In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor who chiseled a beautiful woman out of ivory. He was so smitten by his carved effigy that he fell in love with her. As Pygmalion kissed his ivory princess she transformed into an actual woman.
Two-thousand years after Ovid immortalized Pygmalion in his magnum opus poem Metamorphoses, George Bernard Shaw brought us his delightful play, Pygmalion, pitting Professor Higgins alongside Eliza Doolittle. Could Higgins channel his inner Pygmalion and transform this east end flower girl into an elegant, eloquent duchess?
Yes. And no.
Higgins indeed refines Eliza's working class dialect and rather unbecoming manners. So much so that she is in fact mistaken for a regal princess. But until she believed in herself, she was nothing more than a cockney in a nice dress.
We are all like Eliza Doolittle. And we all have an inner Pygmalion - known as the ego mind.
The ego is a thought system that convinces us of the conditions for happiness: approval and adoration from others, considerable financial resources, a robust and attractive body, and so forth. And like Professor Higgins, it confidently, and arrogantly, teaches us the way. "The rain in Spain ..."
But we know no other teacher and thus accommodate accordingly. We strive for money. We vie for attention. We pine for love.
Yet at best we are nothing more than cockneys in fine attire.
Until we realize there is another teacher. There is another way.
The right mind of the Holy Spirit teaches a very different curriculum. One that has nothing to do with external conditions whatsoever. This passage from A Course in Miracles so powerfully challenges our worldview:
You really think that you would starve unless you have stacks of green paper strips and piles of metal discs. You really think a small round pellet or some fluid pushed in to your veins through a sharpened needle will ward off disease and death. You really think you are alone unless another body is with you. It is insanity that thinks these things. (W-pI.76)
Later in this lesson we're asked: "hold your mind in silent readiness to hear the Voice that speaks the truth to you." The result of practicing the lessons from this teacher is what the course calls "endless joy."
The challenge we have is this: Like Pygmalion, we are so smitten with our sculpted masterpiece, the entity we call "me." With Professor Higgins shouting loudly in our ears, "this way happiness resides" as we're seduced by the pleasure/pain offerings of the world.
But we are not beholden to Higgins or the ego. Their lectures and diatribes need not concern us. Unlike Pygmalion, we can recognize the inert lifelessness of stone statues.
Instead, when we turn to the "stately calm within" we hear the silent sound of serenity. All external concerns dissolve into nothingness. We accept the Easter gift of lilies and not the painful thorns of worldly acquiescence. The rainy plains of Spain give way to glorious sunshine of the soul.
Join me in Thursday's class where we'll learn a new way of sculpting - chiseling away the stony detritus of the ego. And like Ovid's Metamorphoses, the transformation will lead to endless peace. I look forward to seeing you then.