The subject of false self has been an issue at this thread. I think I understand what false self is. The problem I see is when one see false self in light of original sin. Once, Phil said false self is the consequence of original sin. Through God's grace we can be free from false and we can develop our inherited nature which is true self. But we can never be free from original sin, correct? If so what is original sin in relation to false self.
Through God's grace we can be free from false and we can develop our inherited nature which is true self. But we can never be free from original sin, correct? If so what is original sin in relation to false self.
One certainly has to believe in a soul in order to believe in the true self. That�s how I see it, anyway, otherwise the "true self" would be no more than whatever impulses we have, for if one believes in a true self then what could be truer than whatever feelings, thoughts and impulses were naturally emanating from us?
But still, it seems that (especially when one sees the results of them having been lovingly and healthily guided) that these natural impulses are good. But they need shaping and putting into context. But is it merely the impulse that is shaped or is something above an impulse (perhaps a soul) being shaped? If it�s merely the impulse being shaped then we�re back to square one. It�s just an impulse. There is no larger context. A "disciplined" or mature impulse is then just as "true" as a raw one. But if a soul or some larger context is being shaped, then this object can be thought of as inherently good needing only the influx of love and wisdom (and Grace?). But perhaps the soul is merely potentially good. It�s made good but starts off with the ability (freedom?) to do evil. Maybe that�s Original Sin. But I think that�s merely the obverse philosophical reading of what we might better call Original Goodness. It seems to me that built into the very fabric of reality are the conditions such that we couldn�t avoid doing evil if we wanted to, thus I think "Original Sin" isn�t very descriptive or helpful. But how incredible indeed to find that we are alive and able to participate in goodness, in cooperation with the universe, in cooperation with the Creator, God, Abba, or Whom- or whatever.
That�s my totally unorthodox and heretical opinion which I do not expect anyone else to buy, like, support, acknowledge or even put up with! But I gotta say what I gotta say. Perhaps if we were to become a saint we could be free of the false self, but a little bit of false self is likely always to be there. It�s just a mask. But whether there or not, the true self remains. If masking our true self is, by definition, Original Sin, then I suppose I could buy that definition.
Always nice to see you taking a good stab at a complicated theological topic, Brad. Seriously!
Grace, Original Sin refers to the first sin -- the original disobedience, which our forebears freely chose. It also refers to the consequences which have rippled down through the generations of their descendants and to the creation, including, here, the development of a false self.
This page sketches how the false self system develops, and note that the precipitating factor is the perception of conditional love. Everything else follows from that. What the doctrine of Original Sin contributes to the discussion is an accounting for why, ultimately, such conditional love exists among spiritual human beings, and why our perception of the unconditional love of the divine is so distorted. That's how I see it, at least.
Thanks Brad and Phil. You can correct me if I'm wrong. The whole idea of spiritual purification/transformation is to get rid off the root of false self in order to reflect the inheritence image of God in our nature. Christian mystics have witnessed that we can never be free from sin (false self?). It seems as Brad mentioned above a little bit of false self is likely always be there regardless what kind of purification or transformation we have. The question is again is it because of original sin that we always fall back to false self to more or less degree. Phil, per definition I know what original sin is. However, still it is not clear for me what the distiniction between original sin and false self.
Thanks Brad and Phil. You can correct me if I'm wrong. The whole idea of spiritual purification/transformation is to get rid off the root of false self in order to reflect the inheritence image of God in our nature.
The heck if I know, Grace. But just gauging by the quality of the questions you�re asking, I�m the one who should be asking you!
As I see it, we are taught, through various means (explicitly and implicitly) that our truth self is a bad thing. If we were to express it then others would be disgusted, get angry, and/or reject us. And what we forget about this whole process is that it leaves us with a whole lot of unresolved feelings including, and especially, anger. So the practical effect is that once we�ve had that false self on for any length of time, and especially if it is a heavy mask, the first (second, third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth) attempts to come out from under it will usually first reveal those unexpressed emotions, particularly anger. And we then will quickly back off and think, "Yeah, I was right. I can�t afford to show the real me because the real me is indeed this unlikable person."
Our true self is, potentially, a marvelously loving and creative self. And (in agreement to what WC has been saying about therapy) it probably requires at least one other particularly tolerant and wise person to help bring us out of our shell. They have to be tolerant enough to put up with the anger and other gunk which can come out during this process (that is, be able to take a little abuse) and they have to be wise enough to know to do so, to know that underneath the ugly duckling is a beautiful swan.
