Index of Lessons

21 I am determined to see things differently.

MT: I know this lesson. It states my determination to change my point of view and surrender to God's guidance.

JC: Yes. But yesterday you totally forgot the lesson all day long.

MT: I got into the usual pickle of trying to run my day "productively."

JC: That's quite a judgment.

MT: Let me share with you what is. I'm afraid my life is slipping away. More and more of my time is spent on maintenance, and the few moments that I really enjoy have become scarce.

JC: You do need to forgive your body for the limitations your mind puts on it. How about being an elder? By trying so hard to maintain the body of a 20-year-old, you overlook the role of the elder—to guide the young. Relax and be gentle with yourself today.

MT: Look where gentle has gotten me: nowhere.

JC: And efforting slows you down even more.

MT: JC, let's back off for a moment. Looking back on what I've written, I'm really angry and trying to do be civilized. Never works.

JC: So what's the blame? Who needs to be forgiven, and for what?

MT: I don't know. There is an undercurrent of anger under my calm surface. I don't want to do the lesson, although I can see it definitely applies to my emotional state today! Come to think of it, the anger is energy I'm not using. It felt good to go for a bike ride yesterday. To get the blood moving in my legs.

JC: For a moment right now, you saw things differently, didn't you? That’s what the lesson is all about.

21 I am determined to see things differently.

MT: But am I? The truth is, right now I'm just saying the words. There's a touch of sadness--that these powerful words have become like the Baptist homilies of my youth: empty words that don't pertain to me.
JC: Instead of taking what fit and discarding what didn't, you threw out the whole thing.
MT: I was angry. They were a bunch of hypocrites.
JC: No, you were angry with yourself for repeating meaningless words. It diminished you. And now, are you angry with me? With the Course?
MT: Oh dear JC, no, you are my life raft! How about giving me new lessons? Or the same in a different form?
JC: You can learn this Course by learning Aikido, you know. Or taking up dance. Or playing Mozart on the guitar that you didn't buy the other day. Do different things, try new venues, buy a muffin for the homeless man downtown. All things are lessons God would have us learn.
MT: Guess I just did the lesson, didn't I!

22 What I see is a form of vengeance.

MT: God, please help me apply this lesson where I need it in my life.

God: Done.

MT: But where's the explanation?

God: Your head is crawling with words. Stop your thoughts and come to your senses.

MT: You borrowed that from Fritz Perls.

God: Sure. Everybody has something to contribute.

MT: But what about everything I see being a form of vengeance?

God: OK, ok, I'll explain. When you name something, you carve it out of unity. You put boundaries around it. You do that with your computer screen, with the chair across the room, with the rose on your desk, with your mate. You see these things/people as separate, dull, boring, seen one seen them all. That's because it requires work to keep things separate in your head. Your perception is fatigued and dull from all this work. So come to your senses and see the glory of Creation.

MT: Guess I have to be silent to do that. . .

God: You can't work at it. You have to let it happen. It is the gift of grace.


22 What I see is a form of vengeance.

MT: I see a drab and uninteresting world of dusty, colorless, mixed-up pieces of junk. I see nothing that will last. Advertising tells me a diamond is forever, but try and drop your ring in the garbage disposal! Yes, JC, nothing I see will last. My nice leather moccasins have become scuffed and shapeless. My body is perishable. My house will be gone in a hundred years or less, either flattened by an earthquake or scraped off to make way for a new one.

JC: What you see is a form of vengeance.

MT: Now, that's a theoretical statement to me. The connection between the transitory nature of the world, on the one hand, and vengeance on the other, is tenuous at best.

JC: You made up an impermanent world and an impermanent body.

MT: Yes, I accept that, but vengeance?

JC: Your judgments condemn everything you made. In fact, everything you see was put together by judgment. The observer cannot be separated from the thing observed.

MT: So. . . ?

JC: Your perception is based on avoidance. Wake up.

MT: Wake up and smell the (perishable) roses that are a form of vengeance?

JC: Wake up to the transcendence all around you. For that, you must see what really is, instead of what you would like it to be. Wake up to the "ding an sich," the thing in itself, shimmering with life and energy.

MT: That's your promise. . . I want to go home today.

JC: Today you will be with me in Paradise.

Lesson 22 What I see is a form of vengeance.

