Workbook Lesson 22, What I see is a form of vengeance
“Vengeance” is retaliation for something. It could be called returning like for like.
The world as “a form of vengeance” comes from the thinking-seeing loop. For example, if there is an idea in the mind that I am not as good as others, I begin looking out at the world through the filter of that idea, and I perceive others who are smarter, prettier, more committed, etc. This ‘seeing’ strengthens my idea about me.
One day my boss says to me, “I don’t think you put 100% of your effort into this project. You must not understand how important it is to our success.”
When the boss says this I experience a quick feeling of shame, which morphs into embarrassment and then anger. I walk away thinking angry thoughts about the boss. I think about how the boss doesn’t understand just how difficult that project was. I think about how no one else helped me with the project. I decide everyone on the team is out for their own success. There’s no teamwork here!
I begin to look around the office and notice the cliques that have formed. There are small groups of people who band together, but overall there is a complete breakdown of team.
I feel myself getting angrier.
One day I notice a woman I work with glance at me as I walk by with an armful of new contracts that need to be reviewed. She quickly turns around and says something that I can’t hear to the person at the next desk.
Oh, I know what she said! They are talking about how incompetent I am. They are talking about how I never review the contracts thoroughly enough. But do they offer to help? NO!!!!!!
Hatred begins to boil within me. I start to hate my job. I dread walking into that place everyday. I decide I need to find another job. … And the story continues.
This loop of retaliation in my mind makes the world of vengeance that I perceive.
However it is also more than that, because I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts, and I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing. As I give attention to the thoughts and perceptions in my ‘personal’ world, I activate them with spirit, and the spirit of those thoughts and perceptions (unworthiness, anger, hatred, victimhood, etc) go out into the world and are shared. They become manifest as other thoughts, as other perceptions and as circumstances in form.
This is why today’s workbook exercise ends with the question, “Is this the world I really want to see?” That question is intended to generate heart-willingness within us, so we will have the desire to step out of our old habits, which is the thinking-seeing loop, and step into new habits, new ways of casting attention.
First comes willingness. New habits are born out of genuine willingness.
Workbook Lesson 23, I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts
I am so excited about today’s workbook lesson. This lesson tells us exactly how to heal, and it tells us “this way cannot fail.” Let me outline the steps to healing that are outlined in this workbook lesson.
- “You must learn that it is [attack thoughts] you do not want.” Although this sentence is stated in the negative, ‘you do not want’, it is a statement of desire. Our first step in healing is to want healing. Honestly, the more we want healing, the more we will heal. If you feel that it is possible that you do not want healing enough, it is very good to put contemplative-effort, inquiry-effort and awareness-effort into increasing your desire for freedom (for healing). You can do this by noticing how much you are suffering and/or how much others are suffering while continually asking yourself questions like, “Is this the world I want to see?”As you recognize that you do not want suffering, the desire for freedom increases. However, remember we saw that the brain is re-programmed best with a positive goal. So, the awareness that you do not want suffering is used to drive up the awareness that you do want freedom, happiness, love, etc. And then focus on the positive goal. Any positive goal that feels genuine for you and that motivates you to spiritual practice is good.
- “This change [from attack to love, darkness to light, illusion to truth] requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in the process require your cooperation. The final one does not.” Without stating it directly, this is talking about Rest, Accept and Trust.First the cause needs to be identified. The cause is casting attention on thoughts that have been received by the mind. Sometimes the thought comes in and we cast attention on it so quickly, that we never see the thought. Our first indication that we have cast attention on a thought is the emotion we are feeling. Rest and Accept is what we do when we notice we have slipped into the cause by casting attention on a thought (or thought stream). Rest and Accept is how we let go. Rest is the opposite of casting more attention. Accept is the opposite of repressing a false belief in the form of emotion. Through resting the mind and accepting the emotion as it is, we let it go. Trust is realizing that Rest-Accept is the only part of the healing process that requires our cooperation.
- “Hold each attack thought in the mind as you say [the workbook lesson for the day].” One challenge to healing is that the neural pathways in our brain are so well formed that they are like waterslides. The “attack thoughts” slip by so fast that we do not really see them. It’s like our brain is on automatic pilot.Let me give you an analogy. When you first learned to drive a car, you had to really pay attention to everything you did. “Put the key in. Now put your feet on the break. Turn the key in the ignition. That’s enough; let go of the key. Keep your foot on the brake and put the car in reverse. Turn and look over your shoulder. Now move your foot from the brake to the gas and give it just a little gas; not too much; back out slowly, etc. …”
Now you don’t have to give so much attention to driving. You can carry on a conversation with someone and do all of this pretty efficiently because neural pathways have been formed in your brain. Your brain can almost drive a car without your attention, and unfortunately sometimes it does drive a car without your attention. That’s an example of how the brain can operate on auto-pilot because of well-formed neural pathways.
