Most people have this experience – we could call it schizophrenia – where on the one hand they understand the spiritual truth of pure non-dualism on a mental level; they read these messages and have read and studied A Course in Miracles, perhaps multiple times. That side of them believes in the truth of oneness with Spirit and with God and correspondingly disbelieves in the ego and the reality of the physical world. Yet when it comes to the push and shove of daily life, they seem to live in another world. There appears to be such a split. They ask, “Why, Sanhia, is it so hard for me to live the truth? Why do I know that it is all a dream, and yet take the dream so seriously and get upset and angry, am filled with judgment, pain hurt, fear, and feelings of victimhood. I know it’s not real, but I am still overwhelmed by all of these feelings! Why Sanhia? Why? Can you help me?” I can’t help you because there is no problem here. I hope you are laughing with me now. You are just being human and cannot be expected to be behaving any differently.
There is a term that psychologists use that goes back to Freud called dissociation. Freud also talked about projection, where people assign their own self judgments to others so that they can live with themselves (though probably not so happily). Jesus also told us all about this phenomenon. Dissociation can be described or explained in the following way: you want to change your life, to change your experience of things, to give up all of the pain and suffering and to implement a new plan; but a part of you disconnects from that new plan and does the same old thing. You sabotage your own strongly desired program. The old story simply continues to run your life with all of the old pain and suffering included. Even though you consciously say that you don’t want this, you keep doing it. That is dissociation; that is schizophrenia. In therapy, you have decided on a course of treatment, but you don’t seem to be able to carry it out. In spiritual healing, you decide to listen to Spirit instead of the ego, but the ego keeps running things.
Why would anybody do that? Why would they act against their own self interest? The short answer is, “because the ego made me do it”. A slightly longer version is that it is more comfortable to keep choosing the ego. It could be said that the known devil is preferable to the unknown devil. So far you have all survived while listening to the ego. It may have been painful, but it is familiar. It is comfortable like your old clothes. A big part of you doesn’t want to let go of that. And…what is this unknown? What would you be letting go of the ego for?
Before answering that question, let’s take a giant step backwards. As a child you often felt pretty helpless in a hostile world. Your protection was to build a wall and hide behind it. You didn’t let anybody penetrate that wall. In your private world you were an innocent victim of your parents, teachers, siblings, neighborhood bullies, and whoever else seemed to be more powerful than you. You blamed them for your troubles, and forgiveness was out of the question. The truth behind your wall and behind everybody’s walls was that you were terrified of God. This fear felt too dangerous to face, so you hid it, even from yourself. In this way you could pretend that God would take pity on you and punish those who were so harsh to you. The only problem was that none of that was true. You now have the spiritual awareness of why it wasn’t true and why it ultimately wouldn’t work for you then, or now. But, you also have this habit, and it seems to have kept you alive.
So, you are not just letting go of the ego; you have to tear down this entire wall that has seemed to protect you, though at an increasingly high cost. And what are you getting in exchange? You are willing to give up the pain, the fear, the suffering, the anger, the judgment, and the victimhood. You will also be giving up your personal identity, which is absolutely tied up in all of this. For you to fully release the illusion, you will have to fully release your attachment to your separate identity. This is fertile ground for the ego to grab hold of. Are you sure you are ready to do that? To become One with God and Spirit it is necessary to lose your uniqueness, to lose your sense of self, this sense of you. That is what letting go of the ego entails. What you do then, unconsciously of course, is to keep a foot in each camp. On the one hand you keep your spiritual disciple going through reading, studying, affirming, and asking Spirit for support. On the other hand you keep the other foot firmly planted in the ego’s camp, holding on to your specialness and that of others. So you have your support group of people you judge as specially good and the opposition group which is specially bad. You have special love and special hate. You hold that for yourself as well. You tell yourself all of the things that make you a special person: you are on a spiritual path, you recycle and care for the environment, you are against war, and you try to help the disadvantaged, and so on. You pat yourself on the back for being good. Then your special hate for yourself surfaces and you judge yourself for failing to be perfect with your spiritual practice, for not eating well enough, for losing your temper, for catching yourself judging, and so on. So you bounce back and forth between being so enlightened and being such an asshole who will never get it.
Boy does ego like all of this back and forth crap. If you choose Spirit you have to let go of it all, the special hate and the special love. This is enormous. It is bigger than your separated mind can even hold on to. That’s how big it is. The fear is gargantuan. There is no way that you can survive it. Sanhia! What are you saying? I mean that you as a separated, individual self cannot survive. If you let go of the ego comfort zone and pull that foot out of the game you will leave your personal identity and fall back into the Oneness of God. Sooner or later you will have to do this, but right now you are driving with a heavy foot on the brakes. The only choice you have is for how long and how slowly you want to rip that bandage off. The fear is usually way too big to rip it all off at once. For one thing you have no idea how long the bandage is, nor how many hairs will have to be ripped out. Beyond that, you have no idea what replaces the bandage and the accompanying pain. You know what a separate self feels like, but Oneness can feel like it might be an endless void. You have no conception of what the experience of “no you” is like.
Spirit demands nothing. You will never be forced to come home. Spirit knows that of course you dissociate. Of course you try to maintain your separate self. That’s what humans do. No problem. There is nothing you have to do about it. You are not wrong to continue, nor are you right to stop. But since you do want to listen, Spirit whispers to you to notice that you dissociate. Then Spirit suggests that you have a willingness to look right at the areas where you have a special hate toward yourself or others. If you say to me that you don’t have any hate for anybody, I suggest you are dissociating. It is fear provoking to admit your hate and judgment. Everybody in a body carries hate. It goes with the territory. You hate yourself for separating from God or you project that hate onto God for abandoning you. The fear is that if the hate is exposed, God will punish you. That is an insane thought, expecting something God is not capable of. But, if you pretend it is not there, you can’t deal with it. It remains hidden behind your wall and you stay in the hell of separation. Part of dissociation is pretending you are healed when you are not, pretending that you don’t have a problem. The ego here might suggest to you that since the problem isn’t real, there is no reason to look at it. But, you believe it is real. So, look right at it.
You look at it, not because you have a work that you have to do to transform this fear, but simply in recognition that you have a judgment. Notice that you have this judgment, this anger, this hate; become aware that you feel you are a victim, that you blame this person, that you blame yourself, and on and on. Just be conscious that you are doing that. Bring that to me. Bring that to Spirit. We’ll look at it together. That’s all you have to do. When you look at what is not real side-by-side with what is real, only the truth will eventually remain. The fear will disappear, will evaporate, will be burned away. This is like the second step in the five-step process. Love and fear cannot long occupy the same space. Do this throughout the day. Whenever you notice yourself experiencing any of the aforementioned manifestations of fear and separation, don’t try to hide or ignore what you are feeling or believing. On the other hand, don’t accept it in helpless self hatred. Look right at it and invite me, invite Spirit in at that moment. Ask us to look at it with you. Let go of the judgment and just look with us. This can be called “looking down upon the battlefield”. We will see you acting from this dispassionate viewpoint. We will remind you of your innocence and that you are unconditionally loved. As we watch together, you will become aware that you are the only one judging, and will realize there is no benefit to you from continuing, but plenty to gain from loving yourself. The fear is too great to face alone. Fortunately, you are never alone. You are always welcome to come join with us. Welcome us in. Invite us to gently shake you and to point out when you are dissociating. Allow us to remind you that it is safe to bring those judgments out into the open with us.