Renouncing the World — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Renouncing the World

True Self and False Self: Week 1

Renouncing the World
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The New Testament often uses the word world to speak of the corporate false self. “World” used in this way is not speaking of creation, the planet, or nature, but what we might call “the system.” Unfortunately, many Christians are enamored with the “filthy, rotten system,” showing little concern for earth care, animals, or global warming. What a strange and sad turnaround from the original intention.

“The world” in the Bible is the system of mutual flattery and constant rewarding of the false self. Jesus said, “In the world [system] you will have trouble; but be brave, I have already overcome it” (John 16:33). He overcame the system’s seduction and illusion by living inside an utterly different frame of reference, what he called “the Reign of God” and what I call the Big Picture. The false self is no longer a threat or an enduring attraction once you have experienced the True Self. This is what we are trying to say as Christians when we sing in a dozen ways at Easter, “Jesus destroyed death!” People might understand this much better if we said, “Jesus exposed the lie.” Once the veil is pulled back from illusion, it is just a matter of time before the system crumbles and we rebuild with the True Self’s values and guidance.

I was blessed to live with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at the motherhouse in Calcutta shortly after Mother Teresa died. The sisters so concentrated on the True Self in God that they almost disdained the false self (which might have its own problems, I admit). But it did explain for me their obvious peace, happiness, and contentment, which surely most of our world does not enjoy. They offered a shining witness of radical living in the True Self in God in a largely false-self world.

You are doing the same thing every time you sit in silence, refusing to produce and perform. Stay with your contemplative practice—at least once a day—until the false self shows itself for the partial imposter that it is.

Both Jesus and Buddha point to an essential “renouncing” of the false self, a foundational death of the ego that is frankly hard to talk about in our contemporary world. This dying to self is at the heart of the spiritual journey.

Gateway to Silence:
I am love.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 37-38, 41-44.

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