VI. The Rewards of God, P 1
1 The ego does not recognize the real source of “threat,” and if you associate yourself with the ego, you do not understand the situation as it is. Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you. I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourself as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or as long as you believe that you are here. The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it.
It was necessary for me to know about the ego, to recognize it and understand it. Jesus will continue to coach me about the ego. I must see the ego and choose against it if I am to wake up and return to God. My part is so small, but it is absolutely essential. I must look with the Holy Spirit, and I must choose, unequivocally, to let go what I see. The rest is done for me, but I must do my part. This is why I must learn to recognize the ego wherever I see it. And this is why I must learn that I don’t value what it has to offer me and so choose against it.
When I first started this it seemed very hard. I wasn’t sure what was ego and what was Spirit. I had convinced myself that ego provided protection and so it seemed my friend. Here is an example. When I was married my husband and I argued over how to discipline the children. I would try to see this with the Holy Spirit but I would become confused as the ego mind would warn me that I had to protect my children, that my husband was the enemy in this case. My fear was blinding me to the truth and the ego was offering to protect me from what I feared.
From where I stand now, after years of watching my mind and asking for clarity, I see how the ego worked in this situation. I know that there is no one guilty in that scenario, and if I see guilt I am looking with the ego. That is always true, and there is never a situation in which it is not true. The ego jumps up and down when I say this, even now. It warns that without my outrage and my protection my children would have been hurt.
Let me say that my husband was not physically abusive and on looking back on the situation he was probably sometimes right when I thought he was wrong. But he disciplined from a place of fear using guilt and shame and I thought that was completely wrong and potentially damaging. The interesting thing is that when I tried to stop that behavior I did so from a place of fear using guilt and shame.
It is always my job to heal my own mind. If I had been clearer I would have done that. I would have ignored the ego and focused on healing my mind. Then from a place of love, I could have been a positive influence on everyone. I can still get lost in the ego story and become momentarily confused, but less so now because the Course has helped me to recognize the ego when I see it.
Now that I have a clear understanding of how the ego works and how to recognize it, and now that I know I don’t want the ego’s “help,” I am ready to understand what ego really is. Jesus says that the ego is nothing more than a part of my belief about myself. The ego is not a thing, or a being, and has no reality nor power outside of my belief in it. It is just something I believe about myself. Because it is just a belief system, I can dismantle it easily by choosing against it.
This is why I am vigilant for my thinking. I see signs of the ego thought system at work in my mind, and I ask the Holy Spirit to correct my thinking. I no longer value that belief and don’t want to be influenced by it, so I want it gone. The reason I need help is that I believe in it. Though I hide the memory from myself, I made it and I believe in it, so I can’t teach myself not to believe in it.
Try and teach yourself that blue is not blue, that it is not really a color. You can tell yourself over and over that it is not really blue, but you believe it is and reason keeps bringing you back to what you believe. That’s the problem with the ego. We can try to reason our way out of this and we can really want to, but we can’t. It is a closed system, and we need something from outside that system to help us.
The Holy Spirit is our help. The Holy Spirit understands our belief in the ego, and even understands our confusion as we identify with it and think we are the ego. But He also knows that the ego is not real, that it is an untrue thought system, and so while He understands it He doesn’t believe in it. This is why He can heal our minds, and thus free of us from our delusions.
The ego includes our bodies, our life, and all the world we see. It is all an illusion. We are not living, but dreaming we live within this illusion. But outside the ego illusion, our life continues as if we were not dreaming. We have a real life! And we can become aware of that life as we move our awareness from this dream. We do this when we see the ego thinking and choose against it by allowing the Holy Spirit to choose for God for us. Does your heart sing just a little as you think of your real life? That is your mind waking up!