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by David Truman

How the ego fights the still small voice

How the ego creates "the pause that distresses"

Alchemy of doubt

The ego approves of damaged goods

What to do?

The only accurate, non-damaging method of evaluation

The stage of life is set for the epic drama of conflict between the ego and the spirit. The spirit wishes to uplift all souls, and give them spirit joys beyond anything the ego can conceive, much less condone or allow. The ego's purpose is to preserve itself, and protect its interests by combating loving impulses and anything else that works to unseat ego's rule. The things that threaten the ego's dominance are the very things that the still small voice recommends: beauty, truth, love, joy, etc. This is where the battle lines are drawn between the ego and the still small voice.

The still small voice provides impulses that are, on delivery, pure and perfect. The ego knows that those Spirit promptings, if allowed to unfold in their original purity, will create great beauty -- more than the ego can stand to feel. Also, the ego knows that beauty and joy will encourage further spiritual progress and make its recommendations look silly and unnecessary. Most of all, it knows that further progress of the spirit will weaken its influence on the mind and eventually overthrow its rule altogether. Therefore, the ego reacts predictably against the impulses of the still small voice -- and for that matter, against anything that is too right and too beautiful. It will fight virtually every impulse of the still small voice, either to prevent its implementation, or to ruin it.

How the ego fights the still small voice

Doubt and fear are the tools ego uses to counteract beauty, for they are the only tools powerful enough to do the job.

In the article "How the Still Small Voice Works," we noted that the still small voice provides not just a blueprint for action, but also the right feeling and energy with which to do an action. "It's not what you do -- it's how you do it." Thus the Spirit helps us perform actions that are beautiful from the inside out, acts beautiful in spirit.

"It's not what you do, it's how you do it," can work FOR you or AGAINST you.

The ego also concerns itself more with the HOW than the WHAT. It couldn't care less whether we do a good "what" -- as long as we do it with a bad "how." It can eliminate the spiritual effectiveness of an action without PREVENTING the action. All it has to do is erode the purity and beauty of the feeling BEHIND the action. If it can darken the tone of an action, the ego can change its IMPACT from light to dark. It does that with doubt.

This is how the still small voice is undermined:


Impulse. We feel a spiritual impulse that is pure and perfect.


Interruption. We allow the ego to insert a "polite interruption," a humble suggestion that we question the act before we proceed to implement -- just to be sure.


Questioning. We take time out to evaluate the action, contemplating its possible rightness or wrongness.


Discouragement. As we question the action, doubt and insecurity arise in us and grow.

How the ego creates "the pause that distresses"

The ego is masterful and flexible in its methods of sabotaging Divine impulses.

The direct way. The most direct way to ruin a good impulse is to introduce the chilling element of doubt: "This could be wrong. This could be inappropriate, inconsiderate, too forward, rude, etc. Also, it could make you too vulnerable, and you might be rejected."

The roundabout way. Sometimes a direct attack will not work. The good feelings of an impulse may convince a person that the impulse is fundamentally good. In that case, the ego is obliged to use a more subtle approach. "Obviously, this is worth pursuing. Let's make sure that it is good before we proceed, just to be on the safe side. This is, after all, an important matter. There's no harm in just making sure that it is good before proceeding with it, is there?"

The ideal candidate for the disease of doubt. They say there's a sucker born every minute, and the ego knows just how true that is. The ego has gleefully discovered that a conscientious person can be made to doubt even the most beautiful, sweet-feeling impulse. Consequently, most of the questioning of the still small voice runs along these lines:


Is this an egotistical impulse, or not?

When a person routinely questions the rightness of beautiful impulses, CONSCIENTIOUS may be a front for COWARDLY.

How shameless of the ego -- to offer its own name as a deterrent! When a person routinely questions the rightness of beautiful and sweet acts, CONSCIENTIOUS may be a front for COWARDLY. Thus the ego's search for "rightness" can cover a multitude of sins.

Alchemy of doubt

In spreading doubt, the ego resembles an evil doctor of medicine who spreads disease in the name of helping people. The doctor invites you to take advantage of his services: "You seem to be in good health -- but wouldn't it be reassuring to make absolutely SURE that you are OK? Come on into my office and let me examine you." You trust this guy. So you say, "Yes, no harm in that. I certainly want to be nice and certain." You believe his intentions are good -- and that's your mistake. In the course of the examination, Dr. Death is going to give you a bad disease of which he happens to be a carrier. You walked in a healthy person, and walked out with a bad disease: DOUBT.

