Ego and Oneness in A Course in Miracles
. . . on relaxation and letting go
Ego is the idea that everything you think, say or do matters. So you are always observing yourself, evaluating yourself, comparing yourself now to yourself in the past, and comparing yourself endlessly to others, whose only function becomes the degree to which they reinforce your self-importance.
Ego is the vague sense that something is wrong and that you are the one who is responsible for doing something about it. It keeps your attention focused on the past in order to modify the future. The present is anathema to ego; peace and quiet are anathema to it.
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Stillness is anathema to it.
John Sherman, who teaches in one of the western nonduality streams emanating from Ramana Maharshi, is very good on this point.
This fear and anxiety that is endlessly upwelling within us, driving all of our efforts and all of our activities, is based upon this belief that I am this life, and that I am at stake here, and that by god, I’d better not think the wrong thing, and I’d better not make the wrong spiritual choice, and I’d better not pretend I understand, but I’d better not admit that I don’t understand, either (Look at Yourself 4, italics mine).
This fear and anxiety is an effect of thought. It's an effect of thinking a certain way about what we are. That way of thinking is a pattern to which we are conditioned, and it is possible to correct it. It is possible to think differently and to become quieter, calmer and happier.
A Course in Miracles - which is structurally and theologically different from what Sherman is doing - teaches us how to think differently by encouraging us to give attention to whether we are choosing ego or the Holy Spirit as our internal teacher.
Last week, I pointed out that it can be interesting to give attention less to that choice, that binary, and more to the one who chooses. What happens when we do that?
The truth of our nature is here, always, no matter what else is going on, no matter what else is happening in your mind, in your life, in your hopes and dreams, in your past and your future, in your relationships or in your therapy. No matter what else is happening in your life, you are here, and it is all happening in you. Sleep comes and goes. Satisfaction comes and goes. Confusion comes and goes. Clarity comes and goes. Hatred comes and goes. Love comes and goes. You remain. You are never absent (Look at Yourself 6).
We tend to focus on the content of thought - the one who is annoying us, the one who is pleasing us, the object that is beautiful, the object that is grotesque - and not on thought itself. In my experience, Tara Singh was the clearest teacher in the ACIM approach to nonduality, and he is very good at pointing out how the unexamined thought process is profoundly dysfunctional.
Why do you comply and accept that you are a child of problems? Why do you impose this authority over yourself? Is this survival concept the authentic evaluation of yourself? Are you at peace with concepts? Are you at peace with the external seekings, following the images and illusions of past generations (The Voice that Precedes Thought 210)?
These are deep questions that we cannot avoid if we are to wake up from the dream of separation, which is a dream of loneliness and suffering, and a dream of death and war.
Ramana Maharshi - revered by both Sherman and Singh - observed that awakening, or realization, was not the "acquisition of anything new" but only the "removal of all camouflage."
The "camouflage" arises because we are confused about what we are. Ego is that confusion. Ego is the cause of our experience of confusion, and our confusion is simply our unexamined acceptance of the "blocks to the awareness of love's presence," which is our "natural inheritance" (T-In.1:7).
A Course in Miracles teaches us "oneness" by teaching us how to give attention to what blocks our awareness of oneness, the "removal of all camouflage" in Ramana's words.
All we have to do is give attention to experience and notice when it deviates from love into fear. We don't have to fix anything. We don't have to undo anything. We just have to notice the blocks; when we notice them, we will notice their effects and naturally become less willing to tolerate them. The less we tolerate them, the more we will glimpse the peace that is already given as a function of what we are in truth.
Tara Singh again:
Our reality is not of how,
but of the action within.
When you are with this living moment,
your life is part of the Action of Life.
It is not separate.
It begins to manifest the Will of God.
(The Voice that Precedes Thought 131)
So we give attention, right? This is not about activity but stillness. When we offer attention to our living we give life a gift, and life returns it a thousandfold. The gift of attention is both given and received at once because of what we are in truth.
Is it clear? We are witnesses unto love. We are not judges, juries or executioners. We are nonviolent witnesses because there is no other way to perceive love and remember what we are in truth. We don't fight or argue because we are willing to go beyond competition, beyond the idea of winning and losing.
Our work is to look at resistance, to see what is blocking the light. We do not actually have to invent the light. We don't even have to undo the resistance.
To borrow Sherman's phrasing - we simply have to notice what is "never absent."
Change is an illusion, taught by those who cannot see themselves as guiltless. There is no change in Heaven because there is no change in God (T-15.I.10:5-6).
Heaven is not a place. It is not a future condition. It is the eternal present presently unrecognized, which we can learn (in these bodies, in this world) to recognize because it is what we are. It's this: this this.
Thank you, as always, for sharing the way with me.