The title for chapter 4 is The Illusion of the Ego. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: Right Teaching and Right Learning, The Ego and False Autonomy, Love without Conflict, This Need Not Be, The Ego-Body Illusion, The Rewards of God, and Creation and Communication.
I started a conversation about the ego in the previous blog and will continue it here. The Bible never mentions the word “ego” but uses other words for the same idea such as: flesh, carnal, selfish, worldly or the sin nature. The ego came out of the belief that you are separated by God, and if you believe in this idea, you will continue to have an ego. Your ego creates a false and unworthy picture of who you are and of who other people are. Your worth is established by God. Jesus says that if you do not believe this, your life will be ruled by fear and you will believe that people can be superior or inferior which is contrary to God’s belief that we are all equal in his sight. Nothing you do, think, wish or make is necessary to establish your worth.
Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego because they prove to the ego that Spirit is real and ego is not. Therefore, the ego must distort spiritual truth or refuse to accept it. The ego feels threatened by anything eternal because the ego is a temporary creation of your mind. Because the ego cannot identify with your spirit, it chooses to identify with your body which is also a temporary creation for living on the earth. Since you consider the ego to be a part of who you are, you are always protecting and defending it. The ego likes to keep you busy with non essentials, engaged in drama, preoccupied with problems that do not have solutions, so you do not have time to focus on anything eternal. When you find, yourself caught up in these kinds of things, stop and ask yourself why? What is the purpose? Is it leading you to spiritual growth and a stronger connection with God? Is it helping you love yourself and others?
We all have this duality within us of the ego and the Spirit (God’s presence within us) which are in opposition to each other. Spirit cannot perceive as it only knows truth. Ego cannot know truth as it only knows how to perceive things from a place of fear. The ego can learn from Spirit but fears doing this because every time the ego learns a truth, the ego gets diminished and the Spirit within you gets empowered. Your ego does not like this because it likes to be the one in control. Jesus states that his role in our life is to “separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength, the ego cannot prevail.” Therefore, the ego regards the Spirit as an enemy. Jesus said, “When you identify with your ego, you do not believe that God loves you. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I will love you and honor you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true.”
You have the mind of God within you but may still find yourself choosing to obey the mind of the ego. Ask the Spirit to show you where your thoughts are out of alignment with God’s thoughts and then shift them into alignment. When you judge another person, when you see yourself as being less than or more than another person, your thoughts are not in alignment with the thoughts of God and are being ruled by the ego. Jesus states that you can easily change “which mind you will obey but do not think you are worth the consistent effort so you are unable to control your mind. Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think or do.” Throughout the day, you each have the choice to decide if you want to speak from your ego or from your Spirit. To speak from the ego will create fatigue as you are dis-spirited. To speak from the Spirit will create inspiration as you are in-spirit. The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief system about yourself that is a lie. Jesus taught us through his life and teachings how to release the ego and live in direct connection to God through the Holy Spirit. To live by love and not by fear.
I found this last part of the chapter on the ego intriguing as it went against what I read in the Bible and practiced in church concerning the idea of praising God. ACIM says, “The Bible repeatedly states that you should praise God. This hardly means that you should tell Him how wonderful He is. He has no ego with which to accept such praise, and no perception with which to judge it. God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful. The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos and so nothing can hurt them. Their helpfulness is their praise to God, and He will return their praise of Him because they are like Him and they can rejoice together. The truly helpful are God’s miracle workers, whom I direct until we are all united in the joy of the Kingdom. I will direct you to wherever you can be truly helpful, and to whoever can follow my guidance through you.”