<div><div> <h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <p>What Is "The True Self"?</p> <br> <p><i>In this high place it is as simple as this, Leave everything you know behind.</p> <p>Step toward the cold surface, say the old prayer of rough love and open both arms.</p> <p>Those who come with empty hands will stare into the lake astonished, there, in the cold light reflecting pure snow,</p> <p>the true shape of your own face.</i></p> <p>DAVID WHYTE, "TILICHO LAKE"</p> <br> <p>Conservatives look for absolute truth; liberals look for something "real" and authentic. Spouses look for a marriage that will last "'til death do us part." Believers look for a God who never fails them; scientists look for a universal theory. They are all on the same quest. We are all looking for an immortal diamond: something utterly reliable, something loyal and true, something we can always depend on, something unforgettable and shining. There is an invitation and an offer for all of these groups from John's very short Second Letter, when he writes: "There is a truth that lives within us that will be with us forever" (2 John 2). But most of us know little about this, so we end up as St. Augustine admits in his <i>Confessions</i>: "Late have I loved you, Beauty so very ancient and so ever new. Late have I loved you! You were <i>within</i>, but I was <i>without</i>."</p> <p>We give up eventually—or do not even try—to seek this truth and instead retreat into ourselves, as if to say, "I alone will be my reference point." It is the most common problem of individualism and egocentricity. I think they go together. We split and retreat into ourselves, but we invariably go to our ego (small self, the False Self) because that is all we know about. It is the common default position, even if it is largely unconscious. Yet it often takes over, and, depending on the severity of our "splitness," it makes all common forms of life, including marriage, lasting friendships, and most commitments, largely impossible. <i>But this retreat into the personal ego self is both absolutely right and terribly wrong at the same time.</i> In this book I hope to demonstrate what makes both of these assertions true.</p> <p>We are right about going inside; otherwise we become lost in an outer and revolving hall of mirrors, as Augustine confesses above. But the question is, "Which inside?" I am using the language of the True Self and the False Self, which many have found quite helpful in talking about these very points. It is good and necessary to pull back into your True Self, but it is quite a disaster if you pull back into what is your False Self for too long (or, worse, never leave it). Both True Self and False Self will feel like your "self," so you see the confusion. One might be called true "centering," and the other is the more common "ego centering," which shows itself to be the core of the problem.</p> <p>So Jesus, and most other great spiritual teachers, make it very clear that there is a self that has to be found and one that has to be let go of or even "renounced" (Mark 8:35; Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Luke 9:24; John 12:26). Buddhism allows no compromise or softening of this essential message, which is why many are attracted to its utter honesty.</p> <p>That there are two selves is rather constant in the Perennial Tradition, although the language might be very different from group to group. The important issue is how we tell the difference. Those who deny a sacred source to the universe ("God") have no way of naming something "true" and must resort to psychology, philosophy, and cultural norms alone to find something authoritative. And they are very good—as far as they go. Those of us who claim to believe in God more often than not deny that "we are already his children" (1 John 3:1) and create arbitrary hoops to jump through—at which few fully succeed if they are honest. So my moral self, which is always in flux, becomes the measure, and we have again lost any Absolute Measure. It seems <i>the False Self would rather have very few "wins" than let God win with everybody</i>. This is my sad conclusion after a lifetime of working in many churches on many continents, and it is summed up in an often murdered text by most preachers and translators: <i>"I am calling all of you, but so few of you allow yourselves to be chosen"</i> (Matthew 22:14).</p> <p>We are going to talk about the two selves in many ways. Like Socrates's peripatetic method, we will just keep "walking around" it in this book. The search for soul has gained a bit of clarity in our time by finding words that make sense to the modern, more psychological mind. We might now call the False Self our small self or ego, and we might call the True Self our soul. When the True Self becomes clearer to you, and it will for most of you, you will have grounded your spirituality in its first and fundamental task, and you will have hired the best counseling service possible. I love to tell people, "You have just saved yourself ten thousand dollars in unnecessary therapy!" Why? Because in finding your True Self, you will have found <i>an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time</i>. This grounds the soul in big and reliable truth. "My deepest <i>me</i> is God!" St. Catherine of Genoa shouted as she ran through the streets of town, just as Colossians had already shouted to both Jews and pagans, "The mystery is Christ within you—your hope of Glory!" (1:27).