Thomas Merton (1915-1968) wrote about the struggle between the false self and the true self. In a September meditation, Richard Rohr said he sees it as movement from the separate self to the true self:
“Our separate self is who we think we are…. a social and mental construct that gets us started on life’s journey. It is a set of agreements between us as individuals and our parents, families, school friends, partner or spouse, culture, and religion. … It is largely defined in distinction from others … as our separate and unique self.” It’s good and necessary, but, as Rohr says:
“…it becomes problematic when we stop there and spend the rest of our lives promoting and protecting it.” My separate self’s instinct, unchecked, is to criticize, condemn or fight anyone or anything that challenges my ego.
Movement from the separate self to the true self is liberating. Rohr says, “All our hurts and feelings of being offended come from our separate selves.” When I hang on to my separate self, I’m insecure and defensive.
I agree with Rohr that “The True Self cannot be hurt.” I also agree that, “If we do not let go of our separate/false self … we remain stuck, trapped, and addicted. (The traditional word for that was sin.) Unfortunately, many people reach old age still entrenched in their egoic operating system.”
More about this tomorrow.