The Self-concept Fell Away
When this mind entered the “period of settling” (A Course in Miracles, M-4.I.A) the way that “he has not yet come as far as he thinks” showed up for it was to realize that the period of settling and the three periods before were only preparation for letting go of self-identification. The real shift was yet to come.
About two-and-a-half years ago this mind realized its self-concept had fallen away. It wasn’t falling away; it had fallen away. This mind had entered the fifth period, the “period of unsettling”. Self-identification was beginning to fall away. This mind became aware of this speaking with clients who would ask it questions about how this mind saw itself as a self. This mind would have to tell its clients it had no way to answer. Their questions left this mind disoriented because when it tried to find the answer nothing was there. Many times on the path this mind has had periods of disorientation as its self-concept shifted. But now it was unable to find even a shifting self-concept.
First, how this mind defines “self”, “self-identification”, and “self-concept”: For this mind “self” refers to a body and personality. They are neutral forms with no meaning in themselves. When a mind’s locality and perspective is through a body and personality that is its “self-identification”. This includes the personal thought system (ego). A mind’s “self-concept” is when a mind defines as a self, including the self’s traits, experiences, story, etc. For example, the self in this mind is a teacher. That is just an aspect of her personality. She would teach in some capacity no matter what career path she took. But if this mind felt that being a teacher is what it is that would be a self-concept.
The self and the self’s thought system, past, experiences, opinions, or preferences are still in this mind. But this mind does not feel a need to defend them. Defining and defending a self occur when a mind has a self-concept. This mind cannot say it does not identify with a self. But the falling away of the self-concept seems to be the beginning of the process of letting go of identifying with a self. The process of the self-concept falling away was also a gradual process though the recognition that it had occurred was sudden. Many years ago this mind realized that it had been working at being a “spiritual person”. It realized that this had become an obstacle to peace and had to be released. This mind also long ago stopped having goals. In the past few years its belief in guilt fell away. At one point it occurred to it that it never, ever, under any circumstances had to listen to the thought system of the self (ego). These, and probably many other things, were part of the process of the self-concept falling away.
But what, exactly, did it mean to no longer have a self-concept? And how does a mind direct the self’s life without a self-concept? There was no way to answer these questions just by thinking about them. The only thing this mind could do was continue on and let the answers unfold.
Now this mind can answer these questions:
What does it mean to no longer have a self-concept? For one thing, whenever this mind attempts to get involved in the world in some way it has an overwhelming feeling of, “I don’t have to be doing this anymore. I’m past this.” This mind has no desire to build or express a self-concept.
This mind finds it is no longer concerned with personal happiness and peace. Peace has come to this mind, but not to the personal thought system. The self is never happy or at peace for long, but Peace is always in this mind apart from the thought system about the self. It finds being focused on the self empty and meaningless. It does not matter one iota to it what the self experiences. Only the Truth is true so only the Truth matters.
Have you ever seen a movie where a character is dead but does not know it? They continue to interact with the world but you can tell something is always “off” in the interactions. This mind experiences the world like that. It is aware of the world but not a part of it. It is like a ghost in the world, not a part of it, no longer belonging, but watching it unfold.
How does a mind direct a self’s life without a self-concept? This mind no longer thinks in terms of motivation or “why” for the self. The self is moved as the self is moved and it is all equally meaningless. This mind merely observes. So most of the time this mind does not direct the self. There is no longer a sense of deliberate doing but of the self being in the flow. The self goes through the motions; it passes time. Then it is in the flow of the universe. But when it does require directing, direction flows effortlessly from the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit). The boundary between this mind and the Awareness of Truth is all but gone. In fact, this mind often comes from the perspective of the Awareness of Truth as it interacts with the split-mind, or the “decision-maker”, as it deals with the personal thought system.
This mind is still unlearning the habits and reflexes of maintaining a self-concept. It still automatically turns to the personal thought system for its point of view. It has to remind itself, “I don’t have to think this way anymore” or “I don’t have to think about this anymore.” Perhaps this is what is described in ACIM about the “period of unsettling” when it says that “He must learn to lay all judgment aside…”
It seems what has unfolded with the self-concept falling away and what continues to unfold is the self-identity falling away altogether. This mind now finds that questions like “What observes all of this unfolding?” or “What is ‘this mind?’” are meaningless and any answer would be, too. The resistance of the personal thought system is no longer relevant to this mind. It just observes it. It no longer matters to this mind what happens to the self going forward because the self is unreal. It does not matter to this mind what happens to this mind because whether this mind is aware of Truth or not has no effect on Truth. Nothing at the level of perception is real. None of it matters. All that is real, all that matters, is Truth.
You do not have to go through the process to peace alone. It is a lifelong and often very uncomfortable process. Students of ACIM who seek my guidance are in the "period of unsettling" - the longest (so far as I know!) and hardest (this I do know) period in the process. If you'd like to benefit from my experience contact me for an appointment at Liz@acimmentor.com. You can learn more at www.acimmentor.com.