IV. The Only Answer, P 4
4 The ego cannot hear the Holy Spirit, but it does believe that part of the mind that made it is against it. It interprets this as a justification for attacking its maker. It believes that the best defense is attack, and wants you to believe it. Unless you do believe it you will not side with it, and the ego feels badly in need of allies, though not of brothers. Perceiving something alien to itself in your mind, the ego turns to the body as its ally, because the body is not part of you. This makes the body the ego’s friend. It is an alliance frankly based on separation. If you side with this alliance you will be afraid, because you are siding with an alliance of fear.
In my mind is the truth of who I am. Also in my mind is an idea of separation we call the ego. The ego thinks it is autonomous. The part of my mind that thinks, I am this or I am that, is the ego. Everything it claims as self is attached to the body, which it claims as it’s own. The reason it claims the body is because it perceives something in the mind of its maker that is against it, so it sides with the body, which it knows is not part of its maker.
The ego believes that the best defense is attack and wants me to believe that, too. In the past when I was so completely identified with that part of the mind, I believed what the ego believed. If someone said something that threatened me, I immediately defended myself through attacking the person in some way. For instance, if my friend said something unkind about my husband, I might defend myself through attacking her ability to discern the truth. I might intimate in some way that she was no arbiter of character judging from her past relationships.
This conversation with my so-called friend would leave me feeling defensive and afraid. Maybe she was right and my husband wasn’t what I thought he was, and this would cause me to doubt myself. Maybe she was only pretending to be my friend and really she looked down on me and would leave my house to go talk about me to other friends. Maybe I was stupid and soon everyone would know it.
All of that from what might have been, and probably was, an offhand remark made by a friend. This is the way the ego works. It is always about defend and attack and when we side with that part of our mind, we, too, will be about that. This kind of thinking keeps us trapped in fear and doubt and guilt. In other words, it keeps the ego alive and well.
Jesus has said that because the ego doesn’t feel safe in the mind with our true self, it makes its home in the body and the body becomes its ally. It doesn’t like the body because it doesn’t feel the body is good enough for it, but it uses the body to keep our attention and to convince us that we are really here. It uses pain and sickness as well as bodily appetites to keep us convinced that we are the body or at least in the body.
We feel hungry and if we don’t have food we suffer. We feel sexual urges and if we don’t have those “needs” met we feel deprived and lonely. The ego’s gifts are unpredictable and can suddenly become destructive. Sometimes hunger goes awry and we deliberately starve ourselves or overfeed ourselves. Sometimes food makes us sick. Sometimes sexual urges become distorted and instead of being an urge they begin to drive the individual to actions that harm themselves or others.
We are not the body, but when we believe that we are, which is what the ego wants us to do, we live in fear. We are afraid the body will suffer in some way and we know the body will die, and seeing ourselves as the body, we think we will die with it. No wonder the ego doesn’t love the body, but it does use the body to trap us and keep us away from the truth. It cannot afford to let us notice the part of the mind that knows who it is. The body is perfect for this purpose.
Here is how the ego is using my body this morning in an attempt to keep me from remembering that I am the Son of God. I have a weird pain in my hip. I am hungry. I have been eating a lot of food lately, and food that I don’t normally eat so there is a nagging voice in my mind that says I am guilty and will be punished for that transgression with extra pounds. My attention goes to my hair that is too dry and has broken ends and has always been too thin and too fine, and is just a general problem.
And all of that is just the stuff that is directly related to the body. There are also issues of getting the body to work and every problem connected to that. It brings my attention to relationships with other bodies. I begin to think about my son’s body and what will or might happen when he gets surgery on that body. I can follow all these thoughts and wind up a bundle of anxiety, and each of these various problems calls for my attention and some form of defense.
At one time this effort on the part of the ego would have been successful. But now I know too much to allow the ego to use the body in this way. I still hear the annoying little voice, but I either don’t believe it, or if I do believe what it says, I know what to do with it. I am not this body, and this body does not exist anywhere but in my mind.
If I have a pain, the pain is not really in the body but in my mind. I cannot gain weight from food, but I can gain weight from guilt, so I notice the guilty thoughts and I ask the Holy Spirit for help. I remember that guilt cannot be real because it is not God’s Will. I’m tired of dreaming of guilt and am ready to wake up to innocence.
Each attempt the ego makes to keep my attention on the body is met with my desire to wake up. I don’t fight the ego, I just remember the truth. When I am confused, I ask for clarity. I don’t try to make anything happen, I just allow myself to be lived to the best of my ability. I forgive everything else.