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Center for Action and Contemplation
Immortal Diamond
Immortal Diamond

Awakening to Our True Self 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Richard Rohr reflects on our responsibility to awaken and live from our True Self: 

I believe God gives us our soul, our deepest identity, our True Self, our unique blueprint, at our own conception. Our unique little bit of heaven is installed within the product by the Manufacturer at the beginning! We are given a span of years to discover it, choose it, and live our destiny to the full. If we do not, our True Self will never be offered again in our own unique form.  

Our soul’s discovery is utterly crucial, momentous, and of pressing importance for each of us and for the world. We do not “make” or “create” our souls; we just “grow” them up. We are the clumsy stewards of our own souls. We are charged to awaken; much of the work of spirituality is learning how to stay out of the way of this natural growing and awakening. We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life which is “hidden in God” (Colossians 3:3). Yes, transformation is often more about unlearning than learning, which is why religious traditions call it “conversion” or “repentance.”  

For me, no poet says this quite so perfectly as the inimitable Gerard Manley Hopkins in his Duns Scotus-inspired poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.”

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves—goes its self; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying What I do is me: for that I came. [1]

All we can give back and all God wants from any of us is to humbly and proudly return the product that we have been given—which is ourselves! If I am to believe the saints and mystics, this finished product is more valuable to God than it seemingly is to us. Whatever this Mystery is, we are definitely in on the deal. True religion always has a deep intuition that we are already participating in something very good, in spite of our best efforts to deny it or avoid it.  

In fact, the best of modern theology reveals a strong turn toward participation, “an enactive understanding of the sacred,” [2] as opposed to religion as mere observation, affirmation, moralism, or group belonging. There’s nothing to join, only something to recognize, suffer, and enjoy as a participant. We are already in the eternal flow that Christians would call the divine life of the Trinity.   

Whether we find our True Self depends in large part on the moments of time we are each allotted, and the moments of freedom that we each receive and choose during that time. Life is indeed “momentous,” created by accumulated moments in which the deeper “I” is slowly revealed if we are ready to see it. Holding our inner blueprint, which is a good description of our soul, and returning it humbly to the world and to God by love and service is indeed of ultimate concern.  


[1] Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” in Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works, ed. Catherine Phillips (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, 2002), 129.  

[2] Jorge N. Ferrer and Jacob H. Sherman, eds., introduction to The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies(Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2008), 34. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011), ix–xi. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Field Study 1 (detail), oil pastel on canvas. Taylor Wilson, Field of the Saints (detail), print. Taylor Wilson, Isha (detail), watercolor and cyanotype. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Artist Statement (Taylor Wilson): This collection is an exploration of the iconic visuals we are culturally familiar with.… Playing and replaying with what the ancients already knew and then taking the responsibility of sacred knowledge forward through modern expression with the Spirit. 

Story from Our Community:  

I often turn to the Daily Meditations to start my day with a centered frame of mind. I found the Daily Meditation on “Separateness Is Suffering” very moving. Kabir Helminski’s quote on education spoke to me as an educator for over twenty-five years. On a good day in the classroom, I did try “to awaken [students] from the sleep of their limited conditioning and know the potential latent in the human being.” In my experience, so much of curriculum is detached from discussions of the human spirit and our experience as sentient beings. As I reflect on the new online trend in education, I sincerely hope that new teachers can continue to connect with students in a way that awakens their essential self. —Spencer E. 

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