- Getting Through the Dark Night of the Soul (humansarefree.com)
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.
The 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.
I came across this fascinating and thoughtful poem. I hope it probes your mind as it did to mind.
Why were the dead so timid while
they lived? In mind, they step in
groans; toes en pointe to test the sand.
Despite traversing seas and rushing
gold—they still seem cautious
to a madness. Why did they not act
more like us? I kid. Still, why were
the dead so timid while they lived?
It is hard to have patience with people who say “There is no death” or “Death doesn’t matter.” There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.
——C. S. Lewis
Sometimes it is very difficult to determine what really matters in a given situation. We are so tempted to say that something doesn’t matter when it is important of us. Such statements are made out of self-preservation, and/or fear of being hurt. Perhaps the greatest fear that anyone has is that of death. That makes death, and more precisely what happens after death, the ultimate fright. Lewis is addressing man’s want to deny that which frightens him the most. He concludes that the refusal to do so is the height of ignorance. Christianity and the grace of Jesus allows us to embrace our fears and lean on the everlasting love of our God.
The genius of a composer is found in the notes of his music; but analyzing the notes will not reveal his genius. The poet’s greatness is contained in his words; yet the study of his words will not disclose his inspiration. God reveals himself in creation; but scrutinize creation as minutely as you wish, you will not find God, any more than you will find the soul through careful examination of your body.
Where do you find meaning? Where do you find God?Think about it.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-51