The Two Selves
“Know yourself.” These words are ancient advice, but are they realistic? Can we really know ourselves? This essay explores these questions through the ideas of the book A Course in Miracles (which I will refer to as the Course).
According to the Course, we were created by God. God is love, or union, and God creates by extending His thoughts of love into infinity. His thoughts are infinite and they are everywhere the same. They have not left His mind. We are the extension of God’s thoughts, and we are still in the mind of God, in heaven.
However, at some point, we (as God’s united creation) had the thought that we had contradicted God’s will, and we forgot to laugh at the absurdity of this thought. There is only one will in the universe, and we share that one will with God. However, when we entertained the idea of a separate will, if only for an instant, we began to feel guilty for our “sin” of contradicting God, and we began to fear that God would punish us in the future for our “rebellion.” This fear blocked out the love that we are. Thus, we became unaware of our real Self.
Because we felt fear, we tried to escape into a world where God could not enter, where He could not to punish us for our imagined sinful rebellion. Thus, we made the world that we now see. God is not part of our world because God is about union, while our world is about separation. We believe that we exist in separate bodies and that God, in his oneness and unity, cannot reach us here. Our belief in separation is what allowed us to make a second self, an “ego.”
Fortunately, the instant that we allowed sin, guilt, and fear to enter our mind, God created the Holy Spirit as an answer to our problem of separation. The Holy Spirit guides us back to God by reminding us to forgive, or overlook our mistaken ideas about separation. The self that we made—the ego—is not real. It simply represents the idea of separation from God and from each other. The Self that God created contains all the attributes of God and is still one with God. However, our belief in separation has blinded us to our real Self, and we are currently unaware of it.
In this world of separation, we attempt the impossible. We attempt to collect good things only for ourselves and to have more good things than other bodies (people). Thus, we try to have private happiness that cannot be shared with others, we attempt to earn special, exclusive love from a private lover, and we attempt to keep certain thoughts private. However, our attempts to keep this world of separation going are what keep our mind filled with guilt. We feel guilty for trying to exclude others from our happiness. Thus, we feel guilty about our private thoughts, private documents, private relationships, and private body parts. In reality, those who are not involved in separation know that nothing is private, but those who desire separation do not realize that none of their thoughts are private.
The Holy Spirit seeks to help us return to the knowledge of our real Self, but the Holy Spirit tries to reduce the feelings of fear and terror that might come from realizing that our thoughts, documents, relationships, and bodies are not private. Thus, the Holy Spirit gradually encourages us to share our private thoughts until we are comfortable with complete communication. Since God loves everyone equally, we cannot know God’s nature, or our true Self, until we learn to communicate and love perfectly. This communication is beyond words. It consists of completely sharing one’s love, happiness, and peace with all other parts of creation. Forgiveness allows us to overlook our “dark” past in which we hid our “evil” thoughts of separation. When the past is freed from our feelings of guilt, the future can extend from a pure and holy present. When this happens, we will know the oneness of our true Self, and we will experience the wonderful peace and joy of knowing that we are eternally safe with God.
In conclusion, there is a real Self of love and communication that God created. This Self is eternally safe, although we are currently unaware of its existence. The self that we made—the ego—is not real, although it will continue to influence our mind as long as we value separation, guilt, and fear. Salvation is really quite simple. It is merely the willingness to let all of our ego thoughts dissolve and the willingness to let our ego thoughts be replaced by thoughts of healing and love.