True Self/False Self: Week 2
You Are What You Seek
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
On that day, you will know that you are in me and I am in you. —John 14:20
“That day” is usually a long time in coming for most of us. We hold on to the illusion of a separate self as long as we can. Yet this process of transformation has been the enduring invitation of every great religion in history. Divine—and thus universal—union is the core message and goal of all healthy religion.
The spiritual wisdom of divine union is first beautifully expressed in writing in the Vedas (the oldest source of Hinduism, at least three thousand years old). One of its “grand pronouncements” is Tat Tvam Asi in Sanskrit. This condensed wisdom might be translated in any of these ways:
YOU are That!
You ARE what you seek!
THOU art That!
THAT you are!
You are IT!
The meaning of this saying is that the True Self—in its original, pure, primordial state—is wholly or partially identifiable or even identical with God, the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena. That which you long for, you also are. In fact, that is where the longing comes from.
Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing. The mystics would say it is God who is even doing the longing in us and through us (as the Divine Indwelling or the Holy Spirit). God implanted a natural affinity and allurement between God’s Self and all of God’s creatures. The limited and the Limitless would otherwise be incapable of union; the finite and the Infinite could never be reconciled into one. There must be a point of similarity!
Religion has only one absolute job description: to make one out of two and one out of many. For Christians, this is “the Christ Mystery” whereby we believe God overcame the gap from God’s side. St. Augustine called it “prevenient grace,” meaning that grace exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done or can do, “or grace would not be grace at all” (see Romans 11:6 and Ephesians 2:8-10). The initiative is always from God’s side. The deepest human need and longing is to overcome this separateness, the distance from what seems “over there” and “beyond me,” namely, a transcendent God/Reality/Universe. God overcomes the gap in Christ and in every experience that we allow to be graced. I have come to believe that the essence of an authentic God experience is the utter gratuity of it and the new gratuitous freedom it creates in the receiver.
God is saying in all incarnations that “I am not totally Other; in fact I am the transcendent within everything here.” Pause and think about that. “I have planted some of myself in all things which forever long for reunion.” If God is perceived as absolute otherness, it eventually creates absolute alienation, which is most of Western civilization today. Add to that any notion of God as petty, angry, or torturing, and the mystical journey comes to a standstill. So God created similarity and compassion, which become visible in the human Jesus to overcome this tragic gap—in a way that we could see, touch, and understand (1 John 1:1). God-in-you seeks and loves God beyond, like an implanted homing device. It works!
Gateway to Silence:
God in me loves God in everything.
Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 95, 98-100.