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Transformation and the True Self: Weekly Summary

Sunday
Searching for and rediscovering the True Self is the essential task that will gradually open us to receiving love from and giving love to God, others, and ourselves. —Richard Rohr

Monday
Your True Self is a tiny flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, God’s very self. —Richard Rohr

Tuesday
Something great is alive in you, and something more than this surface reality is intended for your life. Beyond your circumstances lies a different destiny. —Paula D’Arcy

Wednesday
My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. —Thomas Merton

Thursday
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. —Joyce Rupp

Friday
God yearns for us to live wholeheartedly and truthfully as the unique, beautiful, beloved individuals God created us to be. —Michelle DeRusha

All Life is One

The inner space where God dwells can often be uniquely accessed by the arts. To bring Father Richard’s message of the True Self into a deeper consciousness, we invite you to watch and listen to this music video as a contemplative practice. To practice audio or visio divina (sacred hearing or seeing) is to allow our hearts to be fully receptive to sound and image. The song and video are from Birdtalker, a Nashville-based musical group [1], that was featured at CAC’s CONSPIRE 2017: A Conspiracy for God.

References:
[1] Birdtalker also contributed the theme music for the first two seasons of the CAC podcast Another Name for Every Thing. 

Birdtalker, One, official lyric video, June 20, 2017, YouTube video, 3:59.

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.

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.

Pruning Open the True Self

Author Michelle DeRusha uses trees as a helpful metaphor to understand how our True and small (or false) selves are intertwined:

I learned over the weeks and months of sitting [in nature] in quiet solitude that I am a lot like the oak tree that clings so fiercely to its leaves. I suspect a lot of us are. We, too, clutch our camouflage—the person we present to the world, to our own selves, and even to God. We, too, are unwilling to shed our false selves, to let go, to live vulnerably and authentically. . . .

Sitting in silence every day helped me see that my “leaves” of choice are busyness and productivity, drive and efficiency, achievement and success. . . . I clung with an iron grip to my false self, to the false identity I’d meticulously crafted over the years. I was busy, productive, and driven. I pushed myself to accomplish, achieve, and succeed. . . .

DeRusha goes on to describe the pruning method by which a certain Japanese maple tree was made beautiful:

Marsha [a tour guide] explained that a particular Japanese gardening technique called “open center pruning” was responsible not only for the sculptural appeal of this maple, but also for the uncluttered space and serenity in the garden as a whole.

When a Japanese gardener “prunes open,” Marsha explained, he or she cuts away not only dead branches and foliage, but also often a number of perfectly healthy branches that detract from the beauty inherent in the tree’s essential structure. Pruning open allows the visitor to see up, out, and beyond the trees to the sky, creating a sense of spaciousness and letting light into the garden. It also enables an individual tree to flourish by removing complicating elements, simplifying structure, and revealing its essence. The process of pruning open turns the tree inside out, so to speak, revealing the beautiful design inherent within it. . . .

The truth is, God does not wish for us to stand stubborn like the autumn oak tree, cloaked in a façade of protection, our truest, most authentic selves obscured beneath a tangled bramble of false security. Rather, [God] desires us to live like the Japanese maple tree, our true essence revealed and flourishing, our true self front and center, secure and thriving. God yearns for us to live wholeheartedly and truthfully as the unique, beautiful, beloved individuals [God] created us to be. Most of all, God’s deepest desire is for us to know [God], to root our whole selves in [God] like a tree rooted by a stream, and to know [God’s] deep, abiding love for us. . . .

God invites us into intimate relationship . . . so that we may then live more compassionately and intimately with those around us. We are the windows, as Henri Nouwen [1932–1996] said, through which others may glimpse God. [1] They are windows through which we might glimpse God. 

References:
[1] Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life (New York: Harper and Row, 1981), 87.

Michelle DeRusha, True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2019), 15, 16, 17–18, 19, 216.

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.

 

The Temple Within

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.

 

Letting Go of the False Self

Ash Wednesday

CAC faculty member James Finley reflects on Thomas Merton’s teaching about the True Self and the separate (or false) self:

Our true self is a self in communion. It is a self that subsists in God’s eternal love. Likewise, the false self is the self that stands outside this created subsisting communion with God that forms our very identity. As Merton puts it,

When we seem to possess and use our being and natural faculties in a completely autonomous manner, as if our individual ego were the pure source and end of our own acts, then we are in illusion and our acts, however spontaneous they may seem to be, lack spiritual meaning and authenticity. [1]

In our zeal to become the landlords of our own being, we cling to each achievement as a kind of verification of our self-proclaimed reality. We become the center and God somehow recedes to an invisible fringe. Others become real to the extent they become significant others to the designs of our own ego. And in this process the ALL of God dies in us and the sterile nothingness of our desires becomes our God. . . .

Merton makes clear that the self-proclaimed autonomy of the false self is but an illusion. . . .

My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. [2]

Father Richard Rohr describes further how the false self lives disconnected from God and from what is ultimately real:

Our false self, which we might also call our “small self,” is our launching pad: our body image, our job, our education, our clothes, our money, our car, our sexual identity, our success, and so on. These are the trappings of ego that we all use to get us through an ordinary day. They are a nice enough platform to stand on, but they are largely a projection of our self-image and our attachment to it. None of them will last! When we are able to move beyond our false self—at the right time and in the right way—it will feel precisely as if we have lost nothing. In fact, it will feel like freedom and liberation. When we are connected to the Whole, we no longer need to protect or defend the mere part. We are now connected to something inexhaustible.

