II. The Difference Between Imprisonment and Freedom, P 3
3 The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.
We have imprisoned our will through our desire for self-will, and that was a misconceived plan on our part. I doubt we meant to be imprisoned, but however it occurred we are not trapped. We have a way out. As long as we continue to listen to the ego thoughts in the mind and to believe these thoughts we will remain imprisoned. However, we also have the thoughts we think with God in our mind and we can choose to give our attention to those thoughts instead. This is the key to the prison we built and it is in our own hands.
The thoughts we think with God are the only true thoughts in our mind. When we give them our attention we are letting go of the idea of a personal will and embracing our true will which is the will we share with God. We are returning our mind to Reality and thus to sanity, and with sanity, to peace and joy. This decision to be the Divine Beings that we are is up to us. We will not be coerced.
In one of my favorite passages in the Course (Chapter 8, Section IV) Jesus says this: “If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind.” In this passage I see both the gentleness of Spirit and the inevitability of my return. I decide how long I want to remain the little self I have made and I decide when I want to wake up and remember what I am.
The Voice for God is in my mind to help me wake up when I am ready, and until then it speaks softly to me of Love. It never coerces, it never forces. As Jesus goes on to say in that section of the Course, God’s Kingdom is freedom and freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind.
Like most students of the Course, I have experienced the frustration of wanting freedom, but being unwilling and even afraid, to accept it. I have wished that Jesus would just yank me out of my story and be done with it. This will never happen, of course, because we are equal in will, being the Will of God. Jesus says that this is the only lesson he came to teach. Could it be so easy? Could we simply wake up because we want to?
The only thing that stands in our way is our own willfulness and the guilt and fear that this willfulness engenders. I seemed to have needed to approach God very cautiously. I did so with a lot of Heavenly support and reassurance. I have looked at and chosen against many forms of guilt and fear. In doing so I have come to realize that all of it is unreal. Every form of guilt and fear I have looked at with the Holy Spirit has been of my own making. The world I see has been smoke and mirrors every time I have looked without the filter of my desire for a personal will.
I have mostly stopped wanting the process to go faster. I have stopped trying to use the ego to wake up. Now I am simply doing what the Holy Spirit puts before me. I see fear or guilt in any of the ego guises and I ask Spirit to correct my perception. I listen to His Voice. I write what I hear. I share. I forgive. I love. I wait for the moment of readiness knowing it is inevitable. I can’t make myself wake up; that kind of effort is just another expression of self will. I allow my Self to be revealed to me. Then I will know my true will, the will I share with God.