Notes to Transformation - Chapter 20 - THE
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The Self is an aspect of the divine. In the form we know them,
neither soul nor ego can come any closer to God than the Self. It
embodies everything that is conscious and unconscious. United with
the Self we make decisions with full knowledge of how the outcome
will affect every living creature. The Self is the source of beingness,
spontaneity and authenticity. The Self brings us the fullness of
who we are. It is the embodiment of "being in this world but
not of it". The Self is our highest potential and the Pearl
The Self has nothing to do with any qualities, functions, capacities
or skills. It has nothing to do with our status in the world and
nothing to do with living this life in a body or not in a body.
The Self unites all opposites within us: of light and dark, good
and evil, masculine and feminine, conscious and unconscious, in
the dialectic paradox expressed by Jung in "no tree can grow
into heaven unless its roots also descend into hell". Where
the ego feels happiness, the Self knows ecstasy. Where the ego reacts
to experiences the Self just is. Where the ego would project and
dump, and where the soul brings intuition and wisdom, the Self is
Since the baby has no self-awareness, the Self at birth is only
potential as the sum of all those elements that were capable of
wholeness. It is visible in the babys natural authenticity.
Being bombarded with the energetic nodes of the people to whom he
was still merged and feeling increasingly hollow and alone, the
power that gave him life in the first place was transformed into
a guardian that tried to protect him from hurt. The authority of
this innate Selfhood was redirected very early. From being the unquestioned
core of the infants integrity it turned at bay to shield him
against a threatening world and became what Freud called the super-ego
and Hal Stone the inner critic.
One of Jungs most beautiful gifts was his understanding that
if we deal with the critic we are transforming the God energy itself
and opening the doorway to the Self. He wrote: "so long as
the Self is unconscious, it is a source of perpetual moral conflict.
If, however, it is withdrawn from projection and is no longer identical
with public opinion, then one is truly ones own yea and nay.
The Self then functions as a union of opposites and thus constitutes
the most immediate experience of the divine which it is psychologically
possible to imagine."
We can know the Self only through our soul. In the very act of
reconnecting with our soul the process of opening to the Self begins.
The critic will be transmuted by the heat of the souls longing
that has been rekindled by our own longing. Our task as the competent
servant is to support the soul with care: "If thou lovest Me
not, My love can in no wise reach thee." From here on there
really is nothing more we can do. We cannot force the Self, but
only keep our house in order and wait patiently. I have had great
support from these words of Bhagwan Rajneesh: "Forget all about
God - to come or not to come is His business. Why should you be
worried? Leave that to Him. You just prepare the way in emptiness,
trust and gratitude." Why should we be worried, indeed.
To induct the Self it helps to bring four things into consciousness
- the mature ego as competent servant, the once-unconscious material
in the shadow, the souls longing and the great archetypes.
Holding these four with all their opposites present will leave space
for the Self to emerge. The emerging Self then supports the ego
to gradually assimilate the full vastness of the collective unconscious
without fear of being overpowered or identified with its content.
The more this assimilation takes place the more the mature ego and
the soul become like the Self. At the same time the servant does
not merge with his master, but remains separate. If the ego or the
soul get taken over by the Self we may, because it is pure spirit,
become less human and find we are enjoying our lives less. We need
to keep the space to be human. We are on the journey and we "continue
to chop wood and carry water", as a Zen master said.
If, on the other hand, the ego identifies with the Self, the ego
will become inflated and possessed. This is a psychic catastrophe.
The ego is not the Self. The Self is separate and God-given and
can be present in us only if we are invisible. When
we stop resisting and end the egos game of self-importance
there is room for the Self. The ego can never be the Self, it can
only be like it.
It is important that the ego remain competent, strong and healthy
without being attached to the outcome. By becoming the good servant
we prevent the smugness that may come from believing otherwise.
Humility is the key to avoiding inflation, a humility that "detaches
us from that absorption in ourselves which makes us forget the reality
of God. Humility gradually pulls down the edifice of illusory projects
which we have erected between ourselves and reality. Humility finds
and saves us in the midst of a hopeless conflict; saves us by a
salutary despair in which we renounce at last the futile
struggle to make ourselves God. When we achieve this
final renunciation we plunge through the centre of this humility
to find at last the Living God." Thomas Merton
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