By Rev. Paul Phelps, Co-Founder
Following the old beaten path in pursuit of happiness is a false idol. It’s a special relationship with the past and with our old behaviors. Our new walk is learning how to disconnect from idols. If we’re tuned in to Holy Spirit, He brings up the lessons we need when we need them. That’s what happened to me.
When the weekend was over, Holy Spirit continued His lesson through showing me images and pictures while I was dreaming and in meditation. He showed me how the ego really wanted me to get on the familiar, beaten path again. But that’s not where joy is found. I saw how when we let go of Holy Spirit’s hand and go back to the beaten path – mindlessly following along with family, friends, peers, or coworkers – we get a temporary sense of elation and security. We’re part of the group again! We belong! But when it’s all over, we feel de-stabilized. We feel the need to get ourselves grounded with Spirit again. That’s because the illusion of happiness and safety that comes with these gatherings is just an illusion. It’s not solid ground.
When we’re on unstable ground, we slip into the belief that we’re not complete as we are. We sense a void. In fact, it’s that sense of void that set us out on our spiritual search in the first place. Ever since we seemed to separate from Oneness, there’s been a call inside us to find our connection with God, our True Joy. Once we turn to Holy Spirit, He teaches us to stop falling for the temptation to seek outside ourselves for truth and to stop using the illusions in the world to try to fill that void. These attempts to fix the pain of (perceived) separation do not work. The Holy Spirit wants to free us from the pain of these useless efforts.
But the ego tries to keep us stuck in suffering and “searching but not finding.” I’ve had a lot of experience with this ego trick over the years. I was searching, but not in the right places. I kept straying back to the old beaten path. Every family vacation, every activity with friends or Army buddies left me feeling empty. I sensed that something was missing. This emptiness ate at me on an unconscious level and kept me searching outside of myself for happiness. The ego shows us a good time (for example, fun at a family gathering) – and there’s nothing wrong with having fun or with family gatherings – but the problem is when we believe that the “good time,” whatever it is, will make us satisfied and happy. When we believe that, we will want to control and replicate the experience so we’ll continue to feel happy. We believed that ego trick before we started following Spirit, but even as Course students, we can still fall for it.
Jesus also showed me that the beaten path really does lead nowhere. Even though we keep walking that path, we keep on coming up empty. Eventually, we start to realize that the path is a dead end. Something is still missing. The inherent intelligence that we have from God tells us that there’s more. Somewhere in our minds we know that there’s a joy that won’t end and a connection that can never be broken. That’s the Voice for God calling us Home. He’s calling us to make our connection with God again, and we can learn how to do that while we are still in the world.
This excerpt is from our book ~
Change Your Mind!
Talks on Living ACIM
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