On Raising the Ego to Awareness

The ego is a product of our beliefs. It has no independent existence. There’s no law that says the ego has to exist. When we believe that we are separated from what is – that we are here while God is there – the ego naturally and surely arises. Disorder – painful disorder – is the result.

The separation is occurring now: it did not happen a million years ago only. Similarly, atonement is occurring now. The solution has to be where the problem is, otherwise it’s not a solution but an ideal.

Healing is always in this moment. And everything we need to know this and bring it into application is here now.

When we practice A Course in Miracles faithfully and diligently we raise the ego to awareness. That is all. That’s the whole game.

Most of us find the course because we are leading lives that seem chaotic and brief and painful and disruptive. And the course teaches us that those effects are merely the result of heeding the ego – the false self that we make to take the place of God. So we make contact with that truth. We experience the ego fully and directly. We don’t run for teachers or distractions. We just patiently and gently witness the egoic drama. We don’t invest in it: we just give it our attention.

When we do that, a better choice – a right choice – is inevitable.

This is why the ego so resists being known. That is why it insists that our grief and anguish are a product of external forces – nasty-minded people and inclement weather and frail bodies and unjust economic systems and so forth. We buy that argument wholesale and naturally infer that if the cause of our misery is external, then a better cause – a cause of joy and peace – must be external as well.

All A Course in Miracles does is remind us that is a lie. That is why it promises that if we just look at the ego and its effects then it will be over.

Sane judgment would inevitably judge against the ego, and must be obliterated by the ego in the interest of its self-preservation (T-4.V.1:6).

As the ego is undone – as we raise it higher and for greater duration into the light of understanding, of right seeing – we begin to perceive again the truth that “[A]ll things work together for good” (T-4.V.1:1). That becomes our experience.

I am not separate from you, nor you from a rose bush, nor the rose bush from moonlight. Together we are a perfect composition reflecting only the Love of God, only the Love that is. No artificiality can stand against it nor does nor ever did.

The work is to pay attention – consistently, willfully, prayerfully – to the false self and its effects. Behold what we have made! And turn then to the Creator in whose Presence there are no differences nor degrees nor specialties nor conditions. The inevitable effect of giving awareness is our slip into the folds of God, our resonance as Love itself.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Karen E. Beck July 6, 2013, 6:10 am

    a dissolution of something that never existed in the first place…this separation. I find it so difficult to get my head around the idea that GOD is NOW/HERE…HE is now here or nowhere, you see. The earlier Workbook lessons kind of start getting at this. Just witnessing the egoic drama in all its “+/-” manifestations (illusion)…not reacting to it, analyzing it, etc. Being with this, being BEING with the rosebush, the moonlight…BEING the rosebush, the moonlight, GOD HIMSELF…somehow bittersweet.

    • Sean Reagan July 7, 2013, 7:57 am

      Hi Karen,

      I love the wordplay around “nowhere!” Yeah, bittersweet . . . I think I read Emily Dickinson closely for this very reason. She somehow appreciated the bittersweetness of reality and illusion – the space between them – the choice involved or the decision in selecting one and forgoing the other. It is hard to get our heads around this stuff. Very much so. Our heads – in the intellectual, rational, logical sense – can only go so far with this material. After that we have to leap or something – or step off into an abstraction where language is not especially useful. It’s hard to write about, which is why – I think – I appreciate the play in words and all of that. We are trying to do something that we have spent our lives – lifetimes maybe – training ourselves not to do!

      Thanks for reading – I appreciate your thoughts very much.

  • Janet Acquilano July 6, 2013, 10:12 pm

    Hi Sean, I have had a tough couple of days, and the pages I opened the Course book on today, were fitting with what you just wrote. I never realized how much the ego controlled my life and thoughts, in many different ways. Great Post! : )

    • Sean Reagan July 7, 2013, 7:45 am

      You’re welcome, Janet. Thank you for reading – I’m glad it’s helpful. The ego is indeed powerful and influential – but we have to remember that we made it. It’s our baby! Sooner or later we make contact with that simple fact and the whole game changes. When we’re ready for the alternative, it’s there.

  • Maz Barnes July 6, 2013, 11:20 pm

    Thankyou Sean. You write some great stuff. Stuff that makes me stretch a bit more. I really appreciate your thinking. I mentioned an article in my blog by Wayne Dyer entitled “Ego Loves Stress”….. that damn ego… just keeps finding new and more creative ways to show itself to me… a constant battle.

    • Sean Reagan July 7, 2013, 7:44 am

      Thanks, Maz. I appreciate the kind words.

