The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.
In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.
Try, therefore, not to let the "little" thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more "obvious." This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.
As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:
I am determined to see ___________________ [name of person] differently.
I am determined to see __________________ [specify the situation] differently.
Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:
I am determined to see _________________ [specify the attribute] in
________________ [name of person] differently.
In this lesson we apply the idea of being determined to see to specific situations that arouse anger, with an emphasis on seeing these situations differently. The meaning of these exercises in connection with transforming our perceptions is quite obvious.
One thought from this lesson is particularly striking. It is a thought that makes more and more sense to me the longer I work with the Course, studying the Text and practicing the mental disciplines it teaches us: "You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury." The very first "miracle principle" presented in Chapter 1 of the Text says, "There is no order of difficulty in miracles". The idea expressed in this lesson closely parallels that concept. There is no order of severity in anger, either; a slight twinge of annoyance is the same as intense fury, and in fact is disguised rage. All forms of anger stem from the same source.
Some schools of psychology have long maintained that everyone carries around a deeply suppressed, primal anger. It may be tempered by a veneer of civilization, but underneath, in the subconscious, lies a violent fury. Many have attributed this to our animalistic origins in evolution, but the Course sees the anger in a metaphysical sense. Within us we carry a blinding anger at ourselves because we believe we have attacked reality and succeeded; we have somehow managed to separate ourselves from God and have destroyed the unity of Heaven. We think that in a childish fit of pique over not receiving special treatment and special love, we have ruined our own home and can never go back.
We are enraged at ourselves, but, unable to endure the guilt of our own self-hatred, we broadcast our rage outward and deflect our anger onto other objects we believe to be separate from ourselves. The term used for this displacement of anger is "projection." The ego within us is constantly "cruising," looking for situations onto which anger can be projected with seeming justification, in order to convince our minds that the cause of the anger is without, and not within.
Every flash of anger, ranging from mild irritation up to rage, is a symptom of this same, deep, primal self-hatred, projected onto the world. They are all the same thing. This is why the Course is advising us not to believe that some forms of attack are more justified than others, and not to overlook the "little" thoughts of anger. By making no distinction between "degrees" of anger we are helping ourselves learn that they are, in reality, all the same, and all equally unjustified.