Reinventing Happiness
Vonnegut on Stories

False and True Selves

By Jonathan B. Wight

Thomas Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation is one of those delightful books that you stumble upon and wonder, how did this book find me?  It discovered me at a yard sale in Nashville when I was in graduate school, and what a delightful day I spent reading it.

Here’s a quote that seems more relevant today than ever:

Whenever you are offended, it's usually because your self-image has not been worshiped or it has been momentarily exposed. The false self will quickly react with a vengeance to any offenses against it because all it has is its own fragile assumptions about itself. Narcissists have a lot of asserting and defending to do, moment by moment. (p. 36)

By contrast:

Don't waste much time defending your ego. The True Self is untouchable, or as Paul puts it "it takes no offense" (1 Corinthians 13:5). People who can live from their True Selves are genuinely happy. (Ibid.)

It is easy to find the first sort in the political world.  The latter sort come along rarely, but they are so impactful because they do not demand our deification, only to be on the journey together.

[Thanks to Richard Rohr for bringing these passages to mind.]


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