Actions and Motivation


I’m often asked by my clients and readers: Now that I have peace and the self is falling away, why do anything? What motivates me to direct the self to act? Ah, that is so thinking like a self! A mind thinking like a self thinks it does things because it is motivated, usually by guilt, desire, or duty to do it. And the basis for these motivations is the belief that the self is you and you need to get or to express something, tangible (material) or intangible (feeling). And without those motivations a mind identified with a self cannot understand acting.

I’m going to tell you something that I don’t know if you can understand until you can see it for yourself, but it is amazing:

The self acts not from motivation, but because it is going to act. There is no other reason. And here’s the mind-blowing thing I’ve come to see as I have learned to simply watch the self act without judging it: The self has never acted from personal motivation! It has always acted because it was going to act. Its actions are the result of cause and effect at the level of form. All the rest—motivation, interpretation, judgment—was simply going on in my mind.

I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you didn’t know how to act because you had conflicting motivations. You want to do something, but for some reason you felt guilty about doing it. So should you or should you not do it? The fact is, the action of the self is not related at all to your conflict. If you do it and you feel guilty the source of your guilt is not the action but your thoughts about it. If you don’t do it and you feel deprived because you really wanted to, the source of you inaction was not really guilt, either. That’s just a story in your mind. So is your sense of deprivation. All of your thoughts and feelings about the self’s actions are completely unrelated to the self’s actions, before, during, and after the actions!

Another way you may feel conflicted about an action is that you are motivated by both the ego (personal thought system) and the Holy Spirit (Awareness of Truth in your mind). For example, you may be on a spiritual path out of a genuine desire to know Truth. But the ego may also encourage the path so that you can be a “spiritual person”. But neither of these matter! Your self’s path is going to unfold as it will unfold as an expression of the Undoing manifesting through it. The rest is just a story you tell yourself in your identification with a self. These stories are how you identify with the self.

Sometimes feeling motivated toward an action is the ego. In that case, your sense of motivation has no relationship to whether or not the self takes that action. At other times, your sense of motivation to act or not act is the story of the universe unfolding through you. How can you tell which it is? Sometimes it is very clear. You know something will unfold as you feel it will. But at other times you won’t know clearly where the motivation is coming from, especially if the ego feels strongly about it one way or another. Then all you can do is let it unfold. You won’t know until you acted or not if and you were to act or not!

So my approach to directing the self in its actions is to live in “I don’t know”. I don’t know which of my feelings is coming from the ego and which from the flow of the universe. I don’t know if I will direct the self to act or not in any given situation. I just get the self up each day and have it do what it is given to do that day. And I know that all my thoughts and feelings about its actions, before, during, and after, are really quite apart from its actions. They are just stories in my mind.

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Still sorting out what is the ego and what is the Holy Spirit? That is one of many things I help my clients with. Email me at Liz@acimmentor.com to set up an appointment. Learn more at www.acimmentor.com.

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others email it to me at Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.

Comments

nicci said…
fascinating - thank you......
n
Anonymous said…
Byron katie talks about this same type of experience. Who is the one breathing? Typing? Who is making you scratch your ear when it's itchy?

Life is basically out of your control, a film happening on the screen, and yet, our Minds are identified with these characters, these bodies. That's where all the suffering (and happiness) comes from, the Mind watching the movie.Thank you for sharing your experience liz, very insightful.
George Fordham said…
Where does forgiveness come in all this ? Surely, the Holy Spirit revels to us a forgiven world ?
ACIM Mentor said…
George, to see this *is* to see a forgiven world. It is all just an expression of a meaningless idea. This is how ACIM describes forgiveness.
Deb said…
So can it be described like shutting off the mind, no judgments and watching a silent picture show? No interpretation what is seen on the screen being acted out. A blankness that is still and peaceful. Deb
Frank C said…
Wow.. this is a pretty radical concept... let me see if I understood you. Are you saying that ALL your actions are autonomous, that despite any perceived forethought, the body would have done what it did, regardless of your "thoughts", fears, or seeming motivations? So, following that train of thought, if I ask inside (of HS/JC) what is my best action in any given situation, the message I receive (and choose to follow) is not really affecting my actions in any way... that it would have happened that way regardless of if I had remained unconscious (and just mindlessly followed the ego's advice) or if I chose the "inspired" conscious answer of my Guide? That sounds rather like it makes no difference if you do the Course (or any spiritual practice)... everything is happening the way it does, regardless of our "choice"! The Course seems to indicate that although the outcome (atonement) is inevitable, we do have the ability to delay it through our choices, which would indicate that our actions can affect the outcome of our "evolution"... no?
Deb said…
Contemplating "still" . . . I don't know, yes, that is all I know, that I don't know. I guess the "danger lies" and when I think I know, I get lost in meaning, interpretation of what plays out, the seeming story of time as a self and it's life.

