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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 

7 comments:

Grant said...

So, Phil:
I take it you want an exchange.

Scripture clearly says... quoting Jesus: "Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himSELF and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever want to save his life will lose it, but whoever want to save his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:24)

Other passages talk about humbling "oneself" or not exalting oneSelf.
And of course there is the idea of loving your neighbour as you love your SELF.

Now if that is a contradiction to what you are suggesting then I am going to opt for Jesus' statement.
However, I will also suggest that a conflict may be resolved if we take note of some specifics AND perhaps find that what the Scripture describes as Self, is different than what you describe which possibly should be called the id, or soul.

So, just as a quick to consider:

The Matthew 16:24 is directed specifically to those who are committing themselves to be Jesus' disciples. It is NOT given as pop psychology to the person on the street. It is in the context of making Jesus' one's Master. It is in context of being "in the world" and not OF the world. Assertion of SELF as in self will, and independence is quite the opposite to what Jesus taught. But what are your thoughts suggesting?
One who serves Jesus in no way loses anything of the personhood, any more than Jesus did when he says he did NOTHING of him SELF. In fact it is as I submit my SELF, and my "crucified" "flesh" and "will" to God that I gain my life. AND the LIFE I gain, is in fact what I think you are calling "SELF". So that is where we would need to suggest that we may need to define the terms and maybe SELF is not the correct word to use here, or at least not among "Biblical" believers.

It is a subject that may need personal interaction where the "air is cleared" as to what is meant by the word SELF. I think that there is a religious, philosophical, and psychological meaning and probably each one is different.

Anyway, I just wanted to rock your boat.

Grant

Grant said...

So, Phil:
I take it you want an exchange.

Scripture clearly says... quoting Jesus: "Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himSELF and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever want to save his life will lose it, but whoever want to save his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:24)

Other passages talk about humbling "oneself" or not exalting oneSelf.
And of course there is the idea of loving your neighbour as you love your SELF.

Now if that is a contradiction to what you are suggesting then I am going to opt for Jesus' statement.
However, I will also suggest that a conflict may be resolved if we take note of some specifics AND perhaps find that what the Scripture describes as Self, is different than what you describe which possibly should be called the id, or soul.

So, just as a quick to consider:

The Matthew 16:24 is directed specifically to those who are committing themselves to be Jesus' disciples. It is NOT given as pop psychology to the person on the street. It is in the context of making Jesus' one's Master. It is in context of being "in the world" and not OF the world. Assertion of SELF as in self will, and independence is quite the opposite to what Jesus taught. But what are your thoughts suggesting?
One who serves Jesus in no way loses anything of the personhood, any more than Jesus did when he says he did NOTHING of him SELF. In fact it is as I submit my SELF, and my "crucified" "flesh" and "will" to God that I gain my life. AND the LIFE I gain, is in fact what I think you are calling "SELF". So that is where we would need to suggest that we may need to define the terms and maybe SELF is not the correct word to use here, or at least not among "Biblical" believers.

It is a subject that may need personal interaction where the "air is cleared" as to what is meant by the word SELF. I think that there is a religious, philosophical, and psychological meaning and probably each one is different.

Anyway, I just wanted to rock your boat.

Grant

Kmarie Jones said...

Great quotes hon. Lovely post. As for interpretation I guess it just depends on how one views passages or perspective;) grants suggestion of different definitions of sel could also def be taken into account...;)
Knowing you well and your perspective, the post spoke volumes of the journey within and the beauty surrounding. Love that you are expressing through written word again;)

CalledToQuestion said...

Him'self' would be our selfish desires, those we should deny, not our 'Self'. If we were to do so, than we will just join the ranks of a mindless zombie following, ceasing to be that of whom we were supposedly created to be. What greater hypocrisy of the divine could there be?

Becoming one'Self' would not be an exalting of oneself, but rather that of the one who created that Self. How can one love their neighbour as themselves if they do not love their Self?

I see no contradiction.

You are quite right about the need for dialogue, as the misunderstanding of definitions can lead to an array of differences, although there may never be agreement on the actual definitions themselves.

Jesus did nothing of himself but did everything in and of HimSelf. It would be in the submission to the Self that we find life and Jesus, not to selfishness. This is no pop psychology but a very difficult process being practiced by many throughout history. The Self is not easy to find when the world around us, religious and non, tell us to conform to the fold, become like them.

Jesus is not my master but a deep and intertwined companion leading me to the Self. The Self I was created to be. I am in him and he within me.

As far as I am concerned, it is the very fear of using such a term as Self, that has gotten us where we are today, in an unhealthy self denial. So Self is indeed a very good word to use(Good thing I'm not a "Biblical" believer.). If Christianity needs rethinking, so must the words we have traditionally used.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think we can agree that I perceive this out side of the traditional "biblical" perspective.

CalledToQuestion said...

Kmarie-
Thanks for the encouragement.

nyssa wagner said...

I totally believe we were made individual selves and it's important to know ourSelves in order to live the life we are meant to live. Our souls are complex, our gifts are vast and many. When we hear the callings of our souls or our true selves, then we are going in the direction we are supposed to go.

I'm not big on the bible even and maybe especially as a pastor's daughter. I believe we were made in God's image but that we've forgotten and I think we remember by doing things that our souls/selves were meant to do.

CalledToQuestion said...

Nyssa- I couldn't agree more. I so often see so many 'believers' give away themselves so completely that I have such difficulty telling them apart. They have lost their identity and thus lost themselves.

Good to hear from you:).