The Imagined Self

All mature religion must and will talk about the death of any notion of a separate, and therefore false, self. (Most of the time when you read the word “sin” in the Bible, if you substitute the word “separate” you will understand the core problem being pointed out.) The True Self can let go of any false autonomy and self-sufficiency because it is radically safe at its core.

The True Self is then like a baby that can crawl away from its mother (God), knowing fully she will grab him back if there is any danger whatsoever. What confidence and security that gives the True Self—to actually do whatever it is it has to do. Only the True Self can understand Augustine’s dangerous line: “Love God and do what you will!” To tell that to the False Self would be disastrous. It would be like telling a seventeen-year-old boy to trust his hormones.

self-centeredThe separate self is the False Self, and this fragile identity will need to over-define itself as unique, special, superior, and adequate. What a trap. So Jesus must say, “Unless the single grain of wheat dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it does die, it will bear much fruit” (John 12:24).

Whenever you are loving someone or something else, you have died on some level—and let go of your separate self. As Stephen Levine, the master teacher on dying, said, our fear of death comes from an imaginary loss of an imaginary self.

These seeming losses are not loss at all but actually expansion. Please think and pray about this. It will allow you to overcome your fear of death. Our False Self is precisely our individual singularity in both its “Aren’t I wonderful!” and “Aren’t I terrible!” forms. Each are their own kind of ego trip, and both take the tiny little self far too seriously.

The true saint is no longer surprised at his littleness or her greatness. A mouse in a mansion does not need to take lessons in humility.

—–Richard Rhor

3 Comments

Filed under Richard Rhor

3 responses to “The Imagined Self

  1. Father Paul Lemmen

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man and commented:
    Excellent, simply excellent.

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