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
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.
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.
6 thoughts on “Merton, Eckhart & the Search for Our True & Deeper Selves, continued”
Hannah Arendt would agree with you In ‘Origen of Totalitarianism’. Your analysis hits home.
I am fascinated by the connection of the word addiction to the word dictator. It appears that the original Latin root related to being bound to something, or , slavery. Of course, that is what dictators work toward, enslaving the people to lies, selfishness, and greed. It takes effort to be open to awe and transformation. Moments of oneness for me are rare, but they are precious and inspire me to keep doing the work and the practices that make me more amenable to letting go and sinking into Divinity within. Then from truly being, I can move forward in truly acting for justice. Recognizing the true self is not enough–it must lead to action.
In the search for one’s true and deeper self… it’s essential to let go of all judgements projected onto oneself, and the deep wounding this causes… often self-inflicted through the inner critical voices being repeated of those voices of one’s earliest image makers which one has been exposed to throughout one’s journey of life. These imprinted inner paintapes become self-perpetuated, due to being unacknowledged. These afflicted aspects of one’s humanity, often hiding in the shadows, living in one’s unconscious inner landscape… need to be BEFRIENDED and ACCEPTED without judgement, criticism or condemnation.
The true nature of one’s Divinity, what we call the Higher Self, Soul/Self, or the incarnation of the Holy Spirit dwelling within… offers a sacred relationship with each aspect… founded on unconditional love, compassionate understanding and infinite mercy. As one’s humanness is exposed, to this light of the Divine presence/essence… one discovers oneself being enfolded; offered comfort, consolation and wise counselling. Encouraged to evolve and emerge from the dark, the veils of lies once believed to be true are lifted, which leads to inner healing and freedom.
The testimonial stories of the mystics, such as we find in Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avilla, John of the Cross, Mirabia Star and others offer much to those of us embarking upon this same sacred pathway.
Mystical Awareness is a seed of healing, hidden deep within the psyche of every human soul, a potentiality until awakened. It’s a call to integration of the totality of human experience — intuition, intellect, emotions, body, and spirit. It rarely bursts into full consciousness; instead, it waits patiently under the surface, its deep roots nurturing art, music, poetry, dance, and spiritual traditions. They exist in symbiosis — nurturing this sacred core and growing with it, reflecting it, shining its energy into the world. Sometimes, however, people need more than what they can find, more than what grows to the surface. For some, access to their roots is blocked by deep trauma. For others, a lack or stifling of artistic or poetic ability. And for some, like Augustine, their worldview is so contorted, so completely at odds with the information their deep inner soul gives them, that they search fervently for that denied nourishment, for reflections of a Truth deeply sensed but painfully hidden (a quest). Stumbling across hints and false leads, they search for something they have no words for. And sometimes, their need is answered with a gift from G*d: the blossoming of Mystical Revelation.
But G*d does not force a complete integration of the new Mystical template. Everyone has to choose whether and how to do that for themselves. Self-transformation is a choice and a lifelong process.
To be truly still in mind and body, one can experience this Oneness in God and all creation. A unique and powerful experience! Letting God and forgetting me is true freedom!
The inner true self vs. the outer false self – adopted thru Grace. So many gems in this one. Thanks.