It’s our inner light—the part we must work so hard to free—that goes on forever.

I grew up saying the standard Lutheran prayer before meals: “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” At my friend’s house, where they were Methodist, they said: “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for this food. Amen.” In my head, I always questioned if “food” really rhymed with “good.”

But that second prayer also raises an even better question: Is God all good? This seems fair to ask, given the way we live surrounded by duality. Where good and bad are always a package deal. If you ask for salt, life will also hand you pepper.

Per the Guide’s teaching in Chapter 5 of After the Ego: “We have been geared for century after century to see the world through the lens of good or bad. It’s understandable that we’ve gotten lost in our confusion…Only in truthful perception do we accept both opposites, allowing them to mutually aid one another…Religion itself has furthered this division, making God good and the devil bad. This is, at best, a half-truth.”

If you ask for salt, life will also hand you pepper.

Consider the fact that the devil, Lucifer, was among the first created beings. No matter what water has gone over the dam since the Fall, under all those dark robes remains a magnificent light. More brilliant, in fact, than almost any other. To miss this truth is to be blind to half of reality. And the minute we believe seeing half a truth is the same as seeing the whole truth, we are involved in error.

The teaching in After the Ego goes on, “And all error can lead only to more error and misinterpretation of life. Eventually, we get incredibly lost in this maze.” Perhaps this can serve as a good reminder that no matter how “bad” someone may seem, if we try, we might also glimpse their inner goodness.

Going back to God and that dinner prayer, is it true that God is only good? Said differently, does God also have a bad side?

There’s a good side and a bad side

Eons ago, long before the beginning of time, something bad happened. And in a nutshell, human beings—who were spiritual beings at the time—got in trouble. Our punishment was a bit like being sent to our room. In this case, we were sent into darkness. Which raises at least two questions: What did we do that was so wrong? And who handed out this dreadful punishment?

Where we went wrong

The long and short of what we did wrong is quite simple: We got sideways with God. We did this by not supporting the leader God had given us. And we did this knowing full well that doing so defied the will of God. And that really was the rub. Call it insubordination. Disobedience. Sedition. Poor judgment. In the end, God was not happy. And this is what led to the Fall. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before any of us came along, God had created the very first being. And as the first, this being was slated to be the one in charge. To this end, this being was created with more light than anyone else. Actually, this being was created with so much more of God’s light that this highest ranking spirit has both feminine and masculine characteristics, all rolled into one.

This was the only way that such a being could be capable of creating all the other divine beings who later came into existence. For any creation requires the presence of both the “let it happen” and “make it happen” energies embodied in the receptive and active principles, which we may also think of as feminine and masculine aspects.

Aligning our will with God’s will is always going to be in our own best interest.

After a time, it was Lucifer—the second in command, if you will—who eventually steered us all into the ditch. Eaten up by envy over the magnificence of Christ, Lucifer began an eons-long campaign to become king himself. He was clever, charismatic, persistent and patient, and over time gathered an enormous following.

What Lucifer didn’t account for was this: God was backing Christ. And God never wavered. From the very beginning, God had clearly and nicely requested that everyone look to Christ as their king. For this was God’s plan. This was God’s will. And as it turns out, aligning our will with God’s will is always going to be in our own best interest. Every time, staying on God’s good side brings us to our heart’s deepest desires.

Yet as it was then, so it is today: We always have the choice about whether we align our will with God’s will. Or not.

Who handles discipline?

Disciplining children well—even when done with the very best intentions—is not easy. Add in our shortcomings as humans, and most parents fall short in how well we discipline our children. Yet raising a child without any guard rails at all isn’t just poor parenting, it’s dangerous. Kids needs boundaries, guidance, reminders and corrections.

It must be said we shouldn’t limit God to having human parental qualities. God exists within, above, beyond and outside the human form. Or as the Pathwork Guide succinctly put it, “God is life and life force.” So while not a “person” kind of parent, it could certainly be said that God is the guardian of us all. As in: God has created an infinite number of spiritual laws that guide us.

Spiritual laws function automatically, the same for everyone.

