John Erickson

Life is hypnotic. Words control us by hypnotic suggestion. Think of how you feel about yourself when you first awakened in the morning: You're full of ideas, you have a new view of life, perhaps a solution to something that was a problem the day before. This is God's restoration of the soul ("He restores my soulů" - PS. 23:3). You're conscious of your involvement in the STREAM OF LIFE-ACTIVITY without being Self-Conscious. All right, then: How does that feeling change when another person enters the picture? You become conscious of HOW THE WORLD SEES YOU: too poor, too dumb, too old to carry-out your vision. They don't even have to SAY anything: you just feel it. That's hypnosis, and it starts the first time we hear a word uttered the day we're born.

To understand this, we must divide human nature into 2 parts: the EGO, and the SPIRIT.

["Ego" here doesn't refer to the Freudian definition. The word has a more substantial spiritual meaning than is understood within the realm of psychiatry.]

The ego is the ongoing urge to gratify the flesh, to stir-up excitement and even cause trouble just to feel more "alive". It is an empty chamber in our being, always serving as a temporary residence for a demon. That's why the ego's urges always have some degree of self-destructive nature to them.

The ego depends most highly on the intellect, not the spirit. The intellect can rationalize sin, fear, and self-destruction with the cleverest sounding arguments. The intellect allows the ego-demon to feel he's in control, the "mighty lord" over the body, mind, and spirit of man.

Self-consciousness shifts one's orientation from the spirit to the ego in an instant. Where we were once confident, we become defensive. We put on airs that we feel other people will respond to. We fear letting the simple truth of our beliefs be known to the world. Why? The ego demands the energy of approval from other people. Have you ever felt that "disconnection from life" when you're suddenly shunned by a friend or insulted by people to whom you've just bared your soul about a personal belief? That feeling of loss shows that we are dependent on other people's energy to feel alive. God designed us to be centered in our spirits, not our egos. The reactions of people will not depress us - or excite us - when we're centered in our spirits, because we are then drawing energy from God: other people cannot cut-off that energy source, so we are not shaken by their disapproval - or elated by their compliments.

To shift our orientation to our spirit, we have to tear-away from intellectual ego-gratification. Since the intellect favors the ego, we cannot achieve this by concentration or will-power. We need to redirect our spirit so that it is above the ego. This is where the "Observation Exercise" come in.

By becoming aware of the natural body warmth of the forehead and the hand, instantly one is separated from the ego-self. Usually there is a sense of embarrassment upon seeing clearly what we've been doing and thinking. This is the OBJECTIVITY of the spirit: We see things stripped from our gratifications of food, sex, and power over others. In this state we can tap into the mind of God.

We can only achieve this a few minutes at a time. The mind and body are constantly warring against the spirit, and we are hit by a steady stream of "urgent" thoughts that tear us away from our spirit. 15 minutes a day will get the process started. During the day, following the Observation Exercise, ideas will come up in your consciousness that explain old hang-ups that occur while dealing with other people. "Aha!" A little moment of clarity will unlock one mystery after another. We become less dependent on supportive words from the unspiritual characters around us, and more certain of our life-connection to God through our spirit.

This is faith. Our energy comes from the "unseen", so that we can observe the "seen" world for what it is: a forum of warring, pain-motivated egos. The energy of faith cannot be comprehended by the ego, and your ego-centered "friends" won't understand you. And you won't care!

© John Erickson



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