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The Lessons of the Holy Spirit – Part 2 (A)

  • March 1, 2021

Volume 6 Number 4 September 1995

The Lessons of the Holy Spirit - Part 2

Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

The September newsletter discussed the first of the three principles of the ego, and its answer by the first lesson of the Holy Spirit. This article continues the discussion with the second and third of these. We begin by restating the three principles of the ego thought system, and their corresponding answers by the Holy Spirit (see the end of Chapter 6 in the text).

The Ego

        1. To have, take all from all.
        2. To have separation, teach attack to learn it.
        3. Be vigilant only for the ego and its kingdom of guilt.

The Holy Spirit

        1. To have, give all to all.
        2. To have peace, teach peace to learn it.
        3. Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

In considering the ego's thought system, it is helpful to remember that the ego's bottom line is to preserve its individual existence at all costs. Indeed, the very origin of the ego reflects this ultimate purpose, since the ego could only have come into existence by separating from God, an act that within its own thought system meant the annihilation of the Creator. The ego's first principle, To have, take all from all, is essentially a statement of this basic ego goal, which can be restated as one or the other, or as it is more graphically presented in the manual for teachers: kill or be killed (M-17.7:11). Since all of time is but fragmentary shadows of that ontological instant when we chose the separation of the ego over the oneness of Christ, God's one creation, we but relive this original and terrifying decision each and every moment that we choose individuality and specialness to be our reality. As Jesus states in the text:

Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love (T-26.V.13:1).

Therefore, in order to keep our individual existence alive and well, we must always maintain our separation, and this we do through attack, the ego's second principle: To have separation, teach attack to learn it. And attack, the ego's final defense against the Love of God, is the fulfillment of its primary goal: to keep the separation but not to be responsible for it, as Jesus explains in the introduction to his discussion of the crucifixion:

Anger always involves projection of separation, which must ultimately be accepted as one's own responsibility, rather than being blamed on others (

Part I of this article discussed the tiny mad idea and some of the repercussions of the Son's having taken this thought seriously. We shall revisit this ontological instant now, looking at some additional aspects of the separation's beginnings, with special emphasis on their implications for the second and third ego principles to be considered in this article.

We have already seen that when the separation thought appeared to rise in the mind of God's Son, he was attracted to the specialness of his newly found individuality. Therefore, he chose the ego's interpretation of this tiny, mad idea instead of the Holy Spirit's Atonement principle that the separation never truly happened. This allowed him to believe in the reality of what he experienced to be his newly won freedom from the imagined tyranny of God. But as soon as the Son chose the ego and became identified with its thought system of a separated and individualized self, the ego threw him a curve ball, as it were. It told the Son that although it was indeed true that he was now on his own, autonomous and free, his freedom had come at a great price. We have touched on this idea above, but now we can appreciate its full implications.

The ego continues to explain to the Son that the only way he could have achieved his freedom and individual existence was to destroy the God of perfect Oneness. It is clear to any logical mind that separation and oneness, individuality and totality cannot coexist in the same place, any more than darkness and light, or fear and love can both be present at the same time. One automatically abolishes the other. And so, the ego concludes in its argument to the Son, the separation was bought at the cost of annihilating God so that individuality might exist, and this act is called sin. Thus, in the Son's mind, separation is now forever equated with sinfulness, of which he is continually reminded by his very existence as a separate individual. The seeming blessing of individuality was short-lived, to say the very least, and has now become a curse, for sin can have only one result—punishment, and at the hands of a vengeful God no less, Who, so it seems, will rise from the grave to pursue his sinful Son:

Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.

Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks. To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego's grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.… For the ego brings sin to fear, demanding punishment. Yet punishment is but another form of guilt's protection, for what is deserving punishment must have been really done. Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. What must be punished [i.e., sin], must be true. And what is true must be eternal, and will be repeated endlessly. For what you think is real you want, and will not let it go (T-19.II.1:6;2; T-19.III.2:2-7).

