V. The Ego-Body Illusion, P 6
6 The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop, but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way. By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busyness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impeding learning progress. In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, “What for?” This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically. When you make a decision of purpose, then, you have made a decision about your future effort; a decision that will remain in effect unless you change your mind.
I was thinking about this. Does the ego avoid the subject of the eternal? I guess it must. I can’t think how to be ego and still be eternal. Ego always ends my story with death. Rather than looking at this question, it keeps me busy with other things. It gives me problems with no solutions so that I will never get to what really matters, or notice the ego fails to answer the question of eternalness.
The body will not last, but the ego keeps us distracted with making the body seem young for as long as possible. We invent wrinkle creams and hair dyes. Our doctors open anti-aging clinics and weight loss clinics. We create newer and better supplements meant to stop the aging process. And I can assure you, some scientist somewhere is right now trying to figure out how to keep the body going forever.
In a desperate bid for preserving the body for eternity, we invented cryogenics and are working on cryonics in the hope of freezing bodies. The idea put forth is that if the body succumbs to an incurable disease, just freeze it until science finds a solution. This is so funny because we are actually already immortal. It is only the ego body that dies. But the ego distracts us from noticing that it is unable to make even its home eternal, by keeping us busy trying to achieve the impossible, making it seem that it is just a matter of time till this is done.
I want to stop this cycle of wasting time trying to answer impossible questions and turn my mind to the real solution. Jesus says the question I need to ask to get out of this confused state is, “What is it for?” If I spend time and money trying to preserve a youthful body, then I can ask, “What for?” What is the purpose?
Why would I be interested in making the ego’s home last longer? What is the purpose in doing this? I am searching my mind for a good reason and can’t come up with one. I want to feel good and have energy while I use this body. The Course tells me the way to do this is to let go of judgment and grievances and to use the body only for communication. If I do that I will have a healthy serviceable body for as long as I need it.
So really, what I want to do is to become clear on my purpose for the body. Am I trying to keep it youthful to impress people, to attract people? This would make it a separation device, not a tool for awakening. If I want to use it as a tool for awakening, then I know how to do that and it doesn’t require any help from science or doctors. “What is it for?” That is a good question to cut through the ego subterfuge.
I am going to expend a certain amount of time, money and effort on the body on my way to enlightenment. I am going to wear makeup and get my hair done and buy flattering and pretty clothes. But I know what I am doing and as long as I am doing it I am going to enjoy it. This means I am going to do it in a sense of fun and without guilt.
At the same time, I have asked that question. I know what the body is for, and I know the way to achieve a strong, healthy and energetic body. I am learning how to actually accomplish that. I am watching my mind for ways I use the body for separation rather than for communication and I am giving my willingness to be healed.
I am not wasting my time trying to achieve immortality for the body, which is impossible, but I am learning to use the body to remember that I am already immortal. Asking what it is for, I have already learned that it has no intrinsic value in itself; its only value to me is to use it to help us all wake up. And when I no longer need the body I will just set it aside because it will no longer be of use.