How have you been affected by Robert’s recent exposés on Jesus’ comments about Edgar Cayce and Bill, specifically about their egocentricity and grandiosity (Cayce) and narcissism (Bill)––all of which seem to be forms of arrogance? (Robert summarized all this in his recent blog about the “egg-and-spoon race.”) Moreover, now that you know about it, are you noticing yourself exhibiting this deadly foursome in yourself and in your teaching?! How easy or challenging has it been to acknowledge it?
I feel as if I’ve been hit right between the eyes with this material (which, because I’ve been referring to it so often, I’ve taken to calling, ENGA: egocentricity, narcissism, grandiosity, and arrogance!) I never thought that I was any of these things in my ministry, but this material has made me take an honest look at myself and has shown me that indeed I am. It’s had a sobering effect on me. It’s so obvious that it’s impossible for me to be a truly helpful teacher if I’m self-absorbed!
Just to make sure I notice them and realize the extent to which these elements do operate in me, it seems as if Jesus has been drawing my attention to them left, right, and centre! Here are just a few examples of what I’ve seen as references to them both in the Text and in the Manual:
Selfishness is of the ego, but Self-fullness is of the spirit, because that is how God created it. (T-7.IX.1:4)
I’ve been struck by the role of egocentricity and grandiosity in helping others, demonstrated by Cayce’s inability to say “no” to requests for help and by his “need” to sacrifice in order to feel worthy. For my part, I have a tendency to think that it’s all up to me, to overdo, to work hard, to volunteer when I know I can’t really handle one more thing; and this material has shown me that, although it looks like I’m such a good, caring, hardworking teacher and really do have a deep desire to be truly helpful, I am often operating out of the selfishness of the ego, rather than the Self-fullness of spirit. That “selfishness” word has been working away at me, putting me in touch with its presence in me, which I had not seen as clearly before, and definitely not in relation to my teaching.
The real basis for doubt about the outcome of any problem that has been given to God’s Teacher for resolution is always self-doubt. And that necessarily implies that trust has been placed in an illusory self, for only such a self can be doubted. This illusion can take many forms. Perhaps there is a fear of weakness and vulnerability. Perhaps there is a fear of failure and shame associated with a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps there is a guilty embarrassment stemming from false humility. The form of the mistake is not important. What is important is only the recognition of a mistake as a mistake.
The mistake is always some form of concern with the self to the exclusion of the patient. It is a failure to recognize him as part of the Self, and thus represents a confusion in identity. Conflict about what you are has entered your mind, and you have become deceived about yourself. And you are deceived about yourself because you have denied the Source of your creation. If you are offering only healing, you cannot doubt. If you really want the problem solved, you cannot doubt. If you are certain what the problem is, you cannot doubt. Doubt is the result of conflicting wishes. Be sure of what you want, and doubt becomes impossible. (M-7.5-6; emphasis mine)
When we read this in our Manual Reading Program class, we were really affected by it, especially by the idea that all our self-doubt as teachers/healers of God is because we are concerned about ourselves to the exclusion of our students/pupils/patients. I don’t remember sitting through a session or class where some element of concern for what I was going to say, how I was going to really help this person, or how helpful I was, didn’t enter in in some way, however slightly or momentarily. At times, I have doubted whether or not I could truly help a person or whether he or she would be able to receive what I was giving.
Do you not think the world needs peace as much as you do? Do you not want to give it to the world as much as you want to receive it? For unless you do, you will not receive it. If you want to have it of me, you must give it. (T-8.IV.4:1-3)
When I encountered this as I was preparing for our Text Reading Program class, I couldn’t help but see what Jesus was saying in the context of ENGA. Of course I wanted peace for the students in my class; there was no doubt about that. But, if it really came down to it and I had to choose, I had to admit that I would choose peace for myself. Of course I want everyone else to have it, but foremost in my mind is “my” peace––as if there could even be such a thing!
After reading and reflecting on that, I started to say to people, “______________, I want your peace as much as I want mine.” I was amazed at the shift I felt, and almost immediately. Just admitting my self-centredness and countering it lifted it. It’s as if some deep and dark secret has finally been let out of the closet.
Contrary to finding this material depressing, and condemning myself for the presence of ENGA in me, I am feeling heartened and light. A huge chunk of darkness has been exposed by Robert’s bringing us this material to look at in relation to our own lives, and now it can be shone away. I am actually catching myself when I start to slip into ENGA and even chuckle about it: “Here I go again!”
This is just a variation on that supreme example of ENGA that made us think we could separate from God and then caused us to dream up a whole existence in which we could get to be egocentric, narcissistic, grandiose, and arrogant all the time! And it can be so subtle, masquerading as something honourable; for instance, as humility, self-sacrifice, or being responsible and truly caring. But as the earlier Manual reference says, “The form of the mistake is not important. What is important is only the recognition of a mistake as a mistake” (M-7.5:8). If that initial mistake was wrong, then it’s wrong now. Recognizing it allows us to decide to relinquish it, so that it can be replaced by Self-fullness of spirit and a true and unified desire to be truly helpful and wholly harmless and to trust the action of spirit working in and through us!
This is such important material. I hope that you will share your reactions to it, as well as how you see ENGA manifesting in your teaching.