So I'm humming along. Sure, the ego pops up like a Jack-in-the-box on a regular basis, but I'm used to it. I don't have the same fear or frustration or need to be right etc etc etc anymore. I'm pleased with myself (ego) because I have more peace than I used to have. I somehow privately think (there's that bad word again) that I've reached some kind victory over the ego...it's like I've had a John Wayne moment, where I've drawn a line in the sand with my spurred boot: "Don't cross this line, Buster. This town's not big enough for the both of us."
But remember the ego doesn't really go for truces. It's all or nothing with the ego...it's like how you can't be a little bit pregnant. While its thought system is still active in me/you, it's going to pop up for you "out there." And sometimes we experience it like the aren't-we-grateful-to-laugh-at-it-now Jack-in-the-box toy, and sometimes we experience it like it's the freakin' Terminator who is out to get us. In fact, the better you get at undoing it, the more viscious it gets.
It's when The Terminator shows up in our lives that we get to go through some great healing. (Never mind it feels like we're lost in a black hell and our guts are dissolving...that's what the caterpillar feels too.) We grab for the radio mouthpiece and yell, "May day! May Day! We're going down!" Maybe we even plead for the Holy Spirit to get us the hell out of this mess.
Of course, He is so damn predictable. No urgency with Him, nope, not even if you are losing altitude at an amazing rate and you smell smoke coming from what appears to be flames over one of the engines. He calmly tells us to look at our minds honestly. "Excuse me," we say through clenched teeth, "do you really think this is the time for this!? Can't you bail me out and then we'll talk? We'll do lunch even?"
He just looks at you/me, patiently waiting. He throws a glance over to the mirror (i.e. what is appearing to happen "out there" including our interpretation and what it all "means") as though to say, it doesn't lie. We ignore the plane instruments for a moment in stunned disbelief that He is not producing miracle water to put out the fire and instead is giving a lecture. He adds,
"That's what's in between you and me. Aren't you full of gratitude yet that your brothers and all the situations you find yourselves in are a 100% accurate, faithful projection of what has been repressed, buried, hidden under the rug in your mind? The stuff you agreed to clean up with Me? Go give the Terminator a big hug. Honey, The Terminator is a symbol of YOU. There's no one else here, and YOU are terrorizing yourself by looking at a neutral screen of nothing through the lens of fear."
This is where the ego does the fastest costume change you've ever seen, shape shifting into your BFF (best friend forever)..the one friend that truly understands you. It puts on its best righteous rage act and jumps in to intercede with you and the Holy Spirit in "your time of dire need."
The ego always has a big but. It's favorite ploy is convincing you that during a crisis you need all hands on deck, the more help the better. Ego tells you that you now have a "partnership"....you, good ol' BFF me, that Holy Spirit character. Ego will quickly take charge and do of bit of kiss-ass stuff with you to reel you in to its arms and completely away from Truth. Then it will say in its cheeriest, chin-up way, "Let's get to work! I will do all the heavy lifting..I know you've been through so much.....and you really deserve better...I'm here for you, darling."
It will enlist your help, so you feel really included and like you have moved out of victimhood (you haven't...you still think the world is being done to you, not by you.) You are beginning to feel like your old self...capable, progress oriented, solution-focused.
"First, we'd better analyze the situation to figure out what went wrong exactly." This is politically-correct code for "who/what we need to blame for it."
So there you go...once again you are off counting the deck chairs on the Titanic. Even if early on, you wonder if you should be listening more to the Holy Spirit's counsel, the ego snaps you back with a quick image of that last time you really fucked up bad.
"As your BFF," the ego whispers, "I think you need to hear the truth...you really have a dark, shitty, unlovable side. Actually, I don't know how you've made it this far in your life with any friends or success, because we both know what an absolute faker/liar/cheat you are. And, yes, you and I know it's because your mother and father never loved you enough, and remember that time in 3rd grade where you were embarrassed by your teacher in front of the whole class...let's not even get into all that you went through in that train wreck of a 2nd failed marriage with that schmuck...but anyway..no one else cares about that..no one but me... So do yourself a favor, and let's work this out together, ok? I'm here for you."