      I do think that we underestimate egoic thinking and self at our peril. It is very subtle and insistent. Yet its power comes from the fac that we made it! This is the detail that we often overlook. I know I do. The ego is not some separate entity that operates independently. We are doing it. We are making it go. I think this insight is important. We tend to have it at the intellectual level but we can stay with it and go deeper. Why are we doing this? And how do we stop? And what remains when the ego is gently put down? These are important discoveries and are not nearly so hard to make as we sometimes think. At a pretty deep level, we like being authors and so we naturally appreciate the ego – throwing it away is throwing away something in which we have invested a lot of time and energy and effort. A lot of clarity is called for – spiritual clarity to which we really can’t think our way. More and more I appreciate the need to simply see or look at the ego and its effects – without judgment, without drama. We withdraw our investment and simply observe. It is naturally undone accordingly. Easier said than done, perhaps, but not much easier! Sometimes I think that is the real secret: how powerful we are and how easy it is to yield that power.

      Thanks as always for being here, Maz.

  • Aiko July 7, 2013, 12:11 pm

    Thanks, Sean. This entry reminded me of what’s been manifesting: a shared illusion currently being played out in media. We see so many examples of this. Paranoia, deception, attack, etc. I turn on TV and hear about national security issues or privacy invasions. And it is so easy to get caught up in that. Ego likes to see all of that. Ego gets fed into that. I am trying to find balance. Because we are free to walk this earth any way we wish and we have the free will to do so, the choice to heal the mind must translate into some type of action. Or is that ego talking? Always, your blog helps me to go deeper. Thank you.

    • Sean Reagan July 7, 2013, 1:27 pm

      Hi Aiko,

      I’m the glad the blog is helpful, in its way. Thank you for reading!

      Yes, healing does translate into action – probably what we might better call the illusion of action. But since we believe it, it’s real enough to us. There are those helpful lines in the first chapter:

      As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it (T-1.III.1:6).

      So there is an implied process – we are going to becoming increasingly unwilling to be unhappy & chaotic, we are going to turn more and more in the direction of the internal teacher, learn how to be more happy and ordered and peaceful, and then take action.

      The question is not so much what are we doing but whose direction are we following? Are we listening to Jesus/Holy Spirit/God or are we listening to our prattling brain?

      The ego would reverse that: go to church and then you’ll hear God. Pray on your knees until the blood stops flowing to your feet and then you’ll make contact and feel peace. Be kind to others only if and when they’re nice to you and then you’ll know the peace that surpasses understanding. And so forth.

      So I feel that in my own practice, before I get to the question of what am I doing today – with my family, with my garden, with my writing, with my children, my wife, our extended biological family, our neighbors, with my political activism, my approach to consumerism, and all of that – I want to make contact with what is.

      In that space, the rest of it becomes much clearer and simpler. And then yes – I am always asking: what is the most loving thing to do here? What does this person need? Should I turn the tv on or off? Read up on this or that political issue or not?

      Though my identification in this regard is far from perfect, this practice usually means that most of what I end up “doing” is healing – often in ways I don’t expect or intend.

      There’s no doubt we’re going to do stuff. The question is are we part of the “great crusade” ACIM references or the more personal vendetta of the ego?

      Anyway, forgive me for getting wordy! That is an important issue in our ACIM practice – how do we live in this world as our mind heals.

      Thank you!

  • Aiko July 8, 2013, 10:28 am

    Sean,

    Thank you!

    • Sean Reagan July 9, 2013, 10:58 am

      🙂

  • Cheryl October 22, 2013, 11:30 am

    The old ego is kicking up a dust storm these days, really resisting those “exquisitely tailored learning situations” that I am interpreting in a way that causes me angst and grief as I literally wallow in fear.

    So I turn to The Course and it helps, but I find, I also need a little help from a friend. So I explore your archives, reading messages on fear and ego. And I wanted, once again, to say thank you for this gift. It is gratefully received.

    Your final paragraph:
    The work is to pay attention – consistently, willfully, prayerfully – to the false self and its effects. Behold what we have made! And turn then to the Creator in whose Presence there are no differences nor degrees nor specialties nor conditions. The inevitable effect of giving awareness is our slip into the folds of God, our resonance as Love itself.

    ….made me think of this line from a Mary Oliver poem:
    “To pay attention.. this is our endless and proper work.”

    I am willing to do that, most of the time.
    And then, of course, there is allowing…More often, that is where I stumble. Still, I’m pretty sure I’m not where I was when I started this journey in earnest, and I would imagine Karen and Janet and Maz and Aiko can say the same.

    And that’s a very good thing. Because, was it Rumi who said this (and I paraphrase): Once the fire is lit, there is indeed no putting it out….

    • Sean Reagan October 22, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Rumi is right, I think . . . and Oliver, too. Attention is redemptive when given in love, in service even.

      Thanks for reading & being here Cheryl. The course is awesome but I hear you: it is good to share its unfolding with friends. We are in this together. There is no way to “get it.”

      Sean

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