The experience of guilt and fear around any script is the belief in the story and related actions as mine. Listening to the inner judge. The emotions trailing from the thoughts and beliefs and the desire to preserve the form, the autonomous self.

The identification as the personal self as separate is the ego. The Self as whole, complete, innocent knows what It sees is false and Is detached from the picture show Is the Holy Spirit.
ACIM Mentor said…
Deb, to your original question: No, not like that at all. The mind still works as it always has. It, too, is part of the flow of the universe. I just don't live there anymore.
ACIM Mentor said…
Frank: No, I'm saying all the self's acts are NOT autonomous. They are just part of the flow of the universe. Yes, the body is going to act as the body is going to act. It is the result of cause and effect at the level of form. However, your Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) is a part of the mind that is in the flow, so your awareness is a part of the unfolding.

I have taught for quite a while that it does not matter one iota whether or not one becomes aware of Truth. Whether or not one does is their part to play in the Undoing (Atonement). Some are manifest undoers (aware) and others are unconscious undoers. Their part is part of the Undoing because everything is, but they do not seem to "play it out" as manifest undoers do. ACIM is for manifest undoers as they are just starting out.

What you experience as your choice and your motivations is the universe of form flowing through you. You experience things as though it is "you", but "you" is part of the whole.

Frankly, what I have written lately would have been hogwash to me when I started out. And probably up until not long ago. Only now can I see this all so very clearly. It is what I see now that guilt is out of the way. I could not have seen these things before.
Deb said…
This further clarification helps tremendously. Thank you Liz
Frank C said…
Thank you for the explanation, but I still can't seem to "get it", but since it doesn't make any difference (or, so it seems, since my body will do whatever it does, regardless of what I "understand" or "think" is the "reason"), I'll just move along aimlessly making up stories about why my body did all these unexplained and "unmotivated" things... something in the "flow" must have "caused" that "effect" (action), which would have happened with, or without, my conscious (or unconscious) consent... right? seems like "I" have very little to do with anything... why bother being here?LOLOL
ACIM Mentor said…
Frank, never deny your own experience. Then you deny the power of your own mind. Forget about understanding what I write. Open to the *experience* of Truth and your own understanding will come.

My article next week answers questions about what I have written recently.
hannah said…
liz.. is there anyway you can break this down, this paragraph?

'Sometimes feeling motivated toward an action is the ego. In that case, your sense of motivation has no relationship to whether or not the self takes that action. At other times, your sense of motivation to act or not act is the story of the universe unfolding through you. How can you tell which it is? Sometimes it is very clear. You know something will unfold as you feel it will. But at other times you won’t know clearly where the motivation is coming from, especially if the ego feels strongly about it one way or another. Then all you can do is let it unfold. You won’t know until you acted or not if and you were to act or not!'

maybe we can discuss this in our next session as well. this just itches my brain, especially the first two sentences! i feel maybe if i got them, the rest of the paragraph would become clear!
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah:

The first two sentences mean there is no relationship between your *sense* of motivation and the action the self takes. Let's say you feel motivated to direct the self to pull weeds in your garden. Whether or not the self does it, however, is the result of cause and effect at the level of form, not your sense of motivation. Your motivation may or may not line up with the actual action.

