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.

Comments

Matthew Judge said…
Wow thank you for sharing that Liz, you really clarified a lot for me. 😊
Anonymous said…
A fascinating account of the results of a life-long practice of acim. Let's not forget it took Liz over 30 years to get there.
will said…
Liz or Anyone,

I have a question. Years ago I read a paragraph somewhere in ACIM that I have been searching for. I can only paraphrase it since it was so long ago but it went something like: Do you think God would have you as his teacher without taking care of you? I don't want to debate it or anything, it was just something that was important to me personally.
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, I am not aware of such a quote. But it feels like something that would be in either of the supplements.
will said…
Found it. It meant a lot when I first read it then it got away from me.
Bente hove said…
I think I totally 'get you' on this one, Liz...
And practicing ACIM is looking at 'life in a separate body'(which IS the BELIEF in 'the idea of ego') - going through the 6 stages described in 'the development of trust', where one also has to pass the 'dark night of the soul'(fear, fear, fear...) before stage 6 and 'to HAPPILY lay the body aside'... (and after this 'the teacher of God' will not be seen that long...). Love and peace to everyONE
Anonymous said…
Liz who is the "l" you speak of in the quote below from your article.
"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."
ES said…
The other day at the pool where I swim three men were having a conversation in the shallow end. I couldn't make out what they were talking about but one of them was gesturing passionately at another, clearly trying to "make a point." Back in the locker room I saw the guy who had been "making his point" talking with one of the others about his winning argument. I became anxious thinking that somehow I would be drawn into the discussion and have to defend some point of view of my own. I made it a point of my own NOT to do that and left the gym to ponder the incident. I had the thought that in truth I don't have to explain nothin to nobody. I DON'T have to win arguments. I don't have to express an opinion in all situations. What a sense of freedom!

Then I read this weeks article and read "...it [Liz's mind] occurred to it that it never, ever, under any circumstances had to listen to the thought system of the self (ego)." And “I don’t have to be doing this anymore. I’m past this.”

Clearly I personally am not past this kind thing (fear is such a sobering gauge of progress or lack thereof) but it's nice to get those glimpses of what is possible.
Deb Baczewski said…
An important share and a heart filled gracious thank you.

A thought . . . Would you say Liz that there was a transition of seeing the ego and not believing the ego to hearing the ego and knowing you need not listen to the ego? So the thoughts were no longer projected (seeing)?
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, "I" in that is "this mind".
ACIM Mentor said…
Deb: Yes but thoughts are still projected. It does no matter if they are in this mind or seen as "out there".
Sofiah said…
Thank you for this clarification Liz, it used to bother me these passages(pasted below) from the text, but not anymore:-)here and there I am beginning to have dim intimation that outside time and space, these rather indeterminate states of the split mind though not seen by the body's eyes is all that is occurring ...and this mind trust that 'the stately calm within' is also definitely there for the choosing!:-)

''Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?

Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside of you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.''
Gregory Bachman said…
This week's article helped me see how far I've journeyed on my ego map. Ah...as the saying goes, "Wherever you go, there you are." Which to me means that I've been a self projecting my self onto the landscape around me. No wonder I often think I'm not getting anywhere; all I see is my self, the self, you make clear how I can leave behind. Thank you! Turns out, I don't need a map; I can become aware of truth where I am without personal mind.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Congratulations Liz you made it. I am new to you but have enjoyed what I have read so far. From 1984 to the present you have certainly come a long way. There are 7.3 Billion self concepts in this world and they are not falling away fast enough. It must be truly liberating to be in the observers chair and not having to get up out of it. I am just beginning to read some of your articles going backward. It's interesting how many students use the term "doing the course ". The big transformation I think comes when the course begins to do you. I can't say for sure which stage I am in but whatever stage it is I don't intend to go backward no matter how unsettling it is.
Frank C said…
Love this subject... it is a question that, although I have not asked it here, has been on "this mind" for a long time... as usual, if I wait long enough, the "answer" always shows up!

OBTW, this whole way of "being in the world" has been how I've kept my sanity diring recent presidential elections... it just does not matter! "I" do't have to respond or point out what is so crazy, nor do I have to get anyone to see the "obvious idiocy" of it all... I can simply sit back and let my life unfold in Truth!!

how peaceful and relaxing!
Anonymous said…
QUESTIONS FOR LIZ:

What advice would you give to those of us who would like to build upon those rare, fleeting moments of peace but feel like they are building upon toothpicks in the sand?
What kept you going?
ACIM Mentor said...
"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."

