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Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Must Not Be Yourself!

As may have been gathered, I have been extremely interested in the perspective of 'Salvation' through discovery of the Self. What is the Self? Where do we attain Self from? Does someone or something lead us to the Self?  Was Plato correct in his assumptions that all things, including the Self, have an image within which they are created? There are many more questions that could be attributed to this subject.

What I have found most fascinating within my the search for my Self, is the fear of the Self by the masses. There is fear that lies in asking about the Self, seeking the Self. From our beginnings we have been conditioned to fear the Self.

Growing up I spent many moments sitting in the pews of church's, concert halls and gymnasiums listening to an array of pastors, evangelists and other such spiritual leaders. While the events differed and the themes changed, one thing always remained, the underlying message, You Must Not Be Yourself.

That's right. Who you are is evil, wicked, and unholy. You are not fit for the presence of God. You are selfish and were so from the moment you were born. In essence you were evil the moment you were created.

As one could imagine, a steady diet of this can be quite harmful and debilitating, even to the most confident of us.

Allow me to share a portrait that Doug Frank, author of 'A Gentler God', paints of the evangelical God,
"Our heavenly Father scrutinizes us obsessively. He is never happy with what he finds. He wants us to focus on becoming what he has decided we ought to be-his"will"or "plan" for us- rather than who we are. We get the feeling that he doesn't much like or trust us as we really are. His revulsion against sin increases that feeling, particularly since he has told us it is in our very nature to sin."(1) 
How does this make sense? If we were created in God's image then how could we be born selfish? How could we be born evil? How can it be in our very nature to sin? And if we are created in God's image then does that not make God as sinful as you and I? 

You Must Not Be Yourself!

'You must deny yourself' we are constantly reminded and while I agree to a certain extent, I believe there is a failure to look deeper into the matter. To look past the long held perspective of the self being evil; that we must crush it, deny it and crucify it. Yes, let us indeed separate the selfish motives that cause us to betray our selves, from ourSelves. However, one must be cautious not throw the baby out with the bath water! A cart can not lead a horse. 

So why all this fear of the Self? Why do Christians fear the Self? Why does society fear the Self? Why do I fear the Self?

(1)A Gentler God:Breaking Free of the Almighty in the presence of the human Jesus-Doug Frank(pg 161) Albatross Books

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Self: The Seeker Within

"Whatever the now-current science of personal development may theorize, the fact remains that the self is all we have."

Whether one follows religion, atheism, or agnosticism, all have one thing in common, the desire of the 'Self'.

I have often discussed here, and in conversation with others, the difference between being 'selfish' and being 'Self'. The reality is that we are always our Selves (consciously or not). It is the 'what' and 'why' that is done with our Selves that determines the selfishness of the Self. All that we do, from our very waking in the morning, daily communication with others, the daily labour of our minds, hands and hearts, to the resting of our heads upon our pillows at the days end is enabled and driven by the Self. In fact, Self is the most powerful force that drives us.

"Self is what enables us to refuse to settle down, in love with the mediocre, satisfied with the banal, because the self is always on its way to somewhere else." 

For many years I was taught that the self was bad, that I was to deny it, toss it aside and bury it. I have, since then, come to realize that this is one of the most harmful things one can do to oneself.
The Self is who you are, who you have been and who you will become. This Self is You! Deny it and you destroy yourself. 
"Self is the seeker within."

What the Self does, is drives you to something, to more. It is that that pushes you to discover. It is the seeker within.

"The greatest spiritual problem of them all may be that we are simply too willing to give over our sense of direction, our compulsion to search, to those who want from us anything but a self."

In fact, to deny the 'Self' is, perhaps, the most 'selfish' thing one can do. To do so is in fact a step in the wrong direction and will thus result in a stale and stagnant life. If you seek life through denying Self you will not only lose yourself but thus you shall lose your life. In our struggles to be fully alive we come across many barriers along the journey but to deny your Self is not a barrier but a turning around altogether to return from where you set off. To be fully alive we must embrace our Self and thus go forward, continually embracing our growing Selves. 

"The struggle to be fully alive is an eternal one because the growth of the self is an eternal process"

Embracing the Self does not require that I go somewhere else, become something else or be somebody else. Rather to embrace the Self I must do it now. right here, at this very moment. Do I love my Self? 

Once I embrace my Self in its entirety, I can go forward and grow.

"It is all a matter of growing, of becoming the fullness of the self, exactly where we are."

Let us not forget of the Self that...

"It is the raw material of the spiritual life."

*All the above large print are quotes taken from Joan Chittister's book, "Called to Question: a spiritual memoir" pages 71-76