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Center for Action and Contemplation
CAC's Eight Core Principles
CAC's Eight Core Principles

True Religion and the True Self

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Seventh Core Principle of the CAC: True religion leads us to an experience of our True Self and undermines our false self. Father Richard teaches:

The True Self is who you are because of divine indwelling, the Holy Spirit within you (Romans 8:9). We are all tabernacles of God, says Paul (1 Corinthians 3:16). What happened in Christ, the Anointed One, is an announcement of what is happening in all of us, too. We are children of heaven and earth, both at the same time. Much of the work of enlightenment is bringing those two identities together, just as Jesus did.

Putting the human and the divine together is what it means to be “the Christ” (Colossians 1:17–20), and what it means for us to be “the new Adam and Eve” (1 Corinthians 15:45–49). Ephesians could not make it much clearer: “You too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit that was promised—this is the pledge of your inheritance” (1:13–14). Few Christians have ever been seriously taught about their inherent union with God and will find all kinds of self-hating reasons to deny it. Only the True Self can dare to believe the gospel’s Good News.

The false self, or smaller self, is characterized by separateness. Jewish and Christian traditions call this state of disconnectedness “sin.” When we’re separated from our deepest Being, we are in the state of sin. When we are disconnected from our True Self in God, we look for various false and addictive ways to fill our emptiness. The small or false self is who we think we are, but our thinking does not make it so. It is our identity created through culture, education, class, race, friends, gender, clothes, and money. That’s all that Adam and Eve had once they left the Garden where they walked with God. But let’s not feel too bad for them or even guilty ourselves. It seems that we have to leave the Garden. We have to create a false self to get started; the trouble is that we take it far too seriously. It is always passing away—in stages and then all at once at death. Only the True Self is eternal. We all suffer from a terrible case of mistaken identity.

The True Self is characterized by communion and deep contentment. It’s okay, right here, right now. The True Self is the realigned self; religion’s main purpose is to lead us to experience this Self, which is who we are in God and who God is in us. It has to do with participating in a Universal Being that is beyond our being. Ultimately, our lives are not about us. We are about life! That doesn’t mean we stay in the True Self twenty-four hours a day. Life is three steps forward and two steps backward. Yet once we know the big picture, we will never be satisfied with the little picture.


Adapted from Richard Rohr, “True Self, False Self,” Radical Grace 25, no. 4, The Eight Core Principles (Fall 2012): 39–42.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Claudia Retter, The Villa Stairwell (detail), used with permission. Claudia Retter, Via Galuzza (detail), photograph, used with permission. Arthur Allen, Untitled 1 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

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

Image inspiration: Stairs and buildings provide structure for our movement and safety. The CAC’s eight core principles guide us in exploring the context and substance of our lived experiences.

Story from Our Community:

I was moved by CAC’s daily postings concerning the Quest for the Holy Grail and the emphasis of having the right questions rather than having the right answers. . . I have lingering and enduring questions for the last 5 years as to why our daughter decided to end her life after just turning 18 years old and not yet out of high school. I used to search for answers like abandonment issues due to her being adopted, she may have been high on drugs, she was bullied. . . As I hold these questions over time, I am accepting the simple truth that I just will never have the answer and it is one of the personal mysteries of my life, and hers. I pray that she had the time to explore the many facets of her questions and knows her present soul to understand the mystery of her life and the future life ahead for her. —Brian L.

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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