One of my greatest tools is fantasy. An imaginary future can be pursued and in some cases brought into existence in some or many of its aspects. "Follow your dream," say the world's teachers, "visualize your dream enough and it will come true!"
That would be great advice if my dreams came from my spirit with zero influence from my ego. The lessons of this course, for example, have used spirit-guided visualization and the results have always led to great good for everyone.
But what happens when ego-vested interests create a dream or influence a dream?
It helps to know that the ego has no ultimate interest other than pain, sickness, suffering, and death ... although it tempts one with promises of riches, power, sex, glory, etc. The ego is roughly equivalent to what most religious people call "Satan."
If I keep in mind that the ego's glittering promises are like the glittering spoon-hooks fishermen use and serve the same purpose ... to hook me so I can be yanked up out of my home, cut to the core, and fried ... then I'll have a pretty good idea about the kind of dreams the ego creates.
For example, my ego could tell me the new person I just met is just perfect for me. "Oh, those eyes!" "Oh, that body!" "What a mind!" "What perfection!" When the ego is in control, fantasy starts quickly. "Oh, if I could live with this person!" ... or whatever.
Following such an ego fantasy will always lead to pain because the unseen purpose of the fantasy is to lead to pain. If the fantasy does not come true I've missed the unspeakable joy of living in the now moment during the time I was fantasizing, and when the bubble bursts, as it must in ego fantasies, the momentum towards pain is tremendous. If the fantasy does come true in part, then the pain when the bubble bursts could be even more devastating even unto causing deaths.
The ego always gets me coming and going ... if I allow it.
But I don't have to allow the ego the use of this wonderful tool of fantasy. I can fantasize only when guided by my spirit or higher self. To train my mind in this respect is the goal of this week's lesson.
Each day this week upon awakening I search my mind for possible fantasies. Am I thinking the grass would be greener somewhere else? Am I thinking my life would be more wonderful if I had a certain person or certain kinds of people in my life? Have I caught myself wishing I had more money, or a better position, or a different situation? "If I only had this or that...."
I want to find all thoughts that serve as the cornerstones for fantasies. I cleanse my mind of ego fantasies by saying aloud with each such thought I find:
"Unless this idea came unexpectedly from my inner voice, I will not give it further thought."
I say this as many times as it takes to begin having the feeling that this fantasy is no longer going to be pursued if it's from the ego.
I need not fear that fantasies guided by my spirit or higher self will be inadvertently cleansed from my thinking with this exercise. A spirit-given fantasy will always keep persisting and persisting until I pay attention to it and go along with it. But the exercise will clean out ego-driven fantasies.
Then throughout the day this week I use as a mantra as often as possible the statement:
"Everything I really, really need I already have right now. Instead of thinking about future possibilities, I enjoy myself here and now."
At the end of each day I review my progress. Have I caught myself fantasizing during the day or in some way thinking that "the grass could be greener"? Was I able to dispel such fantasies? Have I been able to identify when my spirit would guide me to think about the future and feel the difference between these and ego fantasies?
At the end of my review I say aloud to myself a few times in order to reaffirm my commitment to learning this lesson:
"Each day it is easier and easier for me to tell the difference between an ego-serving fantasy and a spirit-serving fantasy."
I fall asleep satisfied with my progress and thankful. I might even say before sleeping:
"I enjoy fantasizing ... but only when guided by my spirit."
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Course in Political Miracles