Hostage to Ego or Host To God?
By Loretta Siani, Ph.D.
“Would you be hostage to your ego or host to God?” A Course In Miracles
Most of us believe that we are responsible for our behavior but not for our thinking. As A Course In Miracles teaches we are first and foremost responsible for what we think, because it is solely at the level of our thinking that we can exercise choice. Think of it this way. We are not our thoughts. We are the ones choosing our thoughts. We are not our minds. We are the ones using our minds. We are not even our bodies. We are the ones using our bodies. We are the invisible, formless, timeless Self behind the scenes, called in Eastern traditions the Witness or the Choice Maker, choosing our thoughts and using our minds.
Think of the mind as a projection camera. The Choice Maker in us is the part of us that chooses the film, otherwise known as thoughts, to run through the projection camera. The Choice Maker can choose to be guided by the thoughts of the part of us that is limited in awareness and rooted in unconscious fears, or by the thoughts of the part of us that is unlimited in awareness and rooted in peace. The thoughts the Choice Maker chooses get projected out through the mind of the projection camera onto the screen, which is the world. Thus the world we experience is a screen reflecting back to us the inner world of the thoughts we have chosen.
Forgetting that this is so, we act as if the world we experience is created by something other than our thoughts or by something outside of us. As a result, when we experience a world that we don’t want, we think it’s the world’s fault. So we try to change the world, instead of changing our mind about the world. I’m not the first person to observe that this is tantamount to shaking our fists at the figures on a movie screen, demanding that the figures respond to us. The world is an illusion that we have created with our thinking. The only way to change the world is to change the way we think about the world. Miracles occur when we make this shift in our perception not when we make demands of the world. Miracles occur as a result of a change of heart. A change of heart reconciles a relationship, turns a boring job into one that has purpose, lifts the attraction off of an addiction, and is the real crucible that changes the world and restores connection with our divine nature. Failing to recognize this is a fundamental error of thinking that keeps us stuck in our old habit patterns.
How is it that we make this mistake? Remember the very nature of consciousness is to separate. In lay terms, consciousness is the ability to differentiate from the whole. The word “consciousness” implies that there is an observer separate from the thing being observed. Consciousness gives birth to separateness and the ability to perceive the material world through the senses. When we’re babies, we become more and more conscious as we learn to separate ourselves from the world around us, name things and talk about them as separate from us. Consciousness requires the ability to hold itself apart and separate itself from what it is observing. Without this ability there is no consciousness. We get into problems, however, when we think that the sum total of who we are is represented by the limited awareness of the observations of the conscious mind. Here’s another way of explaining it.
Think of the conscious mind as the part of us that is inhabited by what psychologists have identified as the ego. The ego uses the faculties of consciousness to define boundaries and maintain a sense of identity and personality. The ego is the part of us that says I’m me and you’re you. This is mine and that’s yours. A strong, balanced ego is necessary for getting along in the world. A weak, imbalanced ego, meaning an over-inflated or under-inflated ego, disconnects us from our true center of power and gets us into trouble in the world.
The Over Inflated Ego:
For example, the over-inflated ego can be said to exploit the faculties of consciousness. In that regard, it perverts the conscious faculty to judge or discern and turns it into being judgmental. This is the ego’s way of protecting its territory and keeping itself separate and special. To sustain its separateness and specialness it thinks it has to compete with others. So it becomes overly competitive. Separateness, specialness and competition also requires being right. So it wants to not only be right, but to prove that it is right. Being right it seeks to control and dominate. To do this it makes demands of others and of life itself. It seeks to get anything and everything it can from life. The more it gets the more it wants and the more demanding it becomes. It wants all the things that never really satisfy such as more money, more power, more adulation more food, more drugs. In A Course In Miracles terminology, its motto is really seek and ye shall not find. Because no matter how much it gets it always wants more. It projects power and satisfaction onto all the things that are outside of it, thus aborting its relationship with its true source of inner power and the true sources of satisfaction in life. The world is full of examples of the so-called rich and famous who chase after power and all the things that never really satisfy, and reach the end of their lives completely isolated, unsatisfied and unloved.
The inflated ego’s thinking is further in error when it perverts the conscious mind’s natural curiosity into suspiciousness and an overly skeptical attitude about life, always asking why and how. It distorts the conscious faculty to analyze and turns it into being overly analytical. The overly analytical, skeptical, inflated ego demands answers and physical proof before it accepts anything and then wonders why it attracts a world that demands the same of it. It erroneously invests its faith solely in the things of this world that can be measured. So it relies strictly on the limited information that it’s measuring devices provide, thus eclipsing itself from the rich resource of imagination, intuition and all that the heart knows. Its behavior becomes stiff and effortful, lacking in grace and a natural spontaneity.
The Under Inflated Ego
Equally disappointing results occur when we choose the thinking of the under inflated ego. The under inflated ego also perceives itself as separate from the rest of the world and powerless over it as well. Out of a buried sense of unworthiness, it twists the conscious mind’s ability to analyze and judge into being highly critical and blaming itself and others for the conditions of its life.
Under the influence of the thinking of the under inflated ego we see ourselves as victims of our heredity, our environment, our culture and our past. Thinking outside conditions that we have no control over, are the cause of our problems, we become bitter and insist that life compensate us in some way. We demand our “rights”. We hold the government, the company we work for, our parents, our teachers, or our significant others responsible for our demise. We are unable to form lasting relationships because we are always demanding our rights and seeking to get our needs met, instead of sharing our love, accepting and honoring our partners and expecting nothing in return.
Consumed with a gnawing sense of unworthiness and lack, the under inflated ego pulls the plug from its real source of power and the invisible, unlimited resources of the higher self. In general, when we choose the erroneous thinking of the under inflated ego the world doesn’t need to hold us back. We hold ourselves back.
The grand mistake of both the inflated and under inflated ego is that it is consumed with self-absorption. Self-absorption ultimately leads to a sense of fear, isolation, and loss. Real freedom isn’t experienced until we get over ourselves and put our focus on something bigger than our selves. When we do this we realize that our problems do not stem from what we are not getting from life but from what we are not giving to it. The less self-absorbed we are and the more aligned we are with the principles of our higher self, of loving, sharing and giving, the more empowered we become.
As we shift our thinking to come from the perspective of our higher mind, a miraculous transformation occurs in us. We begin to see our connectedness to everyone and everything and realize that as we heal ourselves we heal the world. We stop projecting fear and guilt and start extending love and forgiveness. .
Until we make this shift, we cannot manifest our hearts desire. As long as we think we are separate, victimized, deficient, unworthy, need to prove ourselves, or need to get something from the world, we will not be able to manifest miracles. The moment we do this is the moment we abdicate our real power. When we make hearts hosts to God, instead of hostages to the ego, we create a context in which miracles can occur.