The True Self (the soul) & The False Self (the ego) … some thinking aloud


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“When we are angry, when we are excited, when we are depressed, when we are elated, we are completely submerged in and identified with those thoughts and feelings. This is why we suffer. We suffer because we are completely identified with our thoughts and feelings and we think this is me. This is who I am.”
― Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

I find myself constantly ocsilating between “selves.” My emotional state changes like the British weather. I can feel recollected one moment and scattered the next. Sometimes I can let go and trust and other times I’m paralysed by fear.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a constancy of purpose, a stillness, an essence beneath the choppy surface waters of my personality.

The recollection of childhood simplicity or in the quietude of nature, contemplation, or creativity I find a deeper well to draw from. I can retrieve the part of me that is anchored in something greater than my own fragile, transitory, finite existence.

With hindsight I notice a pattern. The times I felt most alive and free were the times I acted with fidelity to this deeper truer part of me.

I think that when we tap into this constancy we tap into our soul. The part of us that is eternal and connected to the divine.


The world we live in orientates us away from this deeper self. To succeed, to compete, to attain security and worth in the world means tuning into it’s  fluctuating reality. If we align ourselves with instability we will become unstable. If we only ever look at life through the kaleidoscopic lens of others opinions we lose our own unique vision.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. – Luke 11:22

Below are some quotes from Richard Rohr’s book Immortal Diamond, on the subject of this essence or ‘true self.”

“Finding your true self, you will have found an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time. This grounds the soul in big reliable truth. “My deepest me is God!” St. Catherine of Genoa shouted as she ran through the streets.”


“True self seems to lessen if we settle into any “successful” role. We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it. Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside.”


“The soul  (true self) is a natural at detachment and non-addiction. It does not cling or grasp.”


The true self is surely the “treasure hidden in the field that Jesus speaks of. He says that we should happily be willing to sell everything to buy that field. Jesus was quoted as saying   “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” (Our soul) is indeed the “pearl of great price” – Matthew 13:46


I love this idea of the soul as a priceless hidden jewel, buried treasure or a “pearl of great price”. Yet the passage above infers a trade of some sort, begging the question, what must I give up, trade or sell to possess it?

The answer will probably be different for everyone. For me, two things that distract me from my true self the most are fear and striving. The kind of striving that stems from fear of scarcity as well as the kind of striving that makes me feel good enough to take my place in the world.

When I find myself unconsciously falling into this pattern of fear and striving, I fragment from my true self. My actions aren’t aligned with my essence. I betray my deepest self and always regret it.

The beautiful and good in all literiture, art and sacred text always convicts the false self and edifies the true self. That is partly why great art resonates so deeply within us. It is calling us back to ourselves.

The word religion means to reattach ligaments, fix what is broken, make whole or (holy) that which is fragmented. Ritual, sacrament and sacred text bind the soul to the body and the body to the infinite soul rather than the finite ego. This is the true purpose of religious practice.


For a deeper look into the self through a spiritual lens click to this article.

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