</p> <p>The healthy inner authority of the True Self can now be balanced by a more objective outer authority of Scripture and mature Tradition. Your experience is not just your experience, in other words. That's what tells you that you are not crazy. That God is both utterly beyond me and yet totally within me at the same time is the exquisite balance that most religion seldom achieves, in my opinion. Now the law is written on both tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and within your heart (Deuteronomy 29:12–14), and the old covenant has rightly morphed into the new (Jeremiah 31:31–34), just as it was already understood and lived by holy Jews. Jesus fully represents this ideal Jewish balance. Remember, Jesus was not a "Christian"!</p> <p>People who find this wholeness are balanced in general and tend to flourish, as opposed to either mere conformists or mere rebels who just take sides on everything—with no wisdom required. Think of poor Galileo Galilei who, under pressure from the church to deny that the earth moves around the sun, says quietly before he dies, "And yet it moves!" He wisely knew how to survive in a totalitarian system, and yet now he survives and thrives as the Father of Modern Science and the modern popes have exonerated him. You are both the Body of Christ and only a part of the Body of Christ at the same time. You are both the center of the world and on the edge of that same world, or as St. Bonaventure put it, "the center is now everywhere and the circumference is nowhere."</p> <p>Your personal experience of chosenness is precisely what allows you to pass on that same experience to others, say both Isaiah and Paul (Isaiah 2:1–5, 56:1–7; Romans 11:16ff.). <i>Outer spiritual believing</i> tends to say, "Only here" or "only there," while <i>authentic inner knowing</i> tends to say, "Always and everywhere." We start elitist and we end egalitarian. And Ken Wilber rightly adds "Always!" What we receive freely, we give away freely (Matthew 10:8). Outer authority told us we were indeed special (that's the only way to get started), but maturing inner authority allows us to see that everyone is special and unique, although it usually takes the maturity of the second half of life to see this. Young zealots still think it's all about them.</p> <p>I promise you that the discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight have fallen from your back. You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote any idealized self image. Living in the True Self is quite simply a much happier existence, even though we never live there a full twenty-four hours a day. But you henceforth have it as a place to always go back to. You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self. You are like Jacob awakening from sleep and joining the chorus of mystics in every age. "You were here all along, and I never knew it!" he says (Genesis 28:16). He anoints the stone pillow where this happened and names it <i>Bethel</i>, or "the house of God and gate of heaven" (28:17–18). Jacob then carries the presence with him wherever he goes. What was first only there is soon everywhere. The gate of heaven is first of all in one concrete place, better if carried with you, and best when found everywhere. That is the progression of the spiritual life.</p> <br> <p>CLUES AND EVIDENCE</p> <p>Who of us has not asked, "Who am I?" "Who am I really?" "What am I all about?" "Is there any essential 'me' here?" It is as if we are all a big secret to ourselves and must search for clues, however obscure they may be. Yet the search never stops fascinating us, even as we grow older. (If it does, we have almost certainly stopped growing.) Any lecture or class on understanding yourself always draws great interest, even from otherwise jaded or superficial people. One sees this fascination in little children as their eyes widen if you tell them about the day they were born, or what they were like "as a kid," or what they might "be" when they grow up. Try it, and notice how children quiet and listen with intense interest at almost anything about themselves. They gaze at you with wonder and excitement and invariably want to hear more. These messages must feel like oracles from another world to them and doorways into still-hidden secrets.</p> <p>This curiosity about ourselves grows more intense in the teen and young adult years as we try on a dozen costumes and roles, and we surely covet any recognition or praise of our most recent incarnation. We quickly grab it and try it on for size, as if to say, "This might be me!" Some never take their costume off. A too early or too successful self becomes a total life agenda, occasionally for good but more often for ill. Think of the many young athletes, musicians, and poets who become obsessed with their identity but never make it to the big time. Even if they do succeed, there are too many stories of unhappiness, being lost, and self-destruction. Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lessen if we settle into any "successful" role. We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it. Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside. When I explore the True Self in this book, I am talking about a second dressing up, which will actually feel much more like a dressing down.</p> <p>This confusion about our True Self and False Self is much of the illusion of the first half of life, although most of us do not experience the problem then. Only later in life can we perhaps join with Thomas Merton, who penned one of my favorite lines, <i>"If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.... If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted."