This week Father Richard Rohr shares some of his core teachings about the True Self, the place where the Divine Presence exists in us:
Searching for and rediscovering the True Self is the fundamentum, the essential task that will gradually open us to receiving love from and giving love to God, others, and ourselves. We are created in the image of God from the very beginning (Genesis 1:26–27; Ephesians 1:3–4).
You (and every other created thing) begin with your unique divine DNA, an inner destiny as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you. This true believer is tucked away in the cellar of your being, an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself. “You were chosen in Christ before the world was made—to stand before God in love—marked out beforehand as fully adopted sons and daughters” (see Ephesians 1:4–5). This is your True Self. Historically, it was often called “the soul.”
Jesus revealed and accepted a paradox in his entire being: the human and divine are not separate, but one! His life shouted it. I wonder why we so resist our same destiny? For most of us, this seems just too good and too dangerous to be true. There is so much contrary evidence! Many clergy fight me on this, even though it is quite constant in the Tradition. Is it because we are afraid to bear the burden of divinity? As Marianne Williamson says: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  Maybe we realize subconsciously that if we really believed that we are temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16), then we would have to live up to it.
The True Self is the Divine Indwelling, the Holy Spirit within you. I would say that the True Self is precisely the divine part of you that is great enough, deep enough, gracious enough to fully accept the human part of you. If you are merely human, you will tend to reject your embarrassingly limited humanity. Think on that!
Paradoxically, immense humility, not arrogance, characterizes someone who lives in this True Self. You simultaneously know you are a child of God, but you also know that you didn’t earn it and you are not worthy of it. You know it’s entirely a gift (see Ephesians 2:8–9 and throughout the Pauline writings). All you can do is thank Somebody Else, occasionally weep with joy, and kneel without any hesitation.
The true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. Every sacrament, every Bible story, every church service, every sermon, every hymn, every bit of priesthood, ministry, or liturgy is for one purpose: to allow you to experience your True Self—who you are in God and who God is in you—and to live a generous life from that Infinite Source.
 Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 190.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, True Self/False Self, discs 1 and 2 (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2003, 2013), CD; and
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 16–17.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on the roots of violence.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
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:
I wear my ego like a coat, and in the cold isolation of selfishness, it seems to provide an illusion of comfort. When I am in contact with others, I feel the hearth of divine fire, and the warmth causes me to discard this coat. As part of my recovery (15 years and counting now) I practice prayer, meditation, and contemplation every morning. I share my insights on AA with others before I leave for work. Waking up at 4 a.m. was a challenge at first, but when I start my day contemplating God’s will for me and thinking of others, I feel peace and serenity.
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.