Are We Here to Get What We Want?

“Make this year different, by making it all the same,” advises A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles points us to the truth that, despite outward appearances, for everyone every moment of every day is essentially the same. Although we each experience different problems we have the same choice to make.

Moment by moment we must choose our inner teacher. Our only real choice at any time is to be powered either by our ego’s thinking or by thoughts coming from God’s infinite Love and Wisdom. When we forget this truth we suffer.

I have never met anyone who didn’t have at least some problematical and challenging life circumstances. We have all been hurt. We all lack. Every ego has goals that it believes when reached will bring happiness. “When I am financially secure….” “When I meet my one true love….” “When my difficult colleague Joe finds another job….”

And then there is the bane of most spiritual seekers: The belief that I will be happier “when I become enlightened.”

Often our problematical life circumstances lead to problematical New Year’s resolutions revolving around getting what we want. When our attention is rooted in our circumstances, we ignore the choices we are making that determine how we experience our circumstances.

There is one huge problem with our ego’s goals. The late psychiatrist Thomas Hora reminded his students that we are not here to get what we want.

I’ve been observing the times when I forget that I am not here to get what I want. When my ego’s purpose seems important to me, I identify fiercely with it. Identifying with my ego, there is no one “home” in my mind to make another choice. When no one is home I feel powerless to make real changes. God’s Love does not vanish, but I’ve chosen to make myself unavailable to it. I suffer as a result.

So, if we are not here to get what we want, how can we reorient ourselves this coming year? For one, we can reflect on our purpose; purpose is behind anything we do.

Suppose, for example, we have made a New Year’s resolution about exercise. How quickly will we break such a resolution? It is not the behavior (exercising or not exercising) that matters. Exercise itself is neutral. Via our thinking we give meaning and purpose to the activity, and the purpose behind the activity affects the results.

One purpose might be to be the fittest person in our neighborhood. We might imagine everyone looking enviously at us; we might judge those who are sedentary. Each time we workout we are exercising with our ego in charge of our thinking.

We may also choose to not exercise by placing our ego in charge of our thinking. The ego may offer its advice: “I don’t feel like exercising today; it’s too cold outside.” We can listen to that advice as though it is coming from a trusted advisor, or we can turn away from its voice and go about our business.

Do you remember the days when billboards lined the sides of many highways? Did you slow down to read each sign? Of course not.  If you did you would slow down your journey and you might cause an accident. Slowing down to read billboards is like spending your day processing each thought as it arises.  Your journey is going to be much harder if you do. Most of our thoughts are simply our ego’s “advertisements” defending itself and attacking others —we miss nothing if we ignore those thoughts.

Our ego’s narration and interpretation of our life is really none of our business. When we decide that our ego’s voice is none of our business then the voice that speaks for Love can be heard.

How liberating it is to turn away from the voice of the ego. Upsetting thoughts do arise; but simultaneously, our power of choice arises, too. If we don’t turn in the direction of the upsetting thoughts, the upsetting thoughts quickly vanish. They have no life other than the life we give them via thinking about our thinking.

Yet, at times, it seems our mind is flooded with an endless supply of fear-based thoughts. Although the ego makes these thoughts seem very personal and important to us, there is nothing personal about them. They arise from what Thomas Hora called the Sea of Mental Garbage, or what quantum physicist David Bohm called the River of the Sorrow of Mankind. We make these sorrowful, garbage thoughts personal by identifying with our ego and adding our story to them.

We do have power over which direction we turn when thoughts arise. I am not suggesting that we control our thoughts; but moment by moment, we may choose a purpose other than our ego’s.

Returning to our exercise example, we may exercise so that we maximize the chances of staying healthy for the sake of ourselves, our family, and others in society who might have to help pay the bills should we fall ill. Such a purpose might help us look past our ego’s thinking.

Rather than being taught by our ego, we can chose the inner teacher that speaks for Love. Love and Wisdom are available to us in infinite supply as long as we pivot in that direction. In her book A Gift of Love Ann Linthorst writes, “Love and intelligence … are not personal attributes or personal possessions, but universal realities which belong only to God and in which we may participate as channels. We do not originate these values and cannot take personal credit for them. But we may cherish them and choose to identify with and express them.”

This year, each time we turn our back on our ego’s guidance we’ll allow our real purpose to come to the foreground. With that one choice made again and again, we might find that this coming year is our happiest and most fulfilling ever. This year may be different because we have made each choice the same.

2 Responses to Are We Here to Get What We Want?

  1. Eric says:

    Thank you Barry for taking us straight to the heart of the matter and illustrating how simple our choices can be if we look away from the direction of the complications that we make for ourselves. The power of simplicity is truly awesome.

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