Rohr writing about the false self

“I learned the terms “True Self” and “False Self” from Thomas Merton–words he used to clarify what Jesus surely meant when he said that we must die to ourselves or we must “lose ourselves to find ourselves” (Mark 8:35). This passage has caused much havoc and pushback in Christian history because it sounds negative and ascetical, and it was usually interpreted as an appeal to punish the body. But Jesus’ intent is personal liberation, not self-punishment. There is a general Platonic denial of the body in most religions. Centuries of Christians falsely assumed that if they could “die” to their body, their spirit would for some reason miraculously arise.
Paul made a most unfortunate choice of the word sarx, translated “flesh,” as the very enemy of pneuma, Spirit (for example, Galatians 5:16-24). Now we would probably translate sarx as “ego” or “small self,” which would be much closer to Paul’s actual meaning. Remember that Christianity is the religion that believes “the Word became flesh” (John 1:13), and Jesus even returned to the “flesh” after the Resurrection (Luke 24:40)–so flesh cannot be bad. If our spirituality is in any way anti-body, it is never authentic Christianity.
Merton rightly recognized that it was not the body that had to “die” but the “false self” that we do not need anyway. The False Self is simply a substitute for our deeper and deepest truth. It is a useful and even needed part of ourselves, but it is not all; the danger is when we think we are only our false, separate, small self. Our attachment to False Self must die to allow True Self–our basic and unchangeable identity in God–to live fully and freely”

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