But getting back to what you said, which was The whole idea of spiritual purification/transformation is to get rid off the root of false self in order to reflect the inheritence image of God in our nature. Philosophically (not theologically, since I have no expertise in this area), I think it�s helpful to think about what we can add into our natures and thus become better, not what we can take out. I think the more we try to get rid of the false self, the more control and influence that it exerts. I think the thing to do is to reinforce and exercise our true selves and thus starve out the false one by depriving it of oxygen and daylight. But it will never disappear if only, I think, because the very act of introspection (aided and abetted by the fact that we are not omniscient) delays our response to the outside world and thus we will always, if only momentarily, wear some kind of mask.
And . . .
The question is again is it because of original sin that we always fall back to false self to more or less degree.
Yes, especially when you consider that we wouldn't even have a false self in the first place were it not for Original Sin. That's the connection I was hoping to have made in my post above.
I have been meditating on this issue yesterday and one thing is revealed to me. Don't expect new knowledge. There is no new thing under the sun. Something hidden for me is revealed. That what I mean by revelation. As Phil put it correctly the false self is created step by step when we grow up. When we came to this world as an infant baby the image of God is within us, but wounded by original sin. When we began develop our identity we leans toward false self rather than to our original image of God. Why? Herein lies my revelation. Because of the original sin we tend to follow and develop false self. If original sin was not present from the beginning there is no any reason why we tend to go towards false self. But we have inherited original sin from our father Adam and we continue to follow the line. The good news is the New Adam, Jesus Christ dismissed what we inherited from Adam and through him the gate of Heaven is open and everybody who accept Christ as his/her saviour has the possibility to enter to the kingdom of God.Again thanks Brad and Phil.
I have been meditating on this issue yesterday and one thing is revealed to me. Don't expect new knowledge. There is no new thing under the sun. Something hidden for me is revealed.
I like that, Grace. I agree with that. And yet I think the truth is that nothing is new under the sun or everything is new under the sun. I guess we might moderate that and say the we express some common themes but always in a slightly new way. So even if our "spin" on things is the equivalent of putting one drop of food coloring into an Olympic-sized swimming pool, that drop might not be noticed, or even significant to the quality of the water, but it is there.
As Phil put it correctly the false self is created step by step when we grow up.
What I've been meditating on lately, Grace, is how to discover the characteristics of the true self. What cues do we have for that? Which ones do we use? I have to admit that I'm the master of sleight-of-hand and trickery. I'm pretty sure that I spend most of my time taking cues from that outside world, comparing myself to that, and then adjusting. But that's just more false self stuff.
As Phil said in point "d" in number 5 from the link he posted earlier: This life stance will have its center "outside of self," in other people ', activities, things, and in an utterly Transcendent, judgmental God.
If we're meant to have the wife, kids, picket fence, two cars in the garage, vacation house in the Hamptons (well, that's a bit extravagant, even for a wish), dream job, etc., then our true self will help take us there and the cues we see all around us can help prompt those authentic feelings in ourselves and help direct us. And surely there are some universals regarding being human. We want to be with other people. We want to be loved. We want to express our true desires. We want to create something that is important to us. We want to feel secure. But there are an infinite variety of ways to express these things, and although we may surely be sort of forced into our false self shells by some rather traumatic experiences, it is my hunch that the development of the false self is greatly facilitated by "non-standard" dreams, hopes, and desires.
The pull of our commercial culture is powerful. Heck, the pull of any culture can be very strong. It's not normal to grow up and for your life's ambition be to blow yourself up for Allah, but that's what can happen in a very oppressive and intrusive culture. There are similar forces (in my opinion) in connection with our commercial, youth-oriented, perfection-oriented culture. I sense it. I feel it. I see it, although I'll admit a good chunk of this is simply psychological projection. But even subtracting that, a huge influence remains and it can be quite a malignant influence, especially if a 9-to-5, spend two hours a day in your internal combustion box, keep up with the Jones's kind of life isn't your natural orientation. Granted, we're a social species and the nature of human beings mean we are also quite flexible and programmable. That's why false self are so easy to get caught up in. But we not only flexible and programmable. In fact, those very words suggest that there is something that is being flexible and is being programmed.
I think I speak from experience on this because I am a freak. Okay, a good freak, a harmless freak, and maybe a laid-back freak, but a freak all the same�at least in this neon-lit, aggressively materialist culture. I happened to get a double-whammy. Not only was I shamed for my natural desires and inclinations, but these natural desires and inclinations were never what you'd call "standard".
