Insight: Creating the False Self (3)

Richard Rohr has posted the third “ego split” which works to create the false self…

The Third Split: Body from Mind

The Third Split is that we separate our body from our mind.  The mind is given pre‑eminence in almost all people. It might take different cultural forms, but this little machine called the mind starts steering and judging, analyzing and fixing, controlling and dominating.  Most people think they are their thinking. That’s what contemplation aims to resolve; to let you find the deeper self that exists previous to your thinking about it. The self prior to the judgments you make, the preferences you have. It doesn’t matter what you think; your thinking doesn’t make it so. You are part of something bigger than your thinking can even hint at. Perhaps it’s easier for us to see this in our children with mental handicaps or Down’s syndrome.  We can see the divine image in them so easily, almost because they’re not their minds.

I’m sure that so many of the problems we have—addiction, obesity, anorexia—they’re all this rejection of the body; a result of feeling the body is not good, not holy.  I’m sure sexual addiction also is just a body trying to compensate; feeling so unloved, so disconnected, it tries to connect in False Self ways that don’t really work.

There’s no point in hating this—which Jesus never does. Jesus shows tremendous compassion for what we later called “the sins of the flesh.” Jesus is only hard on what we call “the sins of the spirit”: arrogance, pride, hypocrisy; these are the sins that really destroy the soul. Jesus is not localizing sin in the material universe (sins of the flesh or sins of weakness). Sins of the spirit and the mind—these are the sins that really separate you from God.  So the alternative orthodoxy that’s emerging is orthopraxy instead of verbal orthodoxy: adopting an orthodox, gospel-based way of life instead of just saying the right words and thinking the right thoughts.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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