V. The Ego-Body Illusion, P 4
4 The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe, since the body’s vulnerability is its own best argument that you cannot be of God. This is the belief that the ego sponsors eagerly. Yet the ego hates the body, because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. Here is where the mind becomes actually dazed. Being told by the ego that it is really part of the body and that the body is its protector, the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. Therefore, the mind asks, “Where can I go for protection?” to which the ego replies, “Turn to me.” The mind, and not without cause, reminds the ego that it has itself insisted that it is identified with the body, so there is no point in turning to it for protection. The ego has no real answer to this because there is none, but it does have a typical solution. It obliterates the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness the question can and does produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.
I used to think that death was the answer to my crazy life, my ego confusion, my pain and suffering. I never examined this idea before; it was just in my mind. When I went to Nouk Sanchez’s retreat and heard her talk about death as simply another ego dream, I realized my error. I dream of life right now, and when I “die” I will dream of death for awhile, then I will pop back into the dream of life. Dreaming of death isn’t going to solve any problems for me, and that is so obvious to me that I feel like I must have been living in some kind of stupor before to have missed it.
Why did I think death would free me? I believe the answer to that is the body. Whether or not I was ready to question the body phenomena, I knew that this body was at the bottom of my unhappiness. It seemed reasonable that being out of the body would make things better. The reason I never thought this through is because the ego mind has shut off that line of inquiry in a bid for self-preservation.
I am going to look closely at the idea of the body right now. Here is what the ego offers me if I go along with its view of life. First I get a body to play in. At first this seems like a pretty nifty gift. My body is youthful and strong. I have vivid memories from my childhood of delighting in my body, at how good it felt to run really hard and fast, at what it felt like to lay in the sun and let it tan my skin.
There were many such experiences that I enjoyed and never guessed that they would be short lived. I experienced countless sensations through the body and more and more were added as I got older including some pretty intense feelings after I reach puberty. Sex, drugs and rock and roll seemed like such a good idea and I experienced them all in my body, never realizing there would be a price to pay.
But the ego gives only to take. This is because it is the polar opposite of God in all things, and God simply gives. So even in the glory days of my body I was beginning to experience loss. It was small at first, little blips in my joy at being young and exuberant. There were those times when the sun burned me, and there were hangovers from the alcohol and side effects from the drugs. There was sickness and pain. Still for a while, the good definitely outweighed the bad, but that ratio started to shift the older I became.
It didn’t take long for another benefit of the body to become apparent, though it would be a long time before I could put that into words and make sense of it. The body became the barrier that kept me in and others out. As life grew more complicated this became a favored gift of the ego. Sometimes even as a child I would feel attacked by playmates or adults and I would take my body and go home. I would withdraw from everyone and contract around myself.
It was like my body became the blanket I pulled over myself to hide from the world, to hide the world from me and me from the world. So the body became the way I expressed the idea of separation more fully, and it became the tool I used to cut off communication. This is, again, typical of ego thinking. God is whole and so ego offers fragmentation, the body being the best example of this. God is communion, and the ego offers the body as a way to avoid true communication as we learn to keep our thoughts private and share only the little bits of our self we feel safe sharing.
As I grew up I began to question the ego’s choice of homes. This body proved to be vulnerable to attack from enemies. Other people hurt it, bacteria and virus’ invaded it and made it sick. Age reduced it and distorted the youthful beauty, strength and stamina I had so enjoyed. I began to realize how fragile the body is and so much of my time, money and effort went into keeping it safe and trying to stave off the ravages of time.
Part of the package deal of getting a body is that I agree to move in completely. That is I think of the body as me. It is the ego’s chosen home and I have to buy into it if I want to play the game. So as all of this is happening, it feels like it is happening to me. I am weak and vulnerable. I am isolated within my body and my secret mind. I am fragile and in need of constant care and upkeep. I am losing the battle against time and I am becoming old and tired. I am also learning to regret taking the ego up on its deal.
Before I found A Course in Miracles, all this seemed perfectly normal and natural if fairly depressing. I didn’t question the idea of the body as being me. Of course it was me. And the little ego voice kept offering me fixes for all the problems I was encountering with its home of choice. It offered medicines and surgeries, miracle foods and supplements. Clever cuts, styles and colors for clothing to hide what it couldn’t offer a fix for. Hair coloring, make up, products to camouflage the outward signs of aging.
When I noticed that I felt alone in my body it offered clubs and other social outlets to give an illusion of being with others and a part of something. It offered an endless list of distractions. Nothing works. I get old and die. If it takes too long I lose all my friends on the way to death. So the ego offered me a body for a home, offered to protect me with this body, then when the body began to show signs of wear and tear offered me solutions to keep its home going.
None of this has been a good idea and it has not worked as promised. No wonder the ego hates its own home and wants to kill it. And no wonder the mind becomes dazed. There is no answer, and so the ego’s solution is to not question it. And so around and around we go, dreaming of life until the body wears out or is hurt beyond the ego’s fixes, and then we dream of death for awhile before dreaming of life again. It’s a never ending, awful cycle.
The ego paradigm is a closed cycle that cannot be looked at too closely because there is no answer within the cycle. The only solution must come from outside this cycle. Thank God that we have a failsafe, a secret door that takes us out of this depressing state of affairs. Our way out is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, at our request, slowly and gently guides us to undo what we have done. He knows how to break the contract we have with ego and needs only our consent to do so. I am giving my consent now because once exposed, the ego can no longer convince me that I am what I could never be, and that there is some value in continuing to pretend.