Excuse me if I am incoherent [I am sleepy], but I don't subscribe to the view of living like a dead character in a movie. If so, the movie director should pour some cold water on the face to wake the character up. I agree that this world is problematic but if there wasn't even 1% of blessings in it, we would be here in vain. One may be non-attached but trying to be detached only makes one want more attachment. If [some of] our grand parents and parents had lived like dead characters, we wouldn't even have the luxury of discussing this sort of talk.
"The child is the father of the man". We know nothing complete enough to spend our later days like the dead -- we need to get taught again from kindergarten using the excuse of teaching the next generation. Sorry if I had gone off-topic.
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, those moments are what kept me going. They are what motivated me. And I eventually used the world to remind me of peace. What was loving reminded me directly; what was not loving reminded me to turn inward to Truth and remember those moments of peace. I also turned inward to Truth throughout the day and remembered those moments. When I meditated I remembered those moments. None of them are lost just because they are no longer in your conscious awareness. This is a cumulative process where every moment of peace builds on every other moment of peace until you reach a tipping point and peace stays in your conscious awareness.

But, what is more important, I tried to remain willing to have more of those moments and looked at and undid with the Holy Spirit those obstacles (false beliefs) that came up when I found I was not willing.
Christine said…
We must remember to discern what's seemingly going on on the outside vs. what's going on on the inside/within. Dr. Wapnick said in his numerous cd's that we "act like normal people", "do what a normal person would do/ how he or she would act in the world", etc....at a funeral, you cry...at a play, you clap (or boo if it's a bad one)...you eat, you work, you party, you get sick once in a while...the form and behavior is what it is - it's the Inner Self, or Spiritual Consciousness - the awareness of That is What I AM is...that is where we "lose the self", personal self. The shift is all going on in our healing mind. I am sleepy, too..but nobody has to become a Zombie!! That would be a form of guilt!
Anonymous said…
Thank you Liz
Anonymous said…
Regarding the gentleman above who claimed that Trump's presidency "doesn't matter". I wonder - are you for real or is this just talk. I notice you are a white male. If you belonged to one of the many groups Trump and his haters have openly targeted would you still feel "it doesn't matter"?
hannah said…
liz, a slight 'side shoot' question. i feel silly asking it right after reading what you have just shared about stories of self and being in the flow rather than directing the self.. but what do you DO with time??? not specifically, i mean.. what does 'passing it' mean? do you play with it? be 'constructive' with it? your minds relationship to 'self and story' shifts.. does what you do with the time of you shift? does some time feel more valuable, some more wasted? is it as 'OK' to you to sit and read novels all day as it is to work, or enjoy friends, or meditate? is it any different as the reality of the self fades away?

the question is coming from fear in me, but maybe also hope that this fear can actually just drop away soon. i dont know what to do with 'hannah'. ive never known, and have drifted from thing to thing, usually quite immersed and happy enough. but i know less now, FEEL less and less 'what to do' and it is scaring me, disappointing me, because i thought 'what to do' would become clearer, even as i felt and understood that WHAT i did mattered less and less, i still thought id fall into something as always, be drawn. but really, as far as .. interest? goes there is just this study, and the peripheral stuff happening around me, the lives of those near me. (which would be just fine, but i have a niggling feeling im missing something, and it is a guilty feeling.)

im not saying im in any way aware of a process of leaving the world or resting in an awareness of truth.. its more like.. displacement, limbo. maybe alienation. at first it just was a choice for more aloneness, less world. but now the ground keeps moving and i dont know WHAT to do, all choices are tinted 'but why?' or meaningless, and not in the 'oh joy you little beauty' way of meaningless, laugh! and oh! well, i can see that i really DONT know for sure that it doesnt matter. could i not leave this house again and be 'ok with god'? i could 'waste my time' and be perfectly loved and loving? could i KNOW it?
Deb Baczewski said…
Hannah, Deb here. I sensed to share a gift . . . It is by Jeff Foster titled "The Way of Rest". You will understand when you receive It's warm hug of The Divine.
hannah said…
thanks deb xx
Deb Baczewski said…
It Is You teaching you to embrace you, all of you.

Deb
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, there is no point in my answering from where I am because it is different from where you are. And that is where I used to be. What you are feeling is the kind of apathy and/or aimlessness that many ACIM students feel at times. You have shifted from seeing the world as an end in itself but have not fully accepted seeing it as the means to peace. What I eventually did was wake up everyday and decide to spend it with the Holy Spirit, whatever the day brought. So as I did life maintenance, relationship maintenance, watched TV, studied, etc., it all had the same purpose. I would even say to myself, when I'd have a nagging sense of aimlessness, "My purpose is to be with the Holy Spirit." Then I didn't worry about what was being done.
hannah said…
thanks liz! you mostly answered me, plus you answered things i didnt know i was asking ;) seriously though, innocence returneth, eased off current attempt to spiritualise the self, thank you xx

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