II. The Ego and False Autonomy, P 7
7 The ego literally lives by comparisons. Equality is beyond its grasp, and charity becomes impossible. The ego never gives out of abundance, because it was made as a substitute for it. That is why the concept of “getting” arose in the ego’s thought system. Appetites are “getting” mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called “higher ego needs.” Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible.
I am continually amazed at my ability to ignore, confuse, and overlook the obvious when studying the Course. I have read this paragraph many times. I have noticed what it says about appetites and even been surprised by it. But there was a resistance in my mind to this idea and I obstinately refused to fully accept what I was reading. I mean, I said the words and repeated them. For heaven’s sake, I taught them, but I never really surrendered to them until now.
What are the body appetites and what am I trying to get through them? Sex is a body appetite and what it offers (falsely) is closeness and joining. Its lie is that it will alleviate the nagging feeling that we are alone and unloved because we are unlovable. It offers the promise of acceptance and desirability fulfilled, the assurance that we are wanted and treasured. It often disappoints because it is ego based and the ego is not about joining and love is not about the body, though when given to the Holy Spirit’s purpose love can be expressed through the body.
How about food appetites? We need food to fuel the body, but what about the cravings? Is the desire for chocolate really divine in nature? I am especially attuned to the appetites for foods as this is my favorite substitute for God’s Love. I can swoon over a perfectly baked coconut cake or creamy pie. I can be driven from my bed to seek out a sweet relief to my craving for some desert or other. What drives these appetites?
I used to think it must be genetic or something, and that my body just longed for sugar and I was victim to that longing. Now of course, I understand the body is just a tool, a way of expressing what is in the mind. Jesus is helping me to understand that my cravings are in my mind and then projected onto the body (which is in my mind). He is also helping me to see that, like sex, food has become, for me, a way to satisfy my deeper longings for love and acceptance, and primarily for the love of God.
Because appetites are ego based, they are guilt based, and so I delight my taste buds (create in my mind a sensation of tasting and pretend it is happening in my body) and feel guilty for it because I see it as further betrayal of God. I push this thought down far enough to keep it from my awareness, but while I can hide from the reason, I cannot hide from the guilt.
The guilt drives me to punish myself and so those sweetly delightful treats settle around my waist and in my hips and I fear to step on the scale. Like any addict, I promise myself I will stop this indulgence, but of course, I don’t have any true intention of doing so. I am as addicted to the guilt and punishment as I pretend that my body is addicted to the sugar.
The body appetites are literally a substitute for God’s Love. They do not originate in the body, but in the mind, and so all attempts to control them through suppression or denial, through abstinence or dieting is useless. It is just playing into the ego’s game of guilt and sin. I give my appetites to the Holy Spirit and ask that He heal my mind of my false beliefs about them. I entrust my body and my ego to Jesus and let him teach me their unimportance. I continue to accept the Atonement and allowing my mind to be healed, I undo the ego.