Thus, the very fear of God's punishment continually reinforces the belief that something terrible has been done—the sin of separation and individuality—that necessitates such punishment and justifies the Son's state of ongoing fear. And he is trapped within this vicious vise of separation because he does not want to let go his belief in the reality of his individual existence: "But you have made of your reality an idol, which you must protect against the light of truth. And all the world becomes the means by which this idol can be saved (T-29.VII.9:8-9). Of necessity then, there is no possible outcome for him other than a life of specialness and sin that perpetually condemns him to a prison of guilt and fear, suffering and death.

But the ego once again comes to the Son's "rescue," this time by employing the dynamic of projection. Its rescue strategy works in this way: The ego tells the Son that since the separation from God is real and has actually happened, there is unfortunately nothing that can deny the reality of sin. But, there is a way that the sin could be gotten rid of, so that all that would remain would be the individuality that was won when the separation from God was accomplished. In other words, the ego's plan is to keep the separation but not the sin.

The ego thus counsels the Son to split off part of his self—the thought of sin—and project it outside his mind, beyond himself. This seemingly gives rise to another person, who now will become the repository of the Son's sin. In "The Dreamer of the Dream" in Chapter 27 of the text, Jesus refers to this as the world of dreams, consisting of the mind's secret dream of sin, and the projected dream of the world in which are found the specific figures who represent the sinful self we seek to keep hidden. This psychological "trick" allows the Son to retain his individuality, but now the sin has been given to "someone else." Someone else is put in quotation marks because in fact there is no one out there, the world being nothing more than an hallucination in the disturbed mind of God's Son (T-20.VIII.7-9). Only in the Son's dream of separation do specific people exist outside his mind as sinners. Nonetheless, within the dream this strategy is, in the Course's words, fool-proof. Indeed, the entire physical universe was devised by the ego with just this purpose in mind: to make up a world of specifics so that there could be someone out there onto whom we could project our hidden hatred of ourselves. That is the meaning of Jesus' teaching in workbook lesson 161:

Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind. But part of it is now unnatural. It does not look on everything as one. It sees instead but fragments of the whole, for only thus could it invent the partial world you see. The purpose of all seeing is to show you what you wish to see. All hearing but brings to your mind the sounds it wants to hear.

Thus were specifics made.… Hate is specific. There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed. When hatred rests upon a thing, it calls for death as surely as God's Voice proclaims there is no death. Fear is insatiable, consuming everything its eyes behold, seeing itself in everything, compelled to turn upon itself and to destroy (W-pI.161.2:1-3:1; 7; italics mine).

And so we continually use our perception to see the sin and guilt that we "wish to see," the sounds our ego "wants to hear." This necessitates our constant vigilance to be on the lookout for these objects of hate, and gives rise to the ego's third principle: Be vigilant only for the ego and its kingdom of guilt.

Understanding this ego dynamic of how the splitting off of our sin leads to the making up of a world of sin, enables us to have a deeper appreciation of the power of these two ego principles of 1) continually teaching and learning attack in order to sustain the separation, and 2) maintaining an ongoing vigilance to find the sin and guilt in others that our ego minds have already established to be reality. It is this vigilance for the guilt perceived in another that characterizes our experience within the world in which we believe we live, and which is captured so graphically in the section from the Obstacles to Peace on the "Attraction of Guilt." In a passage parallel to what was quoted above from Lesson 161, Jesus uses the image of "hungry dogs of fear" to describe the ego's insatiable need to find and then attack the guilt it perceives in others (T-19.IV-A.12,13).

In summary, then, the ego's strategy is first to establish sin as real, as the means of demonstrating to the Son that his individuality truly exists and that the separation from God actually occurred. Once this has been accepted as truth, the ego has us split off our belief in sin and project it outside ourselves. This results in the mind's inner world of sin, guilt, and fear being perceived outside in a physical world, replete with sinful victimizers ready to attack us, unless we are able—with full justification—to attack them first. Attack is therefore the means whereby we believe we can be saved from our guilt, wherein we have traded our internal terror of God's wrath for the daily fears everyone in our world experiences as part of what we consider to be normal existence.

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