In psychology, the term “ego” simply means “identity with self.” i.e., separate from others. As we focus on the spiritual, we come to an awareness that there really is no such thing as an individual self. We are really all part of collective consciousness, with a shared interest and identity that affords us a higher means of survival through a mutual exchange of love. Because our egos are linked to our outer world experience, they are deprived of a thought system based on fear. My use of the word “fear” encompasses not only the baser emotions but an absence of the life force we know as love-or the absence of our awareness of it, as explained in A Course in Miracles.
This isn’t to suggest that we should find ourselves afraid of the outer world, and things like wealth, that seem to promote inner happiness and well-being. Rather, the fear comes from the prospect of not having them, or not having enough, or being afraid of what’s going to happen next. Put simply, we’re addicted at the lower body, ego level.
If focusing too much on the outer world perpetuates the problem, it should be the case that a sharp diversion inward would enable us to discover the solutions through fear’s opposite: love.In fact, there is no other solution.
The last model I present in my first class demonstrates how underappreciated the association is between love and fear. I first noticed this in A Return to Love: “Fear is to love is what darkness is to light.”
And there is this simple truth too: “Only love is real.” I can’t tell you how many fearful situations I’ve overcome by applying this simple truth. Love, like light, has tangible substance and quality to it; it issomething…it does stuff…and everybody wants it-especially in here.
Fear, on the other hand, is the absence of love; the same way darkness is the absence of light. Fear and darkness are merely words that symbolize the absence of substance. As one would turn on a light in a darkened room to see, one need only inject love into a situation to cast out fear. These are the universal laws of cause and effect, operating in the context of spirit. When we start to understand how they operate, amazing things happen-if we consider love to be amazing…whichIdo.
This model takes on a more specific meaning later when we discuss the ways to apply love in fearful situations. Until then, it is enough to acknowledge the correlation. Nurturing fear breeds addiction, sickness and disorder. Nurturing love breeds peace, joy, knowledge and happiness.
Who would have thought that something as meaningful as love would be so overlooked, especially when it defines religious beliefs? Because the idea of God is such a turn-off for so many guys in here, instead of recognizing God or Jesus as the cornerstone of the universe (or my class, for that matter), I simply ask my students, “By a show of hands, who truly wants love in their lives to give it, to receive it, to have it and share it?”
Invariably everyone raises their hands without any shame.. Almost everyone has an affection for something or someone in life, no matter how suppressed its expression has been.
Although the prison environment may seem devoid of compassion and love, almost all of my inmates are not. The challenges we face as prisoners are the things we’re afraid to face individually. When they raise their hands they demonstrate their desire for love and happiness in their lives. That’s all that’s needed to keep them enrolled in the class, and to keep me from fulfilling my purpose in life.