So, the thought system is the primary tool of the ego. As much as I have probably read this, it didn’t really lock into place until I saw a quote from Ramana Maharshi: “If the mind remains in the heart, the ego, which is the source of all thoughts, will go, and the Self, the Real, eternal “I” alone will shine.” And another from Wei Wu Wei: “Truth is that which lies in a dimension beyond the reach of thought. Whole mind has no ‘thoughts’, thoughts are split mind.”
This helps me understand the effectiveness of meditation to an even greater degree. Meditation is for actively seeking Truth, beyond the world of thoughts and separation. The reason for mindfulness is to pay attention to thoughts that arise and allow them to pass benignly instead of unconsciously allow them to choose the mood of the day. One of the reasons for “returning to breathing” during daily life is to bypass the thought system of the ego. This is also the reason for concentrating on the current task fully.
The thought system of the ego is an entity all its own and sees itself as separate from God and others. I’m starting to believe that the thought system is the ego. Its purpose is creating and maintaining separation. The way it does this is with thought. It is this thought that brought the world of chaos into being. This world was made for separation. When I have paid attention to what the thought system would tell me, I am always surprised that it is only interested in superiority, inferiority and separation.
It’s strange that we’re so used to a way of experiencing this world that is so completely upside-down. The thought system is not only allowed, but taught and reinforced constantly. As babies, we learn this method of approaching life through punishment and reinforcement. In school, the system is perfected using the very same, if more advanced, methods. By the time we are school-age, we fully believe in fear, separation, loss, suffering, idols, lack, sickness, and specialness, all at the expense of truth…and joy.
I really thought it would be easier trying to dismantle the ego, which is what ACIM and ACOL are for. But the ego has a lot of momentum and a lot of weapons, most of which are far too subtle for me to recognize. The ego-system is extremely complicated, which is in direct contrast to truth, which is simple; and knowing when the system is chugging along without hindrance is not so easy. I am used to the way the ego-system works. I am used to the thoughts running through my head ceaselessly. But knowing that the thought-system is the main tool of the ego is helpful. If I can only become mindful enough to pay attention to what the thoughts are, I think that might be a huge step. I’m not sure if that will help tame the system, though. It seems like you have to keep reminding yourself what is true and what is not over and over and over and over just to begin to get an inkling of what’s really going on. Exercises like meditation and counting breath are quite helpful. Also, engaging fully in a task is something I could definitely work on. When it comes to doing what I’m doing, I am pretty competent at completing a task well, while allowing the split-mind thought-system to run at a full, steady pace. Hopefully just knowing that the thought-system is the primary tool of the ego will be enough to help begin to defeat it.
One question that is asked over and over and over is “Why are we here?” We can’t help wondering what all this is about and what we all should be doing. We deserve an answer. Unfortunately, we weren’t given an instruction booklet at birth. We live in a time of great progress, but what are we heading toward? Why are we headed in that direction?
This is just a guess, but I believe at one time people understood what life was about. Over time we lost sight of what that was. To find the answer we have to consider our Source. What is that source like? Discovering this will give us our greatest clue. I could be wrong but I think that everyone, regardless of their religious background, has heard the phrase “God is love”. They might not say it in exactly the same way, but every tradition I have ever studied believes that the original self, true self, universe, God, Creator, Allah, whatever, is love.
The Source is also creative. I mean, we call this universe “creation”. How obvious is that? So, God is love, or loving, and creative. I’m going to stop there because everything else I can come up with sort of falls under one of those. Can we apply these to ourselves and get our answer?
Lately there has been hype about something called the “Law of Attraction”. The radicals who are pushing this idea believe that this universe is actually created by thought. That what we think and believe and intend, we bring about. Turns out, this idea isn’t so radical at all. In fact, as I look back, I realize that nearly every job I ever got was because I had intended to do that specific thing. The other jobs happened because I simply had no intention.
