Our traditional definitions of what the ego IS, may need a rethink, based on what it ACTUALLY says in the course.
Interestingly, the course tells us that we have a SPLIT mind.... and that this division - which IS THE SEPARATION - has produced what seems like TWO selves. And yet it does not say that either of these two selves is the ego.
"And these two halves appear to represent a split within a self perceived as two."
"In a split mind, identity MUST seem to be divided."
"It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its ONLY purpose is to KEEP THE SEPARATION GOING."
"***The Separation is merely another term for a split mind.***"In a way, it more accurately uses "ego" to describe the effort WITHIN the split itself, to perpetuate and increase the separation.
Kind of like an "agent of separation" working to magnify the division or increase the gap between the two halves.It also tells us that the split ITSELF needs to be undone, so that the two parts of mind REUNITE as one mind. Because BOTH parts of mind MUST BE REINTEGRATED.
"They had already split their minds, and were bent on further dividing, rather than reintegrating. ****The levels they introduced into their minds turned against each other****, and they established differences, divisions, cleavages, dispersions, and all the other concepts related to the increasing splits which they produced."
This has absolutely nothing to do with getting rid of the second portion of mind in order to "heal it", and in fact destroying part of mind is the GOAL of the separation. Healing is entirely to do with undoing the SEPARATION BETWEEN the parts of mind.
So the question then arises, where does the EGO come into it, or the idea of a false self?
Because in truth, the separated off second part of mind, IS NOT the ego. That second portion of mind is to be KEPT AND HEALED and REINTEGRATED with the first part. So we can't say that this second portion IS the ego.
We could more accurately say, that it is the DIVISION ITSELF which is ego. The division is what seems to arise, when there is a SEPARATION, which means there is an INEQUALITY. You can only have a seeming separation, in which there seem to be "two things", when there is something DIFFERENT about each of those things.
This difference, a kind of rift or inequality, produces a kind of "territory" in-between the two parts, a fence around a part of the mind, where we could say that it is "in between" the two parts, or is what defines the two parts as being distinct from each other. And we could call this inner seeming territory the GAP or the SEPARATION. Indeed, we can accurately call it SPACE TIME!
This separation GAP, which is kind of like the "pit of hell", seems to come in BETWEEN the parts of minds, which now appears to be inner and outer, or associated and dissociated parts of mind.
In fact, one part of mind then seems to be on "this side" of physical matter (e.g. inside the brain), while the OTHER HALF of mind seems to be BEYOND "the granite block of sin" or "the veil" that is physical matter - the illusion of separation. This is why you have to overlook (forgive) physical matter and see the face of christ BEYOND it, in order to REJOIN WITH the other half of yourself.
The part of mind you associate WITH, you believe is your whole self, which is the sunbeam believing it is the sun. While the sun is the metaphor for the REST of the mind, or the whole of mind.
The body, for example, becomes a SEPARTION DEVICE, which comes BETWEEN the associated part of mind, and the dissociated part of mind. It stands between you and your brothers, as do all forms and bodies, like a literal physical wall. It symbolizes our separateness, or rather, the separation between you and the rest of you.
But then the question then arises, where or what is the EGO?The course says that the WORLD is the symbol of the separation, and the BODY is the symbol of the ego. This almost suggests, and perhaps it does, that separation in general is not quite the same thing as EGO.
Through separation, we split the part of the mind which is in heaven from a part which seems to be in hell, just as we split the part that seems to be housed in a body from the part that seems outside of it. You could say that separation is a vertical split, while ego/body is a horizontal split. It's almost like saying that the ego is a symbol of separation INSIDE the world, which is itself a symbol of separation. Making the ego twice removed or "within" the realm of separation.
Either way, ego or egotism, is defined in the course as SELFISHNESS. It is synonymous with specialness, uniqueness, differences, favoritism and inequality. Why would we say that this places ego INSIDE the portion of mind that is in the body, and not the part outside? Perhaps because as ego condenses and possesses and claims exclusive ownership for itself, it tends to partition itself off and contract into a specific location in spacetime. Thus ending up AS or IN a body.
We can also though say that the WORLD, is the ego thought SYSTEM. That the whole system of ego thinking, based on differences, visualizes the physical universe. This would associate ego with the entire "realm" of separation ie separateness.
