Thursday, June 25, 2015

Is there a true self?

Martin Laird wrote:
"There is a lot of talk in contemporary theology and philosophy about what a "self" is. One wonders how much of it Paul would have been able to follow, or care about for that matter. But he does have something evocative to contribute: your life, your "self," who you truly are, is something that is "hidden in Christ in God." Whatever there is about human identity that can be objectively known, measured, predicted, observed, whether by the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, the tax man, or the omniscient squint of your most insightful aunt, there is a foundational core of what we might as well call identity that remains hidden from scrutiny's grip and somehow utterly caught up in God, 'in whom we live and move and have our being,' in whom our very self is immersed."

Uzma Aslam Khan wrote in the novel The Geometry of God:

"That is the ultimate goal of his devotion: to revert to his original self. It's a belief in pre-existence. Or extinction. You could say the Sufi is the original evolutionist."

Or is there no "foundational core," no "original self"? Shunryu Suzuki wrote:

"What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale."


Martin Laird, O.S.A. Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. pp. 13-14.

Uzma Aslam Khan. The Geometry of God. Clockroot Books, 2009. Location 77.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Quoted in Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox, Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Storytelling. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1989. p. 19. (This is a revised version of Telling Your Story, originally published 1973.)

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