If looks could kill…

When moving about in the public space, have you ever noticed how quickly you disapprove of something or someone? Trafic that doesn’t behave the way you would like it to; people who seem to act selfishly without paying any attention to their surroundings; or people whose appearance you simply don’t like. For myself, I try to make it a habit of watching my own judgments of people and situations at hand. To my dismay I find, if I am truly honest with myself, that I condemn virtually everyone and everything outside of me. It may be as slight as a seemingly insignificant twinge of disapproval that quickly vanishes, but I nevertheless almost always find something to reject in what I see.

In A Course in Miracles, we are told that any single rejection (condemnation, really), however small it may seem, reflects the ontological rejection (condemnation) of God by the seemingly sleeping Son of God, which set in motion the separated dream world of time and space. Lesson 21 teaches us: “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.” (WpI.21.2:4-5). Moreover, the Course expands the notion of murder from physical murder to include psychological murder as well. This means that every time I choose to disapprove of someone, I am actually choosing murder.

Whether I choose a slight twinge of annoyance or a physical attack does not matter, at least in terms of content: in either case, I choose to be a murderer. Therefore, as far as the Course is concerned, the saying “If looks could kill…” might just as well be restated as “Unkind thoughts do kill.” After all, a dirty look is merely the effect of a condemning thought we first chose to believe in the mind. Similarly, physical murder is the effect of a condemning thought that was actively chosen in the mind. Again, whenever the Course mentions the word murder, this refers first and foremost to psychological murder, or condemnation in the mind. The effects in terms of what our senses see merely follow.

Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out that we should not be dismayed at all by this realization that we constantly choose murder instead of miracles throughout our days. On the contrary, in one sense we should leap up with joy, for at least now we realize what it is we could choose to undo. Jesus cannot ask us to “choose to change our mind about the world” (T-21.in.1:7) as long as we do not fully realize what it is we are choosing to undo. If I spend my days telling myself I am a peaceful soul, that all people are wonderful, and that in fact everything in the world is beautiful, I am merely choosing a very shallow layer of peace that inevitably gets torn apart by the hate and attack that do govern all things in time and space, as long as we still crave to be separated individuals.

A fruitful Course practice, then, comes to down to vigilantly watching my own thought stream for any unkind thought to surface. And then merely watch it. I can train myself to watch my own negativity from ‘above the battleground’ (T-23.IV). As an observer. I can realize I am not my unkind thoughts – I am the decision maker that apparently made a mistake by having chosen for the ego fuel (i.e., condemnation) with the sole purpose of keeping myself distinctly separated from everyone else, to ‘prove’ that I exist as a unique individual. Now at least I’m being honest. This honesty is crucial for being able to take the next step.

This next step boils down to shifting awareness from seeing differences all around me (in worthiness) to seeing sameness all around me (“we are all equally worthy”). Jesus would rephrase this inner shift as a choice to see miracles instead of murder; to see content instead of form. To be sure, the perception of differences remains, but that’s form. Seen from the perspective of content, I share the same holographic aspects of the Son of God with all living things around me. The Light of Love is the same in each and everyone. God (i.e., Love) does not play favorites: everyone is equally worthy. Since perception follows projection, each life form I perceive outside of me merely mirrors my own unconscious state of mind. “Nothing so blinding as perception of form”, we read in (T-22.III.6:7). Therefore, if I want inner peace, I should offer it to everyone and everything, regardless of the form my sensory organs seem to perceive and interpret.

At this point, it is important to note that you and I should not in the least feel guilty about still having negative thoughts. “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well.” (WpI.184.9:1-2; my italics). If I had truly abandoned all negativity in my mind and had reached the top of the ladder of the acceptance of the Atonement, I wouldn’t be here any longer in time and space. My awareness of my unkind thoughts merely shows me that I still have forgiveness lessons to learn in this classroom I call my physical life. One of the most uplifting aspects of A Course in Miracles is that we are all guaranteed to learn these “lessons of love”. Everyone will eventually graduate and return to Oneness; if not yet in this life, then most certainly in a next life.

Our sole remaining freedom here is to choose how long we will take to finally make this happy shift from murder to miracles. We all still tenaciously hold on to our deeply cherished individual judgmental existence because we are afraid of what would become of us if we would really let that go. So once again, as this reassurance of Jesus cannot be repeated too often: “You believe that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.” (T-15.V.1:7). In other words, “Why wait for Heaven?” (W-pI.131.6:1; W-pI.188.1:1). You and I could make this choice right now. The inner peace that inevitably follows from making this choice shows us we are well on our way back Home to the Heart of God which we never left. Looks can kill, but looks can also bless. The choice is up to us.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

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See my Feb. 2020 Course workshop on YouTube called “A kingdom to rule” (English captions/subtitles available).

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

One thought on “If looks could kill…

  1. Tertia Lotz

    I am soooo grateful awareness of judgement induced pain is definitely getting stronger and tolerance weaker.

    Sometimes it feels like I’m playing that childhood game where you’re looking for treasure and with every move you make, someone calls out: ; “Colder!……..Warmer!”

    It’s astonishing how, whilst I was thoroughly enjoying your article, I noticed pathetic attempts at ego-fueling by finding fault with one or two tiny mistakes that were left in the writing.
    I had the thought: “It’s unbelievable he can write such an excellent article, but leave imperfections and ruin everything,” LOL
    Obviously a clear demonstration of right-minded joining with and rejoicing at content and painful wrong-minded attempts at separation by focusing on form.

    I dreamed up a dear father who mirrored back my entrenched belief in not being good enough by tirelessly correcting all my mistakes with a red pen. When I was a teenager I wrote him a letter in red ink, with as many mistakes as I could think of, and the PS: Have fun with the corrections!

    Thank you for the wonderful article, and also for leaving in the tiny “mistakes,” I need an awful lot of practice letting go of the belief that I have ruined everything that was perfect. 🙂

    Love Tertia

    Liked by 1 person

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