By Cathy Eck
How Do We Know If We Are the Idiot?
A Facebook post inspired this article. It points to a mind trap that kept me stuck for years and still trips me up from time to time. It is easily resolvable once you see the trick.
The post had a photo of a Bible; underneath it were the words:
“I believe everything this book says, and I don’t care if you call me an idiot.”
Right and Wrong?
Another Face of Good and Evil
This Facebook post reflects the current stance of the Fundamentalist movements today. They feel that their faith is being challenged by nonbelievers. They are sure they are right; and everyone who doesn’t think as they do is wrong and abusive. So many people are realizing that religion has simply not worked. They are eliminating the middle man and doing their best to live from a place of love. They label themselves spiritual rather than religious.
When we make that shift, the old status quo comes out spitting. It is like the bully on the playground who hides the fact that he feels powerless. The bully’s power rests in getting you to accept his powerlessness by convincing you that you are the bad guy, the misfit, the outcast. The bully projects their imaginary opponent on to you and hopes you’ll accept their projection.
This is where we get tricked if we aren’t wise to their game. You see, what this Facebook post really says is, “If you don’t believe as I believe, then you think I’m an idiot.” She is talking to herself explaining her view of the world to us.
We won’t get sucked in to her perspective if we can see that this is all in her mind. It has nothing to do with us. She’s stuck in two minds, but she only identifies with one of those minds, the believer. She is fighting an imaginary battle of right and wrong with an enemy that she has projected. Her enemy thinks she’s an idiot. It also keeps her stuck in her own illusion.
We clearly don’t want to enter her world. So we have to avoid the temptation to give her what she wants, which is to label her an idiot or get angry at her projection. If she gets us to go there, she’s got the power. We prove her illusion right, and we won’t do very well in her world.
The Right and Wrong Power Game
This is a frequent power strategy in the illusion. The winners of the illusion do this masterfully, and they rule the world. The goal of the false self is to exalt itself within the illusion. It believes that it is right, and you are wrong. It is good and you’re evil. If it can get you into the illusion in this way, it wins and you lose. Guaranteed!
The first time I saw this was in a Catholic church. The priest gave a sermon on judgment. Since I didn’t perceive him as an authority, I could see that he was talking to himself. The congregation that he pretended to talk to were just his own projection; the people he judged. But everyone else saw him as an authority so they all believed what he said. They saw themselves as judgmental and felt bad about themselves after the sermon. He was reinforcing the belief that the church planted in them long ago, which was that they were sinners. I didn’t have that planted belief; so he looked like the fraud that he was to me.
I wish I could say that I didn’t fall into the same trap in my life, but my own authorities did the same number on me. This is how we all fall into the illusion. But we can dig our way out when we resolve right and wrong within our own minds.
Resolving Right and Wrong
Last week I watched a PBS special on Abraham Lincoln. They said that during the Civil War, Lincoln faced a deep dilemma. He saw two opposing sides, and both thought that God wanted them to win. Both saw the other as the evil enemy. Who was right in God’s eyes? He struggled and struggled with this moral issue.
This is the dilemma of the world right now. We all seeing opposing forces everywhere and don’t know which is right and which is wrong. When everyone looks good, who is telling the truth; who is lying? Who is good and who is evil? Who can we trust? These are questions that have the potential to push us to freedom.
When I heard about this moment in Lincoln’s life, I resonated completely; and I knew how powerful that experience must have been for him. When we have a moment where two opposing sides both sound plausible, we have our moment where the truth can shine through. But we must recognize that both sides are false opponents fighting their own inner battles. The truth has no opponent; you can’t find it in duality.
Lincoln had to step out of religion and politics and get to what mattered, which was freeing the slaves. For me, freedom is always the key. Every time this sort of situation comes in my life, my mind, I have to recognize that if I oppose their belief, I’m an idiot in equal measure. I’m stuck in their right and wrong world.
But if I allow both sides to be wrong (including my side if I’m involved in the conflict), the truth rises right out of the darkness. It is just like parting the Red Sea. The conflict disappears and only the truth remains.
The triangle process is very helpful in deciphering the truth hidden under right and wrong.