I am pretty sure I will be skewered for this, but I have finally put words to something that has been churning in my gut for a long time.
So here goes.
I am not a scholar of a Course in Miracles, and I am commenting not on the Course itself, but on an aspect of the philosophy I hear espoused through many popular, visible, and wise teachers, who are themselves inspired and sourced from the Course’s philosophy.
The intentions behind this philosophy are buoyant and gorgeous: for each of us to realize that we are in partnership with the Divine (by whatever name you call it) at all times and that we are always at choice to BE love and light. That we need not be compelled to move the way fear makes us move. To realize we are never separate from God herself. That the only real choice we have is to act from love or from fear.
So much good stuff there.
But here’s where the fatal flow shows up.
This kind of philosophy says that fear and fear-based thinking (also called the ego) is not the domain of the Divine. LOVE is the domain of the Divine. Your ego is the force within you that wants to keep you small, sabotage you, and unravel your plans. If there is a force of evil in the world, this philosophy says, it resides in the ego.
Here’s the thing. Instead of making love more easily accessible, this kind of reasoning further perpetuates the fear and fear-based thinking it is trying to help soothe.
It even further perpetuates a war mentality.
Allow me to explain.
I believe if we really look closely, we will see that there is nowhere you could go, nothing you could do, and nothing you could feel or think, where the Divine is not. Even in your fear and fear-based thinking. Even in your ego. God (aka love) is in your ego too.
You do not have a force for evil lurking in your head.
Actually, you DO have a potential force for evil lurking in your head, but only if you treat what’s in your head as evil.
If there is evil, it is fear, un-looked at. If there is evil, it is fear, resisted, shamed, and made the villain.
The moment you see your ego as something to be vanquished or eradicated, even with love, the war within yourself begins. Making your ego the bad guy perpetuates good vs. evil thinking, no matter how well-intentioned.
And then it is only a stone’s throw away (no pun intended) to bringing that war outside of you, whether via contempt for the coffee barista, road rage, terrorism, counter-terrorism, “honor” killing your sister, the sexual slavery practices of ISIS, etc.
Imagining that there is a wicked one and there is a righteous one, creates and nurtures a split within ourselves; it creates the painful belief that there is inevitable evil within and we must vigilantly fight the good fight and triumph over this aspect of ourselves. (In the name of love.)
It is not about HAVING fear or fear-based thinking (we all do); it is about our RELATIONSHIP to our fear or fear-based thinking. It is not about HAVING an ego (we all do); it is about how we REGARD our ego.
I choose to believe instead that every part of me (ego included) is rooting for me, not against me. That every part of me wants for me to feel loved, lovable, belonging, safe, valued, and self-expressed. Every part of me, no exceptions.
But, when treated badly, these parts often behave badly.
Any aspect of ourselves – fear, greed, anger, lust, blame, intolerance, hatred, whatever – isn’t inherently part of our shadow. Each aspect is in our shadow because we refuse to look at it or respect it.
And when we refuse to look at it or listen to or respect any aspect of ourselves, we have just CREATED the potential for “evil.”
And you have just poured gasoline on the war inside yourself, and potentially the conflicts out there in the world.
Any part of us becomes a potential for “evil” only because it is treated as evil. This is the wily nature of shadow. The moment we shine the light of curiosity, respect, love, and The Sacred upon evil it can transform into a messenger of truth.
In the presence of this kind of light, shadow can evaporate and transform.
Anything, fear or smallness or otherwise, needs to be recognized, in yourself and in another, as not the enemy but as a part of you.
When each part is recognized first with dignity and respect, as though it is actually a messenger with a kernel of wisdom for you (which it is), its potential for “evil” abates.
Some lessons can only be learned by dirty dancing with our “shadow.” If we always rush to smash fear beneath our Love boot, we miss something important about our humanity and crush a potential seed of our clarity, strength, wisdom, and inner authority.
Your ego is not the problem.
Of course humans have the potential within us to do great harm and evil in the world (and to ourselves), and of course “evil” is always sourced from egoic assertions of lack, fear, injustice, anger, and oppression.
But the moment we can see the aspects of our ego not as “other” but as parts of us, each at its core wanting the best for us, then we are actually choosing love, not fear.
It all comes down to how we choose to treat and relate to every part of ourselves.
The moment we see begin making any part of us bad and wrong, we have lost. The war rages on, inside us, and out there in the world.
So. I say, don’t use love as a mercenary’s sword; use love as love.
You can’t try to wipe out your ego and expect inner peace. You can’t slay your inner demons in a bloody battle and expect peace in the world.
Fear is just love, in disguise.
Sit your fear (or your hatred, disgust, greed, or loathing) down at your inner table, and invite it to have tea (or a shot of tequila) with you.
Listen. Get curious. Breathe. Lean in.
Remove your armor. Fear will remove its disguise.
It is a messenger. Don’t kill it before it reveals its wise heart and message to you.
As one of my wise mentors, Carl Buccheit says, “When you are at war with yourself and you win, who loses?”
So, tell me (in the Facebook conversation), skewer me or agree with me?