MT: So, JC, perception is a form of vengeance. Because I see things and people outside myself I see them as about to attack me.
JC: You "defend" yourself with sunscreen and dark glasses and thick clothing. You shut yourself off from those who have less, lest they take your money, and you shut yourself off from those who have more because they might look down on you.
MT: That's about everybody!
JC: That IS everybody and everything. All perception derives from judgment. When you name something, you carve it out of unity. You put boundaries around it. You do that with your computer screen, with the chair across the room, with the rose on your desk, with your mate. You see these things/people as separate, dull, and boring. That's because it requires work to keep things separate in your head. Your perception is fatigued and dull from all this work.
MT: It does feel fatigued and dull. I long for the eyes of a child. That longing--I should honor it, shouldn't I.
JC: Your Self longs for the Father's house. Wait no more. You can be with me in Paradise, today.

22 What I see is a form of vengeance.

Our banishment from Paradise! We ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (or, perhaps, Perception?) and, ever since, have sought to replace God. In doing so, we have belittled and diminished ourselves, until this little failing body is all that's left. It, too, will pass into the sands of time as we disappear into nothingness. But we can curse God, if nothing else! If He exists, which we doubt!

Let's be glad that this was only a bad dream. We awaken in the arms of the ever-loving Father who never left us.

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

MT: I returned to attack thoughts after knowing the truth of this lesson. My excuse was, I can if I want to! I'm a free citizen!

JC: Yes, you can if you want to, and you ARE free to indulge in illusions of persecution. There's even a hydraulic theory of anger making the rounds: the theory that anger is like the water behind a dam, and that pressure will lessen when it is released. Even if it gives momentary relief, this dubious practice ignores the origin of anger: attack thoughts about a world that you made up.

MT: My experiment taught me something, however. This pseudo- freedom is not one I want. To shake the bars of one's cell is a pathetic form of free speech. Mother comes to mind. . . She hated the whole world, and she prayed for a UFO to take her away. Meanwhile, I felt so guilty that my own mother wanted out! Must be my fault, I thought. But I digress.

JC: Anger, attack, guilt; guilt, anger and attack. The world you see with unforgiving eyes goes round and round in its sorry way. How much longer, Holy Son of God?

MT: But, good news! I can choose to escape today. Great lesson, JC. Thank you.

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

As far as recorded history, mankind (or at least those of us who are "seekers") has sought to escape from the world of perception. We have walked to Mecca on our knees, whipped ourselves to a bloody pulp, mortified the body with fasts. We chanted and lit candles and burned incense. We sought to return to God by good deeds as well as by exterminating the heathen or tossing babies into furnaces.

How simple is salvation! All that's required is to give up attack thoughts. What's so difficult about that? And are we willing?

24 I do not perceive my own best interests.

MT: Radical statement, JC!

JC: But once you apply it, it will no longer seem radical. You will think, why didn't I see this before?

MT: Applying it to my life right now, I would like to take better care of my finances. I would like to incubate my nest egg and die rich. I would like to pay close attention to returns on the dollar and to balancing my portfolio, but I find myself avoiding even touching it, because I am afraid of making a mistake. I judge myself as sloppy and careless and stupid for waiting for someone else to do it for me, so I'm probably going to die destitute, and deservedly so. But I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation.

I am preoccupied with fitness and health. I would like to lose 15 more pounds, and I think I need more aerobic exercise, and I would like to have the body of a 30-year-old (may as well say it!). But I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation.

Having stated this, JC, pray tell, what ARE my best interests in these two aspects of my life?

JC: You won't know your best interests as long as you try to solve the problems as you have stated them, because you are demanding your answer to your question. You want a certain outcome that is seen as desirable, such as being rich, fit, and skinny. These two situations have a fear-based goal, one, to be "safe," and the other, for your body to last forever. It is only when you accept that no amount of money can keep you safe, and you accept that you are not your body and the body will not last, only then will you begin to perceive your best interests. These two concerns of yours push away the peace of God, which is your best interest.

MT: Sometimes I don't like what you tell me.

JC: But know that I love you, and that I have your best interests at heart.

