Archive for the true self Category

War and the Corporate True Self

Posted in ego, peace, service, true self, war with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2018 by thecrossingchicago

Another Veterans Day is upon us and, as I do every year, I ask myself what it’s all about.  There is a cynical side of me that says we are glorifying something that should never happen under any circumstance.  The idea of exterminating human beings for the sake of being right seems appalling to me and to celebrate those who have participated in them in any way causes me to feel the mournful disdain of glorifying violence.  But, after much contemplation, I can see that, as in all things, there is another side of the coin.

Of course I realize that we are celebrating valor and the courage of those who were willing to risk (and sometimes lose) their lives for a cause greater than themselves.  Sure, some may have entered military service to avoid jail time, some to kill, and some to enforce their ideals.  It is sometimes, however, those very ideals that perpetuate the violence in the first place.  Our addiction to being right all the time can lead to the reinforcement of a false truth.

On the way to the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC this year, I was listening to a podcast with Fr. Richard Rohr.  He said that we know we are operating from the False Self, or the ego, when we are individually offended by some action or words.  As I drove on, with much time to ponder, I came to the conclusion that the opposite is also true: Any time we are offended on behalf of humankind, we are operating from our True Self.

So what does this have to do with war?  We have been called to defend and empower the least of these.  If someone is marginalized and oppressed, it is our duty to lend our voice to stopping the oppression and even to joining a revolution against it.  As we know, sometimes revolutions require force.

In his New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton calls the church to being in a constant state of revolution.  He says that the church must return to tradition, which seems like an oxymoron when placing tradition and revolution next to each other in synonymous relationship.  For most, tradition is the very enemy of reform as we do things “the way we have always done them.”  For Merton, though, the tradition is the revolution: “[T]his tradition must always be a revolution because by its very nature it denies the values and standards to which human passion is so powerfully attached” (143).

In other words, tradition is the outward manifestation, in practice, of the church’s True Self.  If individuals have a True Self and organizations are living organisms comprised of individuals, then they too must have a corporate True Self.  Too many churches and organizations have not only lost sight of who they are, but likely have never cared to know.

This is no less true for entire countries who allow or even create structures that lead to systemic oppression.  When it comes time to upend these systems, we hope that the revolution can be a peaceful one from the inside with the death of the individual and corporate False Selves.  According to Merton, “all the others demand the extermination of somebody else” (144).

If violence is the only means of insurrection and not an internal death of False Self giving birth to what is True, then indeed

There will be violence, and power will pass from one party to another, but when the smoke clears and the bodies of the dead men are underground, the situation will be essentially the same as it was before: there will be a minority of strong men in power exploiting all the others for their own ends.  There will be the same greed and cruelty and lust and ambition and avarice and hypocrisy as before (144).

It is arguable, and likely a fact that more wars have been started over religion than any other issue.  Dogmatic absolute “truths” lead humans to carry their ideologies on their backs into battle with sword and gun in hand. If we can hold our own created beliefs at arm’s length where they are visible to us and see them for the “dry formula of a dogmatic definition” that they are, then perhaps we can approach our ideas with humility, grace, and a fair reflection of our True Selves.  Instead of creating individual “truths” from a False Self that only leads to the extermination of human lives, let us find our oneness in the source of all being, the one in whom we find the image of who we really are.

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Wearing Another’s Mask

Posted in true self, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2018 by thecrossingchicago

Everything was perfect – theoretically anyway.  I had finished an MBA and a Masters in Geriatrics and the world was my oyster.  I had a consulting business, a care management business and was working in sales while I continued to grow my companies.  But I hated it.  I just absolutely could not stand going out and trying to sell machinery that I could not possibly care less about.  Because of my lack of interest I completely sucked at selling.  I didn’t have the drive to market my own businesses and was utterly miserable.  So, I went to seminary.

This is not to say that seminary is for everyone.  Ministry happens to be my vocation and passion, so it works for me.  If it wasn’t, I would merely be continuing to feed into my False Self – the ego that led me to go to law school and business school in Japan.  If I was a lawyer or a businessperson, surely people would approve of me and I would have the status that I needed.  Of course this all only served to feed the fears of inadequacy that I was trying to quell in the first place.  As the cognitive dissonance grew, so did my misery and the awareness that there was another “me” that was being ignored.

That self is the True Self.  Richard Rohr defines this self as “the mask that I wore before I was born.”

In his New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton warns for himself that if he puts on the mask of another and tries to be someone that he isn’t, then, “I shall spend eternity contradicting myself by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead, a death that wants to be dead and cannot quite achieve its own death because it still has to exist.”

When I was four, my dad put me up on the kitchen counter in our small apartment in Rochelle, IL and told me that he was moving out.  He said something along the lines of things weren’t working out with my mom and it wasn’t my nor my brother’s fault that he had to go.  He failed to convince me because I did think it was my fault.

A year later, he asked me if I wanted to go to preschool or stay with him at his girlfriend’s house where he was living.  I knew he would just sleep all day and get upset if I woke him for anything because he worked third shift at the Delmonte can plant.  So, I decided to go to preschool.  That was the last time I would see him for 12 years.  He took his girlfriend’s luggage and left for Florida, Alaska, Arizona, and eventually back to his birthplace in Utah where I would meet up with him years later.  I often wonder how things would have went if I would have elected to stay with him.

