A few things stand out for me in this section, largely revolving around this idea that teachers and learners are not separated. Before A Course in Miracles showed up in my life, I had to learn how to teach. It was a fearful experience. I tried very hard to avoid doing it, only to learn that I was good at it and belonged in that role. I knew instinctively that what made me a good teacher was simply the fact that I wanted to learn. Once I figured that out, teaching became easy, intuitive.
Interestingly, the learning still comes hard. Or perhaps a better way to say it is simply that I learn slowly. One thing I hope everyone takes away from this section is the concept that ego “must” and “can” be taught and that ego and spirit have nothing – literally nothing – to do with one another.
Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it . . . They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided (T-4.I.2:6-7,12-13).
The body and the ego are closely related. For most of us, when we think of who or what we are, it’s the body and the ego that come to mind. Having an intellectual idea that we are actually spirit is not really helpful, as the ego is perfectly happy to entertain/discuss/consider itself and alternatives to it. Holding intellectual ideas that conflict with the ego is a great way to keep the ego alive and kicking. This is where a lot of Course students get bogged down. I’m not immune myself. But if we are really being honest, then we are probably have to recognize that we’re ego- and body-bound and we’re hoping to find an alternative.
This is a good starting place! Realizing that we are identified with the ego means that we can begin to undo it. We can begin to allow Jesus to help us be better learners. We can let him teach us to perceive more truly. This is a process. It happens in time. We make progress, one step at a time. We look up one day and realize that we’re more peaceful than we used to be. Our buttons don’t get pushed the way they once did. We can hear Jesus better. We can extend love to others better.
I think one thing that happens in that process – in the learning – is that when we see that it works, we’re able to let go even more. We have that trust that it’s going to be okay. Remember, we aren’t trying to beat the ego into submission. We aren’t trying to defeat the devil in a cage match. We’re trying to remember to laugh more. We’re trying to remember – I’m copping a line that’s coming up in a couple of sections – that to heal is to make happy (T-5.In.1:1). Never forget that! This is about happiness. It’s about peace. It’s about joy.
That we can only imagine that right now is okay. That we can’t naturally slip these bodies for the spirit and light Jesus assures we are in truth . . . that’s fine. This Course is about removing stumbling blocks. The actual waking up is in God’s hands. Our job is to learn and become better and better learners.
Whenever I get too invested in course metaphysics, I can feel Jesus slide up close and tell me not to ignore the world. I sometimes think that’s the whole point of my study of Emily Dickinson, a woman who deeply understood the world as a veil drawn across the face of God yet still loved it. Our “lessons” are not abstractions. It is the world in which we find ourselves – the men and women and children with whom we interact. We are never not in class and we are never not without our teacher.
I want to finish with a quote from this section that I love very much.
I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together (T-4.I.13:4-6).
So long as we are turning our lives over to the control and guidance of Jesus, there is nothing to worry about. In time – with gentleness and love – he will teach us how to let them go entirely. He is like us – this is so important. In A Course in Miracles Jesus does not want to be “exalted or rejected” (T-4.I.6:7). He is literally a brother who loves us – who has been down this road and knows each twist and turn – and wants only to share it with us. Accept his help! Ask for it and it will be there. Say yes.