VI. From Vigilance to Peace, P 3
3 The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety. That is why the ego never recognizes what it is doing. It is perfectly logical but clearly insane. The ego draws upon the one source that is totally inimical to its existence for its existence. Fearful of perceiving the power of this source, it is forced to depreciate it. This threatens its own existence, a state which it finds intolerable. Remaining logical but still insane, the ego resolves this completely insane dilemma in a completely insane way. It does not perceive its existence as threatened by projecting the threat onto you, and perceiving your being as non-existent. This ensures its continuance if you side with it, by guaranteeing that you will not know your own safety.
Jesus did an excellent job of explaining something unexplainable, but to understand it better, I am going to put it in my own words. First I am going to remind myself that the ego is not a person or entity of any kind. It is a way of thinking, a thought system that produces effects. The effects are like the thought system so all effects are separate, vulnerable, weak, defensive, and mortal.
This thought system was made through the power that is ours as creations of a powerful God. It was made as a way to deny God and exist outside God. So for the ego to continue to exist it must depend on the power that it is trying to deny. This causes extreme anxiety within the thought system. I can understand this. In fact, I wonder how we tolerate it.
The ego has a plan for dealing with this impossible situation. It simply denies it. It refuses to see what is happening. And rather than perceiving it’s self as threatened, it projects onto us and sees us as non-existent. So the ego is a thought system made up by us, but in order for this to work, the ego must see us as made up instead of it as made up. Is this really what I believe in? Apparently. It makes logical sense in a way, but as Jesus says, it is insane thinking.
It reminds me of an ex-husband who was a paranoid schizophrenic. His brain didn’t work right and showed him things that didn’t exist. His defense was to project the insanity onto the world and so instead of seeing himself as insane, he saw everyone else as insane. It seemed to him that all these insane people were out to get him because they kept saying there was something wrong with him.
This seems a lot like what the ego is doing, and I see it played out all the time. It is usually subtler than it was in Charlie’s case, or maybe that is because most people are in agreement with its insanity so it looks normal to us. When I become upset about something my first response is often to blame it on someone else.
For instance, when I saw that I made less money this year than last year, I felt fearful and I blamed the new pay structure at work, and of course, my boss who implemented it. Then I saw what I was doing, recognized it for the typical insane logic of ego, and asked for correction. If I make less money it is a reflection of my belief in loss, and everything that occurs to give me what I believe in is my responsibility.
But the ego has a rule that says always project what is intolerable to it onto us, and so perceive us as weak instead of it. And when we identify with ego, we do the same thing. We project what we find intolerable onto others. It’s a good plan for ego. It defends itself and at the same time, it keeps the separation idea in place through keeping attack and defense in place. I cannot afford to be one with my brother if I need him as a place onto which to project my fears.
If I continue to side with the ego, to believe I am protecting myself through projection, to believe I am weak and vulnerable and to ensure I never learn differently by believing that I need to hide from God, I am virtually guaranteeing I will never know my safety. The way out of this dilemma is to ignore apparent threats and the defenses ego would have me use against them, and accept that I am saved from my insanity.
I am asked to come out of hiding, to stand before God stripped of my defenses, and trust that I am loved, that I am not what I made of myself when I made the ego, and that nothing ever really happened anyway. At first glance that seems kind of iffy and pretty scary. But actually, if I take the first step and disregard appearances, everything else follows logically and easily.
What I am learning through doing this is that I am not the ego. I can only dream of being endangered. I am sane. I am safe. I am strong. I am loved. I am in God and part of Him. Nothing can touch me where I am. The ego can project and project and nothing happens unless I agree with ego and believe ego, then although nothing happens I will believe that something is happening and will suffer for my belief.