They operate, in short, by making it painful in the long run to make choices that go against God’s will. We can call this cause and effect. There’s no old man in the sky handing out rewards and punishments. Spiritual laws, in fact, work much like gravity. They function automatically, the same for everyone.

Going back to the time when Lucifer drummed up his rivalry against Christ, Lucifer overlooked one important thing. His defiance was not really aimed at Christ. Lucifer was going against God. Which brings us to the point in the story when we witness the wrath of God.

In essence, by aligning with Lucifer, we all got on God’s bad side. And we are still paying a heavy price for it. Now, as we painstakingly work our way back home to God, we must work our way up from separation. To do this, we must stop aligning with darkness.

In other words, our work now is to consciously make choices that align with the light. We can only do this by sifting out truth from untruth, and unraveling our self-created negativity. And here on Earth—where both light and dark are present in everything—this is no small task.

God never left us

It is true that God’s punishment was severe, casting us out of heaven and into the dark depths of Hell. (It’s obvious God doesn’t want us to make that mistake again!) But it’s also true we had plenty of chances to make a better choice before God triggered that event.

To be clear, we’ve brought this discipline onto ourselves through the choices we made. To be even more clear, whatever difficulties we experience now, we are somehow still contributing to their creation. All our various prisons are of our own making. It is God’s plan and desire that we each break down our walls of separation, so we can live in freedom and unity.

All our various prisons are of our own making.

For although God did indeed banish us, God never abandoned us. Living here in this land of duality, this may be hard for us to reconcile. But in truth, God continues to provide us guidance and inspiration for getting back home. It arrives in the form of the spiritual guidance and protection that surrounds us and encourages us to go the right way. The more we tune into this, the closer it can come.

Restoring our good side

Our inner light begins and ends with God. Therefore, it has no beginning and no end. This light is our essence, and it can never be destroyed, only dimmed. We can twist, distort and deny it, yet the light remains. So we can always fully restore it. When we do the work of spiritual healing, this is what we are doing. We are restoring our inner light to its original bright and truthful form.

Once we get this ball rolling, things get easier. But starting out, the way may be hard. This is due to our accumulated inner clutter. As we progress, we will align more and more with truth. And this will organically bring us into alignment with God and God’s will for us. When this happens, we will open more and more to living and being in truth. Then we will clearly see how the roots of all our problems—which roll up to create the world’s problems—lie within.

We’ll start to realize that all disharmony comes—in one way or another—from an untruth. And untruth always leads to pain. We cover pain with hate and anger. This leads to avoidance and denial, control and manipulation. All of which create more disharmony, which further hides the truth of the matter. The longer this vicious circle goes on, the more difficult the work of unwinding it will be.

Shining a light on Christ

Another thing we’ll eventually see is the truth about Christ. But there’s no rush. We’ll see this whenever we are ready and able to see and know the whole truth. Until then, our focus should remain on unwinding every disharmony we face in life. For these are showing us where our work is, where our light is dim.

All disharmony associates, in some way, with untruth.

As the Guide points out, some Christians align with the convenient notion that just by believing Christ is Lord, we have a ticket home. But if such a belief is only skin deep—if we “believe” but are still planting hate and division in the world—then we’re believing with only our ego mind.

Trouble is, the separated ego can’t pass through the heavenly gates. For in the end, our ego dies, along with any of its skin-deep beliefs. It’s our inner light—the part we must work so hard to free—that goes on forever. But should we leave this earthly life with a dim light, we’ll have to return and try again.

Light is truth

Eventually, when we’re shining and sharing the same authentic light as God, God will see we are ready to return, for good. But there’s no faking true light. For God always knows the truth. Because God is truth.

When we become filled with light, we will know truth and we will feel at peace. And when that happens, we will feel like we’re already home. It’s our choice whether to head in that direction.

Don’t forget, we are all made in the image of God. Meaning, like God, we have free use of our will. The question is, are we willing to use it in service of doing our work of healing, of unwinding our hidden untruths and their associated disharmonies?

Are we ready to start living on the good side of life?

–Jill Loree

All essays in Get a Better Boat are available as podcasts.