We create with our thoughts, we create with our physical bodies. We are creating, even if we don’t realize it. When we realize we are creators, we can create with intention. This world is nothing more than a canvas, awaiting our masterpiece. We can do with it whatever we like. However, if we don’t understand that we have this ability, the picture will be painted for us, and we might not like the result.
Back to the love thing. Certainly we can devise nearly anything we desire. But no matter how expert our abilities, how grand our creations, if we live without love, our work is futile. To bring everything about for ourselves alone is empty. To walk through our daily lives thinking only of what we can have will bring only frustration.
Because we are, or at least seem to be, in physical bodies, and in linear time, we have the unique opportunity to be a vessel for the Source. The “All-Encompassing” is spirit. On Its own, in its omnipresent omniscience, it is nothingness. The reason for our bodies is simple. Without the physical (in our experience anyway) creation is impossible. Without multiple bodies (people, obviously…I hope), love is impossible. We are the opportunity for creation to happen. We are the possibility for love to be actualized.
We’re free to do what we want. We don’t have to create. We don’t have to love. Many don’t. However, this is why we’re here. To do the master’s bidding. To allow the Source to create through us. Our selfishness wants to make a world that we rule, in our own way. Or it wants to do nothing at all. Worse still, we don’t even know that we can make a world. We have tried to do things our way for ages. Look at the result.
The right way to live is to create in love. To love completely. When we commit to that, we know exactly what to create and exactly how to do it. Then the creation is perfect. Then our lives are perfect, and we understand, with the deepest knowledge possible, why we are here.
In the beginning…mankind experienced only love. We only created what was beautiful. We lived in complete and total joy. Everything was provided. We lived in abundance. We were one with our Source. We were free to think and create as we liked.
Then an idea arose. “What if I’m not really part of the Creator? I cannot see the Creator. What if I am really separate?” With this, many similar ideas arose. “What if I’m not really taken care of? Do I really have everything I need?” With these mistaken ideas came the illusion of a separate self; a self that seems to be divided from its Source. The self that most of us believe we are to this day. A self that must try to make its salvation from the scraps of life it can gather from the outside world.
This apparent separation spawned the thought of fear. The fear of a child left alone in the dark and cold. Every aspect of life was filtered through fear. Trust withered.
With fear came the idea of death. “If I am not part of Life, I will surely die.” Pain ensued. Illness became an apparent reality.
This is the state of the world of humanity today. Every bit of it a lie. This condition was the result of one small idea that occurred to mankind: what if I’m separate from the Source? This idea spawned a world of fear and death that was never intended; a world that, in fact, is not real.
“Whatever is not love is illusion.” “The light shines in the darkness and darkness cannot overcome it.” We do not understand these words because they are the opposite of our world. We perceive a world of darkness, but we needn’t. We can return to the Source anytime we choose, but we must make the choice. We can turn our backs on the pain we believed must occur, but we can never look back. We can’t have a little of this and a little of that.
As fearful as this proposition is, to leave what we are familiar with (but are we really comfortable?) we find that it is not painful at all. The world has not transformed into something completely different. Instead, what we perceived before begins to look like the heaven we always hoped it would be. What has changed is how we feel. The pain is gone. What was fear seems to be childlike silliness. There is no worry because all needs have been met. The idea of need has passed away.
That small thought that wreaked so much havoc, the thought that we might be separate, is still possible, but we no longer believe it. We have conquered it. We understand its folly. We will never return to the condition it brought about.
The storm has passed. There is only sunshine and laughter. We are home.
Realizing that we create our world is exciting and it’s easy to get so worked up that we try to change everything in our lives. I want a new house. I want a new car. I want a new…. Then there’s the other side of the coin: I know I have the ability to create, but what am I supposed to create?
With the first reaction, creating a bunch of things for the sake of having something different, usually comes frustration. Frustration because the things we want don’t come about, or because we create something and we find it’s not really what we wanted at all. The second reaction is frustrating because we understand that we are creators, but we don’t really know what to ask for.