</i> Success is hardly ever your True Self, only your early window dressing. It gives you some momentum for the journey, but it is never the real goal. You do not know that, however. In the moment, it just feels right and good and necessary—and it is. For a short while.</p> <p>I remember hearing a story, reportedly true, about a young couple putting their newborn in the nursery for the night. Their four-year-old son said to them, "I want to talk to the baby!" They said, "Yes, you can talk to him from now on." But he pressed further, saying, "I want to talk to him now and by myself." Surprised and curious, they let the young boy into the nursery and cupped their ears to the door, wondering what he might be saying. This is what they reportedly heard their boy say to his baby brother: "Quick, tell me where you came from. Quick, tell me who made you? I am beginning to forget!" Could that be true? Have most of us forgotten? Is this what Jesus was referring to when he would often teach that we have to become like little children to "get it"?</p> <p>Most spirituality has said, in one way or another, that we have all indeed begun to forget, if not fully forgotten, who we are. Universal amnesia seems to be the problem. Religion's job is purely and simply one thing: to tell us, and keep reminding us of who we objectively are. Thus, Catholics keep eating "the Body of Christ" until they know that they <i>are</i> what they eat—a human body that is still the eternal Christ. What else would the message be? Avoiding this objective and wonderful message, many clergy have made the Eucharist into a reward for good behavior and missed the core Gospel for the sake of a small contest where they just happen to give out the merit badges. Religion's job is to keep "re-minding" us of what we only know "in part" (1 Corinthians 13:12). This book hopes to remind you of what you know and who you are at your core—and in a way that you can't forget. Then whatever you say or do will come from a good, deep, and spacious place. The True Self always has something good to say. The False Self babbles on, largely about itself.</p> <p>Is it possible that we do know our True Self at some level? Could we all know from the beginning? Does some part of us know—with a kind of certitude—who we really are? Is the truth hidden within us? Could human life's central task be a matter of consciously discovering and becoming who we already are and what we somehow unconsciously know? I believe so. Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had. Most Native cultures look for inherent symbols at a child's birth—and that became the child's sacred name. Maybe this is what lovers are doing for one another with their sweet nicknames.</p> <p>Our True Self is surely the "treasure hidden in the field" that Jesus speaks of. It is your own chunk of the immortal diamond. He says that we should "happily be willing to sell everything to buy that field" (Matthew 13:44)—or that diamond mine! Could any one thing be that valuable that we would sell everything for it? In all the Gospels, Jesus is quoted as saying, "What will it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?" (Matthew 16:26), and the context invariably implies he is talking about something happening in <i>this</i> world. If you find the treasure hidden in your own field, then everything else comes along with it. It is indeed the "pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:46) to continue our precious gem metaphor.</p> <p>The early Christian writers tell us that this discovery of our True Self is also at the same time a discovery of God. I have far too often seen the immature and destructive results of people who claim to have found God and do not have even a minimum of self-knowledge. They try to "have" God and hold onto their false and concocted little self too. It does not work (1 John 4:20). I have also met many who appear to know themselves and do at some good levels, but not at the largest and divine level; they have to keep scrambling for private and public significance by themselves and in their mental ego. They still live in a separate and very fragile self.</p> <p>Some who use the language of integral theory or "spiral dynamics" call it the "mean green" level: these are people who are just smart enough to dismiss everybody below them as stupid and everybody above them as falsely spiritual. A little bit of enlightenment is a very dangerous thing. I have seen it in myself, in many clergy, and especially in the arrogance of many academics, early feminists, and loners who can never trustfully belong to any group and seem to believe they have the only correct ideas. Their "smartness" makes them also mean or arrogant, and we intuitively know this should not be true.</p> <p><i>The two encounters with a True God and a True Self are largely experienced simultaneously and grow in parallel fashion.</i> If I can do nothing more in this book than demonstrate why and how this is the case, I will have achieved the best purpose here. </div></div><br/> <i>(Continues...)</i> <!-- Copyright Notice --> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'>Excerpted from <b>Immortal Diamond</b> by <b>Richard Rohr</b>. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. <br/>All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br/>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.</font><hr noshade size='1'></blockquote>