Definition of the Ego

“I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. (T67)”

1 – Autonomous Ego?

How autonomous the ego seems to be! Yet it is only our own thinking, the part of our thinking that is insane. Insanity is a concept that some of us find hard to imagine; we think that we are thinking clearly. But, in the grip of the ego, we are quite mad. And in not thinking clearer, we give up any hope of Heaven.

2 – Ego Separate?

Is the ego a separate thing? No. We made the ego when we wanted to separate from God and His guidance. We thought that to be independent would give us something that loyalty and love for God would not. But we are never intended to fail to communicate with our Creator. We are intended to share with others, not to be separate and apart. And we will be unhappy as long as we cling fiercely to independence (or try to do so) and avoid God and others in our daily lives.

3 – Ego-Directed Thinking

“. . .[H]ow much of your thinking is ego-directed. . . . We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourself as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or as long as you believe that you are here. (T67)”

4 – Conflict

We do not have to be sorely conflicted, even when the ego is not dead in us. We can turn more and more to the Holy Spirit, letting Him guide our thoughts and actions. If we do not turn to the Holy Spirit, we ask for conflict, for how do we know what to do that will make it all turn out right?

5 – Intuition

If at first we don’t “catch” an intuition, then we can always ask again for advice. Jesus says in ACIM that we always seek advice before taking action, either of the ego or the Holy Spirit. We cannot take action autonomously. And if we are resistant to the advice that we get from the Holy Spirit, it would be wise to wait. If we have already forged ahead, then stop as soon as we can make ourselves, and then follow the guidance as we perceive it. Our perceptions can always lead us astray, of course, but our perception of what the Holy Spirit is saying is likely to be less wrong than is our perception of what the ego says. The ego advises to confuse.

6 – A Part of Your Belief

“The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it. (T67)”

This is the best succinct definition of the ego in A Course in Miracles. “A part of your belief about yourself.” Such a definition removes some of the allure that the ego will continue to have until we have found our way home. It deemphasizes the ego as a major difficulty; it implies that a “part” of belief can be disrupted without too much trouble.

7 – Motivation

Is this true? Can we dissociate ourselves from the ego easily? That depends on motivation (a concept of A Course in Miracles). Jesus seeks to encourage our motivation to learn, and then, through learning, to remove the blocks to love’s awareness. Our guide is the Holy Spirit. ACIM spells out the means.

8 – Another Life

Very reassuring is the statement that we have another life continuing without interruption. This implies that there are parts of ourselves elsewhere, in other dimensions, but this is an interpretation, and A Course in Miracles is not specific about what is meant. We can hope that we have another life in other dimensions, the Self that we have forgotten in this world. Truly this is a great reassurance, and a great cause for giving thanks. We have not lost everything by the tiny mistake that we made when we chose this world of the ego over heaven.

9 – Escape from Illusion

“In learning to escape from illusions, your debt to your brother is something you must never forget. It is the same debt you owe to me. Whenever you act egotistically towards another, you are throwing away the graciousness of your indebtedness and the holy perception it would produce. (T67)”

When we love our brother/sister, we know that we are indebted to him/her for a good life, for we are not in this alone. Others play gigantic parts in what we believe to be our reality. And when we love, we see the good parts of others. We are not blinded by what we imagine, rightly or wrongly, to be their “faults.”

10 – Significant Other

This passage also suggests that our way is in our relationship to our most significant other—as ACIM says, our “brother” (which also includes our “sister”). This is the way of A Course in Miracles, and cementing our relationship to a significant other is how ACIM is saving us time. “Save time,” and “learn what time is for.” These are quotations from ACIM, and we are encouraged to take to heart the truth that time is to bring us closer home, to Awakening, to Heaven on earth. What better way is there to spent time? We need to help others, but we ourselves are limited in what we can do when we are still stumbling about in the shadows. “Love thy brother as thyself” is still operative. But traditional Christian orthodoxy has not always stressed the social gospel. The traditional indicates that we have to get our heart right first before we can make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others.

11 – “Holy”

“The term ‘holy’ can be used here because, as you learn how much you are indebted to the whole Sonship, which includes me, you come as close to knowledge as perception can. The gap is then so small that knowledge can easily flow across it and obliterate it forever. (T67)”

This passage emphasizes the distinction between “perception” and “knowledge.” Perception is our own contribution, and it is temporal. It is also often wrong. Knowledge is of God, and it cannot be effectively imparted to us as long as the ego rules. Miracles are perceptual, and therefore none of them is lasting. But revelation is of God, and is therefore knowledge. Of course, with our limited perspective, we cannot always see the difference between what is happening. We can ask, “Is this my perception or is God granting me knowledge?” Then let one’s heart be the guide.

12 – Knowledge vs. Perception

Knowledge usually comes as an inner process, a sense that, “Yes, this is right!” We are surprised by knowledge, whereas we often reason our way into a perception. Knowledge does not ask for the ego’s analysis, knowing that by definition the ego’s analysis is faulty, inaccurate, incorrect. Ask for knowledge of the Holy Spirit and do not let our mind run amuck with musings about the real state of what we are viewing in the world. Because we will usually be wrong. And we will always be wrong if the ego is, at the moment, in ascendancy.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I deemphasize the ego in my own mind, as I realize the truth of the “part” of me that it is. Something that is only a “part” can be overcome, with Your help, easily.

Thank you for the reassurance that I have a Self that stands above all the doings of this world. I do not understand, but I do not have to understand to be reassured that all is well in Your world.

Amen.

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