends up hurting us. I don’t mean the physical us. In fact, it’s possible at the physical external level to get a lot of mileage out of subtle psychological attack. I suspect whole lifetimes can be based on it.
Rather, I mean the self we are in Truth – the One we are that is One with God, grounded in radical inclusivity. This self can only be hurt when its natural inclination to extend love is denied. When that happens, its horizon darkens. God becomes ever more obscure and distant and unreachable.
What do we do? What we can always do: ask for help. We are joined by companions – Jesus and the Holy Spirit – who know the way and whose power supersedes ours in every respect. Call on them and they will answer.
The truth of their response is its natural compassion. Even before I was finished asking for help I knew that the first step – perhaps the only one – was to offer compassion to Chrisoula. I tried to put my littleness aside. Littleness begets fear and anger. Fear and anger beget attack. I tried to be compassionate, empathetic. I tried to see what was needed – not my needs, but another’s – and then respond.
These are not just words! When our actions are grounded in a prayerful sincerity to reflect Heaven on earth, they are always beneficial. They are no longer our actions! It no longer matters what we think is right or what we think the situation requires. That’s in God’s hands. We are not fit judges. We are just trying to be as kind and loving as possible.
Attack cannot be sustained in a mind that yearns to be loving and whole. It might surface from time to time, but its effects are easily undone. Are we ready for that? Are we ready to surrender? To become servants of Love? Heaven and earth depend on our answer.