The ego is the unbelievable belief. That’s what it is – a lie that we’ve fallen for and by falling for it, made it true in our minds though not in fact. This truth is one that we’re apt to overlook, especially when we’re working within the ego’s belief system. Indeed, the ego’s objective – through denial and projection – is to keep us from looking at it calmly and clearly. We are its master and it is vigilant – and active, even violently so – in its efforts to obfuscate that fact.
Projection and denial – tools the ego promises will relieve us of our guilt and fear – actually perpetuate the guilt and fear. Why? Because of the law that to have, one must give. Giving any idea away is the surest way to keep it. So we deny that we’re angry or hateful or bitter or scared. And when the denial starts to bubble and boil, we project it: now it’s our neighbor who’s angry, certain politicians who are hateful, estranged relatives who are bitter. Projection takes what is inside and us and projects – hurls – it out there. Small wonder we find the world a stressful and frightening place – it’s the canvas on which our nightmares are daily scrawled.
One of the interesting aspects of the ego’s efforts is the activity that they inspire. It is hard work to deny, and hard work to project, and harder work yet to keep those projections “out there.” If we look closely at our lives, we can see what a tremendous effort we exert to remain asleep, to remain separated. We read the news, we study reports, we gossip, we work out, we get mired in talking out problems . . . All our activity is designed to keep the ego’s frail scaffold from toppling.
One of the best pieces of advice ever given to me re: practicing A Course in Miracles was to simplify my exterior life as much as possible in order to focus more on the internal. Each step I took in the direction of simplification revealed another step. Pretty soon I realized how shallow a lot of my life was. A great deal of what passed for importance was empty and meaningless. Life goes on without our effort. That’s a big lesson. We can relax and breathe. There really is nothing we need do.
Undoing is a gift – it’s something that flowers inside of us when we accept the atonement. It’s already there. What our acceptance does is soften the resistance and slow the activity that obscures the gift. But once you’ve tasted it – once you’ve felt the peace, the fluid grace of letting go – nothing can stop you. It’s over. The ego will mount a considerable rearguard action, or it will try to, but its time is up. You’ve won simply by agreeing not to fight anymore.