There is no way to escape negative experience without being willing to change your negative thoughts. In this exercise, you work on escaping the world you see by giving up your attack thoughts. Sometimes you hold onto thoughts of blame, criticism and attack, without being consciously aware of the havoc these thoughts are causing.
With Lesson 23, begin to identify your thoughts of attack and begin to let them go.
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.
The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.
If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.
The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of "external reality" is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?
You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.
The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.
Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today's idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one 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.
In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today's practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.
Quote of the Day A Course in Miracles likens us to people in a very bright room who have their fingers in front of their eyes, complaining that it's dark in here. The light has come but we don't see it. We don't realize that the present is always a chance to begin again, a light-filled moment. We respond to light as if it were darkness, and so the light turns to dark. Sometimes it is only in retrospect that we can see that we were given another chance at life, a new relationship or whatever, but because we were too busy reacting to the past, we missed the opportunity at something radically new.
— Excerpted from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles