A Flash of Love — Center for Action and Contemplation

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A Flash of Love

True Self and False Self: Week 1

A Flash of Love
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

As disappointed as I get in religion, I can’t give up on it because only healthy religion is prepared to point you beyond the mere psychological to the cosmic, to the universal, to the absolute. Only healthy religion is prepared to realign and reconnect all things and reposition us inside of true community instead of mere individualism.

Only your soul can know the soul of other things. Only a part can recognize the whole from which it came. But first something within you, your True Self, must be awakened. Most souls are initially “unsaved” in the sense that they cannot dare to imagine they could be one with God/Reality/the universe. This is the lie of the false self that dies slowly, and only after much testing and practice in surrender.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) said that the True Self should not be thought of as anything different than life itself—but not my little life—the Big Life. [1] Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) said that the human person is not different or separate from Being itself—not the little being that you and I get attached to and take too seriously, but Universal Being or “the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being,” as Paul said to the Athenians (Acts 17:28). We Franciscans call this “the univocity of all being” (speaking of all beings with one consistent voice), “that all may be one. . .” (John 17:21-23).

When you’ve gotten too comfortable with your separate self and you call it Life, you will get trapped at that level and you will hold onto it for dear life—because that’s the only dear life you think you have. Unless someone tells you about the Bigger Life or you’ve had a conscious connection with the deepest ground of your being, there’s no way you’re going to let go of your false self. But your false self must “die” or “the single grain of wheat remains just a single grain” (John 12:24).

Your True Self is Life and Being and Love. Love is what you were made for and love is who you are. When you live outside of Love, you are not living from your true Being or with full consciousness. The Song of Songs says that “Love is stronger than death. . . . The flash of love is a flash of fire, a flame of YHWH” (Song of Songs 8:6). Your True Self is a little tiny flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, God’s very self.

[1] Merton writes about the true self throughout New Seeds of Contemplation (New Directions: 1961). 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, True Self/False Self, disc 2 (Franciscan Media: 2003), CD; and
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 60.

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