The brain can also believe thoughts on auto-pilot because a neural pathway has been formed for those types of thoughts. If a completely alien thought is received for which there is no neural pathway, it will call to your attention so a value-decision can be made, but if you have already formed grooves in your brain for a certain type of thought, the brain doesn’t need your attention to process that thought through the already formed neural pathway.
However, the brain does need your attention to stop a thought from sliding down an old neural pathway, and it does need your attention to create a new neural pathway. This is why you have to hold a thought in awareness as you say the workbook lesson for the day.
Imagine the thought as a child who is about to go down a waterslide that is too dangerous for the child’s age. You need to reach out, grab the child and then gently redirect it to an age-appropriate slide.
That’s similar to what we are doing as we heal (reprogram the brain). We reach out and grab the thought with our awareness and hold it still so it doesn’t slide down the old neural pathway, and then by holding it as we say the current day’s workbook lesson, we redirect it to a new neural pathway.
The new neural pathway is a different type of waterslide. Instead of a waterslide of belief, which tosses the thought back into our oneness to be shared and sent back to us, the new one is a waterslide that takes the thought to the exit door, and the thought drops out of the game. A Course in Miracles calls this process “forgiveness.”
- “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.”When we give too much attention to the world, we are not giving attention to our thoughts and they are rushing around splashing down the old neural pathways doing what we have already trained them to do. Since we are not alone in experiencing the effects of our thoughts, the world continues to turn in the same way that it always has. If we want to have a positive effect on the world, we must turn our attention inward and give healing attention to the image-maker, the process of casting attention that goes on within our minds.
This morning when I turned on my computer, I saw these two headlines. “U.S. President Donald Trump tells the Mexican President to stop the ‘bad hombres’ or he’ll order the U.S. military to do the job,” and “Trump blasts ‘dumb’ Australia refugee deal.”
The thoughts I saw in my mind were, “He’s so dumb,” and “He’s insulting leaders and creating enemies everywhere.” My thinking along these lines did not go any further than that because I immediately gave these first two thoughts healing attention. I held them in my awareness as I said slowly, “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about Donald Trump.” And then I released those thoughts to slide down the new waterslide that I had just redirected them toward, the healing slide that goes to the exit door.
Workbook Lesson 26, My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability
Today’s workbook lesson says, “…what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests.”
This is referring to the Law of Love, which we learned about in NTI Ephesians last week. The mind receives an idea. If we cast attention on it, we activate it and deliver it to our oneness (which ACIM calls projection). What we deliver, we also receive.
That can also be summed up with, “What I think I see (project); What I see, I experience; What I experience, I think.” Etc.
Today’s workbook lessons says “this law will ultimately save you.” The Rules for Decision from ACIM are beginning steps in helping us use this law for our true best interests.
The exercise that is introduced in today’s workbook lesson is an incredibly helpful exercise. This exercise can work in a way that is similar to Root Cause Inquiry. For example, I woke up late this morning so I am doing my Gentle Healing Homework instead of being in the Sanctuary this morning. I noticed a bit of concern about not being in the Sanctuary, so I practiced today’s exercise on that. Here’s how it worked:
“I am concerned about not being in the Sanctuary. I am concerned people will think I don’t care. I am concerned that if they think I don’t care, they won’t care. I am concerned if they don’t care, they will quit coming. I am concerned if they quit coming, Awakening Together will fall apart. I am concerned Awakening Together will end. I am concerned I will not have direction in my life. I am concerned I will be nothing. That thought is an attack upon myself.”
Do you see how letting one fear into awareness naturally led to the next underlying fear until finally a root fear was gently exposed? That is why the workbook lesson says, “As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you.” That is because the ones that occur near the end may be the ideas you have been denying.
This is very exciting to me. This exercise allows hidden ideas to come up into the light of awareness where they can be healed, and it happens in a very natural, gentle way. Today’s exercise is really valuable. However, don’t work too hard at trying to expose denied thoughts. Just practice the exercise gently, and see what appears.