For much of the years to come, I would have a sense of inadequacy.  An impostor syndrome coupled with the perceived need to be good enough for those around me followed me wherever I went.  I had a recurring dream that I ran into my dad at a truck stop.  Pumping my gas, I saw him on the other side of the pump, usually with one of my half brothers.  I would tell him to wait there while I go in and pay for my gas, and invariably I would come back out to find him gone, again.  I’m not sure if the likeness of the dad in my dreams was accurate or not because by then I had probably forgotten his face.

I can’t fully blame the insecurities that would follow on my dad as I was responsible for dealing with my own issues.  I had to initiate the healing and for a long time, my failure to do so only resulted in me hurting others.  It’s true what they say: hurt people, hurt people.

I finally realized that I had created a False Self to protect me from my fears who usually just hurt myself and others.  Like Merton, I finally had an awakening, noticing that to be seen I would “wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself.”

When these bandages finally come off, however, (and they always do), we see that there is no substance.  There is only a hollowness temporarily filled with things that never have and never will exist.  Merton says that these things are “all destined to be destroyed.  And when they are gone there will be nothing left of me but my own nakedness and emptiness and hollowness, to tell me that I am my own mistake.”

While our stories are our own, we rarely own them.  Instead, we see ourselves as the culmination of mistakes – our own and those of others.  We spend a life time trying to cover the hollowness with things that are no more real than the void we wish to hide.  Deep inside that void, however, is the real us, the True Self.

The Self that is us in God and God in us is the point at which we are all interconnected.  At this point, there is redemption, there is forgiveness, and there is at-one-ment.  Far beyond the sins of our fathers lies a reality that is more real than the stories we tell ourselves.  It’s a point in time, space, being, and all that is.  When we awaken to our True Self and decide to do the inner work required to find the real me and the real you, we not only find ourselves, but we find God.  As usual, Merton said it best: “At that moment the point of our contact with [God] opens out and we pass through the center of our own nothingness and enter into infinite reality, where we awaken as our true self.”

The Resurrection of the Christ Within

Posted in Encouragement, true self, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 11, 2016 by thecrossingchicago

red-cross-jung-resurrectionIn his later years, Carl Jung became a genuine mystic and contemplative.  His theories of psychology eventually superseded the purely cognitive and reached in to the existential.  In his metaphysical journal that would come to be called The Red Book, Jung explored beyond the depths of the human psyche and into the eternal self, seeking the potential of individual humans and the interconnected humanity.

What is important and meaningful to my life is that I shall live as fully as possible to fulfill the divine will within me. This task gives me so much to do that I have no time for any other. Let me point out that if we were all to live in that way we would need no armies, no police, no diplomacy, no politics, no banks. We would have a meaningful life and not what we have now—madness. What nature asks of the apple-tree is that it shall bring forth apples, and of the pear-tree that it shall bring forth pears. Nature wants me to be simply man. But a man conscious of what I am, and of what I am doing. God seeks consciousness in man.

This is the truth of the birth and the resurrection of Christ within. As more and more thinking men come to it, this is the spiritual rebirth of the world. Christ, the Logos—that is to say, the mind, the understanding, shining into the darkness. Christ was a new truth about man. Mankind has no existence. I exist, you exist. But mankind is only a word. Be what God means you to be; don’t worry about mankind which doesn’t exist, you are avoiding looking at what does exist—the self.

In his transcendental thoughts, Jung points out that each of us has a divine potential that is at the core of our being.  The autonomy of the individual is merely an illusion – we are in actuality manifestations of the cosmic Christ and any individualistic tendency comes from a fissiparous human propensity.  Were we to awaken to the cosmic Christ and our own “divine will within,” peace and harmony would become the norm both in society and within our own souls.

While some are obsequious in their literal interpretation of scripture, I have an occasional tendency toward brash skepticism at most, or an intentional awareness of its metaphorical and allegoric nature at the least.  This is not to say that I do not “believe” in scripture, but I believe the way it has been interpreted and handed down over the years by mostly caucasian males has, in many ways, marred it’s true beauty and the divine imprint upon it.

Having said that, Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” has, in the past, elicited equal doses of hope and doubt.  If Christ strengthens us, then why do we sometimes feel so worn down and beat up?  Why does Christ choose arbitrarily whom and when to gird and support when needed?  When I look at Paul’s adulation of Christ as something that originates externally with no interaction on our part, I find cynicism bubbling up from within.  However, when I consider Christ to be the logos, the divine manifestation, the source of all being that exists within all of us that calls us to a conversion into our true self, then I do not merely find myself able to nod in intellectual assent, but I am comforted in some place and at some level that I cannot describe.  To know that such strength exists within to draw upon not because it’s occasionally available but because it’s the very nature of our existence creates in me that “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, spoke of the human conditioned inclination to ignore our true self and choose to make excuses rather than become who we were meant to be.  Many times, we even sabotage ourself and make ourselves into victims who are somehow prevented by ill-intentioned people that prevent us from attaining our true potential.  In reality, we fear what we do not understand and would rather not know who we are supposed to be, let alone live into that reality.

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.  Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak.  Making myself secure.  Making myself guilty.  Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me.  Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself than strong in Him whom I cannot understand.

The only way that we can discover our true selves and experience the resurrection of Christ within is to sit with ourselves in the silent stillness and ask ourselves the powerful questions that we are afraid to answer.  Who am I?  What is my deepest passion?  What gives me joy?  If my life were ideal, what would it look like?  What is preventing me from becoming who God wants me to be?  What am I afraid of?  Ask these questions and you will find that the answers were there all along.  Live those answers and you will finally become who you were meant to be.  When the path seems daunting and fear wracks your mind, just tell yourself that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” because indeed, it is the potential that has existed within you since before you were born.  Claim it for your time for resurrection is now.