V. The Ego-Body Illusion
- All things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the ego’s judgment. The ego exerts maximal vigilance about what it permits into awareness, and this is not the way a balanced mind holds together. The ego is thrown further off balance because it keeps its primary motivation from your awareness and raises control rather than sanity to predominance. The ego has every reason to do this, according to the thought system which gave rise to it and which it serves. Sane judgment would inevitably judge against the ego and must be obliterated by the ego in the interest of its self-preservation.
- A major source of the ego’s off-balanced state is its lack of discrimination between the body and the Thoughts of God. Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego because they clearly point to the nonexistence of the ego itself. The ego therefore either distorts them or refuses to accept them. It cannot, however, make them cease to be. It therefore tries to conceal not only “unacceptable” body impulses, but also the Thoughts of God, because both are threatening to it. Being concerned primarily with its own preservation in the face of threat, the ego perceives them as the same. By perceiving them as the same, the ego attempts to save itself from being swept away, as it would surely be in the presence of knowledge.
- Any thought system that confuses God and the body must be insane. Yet this confusion is essential to the ego, which judges only in terms of threat or non-threat to itself. In one sense the ego’s fear of God is at least logical since the idea of Him does dispel the ego. But fear of the body, with which the ego identifies so closely, makes no sense at all.
- The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe, since the body’s vulnerability is its own best argument that you cannot be of God. This is the belief that the ego sponsors eagerly. Yet the ego hates the body, because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. Here is where the mind becomes actually dazed. Being told by the ego that it is really part of the body and that the body is its protector, the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. Therefore, the mind asks, “Where can I go for protection?” to which the ego replies, “Turn to me.” The mind, and not without cause, reminds the ego that it has itself insisted that it is identified with the body, so there is no point in turning to it for protection. The ego has no real answer to this because there is none, but it does have a typical solution. It obliterates the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness the question can and does produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.
- This is the question that must be asked: “Where can I go for protection?” “Seek and ye shall find” does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognize. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organized, and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. Learning and wanting to learn are inseparable. You learn best when you believe what you are trying to learn is of value to you. However, not everything you may want to learn has lasting value. Indeed, many of the things you want to learn may be chosen because their value will not last.
- The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way. By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busy-ness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impeding learning progress. In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, “What for?” This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically. When you make a decision of purpose, then, you have made a decision about your future effort; a decision that will remain in effect unless you change your mind.
In the book of Romans 8:28, the Apostle writes: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. However, Jesus tells us in today’s text reading that all things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the way the ego judges things. The ego uses maximal vigilance in keeping the whole story in any situation from our awareness, and because we are kept ignorant of the greater good our minds become saddened, disheartened, unbalanced with the sorry human tale. We have discussed before how the only free will that is available to us is from God for the ego seeks to control us rather than restore us to our freedom and liberty. The ego has a very good reason to do this, brothers. Because if we did know the whole story, if we were restored to our freedom and liberty and knowledge of Spirit, we would no longer want it, believe in it, and would obliterate the ego from our consciousness.
The ego’s lack of stability is its inability to discriminate between the body and Thoughts of God. What does this mean? What does this look like?
Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego because they unmistakably clarify the nothingness of ego itself. So the ego either distorts Thoughts of God or denies them. Jesus tells us that the ego has no power to make them go away, but it does try to hide them, just as it tries to hide the baser impulses and functions of the body. The baser impulses and functions of the body – such as defecating and urinating, masturbating, the more morbid sexual fantasizing and perversions, our drives to kill anyone who opposes us or stands in our way, decay and aging, and certain death of the body, the ego does its best to deny, just as it does Thoughts of God. To the ego both of these sides to the human existence are equally off-putting. The baser sides of our existence we are taught to keep secret, to never talk about, think about, or admit to other people that yes, we too have human functions that make us feel dirty, stinky, and perverted. No matter how well we clean ourselves up, no matter how we may idolize other human beings – we know on one level that there is a part of us which would kill for a loaf of bread in famine conditions, that our bodies smell like a sewer without our daily baths, that without laws that protect us from each other, it would be an open field day of rape, gangbanging, and pillage. We know this but rarely if ever do we discuss it openly and frankly. It is not subject for polite company, and for good reason, nobody wants to be reminded of the lower side to our natures. But Jesus tells us that the reason we do not want to talk about the baser impulses of our ego bodies is because when we do have to look at them – we can only be repulsed and recognize our need for salvation. So the ego keeps our awareness focused on our pretty clothes, cars, and houses. It keeps promoting the best smelling bath and grooming products, establishing a good self-image. The ego loves to hide itself within the religious, the educated, professionals in the helping professions, creating an us-against-them attitude between classes, races, ethnic groups, and cultures.
