RECOGNIZE YOUR EGO MOTIVATIONS
When I feel any negative emotion (or positive ones that stem from the ego for that matter)- whether it’s about the coronavirus, money, my health, or all of those issues combined- that state is simply reflecting the fact that I’ve forgotten who I am. But this isn’t being imposed on us by anything external to us. That is, ‘I am not a victim of the world I see’ (W-pI.31), as the Course so eloquently puts it.
More pointedly, it tells me that I’ve chosen to forget who I am. And while this recognition might not instantly stop me from feeling afraid, I can at least now not take my fear so seriously. I can put it in perspective by realising that it has absolutely nothing to do with what I thought was causing it and, crucially, that it comes from me- specifically, my unconscious split mind.
I can therefore release the ego defenses that I had been employing to convince me that I was a victim; that whatever I’m experiencing is somebody else’s fault. This is what is meant by forgiveness being a process of looking, as opposed to not looking, at what my underlying ego motivations are.
PROJECTION MAKES PERCEPTION
And what are the ego defenses I had been using to keep me mindless and small in the belief that the world was being done to me, and that my problems are being imposed on me? The big one is projection. That is, my desire (as the split mind) to project my unconscious guilt, my secret belief in sin, onto anyone and anything else, including my individual body identity.
The ego’s insane logic begins with the premise that we are sinners because we managed to separate from God. This implies that we have lost our innocence, which its insane logic would have us believe we can magically reclaim by believing we are the weak and innocent victims of forces beyond our control. It needs us to be invested in the idea that we are poor, helpless victims.
It’s for this reason that the ego relishes and grows stronger as we point the finger of blame. Its guiding mantra is: ‘It is _________ (insert anyone or anything) fault.’ It’s this ego defence that we need to be aware of and dismantle, irrespective of how justified our blame may seem to be on the level of the world.
BLAME IS NEVER JUSTIFIED ON THE LEVEL OF THE MIND
As you’re examining your thoughts and feelings then, it would be helpful to notice how much you want to blame others, including yourself, for your circumstances and how you feel. The point is not whether your accusations are justified on the level of the world; it’s to realise that they’re never true on the level of the mind.
The difficulty with this is that our blame often does seem compellingly legitimate in terms of what occurs in the world. If someone punches you in the stomach, they have punched you in the stomach. We couldn’t say that the punch didn’t occur on the level of the world. However, from the Course’s perspective, you would be mistaken if you then generalised that fact to also blame that incident and person for your upset or lack of peace also.
Within the context of the current covid-19 pandemic, you might notice that you’re angry at your government, the political leaders in your country or also those around the world for not doing more to prevent the spread of the virus. Perhaps you’re furious at that person who coughed or sneezed near you without covering themselves appropriately, or for not wearing a mask.
There are likely to be many other factors you’re tempted to blame for the fear, anger or anxiety you feel: the virus itself; people in China who eat the bats and other wild animals from which it seems the virus came from; or the capitalist economy that appears to value profit over people.
However regardless of how valid these factors may be, how culpable they may be within the world, the Course maintains that none of them are the real reason that you feel upset, angry, frightened or anxious. This is where it can get tricky and where we can really see just how radical Jesus’s ACIM teaching is.
I AM NEVER UPSET FOR THE REASON I THINK
While He is not asking you to deny your experiences in the illusory world, i.e. pretend nothing has happened if someone punches you or if you contract a virus, He wants us to recognise that that upsetting thing in the world isn’t the real reason you’re upset. In other words, He doesn’t want you to use anything that appears to happen to you, or in the world, as an excuse to pretend that that’s the true cause of your upset.
As Jesus puts it in Workbook Lesson 5: “I am never upset for the reason I think.” This can also be paraphrased to read: I am never upset for the reason within the world that seems to have caused my upset.
Of course it would be natural to feel angry and upset at someone who punches you, or feel frightened if you got a serious illness. You will also likely need to respond in some way to what happens to you. In the previous examples, you would make perfect sense to get away from the person who wants to physically harm you, or seek medical advice and support when you’re ill.
Jesus just wants you to go deeper to and understand that no matter what occurs, the real reason you’re ever upset is always and only due to a pre-existing metaphysical problem: your unconscious belief in separation.
