Categories
the real self

False Choices

We too easily assume that we are our real selves, and that our choices are really the ones we want to make…

Our choices are too often dictated by our false selves.

Hence I do not find in myself the power to be happy merely by doing what I like.

On the contrary, if I do nothing except what pleases my own fancy I will be miserable almost all the time.

Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, “Conscience, Freedom, and Prayer”

I don’t know enough about brain chemistry to say anything much about it. But I understand that we can easily become like trapped rats poking whatever button we can find that results in a little dopamine poof. And then another. And then another, bigger poof. Each poof producing in our brains what we associate with pleasure. Followed by a lack of pleasure. Followed by looking for that button again. And, can we poke it a little harder and get a little bigger poof this time?

I have been that trapped rat. I have family members who were those trapped rats who I hope and pray found mercy and relief when they left the earth that had become to them a maze with no way out and all the buttons no longer sufficient.

We have thriving industries that depend on our false selves making the choices for us. Until we no longer have any power to choose anything but what we have become addicted to, perfect consumers.

God in heaven, be merciful to us, guide us to our true selves, to choices that don’t go poof.

Jesus, you came that we might have joy, abundantly, not dependent on dopamine and the pleasure pulses it gives. Inclusive of pleasure, yes; thank you. Requiring pleasure, no; thank you. Joy no one can take from us, not ‘like the world gives’. Thank you.


Grace and peace to you…
dw

Photo by dw

Categories
Current Events the real self

Living on the Doorstep of Hell

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

Selfishness is doomed to frustration, centered as it is upon a lie.

To live exclusively for myself, I must make all things bend themselves to my will as if I were a god.

Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, “Conscience, Freedom, and Prayer”

This from Thomas Merton brings to mind words of Jesus:

If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

Matthew 10:39, Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language . The Navigators. Kindle Edition.

You might be more familiar with the words this way:

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Location 75096). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I don’t even know where to start. Which strand of thoughts, of the many, do I pick up and try to pull from the knotted mess that’s there?

One is about the rampant corruption in politics in our country and around the world…bending all things to the will of powerful people.

Another is about the kind of economics that steals from the poor and gives to the already-wealthy…selfishness.

Another is about the stockpiling of weaponry, both nationally and individually…first concern is to look after yourself.

Another is about speech and how we choose to use it…exclusively for ourselves.

Each of these threads gets and deserves plenty of air time in our public discourse.

But I’m holding back the temptation to enter the fray.

Because maybe I need to start, to remember as best I can always to start, with the thread of my inner life.

The tragic and tragically flawed little god in there who rants and raves at even the smallest inconvenience daring to cross it’s path.

That spews all the correct answers to all the important questions and deserves accolades commensurate with this great wisdom, greater even than Solomon’s.

That can’t seem to go a day without chocolate of just the right darkness or coffee made from just the right bean brewed in just the right way.

Maybe that is the thread I should start with.

Maybe that little tyrant needs to be reminded about the quotes from Merton and Matthew first.

Before it commences tying all the other threads together into a tangle made in it’s own image.


Grace and peace to you…
dw

Door photo by dw

Categories
the real self

The real self

I consider that the spiritual life is the life of [one’s] real self, the life of that interior self whose flame is so often allowed to be smothered under the ashes of anxiety and futile concern.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

In these few words Merton has spelled out the scope of this blog:

  • the ‘real self’ God made us to be
  • how to find that self
  • how to fan it aflame amid the ashes of our lives

It boils down to what I have come to believe is the good news of the Gospel:

Following Jesus leads us from our fake selves to our real selves,

from living in our heads to living from our hearts,

from advancing our own agendas to receiving the gift of His,

from thirsting for the next transient thrill to drinking deeply of eternal life.

dw

  • What do you think of the notion that each of us has a ‘real self’ that God loves and nurtures?
  • To what extent do you feel in touch with your real self?
  • What are the ashes in your life that hinder your real self from emerging and thriving?

I encourage you to consider writing out your answers, either in a journal or in the comments section.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

p.s. this, too, is a refresh of an earlier post