A GREEK WAY OF LOOKING AT THE EGO?

Yesterday morning I read a short article by Ann Finkbeiner: The Atreides vs the Ancient Greeks.*  Finkbeiner, because she read Colm Toibin’s book, House of Names, asks why Greek citizens watched plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides about the dysfunctional Greek Orestes family.

The ancient stories were about that families’ involvement in incest, murder, human sacrifice, and cannibalism: certainly a revolting list.

Finkbeiner wonders why/how Greeks, the founders of civilization, “told these terrible stories over and over.” Translator, “Robert Fagles, calls it an ‘inherited infection.’

Finkbeiner concludes her essay as follows.

But maybe the ancient Greeks told these stories as a way for intelligent, perceptive, civilized people to remember the lethality if their heritage, to not forget the alternative to law and rationality is real, alive and always present.

My take is that the dramas gave them a way to look at the ego. And Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories, Macbeth certainly, do the same thing for us.

In my post Monday I offered a way to do the same thing using Course ideas. Look, stop, and listen to our ego to affirm its presence and so be able to listen to the Holy Spirit for help to act in a kind and living manner. That is a much easier and effective way to deal with the ego than sitting through a two hour or so violent drama.

*Finkbeiner’s article can be found on the web site, The Browser.

OUR EGO

How can discussing the ego help us to cope with our everyday lives?

Accept that it is part of our split mind. Then we are able to accept the Holy Spirit’s help to thwart the ego’s presence and influence. It’s a fire in our mind which leads us to act in ways which are outside of normal behavior. Denying that leads us deeper into the illusion of the separation.

Here in California one spark from a chain dragging on a truck towing a trailer set a fire that burned for weeks. Within seconds the dry grass on the side of the road ignited and the fire went wild. Such is the case for our ego.

We have many current and distressing examples of ego gone wild.  Our current president displays bouts of egocentric behavior well outside normal behavior for any citizen, much less a president. Wild egos are displayed when men use guns to murder our fellow citizens.

It is essential to acknowledge that all of us are capable of that sort of conduct. It usually starts with what we think is insignificant egocentric behavior. The Course teaches that what we think is a petty display of ego is the same as that which results in murder. It applies the same way as the first miracle principle, but is a reverse way.

There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same.”

Likewise: there is no order of the effects of the ego. They are all the same. Dissing a driver who cuts us off in traffic is the same a murder. As we all know, sadly, road rage has indeed led to murder.

When we see the ego as an integral part of our split mind can then learn how it functions. That is an integral part of A Course in Miracles’ curriculum.

The best explanation of Course teaching about the ego I have found is in Chapter 2, The Separation from God, from Ken Wapnick’s book, The Message of A Course in Miracles. I won’t summarize it because Ken’s Chapter is a complex description of how we split our mind to make the separation. I do though recommend it highly. Go to facim.org to order it. I include the following Course passage Ken includes in his chapter because it supports my position that we need to accept that the ego is part of our split mind.

[Do not be afraid of the ego.] It depends on your mind, and as you made it by believing in it, so you can dispel it by withdrawing belief from it. Do not project the responsibility for your belief in it onto anyone else, or you will preserve the belief. When you are willing to accept sole responsibility for the ego’s existence you will have laid aside all anger and all attack, because they come from an attempt to project responsibility for your own errors. But having accepted the errors as yours, do not keep them. Give them over quickly to the Holy Spirit to be undone completely, so that all their effects will vanish from your mind and from the Sonship as a whole. [T-7.VIII.5.]

Here we see how we project egocentric thoughts, and how acknowledging that leads us to the part of our mind where the Holy Spirit helps us to dismiss them, not only in our mind, but in the minds of all of our brothers/sisters here in this insane illusory separation.

Following is the first paragraph of the Introduction to Text Chapter 11, GOD OR THE EGO. It includes more very helpful passages that help us to understand and transcend egocentric thoughts.

Either God or the ego is insane. If you will examine the evidence on both sides fairly, you will realize this must be true. Neither God nor the ego proposes a partial thought system. Each is internally consistent, but they are diametrically opposed in all respects so that partial allegiance is impossible. Remember, too, that their results are as different as their foundations, and their fundamentally irreconcilable natures cannot be reconciled by vacillations between them. Nothing alive is Fatherless, for life is creation. Therefore, your decision is always an answer to the question, “Who is my father?” And you will be faithful to the father you choose. [T-11.in.1.]

“Who is my Father” is a way of asking, “how do I feel?” How do I know if I am listening to the ego or the Holy Spirit? If I feel at peace I am listening to the Holy Spirit. If I am not at peace then I’m listening to the ego.

The old warning, “Stop, look and listen” is a simple and clear way to deal with the ego. But I’ll change the order. “Look, stop, and listen.” Look at the ego, stop and affirm its presence and listen to the Holy Spirit. This process will help us to recognize our ego and turn to the Holy Spirit for help, set it aside, and act in a kind and loving manner