III. The Guide to Salvation, P 8
8 You cannot understand yourself alone. This is because you have no meaning apart from your rightful place in the Sonship, and the rightful place of the Sonship is God. This is your life, your eternity and your Self. It is of this that the Holy Spirit reminds you. It is this that the Holy Spirit sees. This vision frightens the ego because it is so calm. Peace is the ego’s greatest enemy because, according to its interpretation of reality, war is the guarantee of its survival. The ego becomes strong in strife. If you believe there is strife you will react viciously, because the idea of danger has entered your mind. The idea itself is an appeal to the ego. The Holy Spirit is as vigilant as the ego to the call of danger, opposing it with His strength just as the ego welcomes it. The Holy Spirit counters this welcome by welcoming peace. Eternity and peace are as closely related as are time and war.
“The ego becomes strong in strife.” I see this is true. When I feel threatened in my workplace, my first thought is one of defense. If I accept this thought the ego reacts quickly and soon my mind is filled with defensive and angry thoughts. The ego thinks of this as salvation. It is saving me from losing my job or losing status. When this happens it is because I have called on the ego for help.
It doesn’t seem that I had anything to do with it because the call has become automatic for me, and I then I hide my culpability from myself. It feels like the ego jumped in on its own and got all vicious and I was just the victim of a drive-by. Haha. The ego is mine. I made it. It has no power that I do not give it, and it has no control over me at all. It seems to have control only because I made a decision to pretend to be controlled. However, since I have taught myself to feel subject to the ego, I now must learn differently.
What I have discovered is the best way to avoid slipping into the ego defensive strategy (which is the first step into all out war) is to respond to the first glimmer of defense with an immediate decision to turn to the Voice for God. The Voice for peace is very strong and if it seems weak it is only because the will for peace is weak.
I have very recently experienced it both ways and so I see the stark difference in the two ways of thinking. In the first experience I eagerly joined forces with someone else to make war on a common enemy. I saw myself do it and made a call to Spirit, but the temptation to see this brother as guilty was very strong. It felt like the ego was stronger than Spirit, but really, I just wanted to hear the ego more than I wanted to hear Spirit. As a result I had this very temporary sense of “winning” followed by deep regret. Could this ever be called salvation?
The second experience came the next day and it was very different. I had asked Holy Spirit to let me know if there was some way I could undo the harm I had done. Later that morning the opportunity presented itself. I was able to help him with a problem, and the Holy Spirit gave me strengthening words of encouragement. I know they came from Spirit because I had not planned the incident, nor what I would say. I had asked for help and the help was provided.
The first experience was disheartening. The second was joyful. Clearly, the choice for peace is my salvation. It is a long standing (very long) habit to turn to ego for my salvation so it seems to require vigilance to learn a new way. Like the other things I have learned doing the Course, I start out learning that peace is a better choice than defense when I feel attacked. I practice this on many circumstances until I begin to understand that I cannot be attacked, that attack is just a belief in my mind. As I give up the idea that I am fragile and vulnerable and can be acted on by forces outside me, I realize I need no defense. This is the peace of God.