Towards Unity in the Community: The True Self and False Self Dance
Without even knowing you personally, I know what lies behind every feeling of restlessness or every moment of joy you have ever had. I also know what you seek with your whole heart, especially if you desire anything that resembles a healthy psychological and spiritual movement. I know these things because it is what I desire also; it is what every human desires.
What is this object of our desire? The True Self! This essay will focus on the True Self and the False Self. I’ve been a counselor for seventeen years and I have found no other theme that excites and challenges people like learning how to embody their True Selves. And in order to do that, we need to understand the False Self really well, to learns both its value and its tricks to stay in control. The dance between the True Self and the False Self is a life-long engagement and the goal of this dance is to fall into the True Self and learn to use the False Self with intention to do good in the world. Most fighting, irreconcilable disagreements, hurt feelings, scapegoating, blaming, victimizing, and the like take place between the False Selves of people. This is one main reason why this teaching is so important and desired. A community cannot remain healthy with its members living primarily in their False Selves. Only True Selves are secure enough to keep fresh life circulating in groups without feeling threatened. Only the True Self can handle constructive criticism; and in turn, only the True Self can give constructive criticism that is free from egoic needs to be right or subtle desires to manipulate the other. Another main reason to learn how to embody the True Self is that in doing so, we find ourselves capable of experiencing grounded joy and gratitude almost all of the time irrespective of what is going on around us.
First, I am going to introduce different terms for the True Self and False Self in order to light the path a bit brighter. The True Self is the Anchored Selfand the False Self is the Floating Self. The Anchored Self is thus named because it is who you really are, your deepest self, and it is anchored into the Larger Self, the Infinite Creator, or if you prefer, God.
The Anchored Self is the self that always begins with “Yes.” It is able to say yes to the present moment even if that moment feels uncomfortable. It is radically (radius=roots) secure because it is always connected to the Source. There is, in fact, a flowing that can be intuited from the Infinite Creator to and through the Anchored Self so that one is totally aware that they are being used as a channel for higher purposes that are always life-giving. This “yes” to the present moment is not a facile “yes” or superficial in any way. It is a kind of open-heartedness that embraces the moment as it is without needing to label it. The Anchored Self is the Infinite Creator looking through your eyes.
The Floating Self is the egoic self whose first response to the moment is, “No.” It is the addicted self that busies itself with a myriad of things that keep us from being present to what is in front of us. It is also addicted to the way it thinks and perceives reality and is often very threatened by other’s perceptions of reality. It is important to note here that the Floating Self is not the Bad Self… it is just not the Anchored Self!
The Floating Self needs to be in control because it is so fragile. And it is so fragile because it fears surrendering above all else…because then it wouldn’t be in control anymore. The Floating Self is easily offended and it might be said that when you or I take offense to anything–at all–then at that moment we are in our Floating Selves. The longer we hold on to old grudges, the longer we are trapped in our Floating Self in that area of our lives.
The Floating Self is battered around all day long by the winds of emotions that keep coming at us and taking us on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. It seeks happiness and the esteem of others and works hard, sometimes manipulatively, to get into the good graces of people. While there is nothing wrong with being liked by others and to feel happy, the key is that the Floating Self is attached to the need for these things. When it doesn’t get its way, the Floating Self is very quick to go on the attack and scapegoat another whom it has perceived as being threatening.
No authentic community that is grounded in the goal of being agents of healing, wholeness, and wisdom can come from the energy of the Floating Self. A person may have all the right answers packaged in eloquent and pithy statements yet be almost completely trapped in the Floating Self, and not know it. Usually a telltale sign of someone like this would be in how quickly they judge others as wrong, evil, trolls, “cabal agents,” and the like. Any setting up of an “us versus them” mentality is most assuredly done with Floating Self energy. Now, I’m not saying that boundaries are not necessary, nor am I saying that trolls and cabal agents don’t exist. But watch how often some people, perhaps you, perhaps me, jump at the opportunity to label others as “outsiders” and then scapegoat them just because their opinion or experience may be varied from ours.
I am grateful that the Truther community exists and it most definitely has its place and role in our current society which is on the cusp of major transitions. In fact, I would say that the Truther community is a principal catalyst for the major transitions–that’s how important it is. Yet the tendency to label others as enemies of truth because a different point of view is offered is very prevalent in the Truther community, I’m afraid.
I can’t help but become aware of the obvious fact that as many of us Truthers are awakening to hidden knowledge including crimes against humanity, we are often breaking out of the matrix with some pretty intense dualist thinking intact. This is true not only for the Truther camp that focuses more on uncovering the oppressive work of the cabal but it also seems true for Truthers who are really sure that their belief system is the right one, especially if their belief system is that they have no belief system. We as a community have to understand that the same kind of level of consciousness awareness that we see and attack in the “old paradigms” that include conventional science and religions is very often operating in us–but we are unaware of this! The disguises of the Floating Self just get more and more clever the “higher” you go whether in knowledge or spirituality unless we become aware of its tricks. Yet, there is lots of hope!! The great desire for depth that most humans feel in their hearts comes from their Anchored Self calling to their Floating Self to come down and be secured. You see, we do not get rid of our Floating Self. Instead, we redeem it by putting it in its proper role.
The truth is that we all inhabit both Selves simultaneously but if we are observant (and honest!) we will begin to see that we probably spend quite a bit of our time energizing the Floating Self system. Its concern for power, prestige, and possessions often plays too big a part in our thoughts and feelings. The great paradox we find in mature, grounded people is their ability to live in the tension that dancing between the Floating Self and the Anchored Self causes. As we will see, people who know how to embody their anchored self realize that they, themselves, are both broken and whole at the same time. They understand perfection not as an absence of imperfection but as an incorporation of their imperfections… and that’s perfection! They know how to accept and forgive their imperfections and through that journey they come to the solid foundation of the Anchored Self where they can accept and forgive other’s imperfections. The great paradox here is that the journey towards the Anchored Self is a “falling into,” a “surrendering,” a “less is more,” and a “movement down and in” into the deep recesses of the self is actually how we raise our vibrations. As Richard Rohr aptly describes the journey, “It’s a falling upwards that happens.”