When we came to this world as an infant baby the image of God is within us, but wounded by original sin. When we began develop our identity we leans toward false self rather than to our original image of God. Why? Herein lies my revelation. Because of the original sin we tend to follow and develop false self. If original sin was not present from the beginning there is no any reason why we tend to go towards false self.
We certainly don't have Perfect trust. We don't have Perfect knowledge (of ourselves or others). We don�t have Perfect wisdom. How could we? Therefore, hows could an infant know what to make of the world and him or herself without the process of trial and error? And if that baby or child inherits a distorted image of herself and the world via this unavoidable (and tricky) process, well, maybe that's Original Sin coming down through the parents but unless we were born with the equivalent of Divine competence and knowledge I think we can tend to put too much baggage into the Original Sin basket.
But it could be due to Original Sin. But surely our philosophical and religious outlook matters. If there is not something particular to us that is the equivalent of a "soul" then the only advice anyone could give in regards to the false self is to find a better one, to simply go to a behavioral therapist and learn how to be a different person -- hopefully one that fits in better with one's surroundings and society. But if we have real substance and we have real spirits that have been imprinted with real purposes then we need to look inside. We need to trust ourselves and trust existence�no matter where this make take us.
Again thanks Brad and Phil.
You're more than welcome, Grace. And thank you.
Thanks to all I am learning from some very enlightened people. Great-full!
Father Keating speaks of arriving at a point where the success ladder is up against th wrong wall.
I wonder how many Nobel Prizes and Golden Parachutes
are compensation for not having had a real life?
Sometimes with my(false)self, I want a spiritual cookie at the end of it all. The journey itself must become the destination. Can anyone help me move this ladder, and what color was that cat walking underneath?
That is the proverbial 64,000 question. There is no microwave or drive up window spirituality, is there?
It took Moses and Abraham about 80 years or more for
God to get them into workable condition. I like the George C. Scott interperetation of an old man fed up and cussing God out in the middle of a rock-strewn desert. Imagine Moses after 40 years of sand and the odor of sheep. "I could have been Top Yuppie in Egypt! What is this! I could have been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it!" Stella!
This was back in the day when I did not know about
the Satanic backward masked 666 tracks. Still a great picture of the journey. I knew it way back then, in a foggy doped out sort of teenage way.
Leaves me speechless... Merton's #1 Guru
Look at the icon. See how many fall off!
Real Halloween stuff, eh?
The Good Book says we have to labour to enter into thie rest, and this is true, but enlightenment, satori, kensho, divine union and the Kingdom od God are only a thought and a heartbeat away.
There is no path, no destination, no method, no guru, no twelve step program.
"Be still and know that I Am God." "The Kingdom of God is within You." "The Spirit goes where is will."
I really enjoyed all the post which took me deeper and deeper into this issue. I feel the personal story of Adam and Eve explains the tendency within the universe to disperse. A centrifugal motion radiating from the nucleus that is causing the worldly consciousness to appear to be separate from God. The world in itself has no reality at all because it is in perpetual change without much meaning or consistency. The objects and things existing in it are separated in time and space and are changing from one moment to the next. Therefore, the microcosm apart from the macrocosm is nothing but when it knows the macrocosm (God the Father), it is reality itself, constant and full of being. The feeling that we fell from pure consciousness (original sin) and loss bliss is due to the separation from our internal existence or as one put it in their post,our soul. This has caused the present era of confusion where everything is divided, not centered, and separated from the whole or pure consciousness. This can be related to the story of Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden or the unit consciousness separating from (God the Father)pure consciousness. No need to worry though because we will be delivered from this separation. As the inner light unfolds, it delivers the outer life from bondage. Everything comes from within so when the inner consciousness knows freedom, the outer life knows freedom also, and will reflect it through health, happiness and success. I feel God's plan in evolution is working for our good and will bring about this knowledge that everything starts from within and works its way outward. All things even that which we call evil is paying tribute to (God the Father)pure consciousness, showing us the way. Suffering teaches us a lesson that causes us to resist making more mistakes. We just need to learn how to gain knowledge from our experiences, to go inward and try to contact the soul. Correct me if I am wrong..........
The world in itself has no reality at all because it is in perpetual change without much meaning or consistency.
What is changing, then, if it has no reality?
Correct me if I am wrong..........
Let's see how you respond to my question above.
A mirage is changing, if looked at on the outside it has no reality, the reality is in our mind where we experience it. Thus applied to spirituality what we experience outside is constantly changing. The scientists try to understand the mechanism of an atom and they form pictures of a mechanism, which could be responsible for all the things observed in their limited instruments, but they are never quite sure because the pictures keep changing, as the instruments get better. The period at the end of this sentence is also changing on the micro level.