The ability we have is very powerful. But we must know the proper way to use it. The ego simply wants more and more and more, without really caring what it is. When we bring things about in this way, we get a lot of stuff, but we are never really content with it. How do we know what to create, then?
The first thing we do is look at our intention. Our Source is love. If our intention is anything other than love, we will create erroneously because we will not understand what the Source is guiding us to create. We can make a bunch of stuff this way, but this is not creation.
Our Source is peace. We must do everything possible to continuously be one with Peace so that we can understand when we receive guidance. Then we must have faith in our Source that the guidance we receive is true and then proceed.
The reality is that we are co-creators. This means we, as humans, create with the Source. We can make stuff on our own, but it will have no lasting value. To be a co-creator means that we make every effort to be like the Source, who is love and peace. To be a co-creator means that we understand when we are receiving guidance and we act. This might mean something seemingly insignificant, such as turning left at the next intersection instead of going straight. Or it might be something as grand as knowing the exact career path to take. Either way, it is commitment to listening and proceeding rather than wanting and making.
This is the same as the Hebrew and Christian teachings of the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” It doesn’t matter if there is a religious connotation or not. The effect is the same. The effort is what counts.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do what you want. It is possible that the desire you have had to be a teacher or race car driver or world traveler has been valid all along. As co-creators, we can realize our dreams in a way that we will enjoy them to the fullest and benefit others at the same time. Co-creating doesn’t mean thwarting what we want to do and be, it means doing it in the best way possible.
Total commitment is required. The commitment to allow Love to create through us. Only then can we hear the voice that leads us to know what to do and what to create. Peace is a prerequisite. As long as we are tossed about by the waves of the world around us, it will be difficult to discern the voice within. When peace and love are our intention, our reality, we will know what to create. We will be confident that what is created will be perfect and that it will come about with perfect timing.
Many believe that life is about getting what we want. The truth is, it is! However, nearly everyone has failed to remember what it is we truly desire. I can remember desiring very deeply to play drums. I played drums all the time. I lived drumming. After a while, I played drums in variety of bands in many different places. It was all I had ever desired. Except for one thing.
After I had been playing for a while I became more interested in people thinking I was cool. It was about impressing people and getting what I could get out of it. And it was not fulfilling, as it had been before. Being a musician had become just another ego outlet. I was attempting to become “King Larry” via music. It wasn’t long after that that I gave up playing drums completely.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with being a musician. For the most part our outlets are neutral. The problem is that I had expected fulfillment from my profession. When it didn’t happen, the ego looked for more and more selfish ways to bring it about. Over time I had come to expect my outlet, music, to provide me with happiness. Why didn’t my dream life bring me joy? If this didn’t make me happy what would?
Love. What I was really looking for was love. Not a love relationship with another person, though. A love relationship with everyone! I was not serving others with my abilities, I was serving myself. What I had forgotten, what most of us have forgotten, is that our greatest desire is love. We continue to look outside ourselves for something that will complete us, not realizing we are already complete.
We live from the inside out. Our Source is love. That source, God, if you wish, is pure love, and we as humans are vessels for that love to flow through. We are able to live in relationship in order to be a physical manifestation of our Source. That is the reason we are here. That is the reason the universe was created. What is outside us can never be fulfilling because it is an effect. It is only when the cause is love that joy will follow.
Playing drums could have been very fulfilling if I had served others with an attitude of love. Sometimes I regret frittering away my dream career. I can’t go back because the desire is gone. I believe my desire to play drums came “from above”. It came from within. It was decades later that I would realize being a musician wasn’t the greatest desire. It was merely a vehicle for love. It was a way for me to give to others. Love is our greatest desire. Being loving people, being Love, is what all of us really want. But we’ve let the drumming go to our heads. We’ve believed that it is the source of our joy. Deep inside us all, something is trying to remind us what we really want. I hope we’re listening.