Chapter Four: The Root of All Evil
II. Right Teaching and Right Learning
5 We have spoken of many different human symptoms, and at this level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause of all of them. The authority problem is "the root of all evil." Money is but one of its many reflections and is a reasonably representative example of the kind of thinking which stems from it. The idea of buying and selling implies precisely the kind of exchange that the Soul cannot understand at all because its supply is always abundant and all its demands are fully met.
6 Every symptom which the ego has made involves a contradiction in terms. This is because the mind is split between the ego and the Soul, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can only produce ideas which are inconceivable. The term "profess" is used quite frequently in the Bible. To profess is to identify with an idea and offer the idea to others to be their own. The idea does not lessen; it becomes stronger.
7 A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons, they will lack conviction. A good teacher must believe in the ideas which he professes, but he must meet another condition; he must also believe in the students to whom he offers his ideas. Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated ones because they cannot conceive of it as a change towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a change towards further separation because the separation was their first experience of change.
8 You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego, your Soul will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if one maintains that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach the Soul from the ego, and nothing from the Soul can strengthen the ego or reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Man's self and God's Self are in opposition. They are opposed in creation, in will, and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable because the Soul cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn because its maker can be misguided but cannot make the totally lifeless out of the life-given. The Soul need not be taught, but the ego must.
9 The ultimate reason why learning is perceived as frightening is because learning does lead to the relinquishment (not destruction) of the ego to the light of the Soul. This is the change the ego must fear because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it, I can teach it. I never attack your egos, but I do try to teach you how their thought system[s] arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your egos cannot but respond with fear.
10 Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now because you must change your mind and help others change theirs. It is pointless to refuse to tolerate change because you believe you can demonstrate that by doing so the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing the level-split. You have dreamed of a separated ego, and you have believed in a world which rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo this by doing nothing and not changing.
11 If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian[s] of your thought system[s] and open [them] to me, I will correct [them] very gently and lead you home. Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own thinking that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one real goal of the parent, teacher, and therapist. This goal will not be achieved by those who believe that they will lose their child or pupil or patient if they succeed. It is impossible to convince the ego of this because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the law-maker believes.
12 It is natural enough for the ego to try to protect itself once you have made it, but it is not natural for you to want to obey its laws unless you believe in them. The ego cannot make this choice because of the nature of its origin. You can because of the nature of yours. Egos can clash in any situation, but Souls cannot clash at all. If you perceive a teacher as merely a "larger ego," you will be afraid because to enlarge an ego is to increase separation anxiety. I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher.
13 This is the opposite of the ego-oriented teacher's goal. He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you maintain it. I am constantly being perceived as a teacher either to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception for myself.
14 Your worth is not established by your teaching or your learning. Your worth was established by God. As long as you dispute this, everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation which lends itself to the "superiority-inferiority" fallacy. Teachers must be patient and repeat their lessons until they are learned. I am willing to do this because I have no right to set your learning limits for you. Once againnothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. This point is not debatable except in delusions. Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it. Your Soul is never at stake because He did. Any confusion on this point is a delusion and no form of devotion is possible as long as this delusion lasts.
15 The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself in order to overcome its doubts. It will be doubtful forever, or rather as long as you believe in it. You who made it cannot trust it because you know it is not real. The only sane solution is not to try to change reality, which is indeed a fearful attempt, but to see it as it is. You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of your Soul. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.
16 God is not the author of fear. You are. You have chosen, therefore, to create unlike Him, and you have made fear for yourselves. You are not at peace because you are not fulfilling your function. God gave you a very lofty responsibility which you are not meeting. You know this, and you are afraid. In fact, your egos have chosen to be afraid instead of meeting it. When you awaken you will not be able to understand this because it is literally incredible. Do not believe the incredible now. Any attempt to increase its believability is merely to postpone the inevitable.
17 The word "inevitable" is fearful to the ego but joyous to the Soul. God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you. The ego is afraid of the Soul's joy because, once you have experienced it, you will withdraw all protection from the ego and become totally without the investment in fear. Your investment is great now because fear is a witness to the separation, and your ego rejoices when you witness to it. Leave it behind! Do not listen to it, and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as are the Souls He created.
18 Release yourselves and release others. Do not present a false and unworthy picture of yourself to others, and do not accept such a picture of them yourselves. The ego has built a shabby and unsheltering home for you because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. Its weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that is worthy of His creations, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. Yet His home will stand forever and is ready for you when you choose to enter it. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.
19 Of your egos you can do nothing to save yourselves or others, but of your Souls you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the Soul. The Soul is beyond humility because it recognizes its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them better perception. The Kingdom of Heaven is the right of the Soul, whose beauty and dignity are far beyond doubt, beyond perception, and stand forever as the mark of the love of God for His creations, who are wholly worthy of Him and only of Him. Nothing else is sufficiently worthy to be a gift for a creation of God Himself.
20 I will substitute for your ego if you wish but never for your Soul. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child's origin. The brother can protect the child's body and his ego, which are very closely related, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this, although the child may. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego simply because this enables you not to be concerned with them and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself.
21 Let us undertake to learn this lesson together, so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. The Soul is far beyond the need of your protection or mine. Remember this:
23 That is why you should be of good cheer.