There are only two ways that seem to be strong enough to break open the grip the Floating Self has upon us; to destabilize the status quo. Those two things are: Great Love and Great Suffering. The great love is usually not meant in the sense of romantic love but a kind of deep and sometimes shocking awe, wonder, and feeling of being held in sacred space by a sacred being. This kind of destabilizing (of the False Self) experience could be a powerful spiritual encounter or it could happen even in having a profound conversation with someone where barriers and hard-fought boundaries are melted away and a kind of deep vulnerability is met with mutual deep vulnerability. After such an experience, one walks away changed a bit. When your Anchored Self has communed with the Anchored Self of someone else, then you will never be satisfied with superficial relationships ever again. The real thing just tastes so good, so sweet, so true. I hope that something of this kind of great love has made its way in your life, at least once. I have met plenty of people who have never known this deeply human joy.
By far the most common thing that has the power to crack loose the False-Self foundation is Great Suffering. We all have suffering in our lives but many of us don’t know how to listen to its voice and learn its lessons. Often, I’m afraid, hard times can act as ways to strengthen the Floating Self energy and thus make it even harder to fall…down… into… the Anchored Self, your True Self. This circling-the-wagons coping mechanism is very often the result when an attack is threatening or just experienced. A recouping is often necessary but if this becomes the new normal for the person or group, then the Floating Self system has just been strengthened and hearts have just been hardened. Individuals and groups can avoid this hardening into dysfunction by creating and maintaining a place of honor for the rare community member(s) who is called to the prophetic role. The original meaning of “prophet” is to be someone who can stand at the edge of a group and calls out the groups shadow, with love and respect. They must be an Anchored Self person who speaks from a wisdom that is grounded in Larger Self and sees with a clarity the shadow sides of the very group they love. Instead of killing or ostracizing the prophet, the group honors this position as a part of the whole, each member with their important roles. This inviting the prophetic word is something that many life-giving businesses and movements instinctually incorporate.
A simple understanding of suffering is “anytime when you are not in control.” Suffering is catalyst-for-growth disguised as something that makes us uncomfortable. And no suffering seems worse than attacks on our personhood. I know that has been true in my life. What I tell my clients and what I practice myself (even though it is HARD) is that whenever there is a big disagreement between me and someone, and I want to help resolve it, I say I am sorry without qualifications. I don’t say, “I’m sorry… but…” or “I’m sorry that you took it that way, but….” These are ways that negate the “I’m sorry” and no new breakthrough happens; we remain in our Floating Selves. Even if I’m only 10% wrong and it’s clear to me and to others that the my counterpart is 90% wrong (but can’t see it), I still offer no qualification. I say I’m sorry for my part, my ten percent. By being able to do that, I must be in the Anchored Self because the Floating Self would be too incensed at being wronged. The Anchored Self is less moved by hurtful words by others; it may sting for a little bit, but it is soon let go of and forgiven. Only a Self that is anchored into a larger energy source can do this with authenticity and grace.
The journey to more fulltime Anchored-Self embodiment is not an easy task and not for the weak of heart! It’s a gauntlet into the shadows of ourselves, the places of past unhealed hurts that we’ve shelved or perhaps were unaware. But here’s a big clue that someone is working from their Anchored Self: they really don’t need to judge or blame others… I mean that. They have tamed their inner “dragons” on the greatest hero’s journey of all: the inner search for self-knowledge, acceptance, and forgiveness. If you are a Truther who has met your shadow, accepted it, forgiven it, then how you’ll engage with the world as it is now will be done with humility, honesty, integrity, and joy. Why joy? Because you have emerged from your own inner battles learning over and over again how to die to the Floating Self’s temptations towards power, prestige, and possessions, as a person who knows that death ALWAYS leads to life… and life, abundantly. The spiritual journey is learning how to die before you die so that you can enjoy life in a grounded, anchored way where there is a flow from an infinite well of love and energy. Nothing could be more joyful to know that even now, this Earth, this time of seeming chaos, this eve before transitions, is simply the necessary death pangs of older paradigm and an birth a new one. If you’ve done your inner work, if you are enjoying the Anchored Self now, then you fear not death because you have already died many times before… you die daily, in fact, to your Floating Self and rise in your Anchored Self.
Finally, allow me to suggest that the best way to learn how to embody the Anchored Self is regularly practicing some form of contemplative meditation. Anything that helps you get out of your thinking mind (a strong hold of the Floating Self) and into your heart mind, which includes your physical body, is the goal. Contemplative meditation helps us to experientially learn how to de-attach from our thoughts and reactions and re-attach to our quite, stillness of being, our Anchored Self, which does not feel like anything but within it, contains everything. Truly, the kingdom of God is inside us and it is what we are calling the Anchored Self. With this Self, activated and embodied, you are free to make changes in the world, to challenge power structures, to make appropriate boundaries, and to hold people accountable. The difference will be that in the challenging there will be little personal attachment to the outcome–that it won’t be about our personal needs and wants. Instead, we will find ourselves being conduits of a much larger, much higher vibrational force that simultaneously is us AND transcends us.
Let me end with a most eloquent prayer that seems to speak better than me to the kind of calmness of spirit and strength of wisdom that comes from the surrendered life:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things…
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
—St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)