A classic logic puzzle goes something like this: you are a prisoner in ancient times and your fate will be sealed by your selection of one of two doors.
Behind one of the doors is a man-eating ravenous lion ready to devour anything in its path. The other door leads to freedom. You don’t know which door is which.
Standing in front of each door is a guard. One guard always tells the truth, and the other guard always lies. You don’t know which guard is which.
You are permitted to ask one guard one question – and from the answer deduce which door you should select. What is that one question you should ask?
Before revealing the answer, consider the fate of our protagonist.
He is trapped in a tense, cruel, fearful situation. A terrified prisoner anticipating a seemingly horrifying, imminent death. But there is an out, if only he could recognize it.
One guard always lies. Let’s call him ego.
Ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does. (T-9.III.2)
Imagine aligning with something (or someone) that always lies and is always wrong. It would be very difficult to obtain any sort of lasting peace or comfort from such a “teacher”.
How do we know we’ve chosen ego as our guide? Very simple: we are fearful. Anytime we are not at peace, we can be certain we’ve aligned with the ego.
The ego is capricious and does not mean its maker well. (T-6.IV.1)
Ego always engenders fear. (W-pI.66.7)
But we are offered another guide – a teacher that speaks only and always for truth and love.
Spirit [oneness] is the part of your mind that always speaks for the right choice. (T-5.II.8)
As you can hear two voices, so you can see in two ways. One way shows you an image, or an idol that you may worship out of fear, but will never love. The other shows you only truth. (T-7.V.9)
When we choose the voice of oneness, our lives are completely transformed.
What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility? (W-pII.12.3)
That is the experience of choosing the thought systems of oneness – an awareness of deep, transcendent comfort and happiness.
So, back to our forlorn prisoner and the question that will set him free. This is all he needs to ask to guarantee his liberation:
If I were to ask the other guard which door I should choose, what would he say?
And then select the opposite door.
If you think about it for a moment, you’ll see that it works, regardless of which guard you ask.
In our own lives, we can choose the guard that always lies and espouses fear or the one that always speaks softly for truth and love. And unlike the scenario of the ancient prisoner, it is very clear which guard is which. We know the one we’ve chosen based on how we feel.
If we don’t like how we feel, we can be certain we’ve chosen the ego. And we can simply choose again.
Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Spirit calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” (T-31.VIII.3)
Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore this concept of two “guards” or two voices, and how we can practice choosing the one that leads to pure joy. I look forward to seeing you then.