Rather than the language of the “true” and “false” self, I prefer the “essential” self.
The world (in the form of culture, family of origin, communities, etc.) tells us stories about who we are. We collaborate or rebel to a greater or lesser degree, and generate our own sense of who we are – who is I and me.
The person each of us becomes — with our many faces — has a sense of firmness and reality to it, and we identify with these personas. (A word from the theatre referring to the masks worn by actors.) All of this is well and good and serves us … until it doesn’t.
As we shift from binary thinking to both/and thinking, we can thank I and me for how they serve our well-being. And we can, at the same time, contemplate how they are both as real and as tenuous and provisional as any solid object.
Perhaps there are parts of the self we have participated in creating that would be better to lay down, or put away. Mostly, though, the work of becoming is not to become other than who we have been; but to become more than who we have been.
To integrate what we have ignored or avoided. To explore what lies beneath the surface, in the depths of our being. Becoming is a pruning and a refining – and also a welcoming and a celebrating of our essence that is underneath and within and above and beyond I and me.
It is a contemplative holding of the Zen Master’s koan of coming to know the face we had before our parents were born: who we are in the heart of God.
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