It's important to realize though, that ego is really something that comes BETWEEN, and emphasizes SEPARATION. It tries to INCREASE separation. It also thus increases inequality. So regardless of "where" we try to locate it, it is very much tied to the notion of separating. It might even be valid and useful to relate ego to the idea of "the devil", an attitude WITHIN THE SPLIT, that operates as active thought WITHIN the idea of separation, to lend reality and value to the separation.
Similarly the body, when it is made to be sick, doesn't simply testify that its host is sick, but that the body is trying to attack BOTH the host AND its brothers. "Sick bodies remain accusers". They are attempts to be contagious and to destroy others. So the sickness is bi-directional. Or in other words, the sickness is acting like a SEPARATION. And this happens when the body is being used AS a separation device. ie the more you emphasize the body as a SEPARATING WALL BETWEEN you and others, the sicker it becomes.Either way, for me, I'm finding it makes a lot more sense to think of ego simply as the same thing as SEPARATION in general, rather than thinking of it as ONE SIDE of a separation, or ONE PART of mind, or ONE OF the two "selves" which are formed BY separation.
Ego will in fact play BOTH SIDES of the separation. It takes positions on both sides of every conflict. Because ego is the idea of SELF DENIAL, and therefore self destruction. So it is literally against itself and is the idea of suicide. It has no interest in who WINS any kind of fight or competition, only that both sides are attacking and increasing the inequality and separation between them. It doesn't care how the game of death is played so long as you're playing it.
The thing to realize then is that if ego IS separation, and separation entirely depends on INEQUALITY, then the restoration of perfect equality causes ego to vanish. In fact, since ego is illusion or a shadow, a fake appearance, or a sense of a LACK OF light as in darkness, this lack is based on inequality. ie that one thing lacks what another has. And without this lack, there can be no ILLUSION OF the ABSENCE OF what the other part has. And so as you approach equality, you simply phase out separateness and erase differences, thereby completely undoing ego. And there is no ego AT ALL in an equal state.
To me this makes metaphysical and logical sense. It makes less sense to me, and perhaps is not even supported by the course, to say that ego is some kind of separate person, or ONLY the separate person, or one half of mind, or a made-up self.
The course does refer to a false self and a false self image, but this false sense of self is kind of a side effect of the division BETWEEN parts of mind. This separation - the split mind - results in both parts of mind being seemingly lacking or diminished. The half you associate with maybe takes on more of a sense of "artificial identity" - artificial identification or association. While the other half seems to become unconscious.
But really in the big picture, when you look at it, Jesus essentially just describes "the separation from God" and its undoing through atonement. It describes separation as synonymous with dissociation and the splitting of mind into two parts. So the undoing of this split, the removal of separation BETWEEN the parts, undoes the separation and restores the WHOLENESS of the mind. The unification or oneness of the mind.
One thing to bear in mind though is that in fact, in a split minded state, we do tend to DISSOCIATE a large portion of mind. The part of mind we DO associate with, which seems to be experienced as WITHIN us or inside the body or inside the bounds of its container, looks upon the other split-off part as "outside" of itself.
And this tends to project it and place it external to the body, which it identifies as symbolizing the "perimeter" of itself, making it easy to ASSOCIATE the second half of mind with other bodies. This leads to the effortless CONFUSION WITH other bodies, associating this other half of mind WITH other bodies, and thus believing other people are "where the sin is" or are "who the enemy is".
This then leads to our continued efforts to DESTROY this other half of mind, labeling it as the home of sin and guilt, projected externally, bound to others, as if accusing THEM of our own sin. "You but accuse your brother of your own sins". You then attempt to correct what seems to you to be "them", when in fact it is the OTHER PART OF YOURSELF that you are attacking.
This is especially true on another level as well, in that your brothers ARE you, in a oneness kind of way, and attacking them DOES also attack you. So as you split off part of your mind and label it "not me", by DISSOCIATING from it, you tend to split off the part that is IN YOUR BROTHER or one with Him. And so you then tend to target YOUR BROTHER as the home of sin and guilt.
But all the while, this is all still happening INSIDE the totality of your whole mind. One part of your mind is at war with the other part. And it is by INTEGRATING BOTH PARTS, which results by UNDOING THE SEPARATION BETWEEN THEM, that restores the mind to health and wholeness. In addition to reawakening your awareness of the whole of your identity. Kind of like large "dormant" parts of mind coming online - coming into awareness, because they are no longer hidden behind walls.
