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A Course In Miracles, Lesson 22
plus Commentary by Allen Watson.


Lesson 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.
Today's idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. His own attack is thus perceived as self-defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape. Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real? Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape? You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill. All that you fear does not exist.

Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time. As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable. 
I see nothing that will last. 
What I see is not real. What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.


This is a lesson that I simply did not understand the first few times I went through the Workbook. I'm not entirely sure I understand it now, but it makes a certain sense to me, and to the degree that I do understand it, I'd like to share that understanding with you. Notice one thing, however, as you read through the lesson. What you are asked to actually practice with is not simply the thought that heads the lesson, but quite a bit more, ending with the question: "Is this the world I really want to see?".  So understanding the lead thought isn't really the purpose of this lesson; rather, the purpose is to help us realize that we do not really want what we are seeing.

We are seeing it, however, because in some part of our mind, a part we have hidden from consciousness, we do want it. We always see what we want to see, and we are seeing what we are seeing because we want to see it.

You see what you believe is there, and you believe it there because you want it there. Perception has no other law than this.

If we are seeing what we are seeing because we want to see it, then if this lesson can help us learn we don't really want it-that we really want something else-it will help us change what we see. Change what we want, and our perception changes with it.

If we hold attack thoughts in our mind we must see the world as a vicious place, a dangerous place. It is a world of pain, and "pain is but witness to the Son's mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed". As I said yesterday, we are angry at ourselves over what we think we have done, and as a result we are having "a dream of fierce retaliation" for our crimes. As egos we are also angry at reality for not being what we want it to be, for not supporting our wish for separation and specialness. We cannot face our own anger at ourselves, and we cannot support the guilt of our insane rage at reality, so we project it: "Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him." The anger and attack we see in the world is only the reflection of the intensity of our inner rage, the rage we cannot see in ourselves precisely because we have denied it and projected it outward. The world I see thus shows me what I am thinking. "What I see is a form of vengeance" because vengeance is what fills my own mind, although I am unaware of it. That I see vengeance in the world is the proof it is in my mind, because that is the law of perception.

He will attack, because what he beholds is his own fear external to himself, poised to attack, and howling to unite with him again. Mistake not the intensity of rage projected fear must spawn. It shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him.

"It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape". The words the Course uses-"savage fantasy," "a dream of fierce retaliation"-are so evocative! If the world looks like this-and surely it does, quite often at least-what must be the state of our minds that spawn it? "This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees." We do want to escape from this savage fantasy. That is the goal of today's lesson, to help us become willing to change how we see. None of what we are seeing exists, and if we are willing to change how we see, we will no longer see it.

The Course's definition of "real" is "eternal, everlasting, changeless." What does not last is not real, by definition. "I see nothing that will last". Therefore none of it is real, by this definition. If it is not real, what is it? "A form of vengeance". Ken Wapnick said once that the world is simply crystallized guilt. This lesson is saying that the world is crystallized attack thoughts, vengeance solidified into a world of attack and counterattack.

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

Bear in mind that this lesson is working at the level of motivation. It is not telling us how we can see something differently. It knows that if it can get us to the point of wanting something different the battle is over, because what we want, we will see. So if this lesson leaves you thinking, "God! No, I don't want to see the world like this anymore, but what can I do about it?" then the lesson has been successful. The question will be answered as the lessons progress.


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