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Transformation and the True Self

The Temple Within

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

The writer Joyce Rupp offers different metaphors for discovering the True Self, a journey that requires opening a door from within:

The Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi [1207–1273] describes our soul-space as a magnificent cathedral where we are “sweet beyond telling.” Saint Teresa of Ávila [1515–1582] views it as a castle. . . . Another way to speak about this inner sphere where our truest self and God dwell is with the words of scripture. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

The body is often referred to as a temple of God but our soul is also a wondrous residence. This hidden part of us, in union with divinity, is where our abundant goodness (our God-ness) exists. Jesuit paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin [1881–1955], understood the necessity of opening the door inward to find and claim this goodness. Reflecting on his spiritual growth, Chardin observed this truth: “The deeper I descend into myself, the more I find God at the heart of my being.” [1] . . .

Cathedrals. Castles. Temples. However we describe our inner terrain, one thing is certain: we tend to live in just a few rooms of our inner landscape. The full person God created us to be contains more than we can imagine, but most of us dwell within only a small portion of the superb castle of ourselves. Opening the door of our heart allows us entrance to the vast treasure of who we are and to the divine presence within us.

Author Paula D’Arcy suggests fire as another metaphor to describe the mystery at the center of our being:

Mystics and sages of all traditions speak of the inner fire, the divine spark hidden in our very cells and in all that lives. This flame of love is the pure presence of God. Because of it, life is sustained. No power is greater. [2]

Rupp continues:

Our authentic self, which is in union with God, may seem out of reach. It never is. “Deep in ourselves is the true Self,” writes Beatrice Bruteau [1930–2014], “and that true Self is not separate from, or even different from, the Source of Being.” [3] Always our truest self cries out to be known, loved, embraced, welcomed without judgment and integrated into the way we live. When we open the door and go inside, God is there in the temple of our soul, in the ashram of our heart, in the cathedral of our being. Which is not to dismiss the reality of this same loving presence being fully alive in our external world. The Holy One is with us in all of life. Our purpose for opening the door inward is to help us know and claim who we are so we can more completely join with God in expressing this love in every part of our external world.

References:
[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Writings in the Time of War, trans. René Hague (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 61.

[2] Paula D’Arcy, “A Surrender to Love,” Oneing 5, no. 1, Transformation (Spring 2017): 91. Available in print and PDF download.

[3] Beatrice Bruteau, What We Can Learn from the East (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1995), 53.

Joyce Rupp, Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2008), 4, 5.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Charlein Garcia, Untitled (detail), 2018, photograph, Philippines, Unsplash, free use. Jenna Keiper, Untitled Leaves (detail), 2020, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Charlein Garcia, Untitled (detail), 2018, photograph, Philippines, Unsplash, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: The true self is deeper than our egos and eccentricities. At times mirroring the innocence of a child, it awaits our remembering. May we also open, with childlike curiosity, to our own transformation.

Story from Our Community:

Like so many people with childhood trauma, I was raised without stable parents. Kenosis is helping me with self-emptying my false self, unwiring my childhood conditioning so that I can be my True Self in the image of God and live my life based on a gift economy.
—Elias M.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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