True Self/False Self: Week 2
Beginning with Yes
Friday, August 12, 2016
The great wisdom teachers and mystics say in various ways that you cannot truly see or understand anything if you begin with a no. You have to start with a yes of basic acceptance, which means you do not too quickly label, analyze, or categorize things in or out, good or bad. This is Contemplation 101. You have to be taught how to leave the field open. The ego or false self strengthens itself by constriction, by being against, or by re-action; it feels loss or fear when it opens up to subtlety and Mystery. Living out of the True Self involves positive choice, inner spaciousness, and conscious understanding rather than resistance, knee-jerk reactions, or defensiveness. It is not easy to live this way. It often takes a lifetime of prayer and honest self-observation to stop judging and starting with no.
We see what we are ready to see, expect to see, and even desire to see. If you start with no, you usually get some form of no in return. If you start with yes, you are much more likely to get a yes back. Once you have learned how to say a fundamental yes, later no’s can be very helpful and are surely necessary. Beginning with yes is the foundation of mature nonviolence and compassionate action.
The Risen Christ is a great big yes to everything (see 2 Corinthians 1:19), even early, incomplete stages. “Transcend and include” is an important principle here. The final, stupendous gift is that your false self becomes the raw material for your unique version of True Self. This is the wonderful metamorphosis we call Resurrection. The Risen Christ is still and forever the wounded Jesus—and yet now so much more. Your ordinary life and temperament is not destroyed or rejected. It is “not ended but merely changed,” as the Preface of the funeral liturgy puts it. “This perishable nature will put on imperishability, and this mortal body will put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15: 52-54)—one including the other, not one in place of the other. Picture the nesting dolls that keep including smaller dolls inside of ever larger ones.
Importantly, the Risen Christ is beyond any limits of space and time, as revealed in his bilocation (Luke 24:32-39); passing through doors (John 20:19); and shape-shifting into a gardener (John 20:14-18), a passer-by (Luke 24:13-35), and a wounded man that can only be recognized when Thomas touches the wounds (John 20:27f). The Risen Christ reveals a universal presence that is truly intimate with and connected to everything. The one and the many have become One in him. He reveals that we can operate as a part of the biggest ecosystem or force field possible. Paul’s metaphor for this is “The Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12ff), where even the “weakest members are the most indispensable ones . . . and are clothed with the greatest care” (12:22f). This is an utterly new and upside-down universe that is revealed in the Risen Christ!
For the True Self, there is nothing to hate, reject, deny, or judge as unworthy or unnecessary. It has “been forgiven much and so it loves much” (Luke 7:47). Compassion and mercy come easily once you live from inside the Big Body of Love. The detours of the false self were all just delaying tactics, bumps in the road, pressure points that created something new in the long run, as pressure does to carbon deep beneath the earth. God uses everything to construct this hard and immortal diamond, our core of love.
Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth. The strong diamond of love will always be stronger than death. Diamonds, once soft black carbon, become beautiful and radiant white lightning under pressure. The true pattern, the big secret, has now been revealed and exposed, “like a treasure hidden in a field.” You did not find the Great Love except by finding yourself too, and you cannot find your True Self without falling into the Great Love.
Gateway to Silence:
God in me loves God in everything.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 49-51; and
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 183-185.