How Can I discern Between Ego Versus Spirit?
This article is based on a talk by mystic David Hoffmeister, where he discusses his experiences getting in touch with his feelings at the beginning of his spiritual journey in his late 20s. His feelings became a barometer to discern between ego and Spirit, a helpful guide in awakening. Watch the full video here!
The question: How can we discern between the voice of ego versus Spirit?
David: Using feelings is a good barometer. Jesus says in A Course in Miracles (ACIM), “The one right use of judgement is how do you feel?” So we need to pay very close attention to that.
I had spent my entire life not feeling. I was into intellectualism, denial and repression. I wished I could feel more intensely and subtly, and be more sensitized to these feelings. One day I said to Jesus, “How am I going to feel after having spent decades not feeling?” Jesus said, “We are going to use some of the things that you love most about this world: music.”
Jesus led me to the library and different shops to find specific music. When I listened to it, deep emotions welled up in me and tears would flow.
Jesus also used movies to help me discern between ego and Spirit. They were not the usual movies that I would pick, but far from it. I remember being guided to Blockbuster Video store and I would say, “I am here only to be truly helpful. I’m here to heal. Please guide me to the movie that would be best for me.” And then Jesus would pick the movie and I would say, “You have to be kidding!” I didn't want to watch this violent movie, or this sad, depressing movie! My personality self had very strong preferences in terms of the movies and music that I liked. Then the guidance would come in to help wash away my preferences and choose ones that brought up deep emotions in order for me to begin to feel and heal.
I remember when I was 28 years old and in a relationship. I came across ACIM for the first time and found these intense emotions that I had been suppressing. Everything that I had pushed down out of awareness began coming up within the context of the relationship. It was very intense! I was in graduate school, in a relationship, and had a teaching assistantship going on simultaneously; and this combination brought up an enormous amount of emotion. But it was the repression and denial of these emotions that blocked me from being able to tell the difference between the voice of Spirit or ego. I wasn't sensitized enough, and I remember saying, “I can't see how people even function in this world with emotions this intense!” It felt debilitating, like I was completely dysfunctional as a human being.
When I allowed myself to actually feel my emotions, it turned on a waterfall of tears. This was important because I became much more sensitized to my feelings.
I would hear from Jesus, “The Holy Spirit never commands and never demands.” I began to realize that there was a voice in my mind that was doing a lot of commanding and was always demanding. It was quite stern, serious, and pushy. I began to really experience that this voice was not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was very soft, and offered a plate of gentle suggestions to me each day. Thus began my journey of beginning to know the difference.
The ego is quite clever, and it does disguise itself. It can even use affirmations and quotes from ACIM to maintain itself. It has taken a lot of fine-tuning over the years, but by allowing myself to truly feel all of my emotions, I am able to discern between ego versus Spirit.