From the moment of our painful birth (both for us and our mother), we quickly learn that we need things from the outside to survive – particularly warmth and food. Not long thereafter, we realize how to manipulate our surroundings to get our needs met. Oftentimes crying is an effective attention-getter.
As we grow in age and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, thoughts of safety, health, friendship, and respect occupy our thoughts. The methods by which we attempt to realize these are quite varied and countless – notwithstanding the enormous efforts we expend attempting to amass paper strips, metal disks, and bodies that pay attention to us.
All of this seems perfectly normal – what else would a person do to find happiness and fill lacks?
But do we ever step back and question the premise upon which this missing happiness rests?
On November 18th a few decades ago, 918 people died committing mass suicide by drinking fruit juice intentionally laced with cyanide. To them, it seemed a perfectly normal thing to do. To them, it was a revolutionary act to protest an environment that wasn’t meeting their needs. To them, this was a natural step toward obtaining happiness. Of the dead, 303 were children.
To anyone on the outside of the Jonestown, Guyana mass suicide tragedy, it seems ludicrous that people could fall for such a preposterous cult. It makes no sense whatsoever. No one in their right mind would be lured by such strange beliefs.
Yet how different are we normal people, who believe happiness is something that is realized through money, friends, health, and all the other trappings we call life?
Looking from the outside, the idea that we aren’t as God created us, we aren’t completely whole, and that we are severely lacking in many areas is as equally absurd as cult worship beliefs. Looking from the outside, the belief that happiness is not an inherent quality but rather a state that must be continuously pursued with ardent struggle is ridiculous.
But we don’t look at it from the outside. We are stuck in the cult of the ego. And its beliefs have become so ingrained in our consciousness (and society) that we don’t step back and ask ourselves if there is another way. And so we live our lives from one distraction to the next, hoping the next one will bring us that all-elusive peace we so desperately crave.
As we read in A Course in Miracles:
The dreaming of the world takes many forms, because the body seeks in many ways to prove it is autonomous and real. It puts things on itself that it has bought with little metal discs or paper strips the world proclaims as valuable and real. It works to get them, doing senseless things, and tosses them away for senseless things it does not need and does not even want. It looks about for special bodies that can share its dream. Sometimes it dreams it is a conqueror of bodies weaker than itself. But in some phases of the dream, it is the slave of bodies that would hurt and torture it. The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. (T-27.VIII.2)
But it need not be that way. It isn’t until we step out of the ego thought system that we recognize how foolish are such beliefs. At that point, we realize there is another way, and we can begin the process of escaping the cult of the ego.
The world was made to hide [happiness], and keep it dark and secret. Withdraw all value you have placed upon the world’s meager offerings and senseless gifts, and let the gift of God replace them all. (W-pI.127.5;8)
Join us in Monday’s class where we will discuss our blind faith in the ego, and how we can practice another way of seeing – one that leads to true happiness and peace. I look forward to seeing you then.