Last week, I did a class on a central aspect of transcending the ego—the realization that we are not on our own. To set this up, I defined the ego as “the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own” (T-4.II.7:4). What does it mean to believe you are on your own? A dictionary definition defines it as “Alone; by oneself; without the companionship or assistance of others.” In actual usage, I think “without the assistance of others” is really front and center. “On your own” means that you have to fend for yourself.
The belief that you are on your own leads to a whole series of debilitating symptoms:
- You feel alone and therefore lonely.
- You feel small, weak, and of little worth.
- You feel vulnerable to a larger world; you feel unsafe.
- Believing that you are not cared for, you have to care for yourself.
- You feel vulnerable to your own mistakes and sins.
- As a result of all of the above, you carry a huge load:
- You carry the past—all the offenses committed against you and by you.
- You carry the present—deciding what you should do and then spending the energy to do it.
- You carry the future—trying to anticipate and control it.
As a result, the overall mood of all who believe they are egos is fear, or perhaps more accurately, anxiety. Being on your own means being constantly unsettled, forever anxious.
The solution, of course, is realizing that we are not on our own, that God is with us. He is here, giving us His companionship and His assistance.
You can see the Course very consciously trying to correct for all of the painful symptoms of believing that we are on our own. Indeed, we can find Workbook lessons that directly target each and every one of the symptoms I listed above:
I am not alone and have no cause for loneliness; God is with me
- Lesson 41. God goes with me wherever I go.
- Lesson 222. God is with me. I live and move in Him.
I am not small and weak, and I have untold worth; God created me as His beloved Son
- Lesson 191: I am the holy Son of God Himself
- Lesson 224. God is my Father, and He loves His Son.
I am not at the mercy of an unsafe world; God’s protection surrounds me
- Lesson 261. God is my refuge and security.
- Lesson 47. God is the strength in which I trust.
- Lesson 76. I am under no laws but God’s.
- Lesson 264. I am surrounded by the Love of God.
I don’t have to care for myself; God cares for me and sustains me
- Lesson 348. I have no cause for anger or for fear, for You surround me. And in every need that I perceive, Your grace suffices me.
- Lesson 50. I am sustained by the Love of God.
I am not vulnerable to my own mistakes and sins: I will always remain as God created me
- Lessons 94, 110, 162. I am as God created me.
- Lesson 326. I am forever an Effect of God.
I do not have a huge burden to carry; I can rest on God’s everlasting Arms
- Lesson 109. I rest in God.
I don’t have to carry the past; God has wiped away the past
- Lesson 293. All fear is past and only love is here. (This lesson explains that “all my past mistakes” are gone because “Love remains the only present state, whose Source [God] is here forever and forever.”)
I don’t have to carry the present; God will guide my present actions
- Lesson 49. God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.
- Lesson 155. I will step back and let Him lead the way.
- Lesson 233. I give my life to God to guide today.
- I don’t have to carry the future; I place the future in God’s Hands
- Lesson 194. I place the future in the Hands of God.
If you read each one of these headings to yourself, you can perhaps start to get a sense of the overall mood of being without the belief that you are on your own. That mood is, quite naturally, the opposite of the ego’s mood of anxiety and fear. It is a mood of deep rest and peace, which is probably captured best in this beautiful line from Lesson 109, “I rest in God”:
In Him you have no cares and no concerns, no burdens, no anxiety, no pain, no fear of future and no past regrets. (W-pI.109.5:1)
That kind of rest is far deeper than mere relaxation. It is the antidote to our entire condition of constant anxiety, the anxiety that inevitably comes with the belief that we are on our own.
There is a cost of being rid of this anxiety, however. It is the cost of accepting dependency and even subordination. This state of profound rest only works if we can trustingly rely on a Power greater than ourselves, a Power that we turn to and give way to. Indeed, our rest can only be truly complete if, when it comes to our own being, God has all the power and we have none. For experience has surely taught us that, if we have the power to screw ourselves up, we will. There is great safety, then, in accepting that our mistakes are forever powerless to enter the inner sanctum of our being; that in that inner sanctum, God’s Love has all the power.
To lay hold of this safety, then, we must adopt a genuine humility. We must acknowledge that we are the created and that we have a Creator. This acknowledgment goes against the very core of the ego, with its urge to elevate itself above everyone, even God. Yet going against the core of the ego is exactly why this is the cure for the overall mood of the ego.
For me, much of the practice of the Course has become noticing that I am in that pervasive state of anxiety and then flipping the switch over to that state of rest. I have a long way to go in learning to fully flip that switch, but without the Course I would be nowhere. For it has taught me the methods for doing so, and just as importantly, it has taught me that I have a God-given right to do so.
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]