II. SECTION 12. What is the Ego?
Lesson 338 I am affected only by my thoughts.
- It needs but this to let salvation come to all the world. For in this single thought is everyone released at last from fear. Now has he learned that no one frightens him, and nothing can endanger him. He has no enemies, and he is safe from all external things. His thoughts can frighten him, but since these thoughts belong to him alone, he has the power to change them and exchange each fear thought for a happy thought of love. He crucified himself. Yet God has planned that His beloved Son will be redeemed.
- Your plan is sure, my Father, – only Yours. All other plans will fail. And I will have thoughts that will frighten me, until I learn that You have given me the only Thought that leads me to salvation. Mine alone will fail and lead me nowhere. But the Thoughts You gave me promises to lead me home, because it holds Your promise to Your Son.
This morning while I was finishing my first cup of coffee, the Holy Spirit instructed me to sit on the recliner with my new plaid Sherpa blanket over me and invite Velvet to come and sit with me. Velvet hopped up on my lap and immediately began digging in and out, clawing my beautiful blanket, greedily nudging me for scratches, petting, and tickles. She would not settle down unless scolded sharply and then only for a few moments. All I wanted was a quiet, warm, purring kitty on my lap – content and sweet, and what I got was this demanding, pesty, hopelessly needy cat, that would not settle down. When I showed her the least bit of affection, she arched herself up for more – she never has enough of it and soon becomes unnerving with her greed for constant attention and affection. The Holy Spirit allowed Velvet to teach this morning and urged me to share this object lesson.
So what does Velvet teach me? What or who does she remind me of? What is going on here? And I realized that Velvet reminds me of the special relationship. How beautiful she is, how warm and pretty and sweet she is, how undemanding and easy she appears to be — until you belong to her. Then she turns into this other, who cannot seem to get enough praise, attention, devotion, engagement. I see them both as controlling and jealous over any affection shared with others. Velvet about goes out of her mind with jealousy over Tom, our orange cat, for instance, and our grandson, Zachary, fills her with open disdain. The special relationship cannot bear to see the loved one engaged with anything or anybody that would lead them to a path unlike their own. The special relationship snatches one’s time and interests, freedoms and privileges, and demands total, exclusive allegiance. In the special relationship, one sees the other was an extension of one’s self, there are battles for power and control that are carefully obscured behind a decorative frame of need masquerading as love, adoration, and cherishment. Sacrificing one’s life, then, to the special relationship allows no spiritual freedom and exploration.
But there is more here. Velvet shows me my thoughts toward those who do not settle down and are not content with their due. I chase them off my lap and do not like them much for it. I think of them as less than and am careful about what I do allot to them, afraid (there is the fear) that they will suck me dry and let me little to no room if I let them in, on, or around me.
Here then, is the lesson the Holy Spirit was using Velvet to teach me – the fear of being overrun by the needs of others. The feeling of not having enough of me to go around and still have the reserves I need for devotion, writing, reflecting, and study. In my earlier life, I tried being a warm and loving person to all: inclusive, inviting, hospitable, never wanting anybody to feel left out. I denied my function to accommodate the expectations of others. As warm and loving as I still am, it is now to the few and not to the many.
It only takes so many “Velvets” in one’s life to realize that egos are not helpful! They will take your warmth and return it for coldness. They will accept your hospitality with the sole purpose of finding fault, making fun, or status building. They will interrupt the peace and tranquility that you have established in your life with irritating and unnecessary dramas and traumas, dragging you into all that they can, demanding you take sides and be at their beck and call. They will force their views down your throat, they will talk for hours about themselves and show the least bit of concern or interest in you. They will steal your anecdotes and call them theirs. They will tell your stories and put their names in them. They will be jealous of your accomplishments and gloat over your failures. They will throw you under the bus at the least provocation, and, if you are unwise enough to share with them on an intimate level, they will blab your secrets, putting their own spin on them.
So many of us, as Christians, believe that we must cater to our brothers’ egos as a way to put our gospel of love into practical application. When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that he catered to the fleshy, ego needs of others in instances only – he did not create a welfare system. He used his miraculous multiplication powers to provide meals for the hungry multitudes, only when they overstayed their expected time in their hunger and thirst to hear His gospel. He turned water into wine only on one documented occasion. Can you imagine people lined up with jugs of water ever afterward? He would have had to put a stop to that on the spot! He was not here to fulfill our ego/body needs in an ongoing way. He was here solely to bring us Atonement, to teach us the Resurrection, and bring us back to the Sonship of God.
Jesus used his supernatural powers of healing, transformation, and multiplication only to induce belief. Sadly, many of us are so blown away by the “supernatural” that we let our fascination with miracles interfere with our walk to God. Miracles are natural occurrences that surround us every day. The miracle is simply correction, a new perception, a laying down of the false, and taking up the vision of Christ. Jesus knew the truth of the matter – nothing here is real – he could play with our dream in such a way as to astonish us, and yet when it came time to fulfill His purpose, He did not use His powers to abdicate. He followed through the sharp, dark shadow of death to resurrection and life, giving us the gospel message: We thought we were a body, but now we know we are Sons of God. Once that becomes a reality in one’s life, that is all the miracle one should ever need!
At one point in my life, I would have castigated myself for having so little patience with our cat. I would have continued to put up with her behavior and condemned myself for being irritated. This was how I had been taught to interpret the scriptures. Do the best one can to meet the needs of others, and then when drained and empty, with nothing left to give, you regret not being able to give more, to tolerate more, to be more like Jesus Who gave His last drop.
I am free from the fearful thought of serving the ego needs of others, my brother! When we realize God’s plan of salvation, we are redeemed from the flesh body – there is no fear, no want, no need. In the spirit, there are no undue calls for affection, attention, and gratification. We need not crucify ourselves for those whose egos betray, sadden, or drain us of happiness and joy.
All other plans fail because they take the ego and the body into salvation’s plan. They speak of the spirit but cater to the flesh and the ego. As long as we follow the ideas of ego/body salvation, we will be frightened – we will mistake the ego’s needs for love, while they deplete us and cost us our lives. Our lesson today says that with this thought, we crucify ourselves. We can change our minds about the plan of salvation and be free of fear, for we are called to love one another in the spirit where forgiveness sets us free from the ongoing wants and neediness of the world.
Let us grasp the Thought that God gives us. Time and all that it entails is but a disturbing dream of demands. Special relationships which would use our salvation to crucify us are not welcome. We are free of all that is not a happy thought of love. And so with no regret and no apology, I shoo the irksome cat off my lap where she contents herself on my office floor!
A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 338 I am affected only …Foundation of Inner Peace, Second Edition, p. 471.