I am aware of the phrase “true self” occurring only once in the Bible. Paul used the words to describe what he was desperately trying to locate in the midst of some major trials with his false self. He wrote of it in a telling way: “When I act against my own will, then it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me” (Romans 7:20, Jerusalem Bible). Somehow, he knew there was a part of him that was authentic, steadfast, and true to its God-given and loving nature.
Paul then contrasted the true self with what we are calling the false self and he called “sin” (7:14-25). It is the self that is always passing away. This is our cozy image of ourselves as individual and autonomous, as separate from God and everyone and everything else. When this “separate” self is all we think we are, no wonder we are afraid of dying. Because this is all we know and have—if we have not discovered our soul, that is. The false self is terrified of death because it knows the mental construct that it calls “myself” is indeed passing away because it is merely self-constructed and fragile. The false self has no substance, no permanence, no vitality, only various forms of immediate gratification. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Do Not Be Afraid”
The important distinction between the true and false selves is foundational, yet it is often overlooked, perhaps because it is difficult to teach. Over the years, I have resorted to almost simplistic geometric images, and for many it seems to help. It imprints in the imagination better than concepts do. Perhaps this could help:
In the beginning, in our original unwoundedness (“innocence”), we live in an unconscious but real state of full connection. Perhaps you’ve sensed that babies are still in immediate connection with pure being. That’s probably why we can’t take our eyes off of them. But, I am afraid, we must “leave the garden”; and usually around the age of seven, we increasingly “think” of ourselves as separate. This idea of ourselves as separate is the “false self.” This is the essential illusion that spirituality seeks to overcome: “How do I get back to the garden of union and innocence?” Objectively I have never left, but it feels like I have.
Then comes the journey of finding connection and losing it. Picture the small “me” circle being totally outside of the large “God” circle, but hopefully still on the axis of loss and return. This is how we grow. We think we’re separate from God for many compelling reasons and we usually search for the correct rituals and moral responses in order to get God to like us again, and for us to learn to trust and know God. This is the dance of life and death.
Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Tru Self-False Self – Homecoming”
Soul knowledge sends you in the opposite direction from consumerism. It’s not addition that makes one holy, but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of the pretense, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding, not taking my private self too seriously. Conversion is more about unlearning than learning.
In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track. We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, usually trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve. This is our real operative religion. Success is holy! We transferred much of that to our version of Christianity and made the Gospel into spiritual consumerism. The ego is still in charge. There is not much room left for God when the false self takes itself and its private self-development that seriously.
All we can really do is get ourselves out of the way, and honestly we can’t even do that. It is done to us through this terrible thing called suffering.
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 46, day 49 (Available through Franciscan Media)
The Daily Meditations for 2013 are now available in Fr. Richard’s new book Yes, And . . . .
The false self is your psychological creation of yourself in space and time. It comes from your early conditioning, family, roles, education, mind, culture, and religion. The false self is who you think you are! But thinking doesn’t make it so. The false self dies and passes away. Yet it is the raw material through which you discover your True Self in God, so you must not hate it or kill it. Just learn from it. Of itself, it does not know how to pray, because it does not understand simple presence, communion, or relationship. The false self is all about utility and “What can I get out of this?” Not bad, but very incomplete. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – True Self vs False Self”
The false self is your psychological creation of yourself in space and time. It comes from your early conditioning, family, roles, education, mind, culture, and religion. The false self is who you think you are! But thinking doesn’t make it so. The false self dies and passes away. Yet it is the raw material through which you discover your True Self in God. Continue reading “Rohr – False Self vs. True Self”