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The Substitute-for-God Self

I thought of you while walking this morning. Mist rose from the hollows, crossing swiftly the snowy fields below a waning moon. For the ten thousandth time since you called my name I fell to my knees and begged to be shown the way to answer. How confused I am! How lost! In the distance, an owl offered up its august cry and closer one answered. I rose and stumbled to the pond where in summer I swam alone whispering the grace-filled syllables of your name. Who listens deeply perceives the low tones of ice melting: of darkness lifting: and senses, however dimly, the interior song to which all notes – even these – belong. We walk within the Beloved as the Beloved walks in us: and we are always home: and we are always the answer is yes.

I would like to follow up – clarify maybe – a point I made the other day. I said that the separation is always unfolding now. We don’t have to seek some historical target in the far past. It is not there: we live it now.

I believe that is true but perhaps does not go far enough. The reason we are living the separation now and can so reliably make contact with it now is because the self we believe we are is itself the separation.

The key word in the preceding paragraph is “believe:” we should never underestimate the power of belief (T-2.VI.9:8). The separation is a belief in what is not real to which we cling tenaciously. By virtue of that clinging – and forever after entangled in that clinging – a false self emerges. It, too, is an illusion: a dark lumbering tower of stories, dream, beliefs and preferences, each level more flimsy and unstable than the last. Without it, the separation could not exist. Without the separation, it could not exist. They feed on each other like unloved dogs.

But we don’t experience it that way! Or rather, we do but we pretend the experience is caused by something other than the prevaricated self. Thus – to use a recent example – I believe it is possible to have either a positive or a negative experience of watching birds at the winter feeder. And the cause of the experience’s quality is external – it derives from what is happening at the feeder. I am just a passive witness, blown this way or that by cruel exigencies over which I have no control. Even to say I know better is to remain in the blasted landscape of the split mind. It is so so hard to see and accept this. It is heart-breakingly hard.

For the false self – the egoic self – the substitute-for-God self – there is no other means of experience than this internal/external divide. Until we consent to let the Holy Spirit teach us how to let that self go we are doomed to the hell of plurality and duality.

So in a way, guilt is not something that “you” feel – it is you. Fear is not an experience that “you” have – it is you. Why? Because “you” are an idea, riddled through and through with dysfunction and nonsense. “You” are the thought that thought struggles so mightily – and so futilely – to undo.

There is no solution to the problem of self at the level of thought, at the level of the world (T-31.V.14:1,3, 15:2). We cannot use separation to undo the separation. The solution to dissociation is not more dissociation or better fragmentation or a different kind of distance. Rather – to put it in terms of A Course in Miracles – it is to give one’s attention to the possibility (which seems so impossible in so many ways) that we aren’t this body and its belief system but something else altogether and that at that level, we are as we have always been and always will be: whole and perfectly united with Creation outside of both space and time.

Stuck as we are within the mental framework of separation, all we can do is talk about awakening. Heaven will be this or Heaven will be that. But the secret to Heaven is precisely this: all you have to do to get to it is give up every single idea you have or ever had or ever will have about what Heaven is. What we are in truth is altogether beyond symbols (T-31.V.15:1).

Be altogether emptied then. Die to the illusory self and let the dessicated corpse be blown away like dust. Practice kenosis in the presence of the One who knows what it is and can show you, practically, how it works. There are no mysteries. There is the broken self and its sad dream of separation, no more substantial than a braid of smoke unfurling into a gray winter sky and there is Truth: God: the Ground of Being which you both contain and are contained by. The center is everywhere and you are it.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Michael Lindsay December 21, 2013, 1:29 pm

    Wow Sean,
    From poetic beginning to profound end. These words of yours, “whole and perfectly united with Creation outside of both space and time remind,” remind me of some words that popped into my head last month around 4 in the morning…

    The journey without measure.
    A moment out of time.
    Some place without form.

    When we visit there,
    we remember our home.

    When we stay there,
    thank God we are home.

    • Sean Reagan December 21, 2013, 5:09 pm

      Thank you Michael! Glad you are here and thank you for sharing those lines . . .

  • Aleta December 27, 2013, 3:21 pm

    This is beautiful, Sean! (I’m a little behind on reading your posts!)
    Not directly related to this post, but I just finished a book that you and some of your readers may be interested in. It is “Dying to be Me,” by Anita Moorjani, who had a near death experience that is one of the most incredible I’ve ever read. She was literally on her death bed, no hope whatsoever of recovery, and she came back from her NDE and made a complete recovery within a matter of days. (Her doctors were astounded!) The most interesting thing about her NDE is that her experience supports Course teachings. One of the truths she came to understand was that her cancer was in her mind and thus she was able to heal her body. She also recognized that we are all One and that we are Everything, and just as you said – the center is everywhere and we are it. I highly recommend it!

    • Sean Reagan December 27, 2013, 7:15 pm

      Hi Aleta,

      Thanks – that book sounds great – I will definitely add it to my reading list.

      I’m glad you are here – thanks for reading – I hope you and your husband had a great holiday.

      Oh – how did that turtle rescue go? Weren’t you healing some turtles and then taking them back to where you found them? Or am I confused?

      Happy holidays!


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