Our life scripts will constantly present a counterpoint to egotism. The individual most puffed up with pride will also be the one most vulnerable to ego-deflating humiliations. The melodrama of life never lets the ego win out, but instead we find it constantly being undone.
We do this. We execute our plan–made before birth–to guide us as swiftly as possible toward Reunion.
I have sometimes been fearful of turning over a problem to the Holy Spirit entirely and decisively (what Catherine Marshall calls “relinquishment”) because in the short term the outcome has seemed painful.
As I think of it, though, it is always pain to the ego, not the real self, and the Holy Spirit cares not at all about soothing my ego; He wants it gone forever, and as quickly as possible.
When I was too scared to relinquish completely, I found the Holy Spirit to be like any good Counselor–willing to work with me in my confusion, willing to take me as far as I would go. I would say to Him, “I will still work with this (i.e., the problem),” and He would abide with me on my slower timetable.
Now I do seek simply to relinquish a problem, knowing that the swift action that ensues is less painful in the long haul—something akin to ripping off a band-aid rather than squeamishly removing it slowly.
I have been too afraid for a long time just to relinquish anything to God, because in the short run I seemed to suffer ego pain when I do.
My biggest problem being that ego, I did decide recently to risk a prayer that the ego just wither away. This time there was no immediate pain. (I had also prayed the coward’s prayer—that I not learn through pain.)
A little later my pride (ego) was wounded at work in several fairly minor ways. This suggests to me that I have let egotistical desires rule in that arena. (After all, years ago I had dreamed, “Going into work means too much to you.”)
I’m doing a fair amount of talking to myself now about what my priorities really are. What I’m trying not to do is to rush to the defense of the ego. Maybe in our imperfect world (and with my imperfect self), the ego must be wounded before it can die.
On self-centeredness: “I am convicted by the fact that I have wasted more mental energy over a fingernail that keeps breaking than in praying for an ease to the suffering of people halfway around the world. Distance in space is an illusion; those people are my own flesh-and-blood, neighbors with whom I share Oneness.
How can I be so obtuse as to cast their troubles out of sight?
Was the fall of man (and woman) fortunate? Do we have to learn what evil is all about, and soundly reject it for the good? I once intuited in a waking dream that someone told me, “Your con-cept of sin is not mature enough.” Did this mean that I only understood the superficialities of “sin”—not the blackness of real evil?
How deep does one have to go into insanity before saying, “Enough!”?
I once knew a man who was not particularly well-integrated. He seemed to advance and then retreat, marshaling his resources for repeated assaults on life. Then he went away, and I didn’t talk with him for a couple of years.
When we met again, he was a changed man—”solid as a rock.” When I asked his secret, he replied with the most powerful sermon I’ve ever heard.
“Prayer,” he said.
One word, but what a difference hearing it has made in my life!
There have been mysteries in my life for which I can never realistically expect answers. Sometime, somewhere, I must have said, “Let’s do this on faith.”
Viewing life events metaphorically is a little straining at times, but it is a highly instructive way to live. In such times, prayer will center and calm one anew.
It could be argued that all our problems stem from flaws in the earthly replay of Heaven’s cosmic drama. How so? Our relationship to our earthly parents forms the basis for our earliest view of our heavenly Parent. As we progress through childhood and the teenage years, we struggle to find our own authority. Usually long before we have resolved that dilemma, we perpetuate the drama by having our own offspring.
All along the way are pitfalls to avoid, too little love, and, oh, so much pain and conflict. Yet in this reenactment God has placed the keys to the Kingdom. Love your way through the life cycle, and you are home.
Before Jesus, the boomerang of karma was the best thing that we had going for us. But I believe karma never worked very well as a corrective device, because it seems to create cause for grievances. It’s a little like thinking that television violence might be cathartic, when it actually promotes more violence.
Maybe people never truly learn by suffering because it doesn’t teach the way of success, the positive way captured by the trite expression, “Nothing succeeds like success.”
On why I can be quite contented with my religiously skeptical husband: “David has been wonderful lately–so considerate. I hope that we can grow ever closer. He doesn’t share my relig- ious life, but at the base of it I’m not so traditionally pious as engaged in a quest to learn how to “live well”–sanely, rationally, in the “real world” (to use terminology from A Course in Miracles).
“There has to be a way to escape all this suffering we undergo as we try to get back on the right track. We need to live the Law of Grace opposed to the Law of Karma. Like David, I’m really rather skeptical and see skepticism (albeit imperfect) as a more intellectually sound position than much of superstition that masquerades as religion.”
I once imagined an internal message that identifies to my mind how the classroom earth works:
“You wanted a world where nothing could go wrong–control.
“I wanted freedom.
“Therein lies the salvation of us all.”
Surely we have wandered away from God, and because we have wandered away, we find correction. We can find correction through pain and suffering or through more benign ways. And in my experience a willingness to try a better way always brings relief.
At my dearly beloved great-grandmother’s funeral, the minister happened to look right at me when he said, “If Miss Ellie couldn’t say something good about somebody, she didn’t say anything at all.” His gaze sharpened the image of this truly saintly lady who always loved the Lord.
My husband David told me much later that this comment was actually Thumper’s mother’s advice from the motion picture “Bambi.” Even the Disney classics can point the way to religious truth. At times the whole world seems shaped to lead us back to God.
Basically, I know I wouldn’t have been shortsighted on the other side in planning my life. I hope I felt the Holy Spirit’s guidance in making my plans. I certainly feel the guidance now in large and small things. The problem is not so much that I lack guidance as that I have sometimes been afraid to follow it, lest my subconscious overwhelm the rational mind. I have upon occasion done objectively irrational things while following a feeling about what I should do next.
The Course says the “partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times.” But the Holy Spirit judges even these foolish things differently from the way we do.
As Emily Dickinson knew, “Much madness is divinest sense.”
From time to time, over many years, I have had dreams of trying to keep an intruder from coming into the door of my apartment or house. The dreams always seemed very immediate because the door visualized was always physically located in my real, current surroundings.
Sleeping late on a Sunday morning, I dreamed that there was a rapping at the bedroom door. Still in the dream, the door opened, and someone came in, but I knew it was all alright.
My husband David asked, “Is that [X] trying to get in?”
“Yes,” I replied, and thought (but did not say), “Don’t worry about it. It is OK.”
Upon awakening, I spontaneously remembered the dream, and immediately interpreted the One at the door as my spiritual Christ. I felt very peaceful. And in the years since, the old version of “keeping somebody out” has never recurred in my dreams.
Postscript: Upon arising, I went downstairs and found the front door unlocked and open, with only an unlatched screen door between the world and me. But in my sleep I had dreamed an peaceful result. A good sign.
An “Eve” mini-drama: One late spring day, I intuited that something major would be shown me. That evening I seemed to be a bit of a different person—experimenting with new hairstyles, trying to find a new personal style, abnormally “up” in demeanor.
In the early part of the night, I awoke with the sense that the “secrets of the universe” might be seen on a visionary screen, and I wondered (briefly) how good that might be before silently but forcefully screaming, “Oh, no!”
Then I hallucinated a hangman’s rope, bound in a knot with nobody’s head in it, the knotted rope freely swinging.
I think I was saying “no” to the apple—the “knowledge of good and evil.” But then I “saw” that nobody would die—the hangman’s noose was empty. Later, I analyzed that this had been Jesus’ part—to make the noose empty. Symbolically, the resurrection has happened for me.
What joy! Likewise, the resurrection has happened for everyone because time, whether 2,000 years ago, now, or in the future, is not a genuine separator of persons. Everyone will be freed in his own right time.