What is remarkable is that the ego puts Thoughts of God in the same category as it does its fear and shame over the body. While fear and shame of the body would turn our minds toward God, Thoughts of God naturally liberate our minds from the ego as well. And so the ego works very hard to twist our Thoughts of God into something less dangerous to it. The ego inserts itself into our Thoughts of God. It blames its miscreations on God – thus the story that we have all accepted about the Garden of Eden. We believe that God intentionally set us up for failure; that He made us from dirt; that instead of taking responsibility for His creations, He became wrathful, jealous, and irate; that He cursed nature and set the whole of Creation up for disease, decay, and death. Instead of loving God, which is our natural inclination as Spirit, the ego tempts us to fear Him, to venerate ancient texts that promote misogyny, mass murder, and discrimination.
By perceiving our lower body functions and impulses in the same category as Thoughts of God, the ego attempts to save itself from being exposed for a lie, as it surely is when we learn the truth.
Confusing God with the body is insane, Jesus tells us. The ego’s fear of God is logical, but the ego’s fear of the body takes some explaining because the body is the ego’s home by its own choice. The body’s vulnerability and its basic unholiness is a very good argument that it cannot be loved or cherished by God. The ego promotes this belief with enthusiasm – but the ego hates the body because it is vulnerable and because it does not last. Here is where the ego’s argument for our loyalty and our commitment to it dissipates, because while the ego can tell us that there is no God, or that God is terroristic, or that God has favorites, it cannot offer us anything but the body for protection. And we all know that the body is a poor protector.
This is where the mind goes into a daze. It sinks into a morass of despair for when we ask the ego where it can go for protection, the ego replies “turn to me.” And the mind knows that the ego is the body and therefore there is no point in turning to it for protection. The only solution to this dilemma is what the ego does best – it keeps us caught up in things that do not have any lasting value, it keeps the subject of its vulnerability and its certain death taboo in most human interactions, even in our most intimate relationships.
Jesus tells us we must ask ourselves: “Where can I go for protection?” While many of us seek blindly and desperately for some kind of solace for our terrible vulnerability in the flesh, this need not be! True seeking is consciously undertaken, thoughtfully organized, and mindfully directed. We must set a clear goal; and keep that goal in mind. We all learn best when we believe that what we are trying to learn has value to us.
The ego will offer us all kinds of things to learn, but nothing the ego teaches us has any lasting value. Keeping us preoccupied with insoluble puzzles, theories, and problems is one of the ego’s favorite ways in which to impede our learning progress. Whenever we get thrown off track by a tactic of the ego, we must ask ourselves, “What is this for?” “What is this for?” – when we find other people’s dramas, business, and shenanigans more interesting to us than pursuing our devotional practices and practicing what we learn and teach. “What is this for?” – when we spend hours in front of the television watching people act out meaningless dramas that only distract us from all that does have meaning. “What is this for?” – our obsession with houses, cars, bodies, holidays, social media, and hobbies. We must always ask ourselves, “What is this for?” “What is the purpose?”
Jesus tells us that the purpose we determine will affect our future effort until we change our minds. When we put seeking God first and foremost in our lives, the distractions and the diversions of the ego do not go away. Our bodies are designed to need constant maintenance and replenishment. Our relationships follow suit. Everything we own in this world, seems to own us. Our time, our money, our energy is spent on that which simply does not last.
Jesus understands this! He was here. He was human; He had a body; and He had an ego. He knows what we are up against. Jesus leads us beyond the ego-body. Jesus urges us to commit ourselves to that which is eternal. This is not a one and done kind of salvation; there is no magic in it. We must establish a goal, we must consciously embark upon our journey to God, we must willingly and willfully undertake a thoughtful and carefully organized curriculum, developed and masterfully directed by our wiser, older, most trustworthy brother, Jesus Christ. Created as one with us, Christ welcomes us to join Him in eradicating the reptilian mind from our Identities forever, as we become whole and holy, complete in Him. Christ not only raises the questions that ego will never raise; Christ responds with the means to overcome all our doubts, our fears, and our unease. Let us commit ourselves to His teaching today because His teaching leads to Life. Life everlasting. Let us do what He says to do and not do what He says not to do. Let our future effort be focused upon the one true purpose determined in our hearts today!
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 4 The illusions of the ego. V The ego-body illusion. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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