A Course in Miracles Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

It cannot be said enough that our thoughts are causes and the world we see and perceive (which includes our body) is their effect. Repetition can breed acceptance – or at least the willingness to accept. Even after we have intellectually grasped that A Course in Miracles reverses traditional notions of cause and effect (i.e., that external influences cause internal affects), we are still likely to struggle to bring it into application. This is the real goal of the A Course in Miracles – a radical transformation of how our minds work. For most of us, this doesn’t happen because we want it to. It happens with practice. That’s what it means to bring an idea into application – to hold it in mind and work with it in the world.

In Lesson 22 we explore the vengeance inherent in what we see and we conclude that it is not the world that we want to see. Thus, the stage is set for Lesson 23 which is a deeply practical – indeed, radical to the point of appearing impossible – way of changing the world that we see. Our default state of mind obligates us to try and change the world. We are actors and the world is a stage on which we hack out the terms and conditions of our existence, desperately trying to strike some balance between the world’s cruelty and our desire for comfort and peace. It won’t work, of course, but most of us never stop trying. And really, that’s the ego’s game plan in a nutshell. As long we believe there is something that we can do, then why turn to God? Why reach out to Jesus except as a ritualistic formality?

But the truth is that the world – as vengeance, as cruelty, as injustice, as scarcity – is made by and thus is unmade by our thinking. Change the thought and you change the world. Literally. Because our thoughts “attack thoughts” – because they are the very stuff that we fear and hate – that becomes the world we perceive. Our thoughts are both why and how the world is the way it is. But if we can let these thoughts go, then the world will be naturally and instantly transformed.

Thus, to heal, our focus belongs on our thinking, not on what we perceive. It’s the thought itself – not what we think about – that counts. This ACIM rule never changes. It is the only way to peace.

As each [attack thought] crosses your mind say: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about _____. Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next (W-pI.23.6:3-5).

The hinge on which this lessons turns is in this phrase: “then dismiss the thought and go on. . . “

In other words, we are not just watching a parade of nasty thoughts and ideas. We are not indulging the ego its grim slideshow. Rather, we are very specifically looking at a thought, identifying it as an attack thought, and letting it go. Be clear about this: nothing supernatural or mystical is going on. We are doing the noticing and we are deciding whether we want to keep what causes us pain or whether we want to let it go. 

We are in charge of our thoughts. We are the world-maker.

That’s the essence of this lesson – and very much at the heart of what makes A Course in Miracles tick. It is our job to think differently – to make a conscious choice to use our creative minds differently. We can do this best by actively dismissing those thoughts that fuel a world of vengeance. This lesson will eventually become a necessary habit, a way of refusing to allow the ego any inroads into our being.

We are not victims of the world. We are creative agents of a wholly loving God who have chosen passivity, who have deceived ourselves about our true power and strength. This lesson provides a handy way of undoing that deception and taking up again our loving and creative potential.

←Lesson 22
Lesson 24→


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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for your commentary and Insights into Lessons 22 and 23. Practicing this Lesson today and doing Lesson 22 yesterday has helped me tremendously to see that I’ve have been stuck with many attack thoughts since I perceived I was being attacked by someone hurtful.because their hurting. I’ve seen my Ego defending and I can see my own Defensiveness that I couldn’t see clearly until yesterday. These lessons are so freeing.

  2. I started lesson 23d yesterday, and this morning I woke up with day 23 words very clear in my mind “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts”, and I felt urged to work again on day 23 today. I feel it is one of the most important lessons so far, as it finally starts giving us “solutions” and practical advices. At the moment if I’m honest, I am still a little bit doubting that just dismissing/letting go of the attack thoughts with a genuine intention will be “enough” to come out of this self-created nightmare, but I am definitely willing to try and give it my best.

    A big heartfelt thank you for your writing and videos. Your words really resonate with me and help me understand the course more easily.

    1. The Course is different for all of us, of course, but one of the effects of “giving up” attack thoughts was discovering how ATTACHED I was to those thoughts, and did not actually WANT to give the up. ego is deep, is not playing games with us, et cetera.

      That insight – which I wrestled with a long time, as with an angel on a riverbank – eventually helped me appreciate the need to surrender, to accept defeat, whatever it took to reach bottom and finally become open to the holy spirit’s radical interventions.

      It only seems like we are doing the work 🙂 in truth Love holds everything.

      I agree that taking time with resonant lessons matters. Any lesson – any sentence – of ACIM can end the separation forever; giving attention in a deep and sustained way is never a mistake.

      Thanks for being here Audrey.

      Love,
      Sean

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