What this tells you ultimately is that your egotism is an attempt to REJECT. And ACIM confirms that the separation was an act of REJECTION. And through rejection you rejected God's will and your self and your brothers, simultaneously rejecting the part of your mind which is ONE with and IN them. So it is through acceptance, the undoing of denial, that you are restored to awareness of the whole of yourself, one with your brothers and God.
Ego, or egotism, or selfishness, or specialness, or idol worship, or special relationships, or valuing illusory treasures, or elevating the body etc, is all different ways of EMPHASIZING DIFFERENCE, which is a primary ego function of INCREASING SEPARATIONS. Its only goal is to INTENSIFY the separation, to make you believe you are MORE separate, and to SPLIT your mind further.
All of the egos activities are so fully fixated on this "increase in separation", that you really can equate the two things. Ego is far less some kind of sneaky little devil entity hiding in the mind, and more of a SABATEUR, coming BETWEEN you and your brothers, interfering with relationship, breaking down communication, and trying to SPLIT YOU IN HALF.
You become more split as you REJECT. You become less split as you INTEGRATE. You become more split as you attack. You become less split as you JOIN. You become more split as you hate and hurt. You become less split as you love and heal. And it is really the RIFT between YOUR OWN PARTS OF MIND, that you are working on healing.
One part of your mind you see as an EXTERNAL VICTIMIZER, and another part as an INTERNAL VICTIM. The internal victim puts on "the face of innocence", while the external victimizer puts on the face of evil and sin and death. The secret of salvation tells you thus that your DISSOCIATED part of mind SEEMS to be attacking the ASSOCIATED part of mind. The "outer" self, is attacking the "inner self". And this takes place by backward perception ie the reversal of cause and effect - being at the effect of the "world."
But the truth is you are NOT at the effect of THE WORLD, you are at the effect of the part of your MIND that you have ASSOCIATED WITH the world, projected onto it. It is not some other person who is willing against you, it is YOU using your will AGAINST your own will, in a war against yourself. And this is all happening WITHIN YOU. Inside your mind.
So now you have to realize that the externalized "not me", really IS YOU. It is part of your mind ACTING AGAINST the rest of your mind. And this happens because you have a divided will, due to the SPLIT. It's like having two heads or two conflicting opinions in the same mind. You have to find a way to bring these two parts together into the light. And there you have to see the SEPARATION BETWEEN THEM disappear, so that the two parts are reintegrated as ONE.
This never involves the destruction of MIND or any part of mind. Mind is permanent. All it involves it the removal of EGOIC ATTITUDES,, which produce SEPARATION. The undoing of the separation from God is what atonement and forgiveness is all about. And once YOUR MIND is no longer split, you CANNOT BE ATTACKED.
In fact, it is SO clear that you need to reintegrate the dissociated parts of mind, and that these parts of mind are YOUR ONLY ENEMY, that once you realize that EVERY form of attack against you IS COMING FROM YOURSELF.... playing the part of an INDIRECT victimizer, you realize that you can be FREE from suffering forever if you will stop attacking yourself.
"I can be attacked by nothing but my thoughts."
"It is but myself I crucify."
"Secret of salvation" .... "you are doing this to yourself."In this realization, that the externalized part of mind is WITHIN your mind, and the OVERLOOKING of the "differences" between the parts of mind, which results in UNIFICATION or reunion, you heal the mind's SPLIT and restore its sanity. And this means taking full responsibility for being the one who has been doing everything to you.
This sets you free because it acknowledges you have NEVER suffered except by YOUR OWN hand. No one, nor the world, has EVER attacked you. Every form of suffering has been self inflicted. And it has only EVER been YOUR MIND'S DIVIDED STATE that has produced illusions of suffering. You CANNOT suffer, without a split mind. This is also why it's true that everyone is SELF-destructive in this world.
"The guiltless mind cannot suffer." Nor can it be sick, or attack, and NOR does it use the body FOR attack, OR as a separation device. And this heals the body and guarantees its health. So the healing of the SPLIT in YOUR mind is ALL you have to do. This is what it means by accepting atonement FOR YOURSELF. Which has NOTHING to do with other people, until you share and express it. And in the atonement, the ego - the SEPARATION - is erased.