“I am conditioning you to associate misery with the ego and joy with your spirit. You have conditioned yourself the other way around. But a far greater reward will break through any conditioning if that reward is repeatedly offered when the old habit is broken. You are still free to choose. But can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.23:1-5)
The ego has never brought real joy; at best, we have had flights of fancy that were high enough in tone that we felt an exhilaration. Then, invariably, we were dashed downward to a sense of depression—mild or severe. These dramas were endless, and so unnecessary now that our knowing has expanded.
Jesus speaks of conditioning in this complete edition of A Course in Miracles, from the Circle of Atonement. The use of the word “conditioning” would make eminent sense to Helen and Bill. And we have enough general knowledge of psychology from everyday life to comprehend as well. What does Jesus mean by this conditioning?
We thought that the dramatic highs that the ego gave us were all that we could expect on earth. We were mistaken. A joyous spirit offers far more. This joy does not become inverted, to dash us downward into depression. This joy extends, more and more, as we are receptive to it.
This joy is often calm, and in the mild manner of it, we may not recognize what we have. Calm is sometimes a factor in depression, and we may even think that, when we are calm, we are depressed. We have much to discover. We are meant, according to A Course in Miracles, to remain “perfectly calm and quiet.” This new demeanor may not even seem desirable. We will see its value as we do quieten ourselves down and invite the Holy Spirit to inform our minds. We will see value when we let ourselves see value.
“Joy with the spirit”! Yes! Our new lives will mean much to us when we have given joy a welcome in our hearts. The ego will fall away, and, if we are careful and do nothing to reinforce it, the ego will never rear its ugly head again. It is not the same ego that Freud championed, a persona that we needed to live adult life. In Jesus’ use of the term ego, he means a false persona.
Let us ask for joy with the spirit today—and every day!