A Basket of Onions
This ACIM Blog Post is Written by Rev. Myron Jones
You may have heard people talk about peeling the onion when referring to letting go of stubborn beliefs.
I have always found this to be a very apt description of my process.
I will notice a useless ego thought and ask the Holy Spirit to remove it from my mind.
Depending on how attached I am to that thought, it will be gone, or it will seem to be gone.
Sometimes I will be surprised to see that it has turned up again.
That is when I realize I had peeled away a layer of that belief, but I had been unwilling to let the entire belief go.
Thus, it shows up again in the same form, or some other form, and I have the opportunity to peel another layer from that particular onion.
I used to have a whole basket of these onions, these false ego beliefs.
Now the basket is not so full as it used to be, because I have been vigilant for signs that I have another thought to bring to the Holy Spirit.
The way I do this is that after I notice the thought, and recognize it for something that doesn’t belong in my holy mind, I talk to the Holy Spirit about it.
I let myself experience that belief.
I let myself feel the effects of believing it, to recognize its impact on me.
Then, convinced it is not what I want, and that it doesn’t belong in my mind, I ask the Holy Spirit to remove it.
Some beliefs are easy for me to let go.
Once I see them clearly for what they are, I can tell they are rotten and I know I don’t want them. Those thoughts are the ones that I readily give to Spirit and let go of completely.
It feels easy to just toss a rotten onion out of my basket.
I mean, who wouldn’t throw away what is useless and unwanted? Then my basket of onions is smaller and not so weighty as it used to be.
But there are some ideas, some stubborn beliefs that I seem to cling to in spite of the obvious solution.
These are the ones I look at with Holy Spirit and give to Him to remove, but my desire for the belief is still too strong for me to entirely abandon it. I do peel away a layer, and so the onion is smaller and not as daunting as it was before, but when it shows up again, I know I am not through with it.
I was thinking about this the other day because I was looking at one of those onions and wondering why I am so reluctant to toss it out once and for all.
After all, I am not in this alone.
I have a constant Companion in the Holy Spirit, and He will do the work for me.
He only needs my true desire to be free.
The particular belief I was looking at was the one that tells me I am unfairly treated.
I am quick to recognize this because Jesus tells us in A Course in Miracles that we should beware of the temptation to see ourselves unfairly treated.
This time, the idea took a form I am familiar with and one I have been peeling away at for some time.
When the belief I am unfairly treated first showed up in this particular form, I was angry with a co-worker.
This person seemed intent on making everyone’s workplace experience as difficult as possible and I resented her very much.
I knew I was looking at this with the ego if I believed my problem was her fault.
I would hear myself complain about her behavior and how unhappy it made me, and I would just cringe at my own words. I would go into the closet in my mind where we meet, and I would talk to the Holy Spirit about my confusion.
I would ask Him to heal me, and I would feel so much better. I would be clear for awhile that she was not the problem, that my own mind was the problem. Then she would do something else and I would be upset again.
I peeled away at that onion as often as I noticed it in my mind and it seemed to be shrinking.
One day I noticed that I didn’t get upset about her behavior.
I was clear that my upset had been caused by my ego interpretation of the situation, and that it was only the healing of my mind that would bring me peace.
When I had talked to Holy Spirit about this, He had shown me something that helped a lot.
He reminded me that none of this is actually happening anywhere except in my mind, so how is it that my feelings about it could be someone else’s fault, and how could the solution lie somewhere outside my mind?
Then He showed me how this story came to be in my life.
I had a fantasy of being unfairly treated. It had to be a fantasy because it is really not possible for this to be true.
There is only one God, one Son, one ego, one dream.
What is there that could hurt me, or affect me?
What is it that could treat me unfairly?
The only way I could have the experience of being unfairly treated is if I fantasized it. I would fantasize it only if I wanted the experience. I know, it’s insane, but He tells us we are insane in this dream so I guess it’s no surprise.
Then He showed me that from this fantasy of being unfairly treated, I made an image of what that could look like.
Actually, I have made many images of that idea over my life, but in this one case, I made an image of a co-worker who was always causing trouble. I would suffer from her behavior even though most of what she said was not true.
It would be so unfair.
There! I did it! I found a way to have an experience of being unfairly treated.
Now what I did was truly ingenious. In order to have a real experience I had to believe it, so I projected it out as if it was happening in a world rather than in my mind. I saw it as if it was reality, and I believed it. I defended it as I kept insisting my feelings were her fault. I reinforced it by asking others to join me in my judgments.
Once the Holy Spirit helped me to see this all so clearly, I was ready to let it go.
I had to do this a step at a time because I had built up my image so fully, that I really did believe it. But finally, the wall between us started to crumble.
I began to think of her differently.
I saw that her ego was manipulative and mean spirited, but I also saw that this was not who she was.
I felt much better and I was pretty proud of myself.
I was confused though, because I really expected the relationship to improve.
I thought she would, on some level, respond to my forgiveness, but that didn’t seem to be happening. In fact, it seemed to be escalating. I could feel her rage even when she was not expressing it. I had a lot of thoughts about this, but I didn’t really understand it.
Then one day, she said something that shook my confidence that I had done my work. We were finishing up a project and she made a startling remark.
She said, “I know you hate me.”
Then she walked away.
I was stunned. I said that I don’t hate you, I appreciate you. But even as I said it, I knew that I was not being entirely honest. I went back to Spirit complaining that she was once again being the cause of my problems and it was so unfair.
The Holy Spirit is the very essence of patience. He just kept working with me.
We once again went through the process and this time He added a component. When I looked at the idea that her ego was manipulative and mean-spirited, I let myself sit with that statement. I felt the unease of an untrue thought.
I asked Holy Spirit about it and he held up a mirror. The message was utterly clear.
I am manipulative and mean spirited.
Really, Holy Spirit? How could that be true?
So I looked within and I saw this in myself.
Wouldn’t I gladly manipulate her to make my work experience more to my liking?
Wouldn’t I gladly manipulate my customers into being loyal to me?
How about my children?
Would I manipulate them into being with me?
Do I buy them things, say what I know they would like to hear, agree with them even when I don’t?
Why would I do that except to manipulate their behavior?
Am I mean spirited?
There are thoughts in my mind that are mean spirited.
Just because I repress them and don’t let them come out in the open doesn’t mean they are not there. Just because my ego is a nice ego, that doesn’t make it less an ego. Isn’t it mean spirited to see this child of God in such a dark light?
I changed my prayer from, “Let me see this person in a better light,” to “Please, remove the blocks to love so that I see this person in the light she is.”
I know this is a prayer that can and will be answered because it has happened before with other images I have made.
I don’t know if this particular onion, the one that says I am unfairly treated, has been peeled away to its core, but it has been significantly reduced in size.
When that happens, it is easier to recognize it when it shows up, and not nearly so intimidating. In fact, each time I approach this belief, each time I do the work that makes me want a change in mind, the whole process gets easier.