24 I do not perceive my own best interests.

MT: I am resisting this thought, JC. I could lecture others, but me? Surely I know better. Yet I know I constantly sabotage myself.
JC: The resistance to this thought is how you sabotage yourself. You ask for guidance, then go on with life as usual. A request for guidance must be truly open-ended. Your ego will want to hear what it knows already. It's what you don't know that needs to be revealed.
MT: I went through the lesson and singled out three situations in which I do not perceive my own best interests (but thought for sure I did). Curiously, I fell asleep several times! What's that all about! Today, I open myself to God's guidance in these and other situations in my life.

24 I do not perceive my own best interests.

MT: Whose best interests do I perceive, then?
JC: You perceive those of the ego. Perception was made as an instrument of the ego, although you can begin to use it as a tool of healing.
MT: Guess that sums it up! Perception is not to be trusted.
JC: It is not the final word, no. Knowledge is.
MT: I can withdraw my investment in perception and in what I think are my own best interests.
JC: Yes, and in doing so you become part of Atonement.

25 I do not know what anything is for.

MT: Let me bring up my goals of yesterday: to take better care of my finances, and to keep fit. You are telling me that I do not know what they are for. I realize that financial success may be a crass goal with no socially redeeming value, but keeping fit? Surely you don't want to argue with that! I could easily become a slob, eating chocolates and watching DVDs from Netflix.

JC: And what do you suppose becoming a slob would be for?

MT: Death by chocolate comes to mind. Behaving like that would just depress me.

JC: And exercising?

MT: It energizes me.

JC: And what is the energy for?

MT: It's good in itself, JC. Everybody likes energy.

JC: But they like chocolate and movies better, no? If they liked the energy from physical activity, wouldn't everybody be slim and fit?

MT: But one has to relax sometimes, and stuffing one's craw is definitely a comfort.

JC: And what is the relaxation for?

MT: To help me be willing to exercise again. . . I see where this is going: nowhere.

JC: Round and round goes the world in its petty pace. There is no meaning, and death waits at the end. Is this what you want?

MT: So that's why I need God's meaning in my life. . . and my focusing on limited goals is keeping God out.

25 I do not know what anything is for.

MT: Good reminder. I do not know what the ding in my car is for. I do not know what I want to fix it for. JC, this is getting nowhere.
JC: Getting nowhere. Think about it.
MT: That we are all going nowhere? That the world isn't "about" anything?
JC: The world isn't "about" anything, and the ways of the world lead nowhere. You've seen the truth of this, time and again.
MT: I want the peace of God. The ding is immaterial, the money to fix it an illusion, my need for a car but a dream. I could do without any of it. One gets engaged in a certain configuration, emotion is activated, people kill over a ding, and for what?
JC: Whatever happens is in your best interests. When you can consistently see the world in this way you see how utterly pointless vengeance is. Peace is then at hand.
MT: Wow, JC, something just occurred to me: if only this country had seen 9/11 as being in our own best interests!

25 I do not know what anything is for.

>Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

What a brutally direct statement! But what a difference it makes to regard the world we "think" we see in this light. So much for complaining that I am unfairly treated!

>Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with "personal" interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

And we get so puffed up about setting goals! Every goal we set within the ego only affirms the separation.

> . . . you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

I think I must collect a debt, but I am calling to extend Love.

I think that I should set my son straight, but my purpose is only to extend Love.

I think that I am writing a thank-you letter for a Christmas gift, but my purpose is to extend Love.

I can only extend Love, because Love is who I am.

26 My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

MT: I know this one, JC.

JC: But do you believe in it enough to refrain from attack thoughts? You drink plenty of water and eat vegetables. You avoid saturated and trans fats. You look before crossing the street, any street, even an empty one. You wouldn't dream of tasting the gopher poison in the garden shed, would you? Were it that you exercised this much control over your thoughts! When you indulge in attack thoughts, even when they "only" amount to blaming yourself, you are ingesting poison, over and over.

MT: Wow. You make quite a case.

JC: You want to be a better financial manager so as to be safe. You want to care for your body so it will last a long time still. But you indulge in the one thing that consistently robs you of safety and destroys your body, not to mention denying your role in the Atonement: your thoughts of attack.

Today, come home to your Father. Your feet are sore from wandering the world, looking for what the world will never give you. Wait no longer, Holy Son of God.

