Trying to wake up from the ego with the ego is painful
Trying to wake up from the ego while still having the ego is PAINFUL. We have identified ourselves AS the very ego that we're apparently trying to undo. And even as we take some small steps to undo it, we still retain much of it, and that means all the things we did 'to' it (as it perceives it), we will experience as being done to ourselves. That means we will take all of our attempts to wake up as slaps in the face, like being punched by the truth and attacked by the Holy Spirit.
I remember early on when working with the course especially, the feeling that the Course completely 'ignored' the existence of my ego self, and it sure as hell took that as a kind of huge slap in the face, like being ignored and unacknowledged. That produced suffering.
I also know that early on my understanding of course concepts was too ... unrefined, and full of holes, and too broad, so when I would apply some concepts I would grossly overshoot the mark and come to all kinds of conclusions which was not in alignment with the course. Those false conclusions and implications produced suffering. In particular I remember feeling like we had to 'give up' all of the things we have previously become interested in, like new-age stuff, a love of crystals, healing, various books etc, because - you know, if the world is not real then doesn't that mean we're not supposed to do any of this stuff? And so there was a lot of needless sacrifice, because we did not understand accurately enough.
It's kind of like we are attached to (identified with) this big lump of darkness and we're trying to rid ourselves of it, but at the same time, because we are doing basically both things at once - keeping it and tryin to remove it - we can't help but be in CONFLICT. Some people refer to it as "having feet in two canoes". One canoe seems to pull us one way, the other pulls us another. We want to wake up, but we sure as fuck don't. We want more truth, but we sure as fuck don't. We want to keep doing the Course, but we sure as fuck wish we would just stop the fucking thing. It's always like two steps forward, one step back, and we kind of can't help it.
If we could fully step out of the ego and stay out of it, we wouldn't have this problem. But the problem is we are very attached to it and still believe a lot of what it says. Push me, pull you. We yearn for truth in one direction, then the 'rest of us' pulls us in the other direction.
The ego interprets the truth as an attack. The ego sees the Holy Spirit as an enemy. It absolutely does not want to wake up, and the part of us aligned with it does not want to either. I mean, that's just honestly the case with most of us. We want it, but we don't. And every time we are exposed to some truth, part of us is like - oooo, ahhhh, I love this, I feel so light and happy, and then the other part of us which is holding on to ego is like. .. What the fuck are you doing man, that's totally bullshit, it's offensive, it's hurtful, there is no way you can accept that, you should get away from it.
This is the entire foundation for the 'ego rebound'. It is not just a simple backlash or retaliation. It is the parts of YOU that do not yet want to let go of the ego, even though there seem to be parts of you that do. It's the part of you that still believes you are a body. It's the part of you that truly believes that the ego is telling the truth and is your friend and savior. People DEFEND who they believe is their true savior with great vigor. The viciousness of the ego is entirely justified given how much it believes God is NOT the truth.
So as we take these steps toward awakening, we will continually experience that it is NOT what we want, and that exposing ourselves to light is literally killing us. And everything in us that believes the truth is NOT true, and that God is evil, and that Holy Spirit will destroy us (which can be a huge thing), will kick and scream and resist and run away and try to hide. It does this by RESISTING THE TRUTH. It is a resistance against awakening, but the ego sees it as a resistance against annihilation. To it, it is just self-preservation. It sees its motive as PROTECTION. It thinks it is completely justified and that stupid Holy Spirit should shut the hell up.
This resistance produces defenses, and its main defense is to try to make you even less awake by forcing extra unconsciousness onto you. It wants to dumb you down and numb you to the truth and pull you back into hell. It figures you are SAFER there. So the ego literally applies a kind of 'arrest' on the mind, a restraint, a contraction, a limitation, a blockage, as if you are literally trying to 'get away from' the truth and to withdraw from it into the body. These 'defenses' are what WE call 'sickness'. They are barricades against the truth. We think we NEED them because they are protecting us. We are just scared and confused and think that they serve us and that if we didn't have them, we'd be in danger. So there is no need to think of yourself as guilty for having sickness, it just means that you are confused about what the truth is and you currently are perceiving it as something you don't want. You could ONLY experience it as something you don't want if you are mistaken - ie still believing the ego's interpretation.
As the course says (quoted in earlier post) all sickness is the result of resisting awakening. We want to wake up, but we don't. And if we push ourselves to try to be awake too fast, i.e. before we are truly ready and willing (i.e. we can see clearly enough), we will dig in our heels and try to stop it from happening. That just means we need to take a break and go slower. It's ok to do so.
But the fact remains, trying to wake up is a minefield. We do not understand what it means, we resist it naturally, we think we need protection from it, we attack ourselves to defend ourselves from it, and we come to all kinds of misunderstandings which inflict pain and suffering in our lives. Waking up is therefore not exactly EASY, because we keep ping-ponging all over the place trying to settle on what the truth really is. It's a struggle. It's upsetting. It's painful. And we are bound to make a LOT of mistakes. But we will get there eventually.
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