A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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you read the corresponding chapter and section in the Text of the Second or
Third Edition of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

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Chapter 4: The Illusions of the Ego

Section II: The Ego and False Autonomy

Read ACIM Chapter 4, Section II (pages 56-60)

How is the ego held in place?

“The ego is the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own.” (8:4) It is held in place by believing in it now. The moment we let go of belief in the ego, it is gone. The ego uses “history” to try to make itself seem real. Its reasoning is that if it has a history, it must have been a cause and it must therefore be real. By not questioning the reality of history, the ego feels safe in its own delusions of its reality. The Course is telling us that history is an illusion because time is an illusion. Since this is true, the ego has never really had any effect and must therefore not be a cause and cannot be real. History is held only in the deluded mind that thinks it’s separate. Thus the error of belief in separation continues to be repeated in the present. It is this that we need to undo.

Where does our changing image of others come from?

Every individual makes up an ego image of him or her self, which is in a constant state of change. “He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable.” (2:2) The interaction of ego identities affects both and is in a constant state of change. Not realizing that our image of others comes from our own mind, we perceive others as different and independent from us. Yet our relationships with them are really relationships between images in our own mind. That is why the Course says, “It is important to realize that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when when it involves physical proximity.” (2:4)

What effect does changing our self-image have on our relationships?

The relationship changes the moment either our self-image or our image of the “other” changes. When forgiveness occurs, this change of image results in a change of relationship. The changeable nature of these images is why we are not stuck here in this illusion of separation. Forgiveness is the key for letting go of false images. “Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction.” (2:5)

What comes with belief in separation?

Since we are the dreamer of our dream, the entire world of separation we perceive is coming from our own mind. We see a world of differences, which reinforces our belief in separation. What is not the same must be separate. With belief in separation comes guilt. Deep inside we know that separation is not of God and therefore by believing in it, we are rejecting Him. We feel guilty for this rejection.

If we believe in our own guilt, we will project that guilt onto an outside world and will see guilt in ‘others’ that we believe are separate from us. When we align ourselves with the Holy Spirit instead of the ego’s belief in separation, we are able to see the Love that is there instead of guilt. This helps us recognize our unity with everyone in Love.

Why do we resist letting go of the ego thought system?

When we identify with the ego, we believe we are the ego. Perceiving through the ego’s eyes and believing in what we see is how we maintain what we made and cherish — the belief in separation. We think it’s appealing to be an individual that can make decisions on its own. That is why we protect the ego and respond with defense and attack if something seems to threaten the ego we have made.

The Course uses the example of the love animals have for their offspring to illustrate the love we have for the ego we have made. We consider the ego as our “offspring” and, like animals, we think it is part of us, so we believe we need to protect it. Thus we resist anything that might change what we believe we are. “Undermining the ego’s thought system must be perceived as painful, even though this is anything but true.” (5:1)

There are a variety of ways the ego tries to protect itself. It perceives other ego’s as real to try to convince itself that it is real. It is constantly comparing and evaluating itself in relation to other egos in order to maintain the idea of uniqueness and differences, which supports the belief in separation. Because the body is its home, it uses the body as a means to get what it thinks it has lost by being separate. “Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself.” (7:5)

How do we free ourselves from the limitations of the ego?

The Course teaches us that there is another way of perceiving. In Workbook Lessons 28 and 33 we learn that there is another way of looking at the world and that to free ourselves of the ego’s prison, we want to see things differently. Really getting that there is another way of perceiving “...contains a hint of recognition that the ego is not the Self.” (4:11)

The reason we are studying the Course is to help us open our minds to the reality of our Self and let go of the false limited separate self we have made. Belief in limitation, struggle, sickness and death does not really bring us happiness. We can free ourselves of such repressive beliefs through the study of this Course. This helps us learn about and identify with our true Identity — the Self that is not limited in any way. Jesus is one with our Self and wants to help us be free of the hell we have made in our minds.

What does true perception show us?

Right-mindedness, or true perception, recognizes our unity in Love. In this recognition it is impossible to attack, compare or judge. “The ego cannot survive without judgment.” (10:3) Since the ego is the idea of judgment and attack, it is laid aside when true perception is accepted. When we accept that we are Love and nothing else, and that Love unites us with all that is, we realize that there is no “other” to perceive and perception is unnecessary.

Without perception we do not see separate selves living in a world of separation. Our true Self is eternal and changeless. There is no body that is born and then dies. Love is formless; Love is one. The mythical story that founded this world is just that, a myth. Spirit does not need myths for its survival. In spirit there are no differences and so there are no comparisons.

Because of our belief in the ego, the only meaningful goal now is the correction of our perceptions to prepare us for the knowledge of oneness. As we correct our misperceptions, the myths and magic of the ego are laid aside. Judgment and perception are seen as blocks to knowledge and are laid down. We become open to joining with the One-mindedness of the Holy Spirit.

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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