Lesson 12

I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion. You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world. All these attributes are given it by you. The world is meaningless in itself.

These exercises are done with eyes open. Look around you, this time quite slowly. Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval. Do not allow the time of the shift to become markedly longer or shorter, but try, instead, to keep a measured, even tempo throughout. What you see does not matter. You teach yourself this as you give whatever your glance rests on equal attention and equal time. This is a beginning step in learning to give them all equal value.

As you look about you, say to yourself:

I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world,
a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world,

and so on, using whatever descriptive terms happen to occur to you. If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them. For example, you might think of “a good world,” or “a satisfying world.” If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest. You may not yet understand why these “nice” adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a “good world” implies a “bad” one, and a “satisfying world” implies an “unsatisfying” one. All terms which cross your mind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises. Their seeming quality does not matter.

Be sure that you do not alter the time intervals between applying today’s idea to what you think is pleasant and what you think is unpleasant. For the purposes of these exercises, there is no difference between them. At the end of the practice period, add:

But I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

What is meaningless is neither good nor bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when your words have been erased, you will see His. That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.

Three or four times is enough for practicing the idea for today. Nor should the practice periods exceed a minute. You may find even this too long. Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain.



Here are the two ideas that stand out for me in this lesson. The world I see is meaningless. And I decide what it is going to mean to me. Oh, and the final and very encouraging fact that if I will quit writing my own meaning on the world, I will find the Word of God, and it will be indescribably beautiful. So make that three ideas that stand out to me.

I looked around the room as suggested and I saw a fairly messy world. And in its messiness, I found a threatening world as I wondered what in that stack of papers or unfiled folders is something that requires my attention urgently. So using just that one thought I now understand that the world I am sitting in today is meaningless. I gave it the meaning of being messy and threatening through the thoughts and beliefs in my mind. Why on earth would I choose that meaning for my world?

All my life I have felt unworthy, never good enough, never living up to the expectations of others. Actually, not even living up to my own expectations. That is a belief I have been chipping away as I have studied the Course and so it is not as strong as it was before, but it is still there. So in my mind is the belief that I am unworthy and from that belief comes the desire to prove this is true.

I then make an image in my mind of a situation that reflects my desire. My office is kind of a mess. In fact, my life is kind of a mess. I prove this to myself with the piles of paper on my desk, with the Christmas decorations that are still sitting around in their boxes waiting for me to move them into storage. I have paintings leaning against the wall in my sanctuary that someday are going be hanging on the wall. Maybe even this year.

Looking at it like this makes me feel inadequate. The ego mind has a solution, which is to take time off and get everything in order. I can do that and eventually, I will. But then my natural state of disorder will reassert itself and new stacks of unfiled stuff will appear. Changing the reflection of my beliefs is not a solution. Instead, I am looking at my feelings and thoughts to recognize the cause and ask for healing at that point.

I am worthy because I was created worthy. This is the healing thought the Holy Spirit showed me when I became willing to let the truth be revealed. I wonder if, as I gain more clarity and allow more healing, what effect this healing will have on my life. Will I become more organized and neater? Will I start getting things done on time? Or will some other solution present itself?

I think that as my mind is healed I will certainly be kinder to myself, and show more love and patience toward myself. I will stop judging myself and I will recognize that I was perfectly created and nothing has changed. Today I look forward to discovering other things that are written on my world just beneath the meanings I have given it. “Holy Spirit, I gladly give my permission for my words to be erased. I want to see what is revealed.”


As I read what I wrote last year, I happened to glance around at my desk and I laughed out loud. There are piles of papers and things that need my attention. None of it is in order. It appears that chaos follows me wherever I go. The difference this year is that it doesn’t upset me anymore. Is this the personality that is my classroom in this life? It appears so. But it is not me and it does not reflect on the self I am. It is just a temporary character in the play of life I am using to help the Sonship awaken.

When I start to feel anxious about the mess, I remember to laugh and I ask Holy Spirit what would He have me do right now, then I do it. I’ve stopped putting myself in charge of deciding what is important and meaningful, and I have surrendered this to God. It might not seem important that I not decide whether to file or to take care of that return first, but it is important that I use this moment to remember I don’t want the ego mind running my life.

I really am learning that I am upset, not because the world is what it is, but because it is meaningless of itself. I am not upset because the world I live in is threatening in its messiness. I am upset because I decided this means there is something wrong with me. It is my thoughts about the world that decide it’s meaning for me. I am learning to allow the Holy Spirit to give the world its meaning. I am aware of the ego mind resisting this, insisting that I have a problem and that the problem is meaningful, but I let that pass through my mind without hooking onto it.


When I began working on this lesson, I saw that the world is a blank slate on which I write a meaning and then that is what the world appears to be for me. I also saw that I wrote meanings on it, that is, I understood it to mean that I was unworthy, and then I asked the Holy Spirit to heal my mind about that. There has been a lot of healing and how I see the world has changed. But I also recognize that to a degree I was trying to alter the way I see the world and to a degree, I succeeded.

I wonder what life would look like if I let go of any perceived outcome that I could imagine and just let the real world arise in my mind, or as Jesus said, let the Word of God be written there. I think that I am accomplishing this slowly as I ask for another way to see the ego effects in my life, but I still have an agenda. I want the world I see to look a certain way. I notice a resistance to letting this agenda go even as I write this, but I am willing to see this differently, too.