ACIM Conversations, Part 18
Understanding the Ego
Student: Another term that gets used in a wide variety of ways is the ego. Some seem to think that when the ego is gone there will be no self or even parts but we will be just one lone life. Then others use the ego to dismiss any statement with which they disagree.
Teacher: How do they do that?
Student: When I say something that runs contrary to their mindset, they tell me I am speaking from the ego – as if they have risen above it and taking the superior position that is beyond challenge.
Teacher: That dismissive attitude is not unique to ACIM students but found in every belief system. For instance, a fundamentalist Christian may tell his questioning friend to not consider certain teachings or read certain books as God would be offended and they are entering the devil’s domain.
Student: Yeah, I get that feeling sometimes with Course students when I think out of the box – that Jesus would be offended with the wrong questions.
Teacher: We have the same problem with talking about the ego as we did forgiveness in our last discussion. The Course does not start us out with a clear and concise definition. I personally had to go through it three or four times before I had a clear idea of what the Course actually meant when talking about it.
Student: I’ve only gone through it once so I am still a little confused on the subject myself. I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts.
Teacher: First let us again check with the standard definition. Care to look it up?
Student: I’ll use the Oxford dictionary again. It says the ego is that part of the mind “responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.”
Teacher: The sense of personal identity is the key phrase there, but in ACIM there are two entities that tell us what reality is. And what would they be?
Student: The ego certainly does though incorrectly.
Teacher: And what source reveals it correctly?
Student: That would be the Holy Spirit.
Teacher: The general sense of personal identity, or self, is the common feeling of what the ego is to those just beginning the Course. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to most people.
Student: Yeah, I remember that as I got into the Course, I was surprised at how negatively the ego was presented, as if it were the devil himself.
Teacher: The Course does associate it with the devil, (M-25.6) and beyond that, it flat out states that “The ego is insane.” W-pII.12.2 and speaks of its insane direction numerous times.
Student: Yes, that is a lot more of a negative view than commonly held, as society only sees a handful of egos as being insane. It considers normalcy to be sane.
Teacher: So, as an earnest student how would you define the ego as presented by the Course?
Student: It is clear that the ego in the Course includes our identification with our lower nature, but what is not clear is how far up it goes. Does it mean that we have no identity as a higher self either, and is there even a self in the eternal world?
Teacher: You have struck a note at the core of the problem. Most spiritual traditions see the self in the lower nature as a problem and at odds with the Spirit, but most do recognize that there is a higher self that is eternal.
Student: But what is not clear about ACIM is whether there is an eternal self, united with other selves, or do we just merge into one lonely isolated entity which is called God?
Teacher: Sounds like you do not like the idea of merging into one life with no parts.
Student: I cringe when I think about it as it sounds like nonexistence to me. I would think that there would have to be interplay with other lives to make living enjoyable, but maybe that is just my ego talking.
Teacher: Maybe not, for the Course tells us that God agrees with you. Read these quotes:
Student: “God is lonely without His Sons, and they are lonely without Him.” T-2.III.5 “His joy is not complete because yours is incomplete. And this He does know. He knows it in His Own Being and its experience of His Son’s experience. The constant going out of His Love is blocked when His channels are closed, and He is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate fully with Him.” T-4.VII.6 “They are part of you, as you are part of God. You are as lonely without understanding this as God Himself is lonely when His Sons do not know Him.” T-7.VII.10
Sounds like the idea of being one lone life in the universe is not an idea that even God embraces.
Teacher: This takes us back to our earlier discussion of duality that there is a big differenced between one life with no parts and one united life with many parts.
Student: Yes, with many there can be unlimited sharing, but with pure non duality there could be no sharing
Teacher: Sharing and communication are important ingredients that brings joy in heaven: “Communication, unambiguous and plain as day, remains unlimited for all eternity.” W-pI.129.3 “all talents will be shared by all the Sons of God.” T-1.V.3
Student: It seems then that the One Life consists of many Sons or parts who share, but do we still have a self, and if so, how is that different from the ego which the Course says is insane?
Teacher: You actually have two selves. One is real and the other is an illusion. When we speak of self we normally think of the ego, but read this:
Student: “You are what God created or what you made. One Self is true; the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of your one Self. Try to appreciate Its Holiness and the love from which It was created.” W-pI.93.9
Teacher: What are the two selves mentioned here?
Student: One is our true self that God created and the other is an illusion that we made.
Teacher: And what does the Course call that illusionary self we made?
Student: The ego
Teacher: Here is another passage for you to read:
Student: “There is another vision and another Voice in which your freedom lies, awaiting but your choice. And if you place your faith in Them, you will perceive another self in you. This other self sees miracles as natural.” T-21.V.3
Teacher: This tells us that there is “another self in you.” What do you suppose that is?
Student: That would be our true self which is united with the Sonship.
Teacher: Yes this is called “the Self you do not know.” T-16.III.5 Would you say then that you still have a self when the ego vanishes?
Student: That’s what the Course seems to say.
Teacher: Not only that but it is something we must understand for “in ideas minds can communicate. If you would give yourself as your Father gives His Self, you will learn to understand Selfhood.” T-15.VI.7
So, selfhood not only exists apart from the ego, but must be understood and to deny its reality is a problem. Read this:
Student: “All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self. Denial of Self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it.” T-1.VII.1
Teacher: What happens when the self is denied?
Student: Illusion. I would presume that would be dominated by the false self
Teacher: And because the ego is created by illusion the Course goes so far as to say that “the ego is not the Self.” T-4.II.4
Student: Wow. That is a lot different than comments I’ve heard from students who claim that all ideas of self belong to the ego.
Teacher: This misunderstanding illustrates the importance of looking at the whole of what the Course is trying to say rather than the part. In fact, it tells us that one of the tricks the ego plays is to segregate a part and present it as if it is the whole.
Student: So, it looks like we have two parts to ourselves. Is this the same thing as the higher and lower self as taught by various spiritual traditions?
Teacher: The Course does not use the terminology of higher and lower self but it does say something similar. Read this:
Student: “I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home.” T-4.IV.11
Teacher: So, the Christ works with your higher mind. What does your ego work with?
Student: The lower mind. I’d say that is about the same thing as saying the lower and higher self.
Teacher: I think you are correct. Do you think we have gathered enough information to understand the ego as presented in ACIM?
Student: I’m not sure, but why do I have the feeling that you are going to tell me there is more?
Teacher: Because you have good instincts and we shall discuss more on this in our next encounter.
Links to The Mysteries of A Course in Miracles:
Copyright by J J Dewey
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE, Twenty HERE, Twenty-One HERE, Twenty-Two HERE, Twenty-Three HERE, Twenty-Four HERE, Twenty-Five HERE, Twenty-Six HERE, Twenty-Seven HERE, Twenty-Eight HERE, Twenty-Nine HERE, Thirty HERE
ACIM Conversations, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25
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