Human beings have to dig and work at finding our deep and true self. If we do not, we live superficially out of fear or greed or addiction and set ourselves up for false idols and lies. For someone else’s expectations for us which can set us up for dictatorship of many kinds.
Indeed, it may be that the increasing quest for authoritarian political leaders is being stirred up by the same forces that trigger addiction in us. (Remember that “addiction” and “dictator” are closely related words.)
When our deeper selves, our truer selves, is ignored, the gaping hole in the soul seeks to be filled by something else. That something else might be drugs or alcohol or compulsive work or conspiracy theories or political promises–attachments of any kind that allow us to numb our feelings of despair, loss or grief. All such addictions lead us away from our true selves, our inner selves, where our real depth lies.
True self-knowledge includes awareness of our hidden and neglected side, our shadow both personal and collective. If we do not pay attention to it, it can take us over and create monsters of us. Surely this was part of the dynamic of the rise of fascism in the 1930’s. It is present in today’s rise of authoritarianism in politics and religion and the media where plenty of hucksters lurk eager to pounce on self-ignorant people to milk them for unending money and power.
The lesson? Don’t be self-ignorant. Discover your true self and work from that. Throw off the false self. Let it go. Learn detachment, as all the mystics teach us. Eckhart: “We sink eternally from letting go to letting go into the One.”
When we learn to let go and sink into our true selves, we might find what Eckhart, Merton and other mystics found: That a Christ (or Buddha or Image of God) dwells deeply within. St. Paul discovered that “not I, but Christ lives within me.”
On several occasions Merton declares that “we are other Christs” and, echoing Eckhart, wrote in his journal: “Who am I? A Son of God…My true self is the self that is spoken by God—‘Thou art My Son!’… Tremendous happiness and clarity (in darkness) is my response: ‘Abba, Father!’” To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, p. 229.
And Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart, p. 49.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Midnight mirror image” Photo by Miguel Tejada-Flores on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you “sink eternally from letting go to letting go into the One”? Have you tasted the experience of “tremendous happiness and clarity in the darkness” that you are a son/daughter of Divinity?
A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey
In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book
A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.