One of the aspects of ego about which we are mostly in denial is the fact that we like it – it works for us – and so we don’t want to give it up. It took me a long time to see this in my own experience. I still struggle with it.
If you look closely at your sorrow or anger or whatever, you will eventually see that it is not causally related to what you perceive as external – other people, places and things. It is, rather, a way of thinking for which you are responsible.
When I first began to see this it was very exciting. It made a lot of sense. So on that basis there was a lot to be thankful for.
However, when we realize that we are responsible for the way that we think – for the choices that we make in this regard – there is often a sudden vacuum. We can no longer blame external conditions for our problems – the way we were raised, the standards of our culture, the dictates of biology and chemistry.
In a way, that is what the ego is – an insistence on looking outside of us in order to find a scapegoat for our loneliness and pain. And now we are seeing that this doesn’t really work. In fact, we are seeing that the real cause of our pain and loneliness and all of that is caused by this habit of projection, this insistence on looking outward.
For me, it was – and it still is in many ways – very difficult to accept responsibility for choosing to think with God.
“Choosing to think with God” in this case really means nothing other than to want only what God offers me in any given moment. If you think about it, that is a very radical statement. It is the complete opposite of what the world teaches and what the ego teaches. So it requires attention to the interior state. It requires patience and willingness and even a certain stubbornness. A graceful intensity, maybe.
If we put aside our goal of being happy or productive or right, and instead focus on making contact with truth as God created it – on God for God’s sake – then certain changes are going to occur, and not every one of them is going to be pleasant, at least not initially.
It can be very disorienting to willingly lay aside the thought patterns and habits that constitute the ego. It is liberating but we don’t necessarily experience that liberation as peaceful or even reasonable. It can feel very scary and destabilizing. The familiar can be an inviting cage.
This is why there is a period – perhaps a very substantial one – in which we vacillate. We step into the Light and dance for a few minutes and then flee back to the familiar shadows. And then we creep forward again. Over and over.
There is nothing wrong with getting used to the Light of Christ – or God – or whatever-you-wish-to-call-it – slowly. You can take it as slow or fast as you like; that is what time is for. But when we see what is happening – and perceive that there is no choice other than this, and that salvation hinges on it – we can maybe begin to devote ourselves to accepting that Light, to really being in it.
I do think that honesty is critical, though. There are a lot of impediments in my practice of A Course in Miracles – I am deeply invested in being “right,” I hide behind intellect and eloquence, I equivocate with my teachers and so forth – but I am also honest about all that. I try hard not to lie. Of course I am not perfect in this, but still. Willingness, not perfection, is what is required.
Honesty allows a little space in which our right or healed mind – the Holy Spirit, in course parlance – is able to be heard. It is what allows us to perceive that there is another way, a better way. It is what allows us to begin undoing blocks and to practice being responsible for our mind.