Obviously, what the victim does not realize is that examination is not a neutral process, but a transformative one. It doesn't just evaluate, it sickens.


Example: A woman feels the urge to kiss her date on the cheek. However, she resists the urge initially, and contemplates her bold possibility for a half an hour. As she deliberates, she grows more nervous by the moment, and soon loses the spirit of her action.

Her impulse was warm at the start of the questioning, but cool at the end of it. Examination kills a good action by eating the heart of it.

The ego approves of damaged goods

At the end of diligent deliberations, the ego may very well approve the action in question. Is the ego fair-minded because it doesn't deny all applications? Are we to think that the ego grants approval to good actions?

The ego never approves a good action with converting it to a bad one first.

No, the ego NEVER approves a good action. It converts a good action into a bad one, and then approves of it. Having consumed the good parts of its prey, it leaves us with what's left, just as a jackal leaves the pathetic carcass of its luckless prey for the vultures. "There you go," it says confidently, "This is all fine. Now go and have a good time."

Example: The woman decides she is not going to cave in to fear, so she kisses her date on the cheek in spite of her nervousness. But when she makes her move, she is so terribly awkward she ends up kissing his shoulder, embarrassing herself, and giving him a uneasy feeling.

What to do?

After evaluation, we must decide what to do. But what if we have contemplated an urge, and now we feel less secure and more doubtful than when we started?


Example: A man came upon a beautiful orchid bloom, so sweet and delicate. His immediate impulse was to pick it and present it to his girlfriend. But once he picked it, he suddenly felt unsure; fear and doubt flooded through him. He decided to slice the flower up and examine it. He put it under a microscope and ran a whole battery of chemical tests on it. When he was done, the flower was far from its original state, and of no use to anybody. Should he give the resulting mess of shredded fiber to his girlfriend now? She would only be disgusted -- especially when she finds out what that orchid used to be. Had he given her the original orchid, in all its pristine glory, she would have been delighted.

Having worried a good impulse to death, we may have ruined our chance to act in a truly positive manner. Now what should we do? We know that a "good" action performed in an insecure fashion can be disturbing to all concerned: a nervous hug disturbs just as surely as a warm hug heals.

Of course the ego may be THRILLED to recommend a nervous hug. It would like nothing better than to have an emissary out there spreading bad feelings around. But as spiritual beings, we might think the better of it. Sure, we may wish to take a fear-be-damned attitude and fight heroically against our inhibitions -- EVEN IF we are far too nervous and off center to succeed. But here, compassion and realism are needed. We dare not perform the act from a feeling of insecurity, ignoring the presence of excessive doubt in ourselves, when most likely such an action would only:


Create negative effects for ourselves and our "beneficiary."


Create lasting disturbance not only in ourselves, but also in our relationship with our "beneficiary."


Give us reason to believe, as a result of those negative effects, that following the urges of the still small voice is dangerous, and therefore ill-advised.

Doubt is a disease: if you catch it, please don't spread it!

Such folly, courageous though it seems, only messes up our lives and damages our relationships. Therefore, the decision to refrain from fearful action is socially responsible and spiritually prudent. It prevents the spreading of our disease of insecurity and doubt through the medium of action. It also keeps us from plunging downward as a result of doing something so awkward that it is destructive to our own self-esteem. Thus we can derive some consolation from self-restraint.

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that a loss has been incurred. Gone is the action that would have occurred if we had acted directly on our positive impulse instead of questioning it and destroying the spirit of it. While we have prevented a terrible thing from happening, the ego has prevented a beautiful thing. It has prevented us from spreading joy. It has kept us from moving up the spiritual ladder -- which is what happens when you do something truly beautiful and good.

The only accurate, non-damaging method of evaluation

We certainly need to distinguish truly positive impulses from egoic urges, but how? How can we protect the delicate impulses of the still small voice, when it takes but a minute to ruin a sweet impulse by questioning it, when a second of fear injects enough doubt into a beautiful urge to turn it ugly and make it harmful? We must evaluate possible actions without ruining them in the process.

A way to evaluate an action without ruining it in the process.

First of all, be cautious of caution. Think hard before thinking. Do not provide the ego the opportunity to fill you with fear and doubt. THOROUGHLY DISCIPLINE and ABSOLUTELY MINIMIZE every compulsive tendency to question spontaneous impulses -- especially ones that are inherently beautiful.

If it feels sweet, it will sweeten; if it feels beautiful, it will beautify.

Use that method faithfully and your beauty will live, and you stand a great chance for a very happy life.

by David Truman

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