A Course in Miracles Lesson 20

I am determined to see.

There are at least two aspects of Lesson 20 of A Course in Miracles that bear reflection. The first is its commentary on structure and effort. The second is its explicit emphasis on our willingness to see conjoined with the implicit emphasis that we do not, presently, see.

The first is practical. The early lessons of A Course in Miracles are not difficult; they ask little of us in terms of time or energy. As the workbook points out, this is not an accident.

. . . you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition (W-pI.20.1:6).

Still, the “little effort” we are asked to give does yield significant results.

Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you (W-pI.20.3:4-7).

This “little effort” – which today consists in twice-hourly repetitions of the lesson’s fundamental idea – segues neatly into the lesson’s goal, which is not merely to ever so slightly increase our willingness to actively participate in salvation.

To “see,” as the course defines it here, is to effectively discern between “joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear” (W-pI.20.2:6). It is not seeing akin to what our physical eyes do; it is closer to the way in which your mind recognizes and chooses between the emotions that it wants.

You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now because your mind is totally undisciplined . . . (W-pI.20.2:3-6).

So lesson 20 is a juncture in our learning (there will be others) whereby we begin to see the value of learning discipline as it applies to the level of mind, and become willing to actually work for it.

Recognizing that we do not currently see this way can feel discouraging, but in fact it is the opposite. Coming to terms with what we cannot yet do is the first step in a) deciding that we do, in fact, want it and b) becoming willing to what is necessary to achieve it.

Thus, Lesson 20 also evokes the cycle of lessons (ten through fifteen) that consider meaninglessness, with a particular focus on the metaphor of “writing” our thoughts on the world. Perception can be of the thoughts we have written – always authored by ego – or of the real thoughts that the Holy Spirit writes for us. Only one set of thoughts is real, though we can postpone seeing it this way for a very long time.

We live in the world of perception largely under the influence of the loveless ego. It – meaning the ego – is perfectly happy to give us shreds of enlightenment – illusory feelings of progress, symbols of “love” that are actually hate wearing a mask. To accept these is to accept substitutes for the actual work, the real work of salvation, which is simple but not necessarily easy. 

Thus, a frequent and positive affirmation – I am determined to see! – is not out of place. It functions as a critical reminder of how far we must go and how determined we must be. But more than that, it does so in a hopeful way, a positive way.  We are striving to make contact with our true desire for awakening rather than the myriad forms of it proposed by the ego.  When we do make that contact, Heaven is the sure result because what we desire, we see (W-pI.20.5:5). This is real law of cause and effect, by which salvation is assured. 

←Lesson 19
Lesson 21→


  1. thanks love the video… I have read teh book for about a year but never have been determined to see.. taking jennifer hadley classes is helping.. i think you would love her on the internet.. if yuo dont know of her.. she is great.. but this was helpful.. i googled lesson 20 to find you…. i want to do better on the lessons.. thanks.. so much

  2. Sean, For many years I’ve been reading about ACIM (including your thoughtful books). Perhaps this is called resistance however I’ve finally started the workbook and find
    your lesson index wonderfully helpful. Thank you for your efforts in compiling it. I’ve particularly enjoyed your insights on Lesson 20.

    1. Thank you, Sue 🙂 I’m glad it’s helpful. Thank you for being here & sharing this path of healing with me.

      ~ Sean

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