A Course in Miracles Lesson 21

I am determined to see things differently.

Lesson 21 of A Course in Miracles extends the previous lesson in two particular ways. First, it focuses on anger. Second, it emphasizes specificity.

Somewhat less obviously, it reinforces the underlying concept enshrined in the first miracle principle: miracles do not acknowledge and are not subject to orders of difficulty.

Anger is a defense mechanism deployed by the separated self. Under the guise of protection, it actually is a form of attack on our brothers and sisters and our self.

It is an attack on our self because it depends for its existence on the illusion that a separate self exists and can actually be attacked.

And it is an attack on our brothers and sisters because it projects responsibility for attack onto them, thus reinforcing their separate existence. Projection extends separation.

Thus, anger is one of the primary ways in which separation is sustained. Its undoing is a primary focus of atonement.

Lesson Twenty-One does not explain anger. Nor does it go into detail about how anger is undone. It simply asks us to take very specific notice of it – to place it in the context of our lives in the world – and then declare that we are determined to hold a different view of it.

This matters! The course is emphasizing here the power of our will. Without explicitly saying so, it is suggesting that when our will aligns with Love – which does not recognize differences but rather sees all things as the same – healing is the inevitable result. We don’t have to understand anything. Remember that “nothing that you believe in this connection means anything” (W-pI.21.3:2).

In a critical sense, all our “problems” arise from the singular confusion that we are something we are not. One problem means one solution. But it takes time for us to see this clearly, and in the interim, engaging with the specific forms that problem takes is how we learn that there is only one error that needs to be corrected.

We are called to give attention to our lives, and not to ignore them or minimize them because they are illusory. Healing occurs where the problem appears to be.

Finally, this lesson reminds us that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. A “little” anger is no different than a fire hose of rage. Thus, our application of this lesson need not depend on finding the hottest rage or the relationship in which anger appears most consistently.

We are not called to judge the examples we use; only to be as specific as possible with respect to them. The degree of healing we attain is unrelated to the degree of the so-called symptom of anger because *it’s all the same problem.

Sometimes the abstraction inherent in A Course in Miracles can be too much. What are we supposed to, you now, do? If Lesson 20 is the essence – we are determined to see – this lesson provides the specificity that undoes abstraction. It does not take a spiritual genius to see that we can also vow to see differently situations that make us sad. Or fearful. Or guilty. Or lonely. Or happy. Whatever our struggles are in these bodies in this world, we can see past them – past the form in which they appear – the underlying problem of separation that they are made to sustain.

Lesson 21 is another way of insisting on waking up, on bringing Jesus into our lives every minute of the day until we fully and utterly recall our identity in, with and of God and there is no longer any need for either teachers or lessons or bodies or worlds at all.

Healing begins where we are. It begins at the bottom and works its way up. We give attention to the messiness and complexity of our living and resolve not to change the forms this messiness and complexity but rather to change our minds about it. We want to see it differently; it doesn’t actually matter what “it” is or what “it” looks like. To be healed is to see differently. And this “seeing differently” begins with our intention – however feebly set, however inconsistently maintained – to see differently now.

←Lesson 20
Lesson 22→

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  1. Hi Sean,
    lesson 21 is particularly powerful for me. I have a lot of resentment and anger towards other people to release. It will take a lot of hard work to see those people in a different light…. but right here right now I am determined to see things differently!!!

    1. Thanks for reading, Eva. I hear you on the anger and resentments – it’s a big issue for me, too. But I really believe that even a few seconds of sincere openness to seeing differently can change that. Part of me hates the little steps forward but the truth is they add up!

  2. Hi Sean,

    This is the first lesson that really drove me to my knees in a literal way, in prayer. I just didn’t realize how much anger I still had — even at people and situations I thought I had already forgiven.

    But often the forgiveness we think we’re giving in this life, this illusion, is just an illusion itself. Or merely another extension of our ego, which hides in even our most sincere attempts to be magnanimous.

    What we don’t let go of expands — even if it does so in secret. I’m glad that ACIM is shining a light in those dark places for me.

    Thanks again for all your writing and thoughts. I’ve been working my way through the ACIM scripture and daily lessons slowly, but happy to read you as a clarifying touchstone. Your books were wonderful too. I hope to have a beautiful time-stop, prismatic snow-crystal moment of my own someday. Your lesson on not holding onto it was particularly profound.

    Blessings to you and yours!

    –Vincent L.

    1. Yes, the Course does this to me still – humbles me, drives me to my knees, leaves me broken so that in my brokenness I can ask for help with a willingness that isn’t faked, isn’t just another performance . . . Par for the course, no pun intended.

      I experience ACIM as a light which – in collaboration with friends who are willing to explore this new way of being in relationship – the dark interior is gently revealed. And eventually revealed AS nothing at all, which is the end of fear.

      Which I forget, then remember, then forget, then remember . . .

      Just as some days the sun makes the prisms sparkle memorably and other days it rains and they just hang in the windows like empty chunks of glass. And yet the light in which the prism itself appears (which is the same light the light streaming THROUGH the prisms appears) never fades, never dims. Thus God, thus Love.

      Thank you for reminding me to remember, Vincent!


  3. Can you speak about ALLOWANCE in this lesson? You spoke more on the other areas. I just would like your words, insights since ALLOWING is MOST important?

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