Your feeling motivated to pull weeds in your garden at a certain time may be your sensing this is what the self will do. You are in the flow of the universe. Or it may be coming from your own desire to clean up the garden or to pull weeds. This only has to do with you and nothing to do with your sense of motivation.
hannah said…
ok.. i glimpse understanding of what you have said, (though i cant hold it all in my head, i can only grasp it each time *whilst* im reading it SLOWLY! after that, the pieces get all jumbled into nonsense again!) up to the last line! and i cant fit that into the picture at all.

is that last line saying the same thing as this? 'Sometimes feeling motivated toward an action is the ego. In that case, your sense of motivation has no relationship to whether or not the self takes that action'.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, yes.
hannah said…
oh i think maybe.. no, lost it! wait.. in this 'Your feeling motivated to pull weeds in your garden at a certain time may be your sensing this is what the self will do. You are in the flow of the universe. Or it may be coming from your own desire to clean up the garden or to pull weeds. This only has to do with you and nothing to do with your sense of motivation.', what is 'you' and 'your' referring to? mind? i feel im tying myself in knots, here, a little, but i also feel like im not seeing something in plain view.

hang on! earlier today i found this writing on my bedroom floor, dunno where it floated from!

'the self is NOT the ego! the self is the body/personality. it is neutral. the ego is a thought system in your mind that tells you that the self is you!'

is that writing even true? im so confused right now, i feel i cant hold the basics!! and if so does it help explain the above paragraph??
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, the day got away from me and we speak shortly so we will discuss...
hannah said…
wooooo hoooooooooo!!!! GOT IT! and it was DELIGHTFUL!
ACIM Mentor said…
To recap for readers who were not on the call with Hannah, I found a simpler way to say what was confusing her: Whether or not you feel motivated toward an action,the action has nothing to do with your motivation. Sometimes your sense of motivation lines up with it; sometimes it doesn't. But it is never the cause for the action.
hannah said…
actually it still took me a few days to be able to really get it clear as it turned out.. to let the getting it really be got! i wanted to write but couldnt get beyond expressing the joy of the moment!

the message that i am finding to be really helpful in this blog is not so much even the information itself, it is what is implied/unveiled in the above recognition, the information is just like a conduit of undoingness, lol.. and the only thing that can (appear to) be undone is the unreal. this blogs just sings 'Innocence, Innocence, Innocence! in the gaps between the words!" this blog helps clarify what is not, which as acim says repeatedly, simply removes the blockages to awareness of what is. acim also says that the ego is but the desire to be autonomous; individual gods, somehow, impossibly, apart from eternally unified Truth, with the power to make our own destiny so to speak, to be the cause of our own effects. and it also says that this is in truth impossible.. this blog is an explanation of how we believe in the impossibility ACIM speaks of.. and as such oh BOY! how it can show you the Innocence that is all that is True 'in you', how forgiveness does not forgive anything! there is nothing to forgive because everything is neutral except in the personal thought systems interpretation! motivation is about interpretation, purpose, desire for change!

something else that has become clear in the last few days is that it is in neutrality that True innocence, not innocence as a state comparative to guilt is found. so the quote? i wrote out above 'the self is NOT the ego! the self is the body/personality. it is neutral. the ego is a thought system in your mind that tells you that the self is you!' does tie in with this blogs message and kinda explains why its message is so liberating. as ive heard Liz say many times to us, but put in my own words ;) "you done been conflating the mind with the self, sugar!" and it is the PTS that does this.. or at least so it tries, via the stories it tells about the self and its actions!

and none of this matters one iota.. as acim says, the tiny mad idea was undone the minute it was thunk, so to speak, by the nature of What Is. all of time and space IS this one expression.. and this undoing, this IS all the actions. inevitable.. cause and effect completely outside of/unrelated to the personal thoughts system's motivations.

so thats where this took me.. thoughts on this Liz? anywhere where im getting this arse up??
hannah said…
rather, clarifying what is not *IS* the removal of the blocks to the Awareness of Truth.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, your arse is firmly down.
hannah said…
laughed out loud!

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