To not let go of our false self at the right time and in the right way is precisely what it means to be stuck, trapped, and addicted to ourselves. If all we have at the end of our life is our false self, there will not be much to eternalize. It is essentially transitory. These costumes are all “accidents” largely created by the mental ego. Our false self is what changes, passes, and dies when we die. Only our True Self lives forever. [3]

References:
[1] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), 86.

[2] Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 1972), 34.

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 28–29.

James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere: A Search for God through Awareness of the True Self (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1978), 32–33.

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:

I am halfway through reading 50 years’ worth of old journals. I can see the healing and the growth in the words, along with the repetition of the suffering! In the end, I think I get to who my true self is. I am connected to God and all living beings. That is the most important thing I must remember in the midst of suffering, which will surely appear again.
—Barbara J.

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.

 

A Stirring of the Soul

Author and retreat leader Paula D’Arcy shares an experience she had as part of a workshop with women inmates of a Texas county jail. An opera piece sung by two visiting performers brought a resonant stillness to a noisy room and awakened a sense of the True Self in the people present. Paula writes:

The music pulled us into the brevity of a lifetime; the mistakes we make; our longings for things to be different, to be better; the despair of being without hope; and the pure and the holy. When I turned around to look, I saw that many inmates were overcome by emotion. Something sublime was moving in that room—a sound that directly entered our hearts. . . .

It was as if the enveloping sound was saying to a hidden place in each of us: Something great is alive in you, and something more than this surface reality is intended for your life. Beyond your circumstances lies a different destiny.

It was not just the inmates who were visibly affected, but everyone else who was present as well. Something inexpressible in the music had broken our hearts open. . . .

It wasn’t the first time I had felt this. In the early 1980s, when I was still trying to put the pieces of my life together after the sudden deaths of my husband and daughter in a drunken-driving accident, I felt challenged by everything. In the blink of an eye my conclusions, my worldview, and my image of God were upended. It was an unsettling time. I kept reaching to the mind, searching for ideas and philosophies to guide me. That old way of managing things was very familiar.

Father Richard teaches that the mind and our thoughts are the source of the separate self. As he often says, “The false self is who you think you are. Your thinking does not make it true.” [1] Paula continues:

But the mind could not bring me where I needed to go. It was a long while before I turned in a different direction and began to look within. Eventually I saw that the seeds of a greater journey are waiting in everything and I understood that, when the time is right—when we are finally willing to meet “what is” and stop insisting on our own version of life [RR: which the separate self cannot help but do]—real change and transformation become possible.

It was an important waking-up. My familiar default was to rely on old voices and experiences—on the mind’s many concepts and ideas. Yet the force of love that sustains life is not a concept, and there are not a set of holy conditions to attain. As I opened my heart, love moved through the pain and slowly changed my sight. Things that once seemed fixed and defining were unmasked. When the [opera piece] “Flower Duet” was sung in the jail, it was again an experience of the flame of love.

References:
[1] Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 36.

Paula D’Arcy, “A Surrender to Love,” Oneing 5, no. 1, Transformation (Spring 2017): 93–94. Available in print and PDF download.

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:

I am halfway through reading 50 years’ worth of old journals. I can see the healing and the growth in the words, along with the repetition of the suffering! In the end, I think I get to who my true self is. I am connected to God and all living beings. That is the most important thing I must remember in the midst of suffering, which will surely appear again.
—Barbara J.

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.

 

Our True Self Is Life Itself

Father Richard shares his belief in the eternal nature of the True Self and its ability to connect us to ultimate purpose and meaning:

As disappointed as I get with religion, I can’t give up on it. Only healthy religion is prepared to point us beyond the mere psychological to the cosmic, to the universal, to the absolute. Only healthy religion is prepared to realign and reconnect all things and reposition us inside of the whole, in true community instead of mere individualism.

Only your soul can know the soul of other things. Only a part can recognize the whole from which it came. But first something within you, your True Self, must be awakened. Most souls are initially “unsaved” in the sense that they cannot dare to imagine they could be one with God/Reality/the universe. This is the illusion of what Thomas Merton (1915–1968) called the “false” self and what I have taken to calling the “separate” or small self that believes it is autonomous and separate from God.

Thomas Merton said that the True Self should not be thought of as anything different than life itself—but not my little life—the Big Life. [1] Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus (c. 1266–1308) said that the human person is not different or separate from Being itself—not the little being that you and I get attached to and take too seriously, but Universal Being or “the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being,” as Paul said to the Athenians (Acts 17:28).

When we’ve gotten too comfortable with our separate self and we call it Life, we will get trapped at that level and we will hold onto it for dear life—because that’s the only dear life we think we have. Unless someone tells us about the Bigger Life or we’ve had a conscious connection with the deepest ground of our being, we will continue to live as though we are separate from God.

The final, stupendous gift is that our “separate” self becomes the raw material for our unique version of True Self. Our ordinary lives and temperaments are not destroyed or rejected. They are transformed. Or, as the Preface of the Catholic funeral liturgy puts it, our little life is “not ended but merely changed.” “This perishable nature will put on imperishability, and this mortal body will put on immortality” (see 1 Corinthians 15:52–54)—one including the other, not one in place of the other.

Your True Self is Life and Being and Love. Love is what you were made for and love is who you are. When you live outside of Love, you are not living from your true Being or with full consciousness. The Song of Songs says that “Love is stronger than death. . . . The flash of love is a flash of fire, a flame of YHWH” (Song of Songs 8:6, Jerusalem Bible). Your True Self is a tiny flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, God’s very self.

References:
[1] Merton writes about the True Self throughout New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 1961).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, True Self/False Self, disc 2 (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2003, 2013), CD; and

Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 60, 183–184.

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:

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.
—Jason Z.

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.

 

Trusting Our Essential Self

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.” [1] 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.

References:
[1] 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. . .

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.
—Jason Z.

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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Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.