As all the images of past pain and future disaster reel through your mind, you give in to the call for action.
You form committees, conduct studies, run surveys, develop complicated score cards -- all in preparation for scoping out Life Plan 2.0 for redesigning/reorganizing your life in a better way so you can get what you deserve this time.
Never mind the fact that you can see the rats fleeing from the lower quarters, which makes you stop a moment --"Why is the deck suddenly uphill?" --and then you have to force yourself to try not to think about the fact that the ship is sinking and the fact that a part of you, too, is sinking as you acknowledge the deja vu pang you are having. You've been in this movie before a few (*cough* million) times it seems...everyone gets really cold and wet every single time.
"BUT!" The ego's on to the fact you are on to it, so it keeps hurling one distracting image after another at you, past, present, and future stories of sin, guilt, and fear.
These are periods of dis-comfort (to put it mildly) usually, but that's when we get pretty darn motivated, so there's the good side.
And here's another good side: Nothing gained/reclaimed before in past storms has been lost, and so there's more Self present to help us through. We are more able to watch the ego's antics as a witness. At some point in our journey, even if we vacillate a bit, we pray not so much for a fix for the mess, but for the miracle (correction). We surprise ourselves even as we feel ourselves truly wanting the Truth just because it's ..well...True, dammit.
The Holy Spirit has never left, not even after we told it it was, in essence, dead weight and "why don't you go hang out in a church where people who aren't actually in NEED OF HELP can be comforted by your perky but totally impractical slogans about love and oneness." He is never offended, never impatient. He waits.
And then sometimes, as witness, we find something. Maybe we are resting from our latest tantrum and we just stumble into it -- it's like an old pair of worn out shoes, our favorite comfy indulgence. The enlighten-ing mind sees it for the garbage it is, false and limiting, and knows it needs to go. Whatever it is, dropping it is chipping away at the biggy...."The world/my individual self is real."
Since it is on the table here, blame is a toy we can't afford at some point...not blame aimed at the stock market, our past, the person in front of us, or even ourselves.
Such stuff gets too heavy to haul around anymore, so we get more and more honest about our belief inventory. We just keep shedding the false, more and more of it. Or we don't, and we stay put for a while and that's okay. But eventually the non-compromising nature of the Ego Vs Holy Spirit choice we're in motivates to climb some more. We turn the volume down on the ego's "buts" in order to pick our butts up and make the next switchback.
The Holy Spirit uses our "little willingness" to lead us gradually through this sorting out/letting go process, because there is tremendous fear underneath. Ultimately, everything has to be questioned, which is why the mirror is a blessing in the Holy Spirit's hands. The world that was imagined by the ego as a wish fulfillment dream -- like a video game where sin, guilt, and fear always win, sending you back to level 1 over and over and over -- becomes a path Home once we've allowed the Purpose to be switched for us.
Along the way, every way "I" identify myself, every single goal, every single belief, every single value, gets questioned until there's nothing left but Truth. We're talking baseball, hot dogs, motherhood, and apple pie. We're talking the stock market, democracy, competition, history, gravity, quantum physics. We're talking children, husbands, parents, bodies, souls, heaven, and hell.
Everything. But not all at once like ripping off a band-aid. And gently, always gently.
With more Trust these days than I used to have, I can say I have found that it was my ego's way of leading me down the Spiritual path that has caused the suffering that makes you want to die to get away from it. The Holy Spirit's way is just uncomfortable/messy/awkward, but no one ever died from feeling awkward. The ego loves to keep you looking poised and "put together" for all the shadow people "out there," but the Holy Spirit unravels the mask quickly. It can be painful even to watch yourself fall apart, while we still are chipping at the big block of guilt, like I still am.
But pain and suffering are different, I think. I may be in pain...today, tomorrow, next week. But I'm not identified with it and defined by it. I can even shock the hell out of myself and discover that I can be at Peace even in pain. That's a tell-tale sign of the Miracle doing its good work.