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True Self

“God has created us for Himself and our hearts are designed to find their end in him, yet many spend their days restlessly craving rival gods, frenetically pursuing rival kingdoms.” (James Smith)

“Our interior life can be extremely noisy (for some of us, it is an unavoidable artifact of the brain). Finding the heart is thus far more complex than merely looking for a “quiet place.” It is the place of the true self, which is far more than the absence of noise. The stillness of that place is rooted in its stability. Cutting back the vines and weeds that intrude is also a cutting back the things that are temporary, or driven only by passing concerns of the moment. Thus, when we manage to quiet the noise of various passions (anger, shame, fear, greed, envy, etc.) something remains. Ultimately, that “something” is the heart of the true self.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“From therapists to talk-show hosts and even “spiritual teachers,” we are enjoined to “discover,” to “get in touch with,” or to “enhance” our “self.”  We now hear of popular personalities actually “re-inventing” themselves as they “move on” to a new phase of life and experience. And perhaps the most indulgent of all of this self-expression is the phenomenon of the “selfie!” In all of this, there seems to be an implicit understanding of just what this mysterious “self” actually is, because we refer to it so often and so readily…We are either “God-sourced” or “nothing-sourced.”  If the latter, then the self is unstable and ever on the brink of disappearing into the void. Perhaps all of the clamorous cries of “self-affirmation” that we hear today are an instinctive reaction or even rebellion against this inherent nihilism. A godless quest of self-discovery leads to a dead-end encounter with our own nothingness!” (Fr. Steven Kostoff)  

“We must deny ourselves and take up the cross of Christ and thus follow him. Now self-denial involves the entire forgetfulness of the past and surrender of one’s will—surrender which it is very difficult, not to say quite impossible, to achieve while living in the promiscuity customary in the world. And in addition, the social intercourse demanded by such a life is even an obstacle to taking up one’s cross and following Christ.” (St. Basil the Great)

“Denial of self in favor of Christ’s will is necessary, for we know that following His way yields genuine blessing. Of course, this path must be learned and mastered bit by bit through practice, failure, and repeated efforts carried out with the support and loving tutelage of the Holy Spirit. Attraction to the way of the Lord is a noble calling. His self-giving path of the Cross turns out to be truly glorious. Yet in the so-called real world we see others disdaining self-denial, take advantage of givers and labeling them as weak. They may ask us, “Why do you let others run roughshod over you?” Let us always remember that our Lord reveals the Cross as life (Luke 6:29).” (Dynamis 10/20/2020)

“If we could pour our energy into discovering the “wholly Other”—God, and the multiple others—the neighbor; then we would uncover our “true self” in the process.  Our Tradition tell us to find our “self” in the other—God and neighbor.  Being a living soul and/or a person, then, describes a mode of being, a way of life, that is as far removed from the thinly veiled narcissism that passes today as “self-realization…” (Fr. Steven Kostoff )

“Being so worried about our external appearance or perfect social belonging, we tend to forget about the inner person, the unseen and true self. We can hide from the world behind a carefully crafted selfie, but we can’t fool God, “for nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke 8:17). In a recent visit to Mount Athos, I realized that in the monasteries, there were no mirrors. This underlines that all that matters is not how we see ourselves reflected in a mirror, or in the opinion of others. What is important is how we are in the eyes of God.” (Fr. Vasile Tudora)

“…our sense of self is highly mediated and is reflected back to us as a deep attraction to the things we think we need in order to discover our true selves. And so we burn with desire to spend time in spiritual places. We think we have to enter a monastery to realize our true self. We think the perfect spouse will lead us to the discovery of ourselves. We think that our true self is something that can be acquired and we burn with zealous desire to acquire it. But as our gaze into the luminous vastness deepens and strengthens, and the prayer word grows quiet, and spiritual practices fall away due to their own ripened readiness, so do our projections onto monasteries, cathedrals, canyons, mountains, and the “perfect partner” also fall away.” (Martin Laird)

“The place of the heart is always with you. The true “you” dwells there. It’s the noise of everything else that hides this from us. Begin by naming (noticing) each of the other sounds (distractions) and name them (anger, shame, envy, greed, loneliness, sadness, etc.). Let them go. One by one, set each one aside. Certain things will refuse such treatment. If I am deeply enmeshed in shame, or the anger of unforgiveness, etc., its noise might insist on staying. I sometimes bargain, asking only that for a short time I will let that passion alone. Oddly, it works. The resulting strengthening that follows helps create the ground on which this passion can eventually be silenced. What is left after this exercise is a “place.” It might even feel empty. We are so accustomed to the noise of the passions that their absence might seem an emptiness at first. What we find in this place is the true self, the soul in the freedom of simple existence.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Whatever in us that truly lives, exuding the fragrance of life like the blossoms in springtime will never know an autumn of decomposition and death. Those alive in Christ experience an everlasting seedtime of continual growth in faith, trust, hope, confidence, understanding, compassion, awareness, optimism, love, and joy. For them this world is a mere cocoon destined to release the true self on radiant, pure, glorious wings to a world alive with the fragrance of the Holy Trinity.” (Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky)

“Why is it so difficult at times to see God’s purposes and plans for us?... why is it so difficult to know His will? Well, you don’t know yourself. You don’t know what you’re capable of or what you are meant to be—you don’t know your truest self.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“This “true self” is not that which is of our own choosing or creation (the ego), but is the gift of God. It is that which is “truly unworthy” for it cannot point to its own making. All that it has and rightly sees is a gift. And the gift is wonderful and without compare.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Let us first consider self-denial. The serious Christian undertakes such practices as fasting, vigil, prayer, and almsgiving with a specific end in mind. According to Saint Paul, we deny ourselves that we “may gain Christ and be found in Him” (Phil 3:8-9). Standing in the way of this undertaking is our self-will – the rebellious soul that wants its own way. Our inner self can be likened to a raging, 2,500-pound bull – no one is prepared to control such a self.” (OCPM 3/19/2017)

“Asceticism is an antidote to the poison of self-centeredness common in our culture, which teaches us that satisfying our own desires is the key to the good life. The ascetic knows that true happiness can be found only by living in harmony with the will of God, and ascetical practices train body and soul to put God above self.” (Rod Dreher)

“If one places his self in all the things he wants, can he also have room for Christ? When he does not have his own self, and - instead - has the One, the most important, that is, Christ, then he has everything. One who does not have Christ, has nothing. If a person throws away his own self, God will give him everything in a marvelous way.” (Orthodox Agape)

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