Ask: Can the ego be taught?

“…I attended an ACIM meeting last night and the question arose:  Can the ego be taught?  My immediate response was ‘yes.’  Although shortly after I started to question myself, saying inwardly; can a false belief system be taught—can what was never real be taught?  But there still was something in me that questions this, believing the Course would agree with me. 
The Course speaks of this in rare form, such as these two teachings: T-4.1.3Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be.  And, …spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know.  They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. My question is; how is it; what is it, that the ego can be taught, and or can learn?...”

First, let’s define what is meant by “ego”. The ego is a thought system in your mind that is a part of and is about the idea of the universe-of-form-as-reality. It is about you (mind) limited to a self (body/personality) in a world. The ego is not something that exists on its own. Your mind is its “maker” and it is “making” it anytime it is thinking with it. So it is really your mind, not the ego per se, which learns. It learns either within the context of identifying with the ego, in which case nothing really changes. Or your mind can learn as the “decision-maker”, in which case it can learn of Truth. When you choose to learn of Truth then your mind has withdrawn from the ego. And this is real change.

An example of learning within the context of ego-identification is what can occur in traditional therapy, 12-step programs, and other forms of self-help. A mind learns and grows healthier in the context of being a self in a body in a world. This is not a real change in the sense that erroneous ego-identification continues, albeit more comfortably. Many people, if they decide to get healthier at all, stop there. It is still “safe” to them in their ego-identification because they have not let go of the ego.

But sometimes this kind of not-real-change within ego-identification is the first step on the path to real change. Someone whose self-esteem was so low they felt unworthy of Truth (lasting peace and happiness) now feels good enough about themselves to unconsciously or consciously allow Truth into their awareness. This would be the beginning of real change because it would be the beginning of letting go of ego-identification. At the moment that they made the choice, unconsciously or consciously, to allow Truth into their awareness they made the choice as the decision-maker not as an ego.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at


Sage Starfield said…
Liz, would you agree that the short answer to the question is "yes" because we're all taught ego from the get-go and then must learn to undo it?
ACIM Mentor said…
No. It's never the ego that learns. It is your mind that learns, either of the ego or of the Holy Spirit.
Sage Starfield said…
Ok. I was thinking it was "can ego be taught to mind" not "can ego be taught to learn anything itself". I suspect we're on the same page.
nicci said…
this clarification helps to deepen the feeling behind the process ... a forgiving of all that i have learned from the ego, of all that is not real ... in this engagement there seems to be a distancing from identification with a personal doer... a resting in not-doing, the Holy Spirit.
thank you.

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