The first and biggest illusion is our identification the body. Conflating it with self is the surest way to demean that self – to make it vulnerable, temporary and degraded. When we talk about defending illusions, this is the biggie – this is the one upon which so many others rest. When we are no longer insanely devoted to this idea that we are the container and not the content that fills it, then we are going to know real freedom. We are going to remember our identity in God.
Defending an illusion is the ego’s great raison d’etre – it is how it came into effect and it is how it sustains itself. We cannot bear the loveliness of what we are in truth – indeed, we actively resist that love. We are sure that we have broken with God and that God is angry to the point of vengeance and – more to the point – at the deepest levels, we want that. We want to be God. That’s how special we believe we are – we think we are God.
But you see, the egoic self knows something – it knows that despite its yearning for power and eternity and all of that – it isn’t that. It knows there is something else. It knows that the thoughts of God are its undoing. And fearing that – determined above all else to preserve itself – it hides as much as it can in the body. Indeed, the body’s frailty and impermanence is the best case the ego can make that we are not God. And yet – even as it makes that argument – the ego hates the body, because it does not want to die with it.
This is the sort of craziness that defies logic. I think understanding it – at least the rough outlines – is important. The ego is subtle at times and vicious at others but its goal never changes. It wants to survive. It does not want to die.
It is only be allowing the ego to be undone – by sharing it with the Holy Spirit, taking our lead from Jesus – that we can learn that what we are in truth cannot be killed. It cannot be injured. It is perfectly whole and perfectly safe and has been that way forever and will remain so forever as well.
Often, we say that our lives are on big illusion – “it’s all a big illusion,” we say. I say be careful of being dismissive and – I say this from experience – from faking an understanding of the metaphysics that underlie the course. The ego is a big fan of intellectual appreciation – it can so easily use it as a tool of comparison. I’m not as smart as that student and not as awakened as that one. And so forth. Illusions are not undone by reason but by a love that has nothing whatsoever to do with the body.
The ego exerts maximum vigilance about what it permits into awareness, and this is not the way a balanced mind holds together. The ego is thrown further off balance because it keeps its primary motivation from you awareness, and raises control rather than sanity to predominance (T-4.V.1:3-4).
That love is a kind of attention. It is an awareness that disregards the ego’s voice – its judgment, its insistence, its guilty insinuations and its angry demands. This love simply observes – it sees. What is seen without judgment is seen with the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit sees and finds out of accord with the thoughts of God, it simply dissoves. It undoes on our behalf. And with each such undoing, we are made a little more whole. We are brought a little bit closer to truth.
Our best hope is not to defend illusions but to give up on them entirely. Let them be! Who cares? They are dust and detritus blown by the ego’s idiotic ramblings and scramblings. They can obscure the truth for a little while but of themselves they are without substance. There is nothing to defend – we are not under attack and even if we were, what we are is perfectly impregnable and impervious.
We can start opening the space for undoing by gently catching ourselves as we focus on the body. Maybe it shows up in fatigue or hunger or lust. I have to have this! I have to have that! And suddenly, our well-being is so integrated with the body that the two – self and body – are hardly distinguishable. Tease them apart. Don’t worry about being hungry – just look at the hunger with Jesus. Don’t worry that you have crazy thoughts when you’re tired at work. Just look at the thoughts with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be well – that’s going to be taken care of for us. We simply have to want to be well – it takes the briefest moment, just a flash of longing. I want to remember who I am. And then you have opened the door and all the help you need pours through. It’s already happened. It’s already done.