Our bodies are not stationary because the atoms in it and the universe are constantly changing speed and existence, not allowing anything to appear as stable; yet, we see things as permanent.
In contrast to the external world outside of ourselves, it is within ourselves where we find Reality. Reality is where integration is realized in the unity of our being with our soul which is integrated with everything surrounding it, and it happens when we cease from identifying with our physical image or ego.
Our soul is the witness and our connection to God which sees everything internally and externally through our eyes externally, but internally because everything is within God.
The main thing is what we see as permanent is temporary and the spiritual things some view as temporary is permanent. It is always there, we are just not aware of it.
I agree with most of what you're saying, here, soma, but some of your reasoning could be taken to say that the body is not real, as it is changing. That something is changing doesn't make it unreal; it only means that its form is transitional.
Reality is relative I was relating the temporary to the permanent, the finite to the infinite so I use to think I was a body with a soul that was my reality, but that reality has changed to realizing that I am a soul with a body.
There are a number of ways to interpret sin, as recorded in Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible.
In my view if you want to interpret sin as a form of turning away from the true self, our true self was made to directly experience and enjoy God. Adam and Eve were created by God in 'Paradise' and this 'Paradise' is a paradise because they were close to the source of all life and being. Our true self is made in the image of God; as St Augustine says, all human beings have the 'Trinity' embedded in their being. If we look within and discover the hidden image of God, we also in a way find God himself; this theme is echoed in Plotinus (a Greek mystic) and in the Islamic Sufi tradition as well. However, to find our true self, we have to 'die' to the world (overcome egoism which makes us believe we exist rather than God exists and we participate in God's being) and then 'renew' ourself in the true image of God. This theme occurs in the letters of Paul but in a rather subtle manner, and Pauline Christology relies a lot on restoring humans to their true and original relationship with God.
As Jesus is the perfect combination of God and the human, mystics wishing to restore their own image of God and hence live and breathe in God look to his example and like Jesus, come to a situation where the 'Father and I are one' as he was, as Jesus says in his beautiful prayer in John 17 (much loved by all Christian mystics). It is in this sense we then restore our lost image to its original glory, and rediscover our true self, which is united with God.
"As Jesus is the perfect combination of God and the human, mystics wishing to restore their own image of God and hence live and breathe in God look to his example and like Jesus, come to a situation where the 'Father and I are one' as he was . . . . "
You seem to want to blend theologies into a common mysticism, which by itself isn't a problem, but not an orthodox Christian view. So . . . just to point out that your statment above suggests a kind of syncretism. On the one hand, you speak of Jesus being a perfect combination of God and man, but then toward the end seem to represent man as being as one with the Father as Jesus was, even though you also admit earlier that man's being is in God, and not the other way around.
This notion of man becoming one with the Father as Jesus did is probably more of a Sufi understanding of mystical union than a Christian one. From a Christian pov, the Trinity, while indwelling via grace the human heart, isn't a creaturely dynamic, and as such humans never exhaust that Triune relationship as distinct from themselves.
But I agree with you re: the way the true self is generated within the image of God and can only be fully restored through grace. However, from the orthodox Christian pov, this full restoration doesn't, and cannot, occur in this life, and awaits another act of God whereby the human soul is restored after death in the Beatific Vision.
(Noticing soma's post above Gregory's! )
Welcome Gregory. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.
I once heard it said that the True Self is that within us which recognizes God, and I like that very much. I do agree with w.c. that this isn't equivalent with Jesus' "The Father and I are One," which speaks more of their possession of the divine nature and complete accord concerning the mission of Jesus.
For some reason, this phrase ("The Father and I are One" keeps popping up in all sorts of books I'm reading these days, and with a number of contributors to this forum. Must be in the wind.
Great to have you with us Gregory. Look forward to more of your sharing.
The true self is that reflected light within us that when Father God looks upon said light and sees His love, His goodness and His purity in our reflected light shining back at Him. He sees then if we are truly made in His image and in His likeness. We all reflect God's Light in varying degrees of purity, being tainted in said reflection by original sin and further sinning until our light can be quite dim. It is His consuming fire of love that purifies us and washes us clean in the blood of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. None can do this purification on their own. We need the saving graces of our Lord. In a new birth the reflected light receives God's Holy Spirit Light to give us a new seed together with the pure waters of life in becoming new born spirit sons of His.
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