26 My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

MT: God's presence this dawn is like a fluffy comforter wrapped around my body, like the perfume of honeysuckle, like the moving, living flame in the fireplace. I need do nothing.
JC: You set out to write on the lesson.
MT: I haven't got any attack thoughts right at the moment! Although, you tell me, perception is itself a form of attack. I do see things around me in this totally mundane American living room. Perception has softened and become less urgent, less judgmental, but it's still there.
JC: What do you have to say about invulnerability?
MT: Clumsy word, JC. Like "sinlessness." You are the only one who uses words like that. And the affirmation kind of wraps around itself--attack thoughts attack, whom? They attack me! I thought to make myself invulnerable by not needing anyone, by having money house car computer, by looking attractive, by being polite, urbane, nice to others. Now you tell me that all I need do is think differently. Or stop thinking altogether, since every image I make is a form of attack.
JC: Whoa! Not so fast! No need to attack yourself. The search for spiritual perfection, too, leads nowhere.
MT: Let me not embark in another useless journey. I am with the God I never left. I am with God today, now.

26 My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

I think I can attack the enemy and get rid of him once and for all, but watch! Where one was, I now have six, a dozen, a hundred. I can never destroy enough enemies to be at peace (God only knows how many of history's butchers have tried).

But when I accept God's definition of me as His invulnerable Son, I have stepped above the battleground. I am truly invincible. I rest in God.

27 Above all else I want to see.

MT: But do I, really? What will vision give me that I don't have already? Why want vision?

JC: You have studied this Course, with a few detours, for twenty years now. In this lifetime, only your children earned such dedication.

MT: A wisp of attack enters my mind: why haven't I "seen?" How come God denies me this, the most basic of gifts? I know, I know, it is I who have shut myself off from the Source. But. . .

JC: What is the "but?"

MT: But I haven't wanted vision above all else. I've given other aspects of my life--taking care of my body, tending to finances, to mention recent concerns--a higher priority. I feel sad to say this, JC. I wish vision were a priority, but right now it is not.

JC: That is also how you procrastinate, in so many aspects of your life, not just the spiritual. Mañana. . .

MT: I've thought myself into quite a pickle, haven't I? I think so much, and still I don't have a sure yardstick with which to assess my priorities.

JC: Because God holds the yardstick, not you. You can also examine your priorities today, and see how they compare with vision. God is here any time you call.

27 Above all else I want to see.

MT: JC, I am fighting a thought--the idea that an expansion in perception, a going-beyond perception, requires nothing of me. That vision is something I allow to happen. As a child, when all I really wanted was to run about in the sunshine and corral minnows in the creek, Mother lectured: "Nothing comes without effort." That was The Fall--my personal fall from Paradise.
JC: Vision returns naturally. No need to sweat and puff.
MT: Could this really be true? No need for a To-Do list?
JC: To-Do lists are now officially obsolete. Forgive your mother today, because she knew not of which she spoke.

27 Above all else I want to see.

Why so much about vision? Here's my two cents' worth: Sight is the primary vehicle of the separation. Sound, taste, smell, touch all happen in time. They are evanescent: here now, gone the next second. Think about it: to taste the next wine, you have to rinse your mouth. To hear the next note, you've got to let go of this one. Sight, on the other hand, is a very different sense. It is static and happens in space. It encrusts the outer world, or what we think as the outer world, into permanence.

How exciting. I think we're being introduced to another way of seeing that doesn't congeal energy into form.

28 Above all else I want to see things differently.

MT: I need a new way of seeing, not least because my eyes begin to fail! What's all this business about seeing, though? I see what I see--furniture and photos of people and the shifting flame in the fireplace.
JC: When you let go of assumptions, true seeing will show you a world of wonder.
MT: I am willing, JC. What I can do--and you will call this a puny effort, which it is--is to practice a relaxed look, to practice eyes of kindness and love.
JC: No effort is puny. Action affirms your intent. Every effort is a statement of your willingness to return to God.
MT: But you used the word "puny" somewhere along the way, in reference to my efforts.
JC: Compared to what God can do, and compared to what you can do when your will is aligned with God's, yes, human effort is like the wave pushing the ocean, convinced of its importance.
MT: So God hears and welcomes my intent, no matter how small and insignificant.
JC: Yes. God hears your intent, and responds with joyous haste.

