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The Inner Voice

Excerpts from the Seminar held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Temecula CA

Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


Part VII
"The Voice for God"

Q: Why do I feel that I do not have two choices? I feel that I have one choice, and it is a conscious choice when I am thinking about asking the Holy Spirit for help or bringing the darkness to the light. I do not feel as though I am making a choice to be an ego, but that I am just always in ego.

A: That is our experience, but when you are aware of bringing your ego thought to the Holy Spirit, the "you" that is aware of doing that can no longer be the ego. That is the decision-making part. That is why looking at the ego with the Holy Spirit or Jesus is so healing. The part of us that is looking at our ego can no longer be fully identified with the ego, or we could not look at it. The ego will never look at itself. When you look at the ego with the Holy Spirit then you realize what the ego is up to and that it is all made up. When you look at the ego with the ego it is anything but made up—it seems very real. That is when you feel guilty, angry, depressed, hopeless, impatient, etc. That is how you know that is not looking. When the Course talks about looking it almost always is talking about right-minded looking.
Being in one's right mind, the goal of our work with A Course in Miracles, really means being in one's wrong mind but looking at it without judgment. So we watch what our ego does, but no longer feel guilty about it, and no longer indulge it or justify it. We are able to step back objectively and say, yes, I became afraid again and that is what I do when I become afraid: I attack myself, I attack another person; I fall asleep; I overeat; I get sick. But I can watch myself do it.

The "I" that is watching is really the decision maker having joined the Holy Spirit, thereby being in his right mind, which means that when the decision maker is in his right mind, he becomes an observer. That is an operational definition of being in one's right mind. It is being an observer. The line I like to quote in this regard is at the end of Chapter 23 where Jesus says: "Who with the Love of God upholding him could find the choice of miracles or murder hard to make?" (T-23.IV.9:8). The Love of God upholding us is the love to which we go. We go with our thoughts of murder and we look at them objectively, which means looking at them from the perspective of the miracle. Then we say we do not want to do this anymore, or we say: obviously I do want to do this, but at least I know what I am doing, and I now understand why I am doing it, the purpose behind it, which is that I am too afraid of choosing the voice of the miracle. I am much more comfortable with the choice of murder, whether it is murder of myself through my guilt and self-hate, or the murder of another person. At least then I know what the story is. At least I know who I am. Most importantly, at least I am in control. In the presence of love one is not in control. And we all desperately need to be in control.

We are all control freaks! We usually attach that label to specific people, but everyone is a "controloholic" because that is how we survive. We control the world around us. Sometimes we do it through what we call love and kindness, which is a way of manipulating other people; other times we do it through hate and judgment. But we know how to control the world around us to get what we want so that we are not hurt. That is why everyone has control issues.

This is not an overnight process—it is not the easiest thing in the world to let go of one's ego. In principle, though, we are letting go of nothing, and what could be easier than letting go of nothing? Yet, as I have been saying, the problem is that we do not think it is nothing. Remember, the ego is this self. When I look in my bathroom mirror every morning I see a self, a person. And that is just the start of the day! Then our whole day is built on this identification with a self. That is what tells us we are not ready to let go of the ego, and that is why it is a process—not because it has to take a long time, but because our fear of love is so great, which is what resistance is.

Remember too, that one of the characteristics of God's teachers is patience (M-4.VIII). In discussing this Jesus says that what enables us to be patient is being certain of the outcome. Therefore, what is helpful as you work with this course over time—even as you are aware, sometimes painfully so, of your identification with your ego—is also knowing that you will get there. You are at least aware now of why you choose what you choose, and you are aware that there is another way, which is a big step. You are also aware that you are not quite ready to go there yet, but at least you know there is an end to the ladder. You know there is a ladder; you know you are on the right ladder with the right teacher. And you know what the top of the ladder is: the real world, and beyond the real world is Heaven, when the whole ladder disappears. You know you are on the bottom rungs, and are glad to be on the bottom rungs, because you are not ready to move up. But at least you know what the process is and you can be patient with yourself.

Another characteristic is gentleness (M-4.IV). You can be gentle with yourself because you know that the outcome is certain, and you know that Jesus is not going to push you or pull you. He is not going to embarrass or humiliate you. He will help you to the extent that you are ready to be helped. And that is very, very comforting. That will not only help you be gentle and patient with yourself, it will help you be gentle and patient with other people because you will realize everyone is in the same boat; everyone is on the same rung of the ladder. This course is written for little children, not for grown-ups—it is not written for spiritual adults. That is why throughout Jesus calls us children, babies, and infants—he knows his audience. And so what is important is to accept who we are, because only then can Jesus help us grow to become who he is.

I often quote the line that says, "Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality" (T-16.VI.8:1). This means that before you lose your self you become a right-minded self. In other words, you do not walk into the bathroom and no longer see an image in the mirror. You still see an image, but what happens over time as you make your way up the ladder is that you see an image that is less angry, less fearful, less anxious, less depressed—and one that is kinder, gentler, happier, etc.

The decision maker does not go until the very end, when you make the choice once and for all for the Holy Spirit. That is the real world. At that point everything is gone. But that does not happen until you are fully comfortable with that state. And what gets us there is not the obliteration of the self but the transformation of the self from a wrong-minded, angry, judgmental, guilt-ridden, depressed self, to a right-minded self that is kind, gentle, forgiving, happy, etc.

Finally, it is not helpful to think about how many steps you may still have to take. Just deal with where you are, because the ego's trap is always to have you worry about the future: This is such a huge process and the ladder is so immense, I will never get there! To take thoughts like those seriously just makes the whole ego thought system real. You can let go of the ego thought system in an instant. Therefore, your focus should only be on what you are feeling and experiencing right now. To do anything else is to fall into the ego's trap. The whole idea of A Course in Miracles is to have us choose the holy instant more and more until it becomes the only choice. At that point, it stops being a choice and the journey is over.

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