WATCH OUT FOR LEVEL CONFUSION
While we can and should be held responsible for our actions in the world (level 2), no one and nothing outside of us is ever responsible for our state of mind (level 1). This is a matter of levels that we would do well not to confuse.
What we do and what happens in the world refers to the level of form (level 2), while how you choose to view or interpret things refers to the level of content (level 1). You want to act or respond to issues appropriately in the world (level 2). At the same time, you can and do choose how you think, and the teacher you want to learn from (ego or Holy Spirit) on the level of the mind (level 1).
The individual I think of as myself in the world is not real- the level of form- and therefore can never be a true cause of anything. However, because I’m actually the one mind that imagines this illusory world and individual separate identity, no one but me and me alone, is responsible for, or the cause of, my state of mind- there simply is no one else. There is only one dreamer of the dream and that’s you.
FEAR IS THE SECRET PRE-EXISTING PANDEMIC
Coronavirus or whichever problem I’m feeling fear about, is not responsible for making me afraid even though it seems to be. Rather, I’m choosing to be afraid. The fear pre-dates the situation; meaning the content predates the form. I believed in sin first, fear inevitably followed, I made up and chose the ego as my guide, projected my belief in sin and guilt onto the world, and now I use problems in the world to hide the original, now secret, unconscious fear.
It’s my fearful belief in the separation from God being real and sinful that lurks behind and upholds all illusions. In forgetting that I’m the mind that made-up these false beliefs, I pretend to be a body to hide from this fearful narrative. To bury the actual problem further, I use every problem I encounter as a body, as a scapegoat for my mind’s unconscious decision for fear.
The external problem is not the problem- the problem is my choice for and attraction to the ego thought system, which masks the fear of God that arises from my belief in sin. And it is this that I don’t want to remember. This is the purpose behind our ego-based feelings and thoughts. They distract us from, and hide from awareness, the real, and scarier problem- our belief that we’re sinners who successfully separated from God, who we now fear will surely punish us.
The coronavirus pandemic is not the real pandemic. The real problem is the secret pandemic of fear that we always live in while we believe we are separate from God. In a practical sense, this state of separation is reflected in our experience here, whenever we are not actively choosing the Holy Spirit or Jesus as our Guide.
WHO YOU PRETEND TO BE VS WHO YOU REALLY ARE
This failure to remember the reality of my oneness with God, this failure to join with the Holy Spirit through my practice of forgiveness, is the real cause of my fear, anger, worry, upset, grief, discomfort—you name it.
A part of me- the insane part allied with the ego- wants me to be afraid, wants me to feel angry, wants to pretend I’m weak and powerless and someone I’m not. I’m not this body identity.
I’m the Holy Son of God who has nothing to do with the false smokescreen of a world. But I use the world and all the problems in it to distract myself from my secret false beliefs that maintain the underlying fear beneath all illusions. The external reasons are mere shadows; the myth of separation is played out on the world stage, giving symbolic form to my pre-existing belief in separation, sin, guilt and fear protected by my ego-ruled, wrong-mind.
FOCUS ON THE SAMENESS OF CONTENT NOT THE DIFFERENCES OF FORM
In truth there is no virus just as there is no world or the individual self that we identify with. The problem is our belief in the separation from God, enshrined by the ego as sin. The consequent guilt and fear of punishment that this engenders on an unconscious level is on a scale we simply cannot fathom or access directly. So instead of being consciously aware of the original yet hidden problem, we’re abundantly aware of the shadows it gives rise to- the problems in the illusory world of form.
Apart from the countless and differing forms the original problem hides behind, we can also helpfully access the content behind the form by consciously exploring our thoughts and feelings that appear to arise in response to the world. This is why forgiveness involves looking directly at our thoughts and feelings and tracing them back to their appropriate metaphysical category, in terms of whether they were motivated by the wrong or right mind.
By noticing that whatever is happening right now is not the real problem, we regain our sense of control over what really matters- the way we see things. This in turn changes how we feel.
*This concludes part 3 of the 4-part series titled, ‘The Course on the Coronavirus.’ Please click on the arrow below to continue reading the fourth and final part in the series.