28 Above all else I want to see things differently.

MT: The gift of an open mind is what you offer me.
JC: Yours for the asking. The only price is surrender. Surrender the need to figure things out.
MT: I want to see myself differently today. Actually, I think I received this gift upon waking up this morning!
JC: To give yourself the kindness you rehearsed offering Bill in his death bed, yes. Everybody deserves this kindness, you no less than anybody else. You do not have to be in extremis to receive it.
MT: In the recent past, kindness to myself has been associated with weakness--sleep too much, eat sugar, play yet another game of Snood to avoid making a phone call . . . to watch life go by through wet window panes.
JC: You do not know, yet, what true kindness is. Open yourself to the experience of God's love today. Light and strength are one.

28 Above all else I want to see things differently.

". . . you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts."

We're being guided to the "beginner's mind" with this lesson. The ego is so sure of itself, and yet so completely confused. This is the beginning of wisdom--to know that I do not know, and to be willing to see differently.

29 God is in everything I see.

MT: God is in this computer. God is in this chair, this fireplace, this candy jar. Because . . .
JC: Because God is in you, and you are making things up as you go. Continuity of form exists only because you ascribe continuity to things. You hold the belief that the things you see remain in existence when you are not looking, but that is not so. You are making them up as you go. Your will congeals energy into forms.
MT: This is pretty esoteric.
JC: But it is essential that you accept this fact. It is thus that you take your place next to the Creator.
MT: The possibilities are staggering. I can make up anything I wish, if I accept this. I rule the Universe if my will is one with God's.
JC: Exactly. Now, how much longer will you believe that you are powerless?

29  (2007) God is in everything I see.

This affirmation moves me away from a separate, personalized, embodied God. It affirms God the ground of being, the life force, the Atman without which I have no existence, without which I cannot be. God IS.

29 God is in everything I see.

MT: What comes to mind is fractals--a visual metaphor of evolving, changing life, the universe replicated in every living cell. But you are talking about inanimate matter also.
JC: There is no inanimate matter. Every rock, leaf, and water droplet is made up of dancing energy.
MT: Dancing energy! I like that. I salute a dancing God. I look back on the grim God of my parents, the judge and executioner who upheld their draconian laws. I look back on my deep sorrow when dread, darkness and decay took the place of radiance.
JC: Look back no more. The nightmare that never was is over. God is inevitable, impossible to contain by your imaginings. Invited or not invited, God will be there.

29 God is in everything I see.

There is peace in these words. God brings out the tender shoots in spring. God propels the waves that crash onshore. God breathes me and beats my heart. God Is, as I am one with God.

30 God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

MT: Well, maybe I do want to see above all! This has been my goal for twenty years. Isn't it about time I actually did it?

JC: You ask yourself. But there is fear.

MT: Instant fear. But love replaces fear, so if I look lovingly on all things perhaps this is doable. I've been waking up with a sense of futility about the confusion in my life. Living like this is not living. It's not worth it. I ask God to either let me die or give me a different way of seeing my life.

JC: You can't die, so there is a different way of seeing awaiting you!

MT: My body could go, of course. What you're saying is that I would return to face the same challenges in another body and another several decades. . . But I need help with the fear. Send me a good friend, please. Preferably a friend in the flesh, who is on the same journey as I am! The people around me are of very little help.

JC: You'd be surprised. Why don't you give it a try?

30 God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

JC: Yesterday we looked at the beauty of fractals, a metaphor for the mind.
MT: And the idea of a dancing God. If my mind is moved by a dancing God, I can help the world dance. To dance instead of setting off IEDs and burying land mines, what an idea!
JC: Do not lose sight of your first goal: to accept Atonement for yourself. To come from an unhealed mind is to be part of the problem.
MT: Today, I will dance and the world shall dance with me. Or, at least, those who are willing!

30 God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

We thought we could keep God out by locking the mind in a body and calling it Brain. In doing so, we hoped to stay safe from God's wrath--if He exists, which we doubt but who can ever be totally sure? There are no atheists in foxholes, they say.

Well, we did want to maintain a world outside. In this way, we got to place sin outside ourselves where it's out of reach. But, I am tired. How about you? How long do we continue playing these children's games with the ego's sharp toys?

Index of Lessons