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An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Although life seems so multi-layered and complex, there is ultimately only one decision we need to make. This one decision is one we are actually making with every thought we have, although we may not be aware of it:

Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? (A Course in Miracles, T-15.III)

Every thought I have is either loyal to my ego, which is my false self, or to God, which is my true Self. I resolve to be vigilant against the ego, so that I can be host to God, which is what I was created to be.

The ego was created from a thought of fear that we, as individual souls, separated from our Creator and that we deserve punishment and that we will be punished. This fear, along with the resulting sense of guilt for having done something horrible, is the basis for all of our suffering. Ever since this thought of having been separated from God entered our minds (A Course in Miracles calls this thought “a tiny mad idea”), we have been mistakenly perceiving ourselves as separate bodies, disconnected from our Creator and disconnected from one another. In reality, this separation never occurred because such separation is impossible. But we made the separation real to us by believing it could be real. And the guilt that we could have separated ourselves from our Maker has made us believe that we have committed a sin and that we will be punished for that sin. In reality, the One who created us has been waiting patiently and lovingly for us to wake up from our dream of separation and realize who we have always been.

Even since this thought of separation occurred, we have had a split mind: the lower mind is the ego, the set of false beliefs centered around the tiny mad idea of separation; while the higher mind is the true self, the part of you that always has been and always will be perfectly intact and at home with God. The two minds don’t communicate; the ego rejects the higher mind, just like it rejects God, while the soul, the higher mind, can’t even conceive of the ego because the ego is an illusion. The soul is at peace and always has been, and therefore has no need for salvation. But you do need salvation because you have identified yourself with your ego. And the salvation you need is nothing other than the realization of who you truly are and who you have always been.

When you identify with your ego, you inevitably suffer because you have identified with an illusion. The ego will convince you to side with it because being untrue, the ego needs all the support it can get to keep itself alive. This is why the ego will tell you that you are a separate person, a separate body, living in your own private world. The ego sees others as either enemies to its own survival, or as allies that can further its own agenda. The ego’s plan is insane and totally futile, which is why you will eventually wake up to your true nature.

Any thought of specialness, either in the self-aggrandizing or self-deprecating way, comes from the ego and is an attempt to separate oneself from others and therefore from God. But this an impossible task because what is not real can’t be made real. The ego knows this, and this is why according to the ego, there is a persistent sense of lack: there is always something missing and there is always something wrong. With ego as guide, we live our lives content with scraps when the whole of creation already belongs to us.

Each time you choose between being hostage to ego or host to God, your choice is an evaluation of yourself.

You make by projection, but God creates by extension. The cornerstone of God’s creation is you, for His thought system is light. Remember the Rays that are there unseen. The more you approach the center of His thought system, the clearer the light becomes. The closer you come to the foundation of the ego’s thought system, the darker and more obscure becomes the way. Yet even the little spark in your mind is enough to lighten it. Bring this light fearlessly with you, and bravely hold it up to the foundation of the ego’s thought system. Be willing to judge it with perfect honesty. Open the dark cornerstone of terror on which it rests, and bring it out into the light. There you will see that it rested on meaninglessness, and that everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing. (A Course in Miracles, T-11)