A New Place as Dying to Self
At a deeper level of faith, we are called to “die to our false selves.” This requires spiritual maturity, but will lead to transformation if we let it. Richard Rohr shares with us how to welcome the true self and transformation. Are we willing to die?
Questions for Reflection
- The video starts with a question, “Why do we have to die, before we die?” To this, Rohr responds, “That phrase…is found in all of the great religions, at your higher level, not at the beginner’s level…the spiritual teacher, like Jesus, will always talk, almost in an embarrassing way, about dying.” How is the idea about dying found in all the major religions? In what various ways has it been formulated? Why do you think this talk about dying is at an advance level of faith and not at the “beginner’s level”?
- Rohr says that what “dying” means is not about beating one’s self up, but it is dying to the “false self”—“That your initial view of life is with yourself as the reference point.” The problem with this view of the world is that perceiving life this way lacks “truth” and “wisdom.” How is living through the “false self” detrimental to who we are? How can we find a “new vantage point” through abandoning the “ego”? Why might it be more difficult for those who live in our Western society to abandon the “false self”? What about individualism that makes it incompatible with the “true self”?
- Rohr talks about strategies that various religious groups use to abandon the “self,” e.g. giving up red meat or abstaining from alcohol. What are “easy” ways in which we try to abandon the self? Why are these attempts inadequate?
- Rohr says these “easy” steps are helpful for the beginner but “if you just stay with your initial formulas, and your Bible quotes that you interpreted in your childish ways, I’m afraid you don’t get very far. In fact, you even regress.” In what ways to we seek to remain “childish” in our faith? How do we often seek to secure the “false self” from death? What might “dying” look like for you?
- Rohr talks about “the edge of the insider” where he is at the same time on the “inside,” but also able to critique his tradition. What is the benefit of existing within this boundary?
- Rohr says that it has taken him 69 years to be able to speak about these important issues in a way that “people could partially understand.” How might we cultivate this way to speak about the gospel?
- Rohr discusses how “education is different from transformation” and “enlightenment.” In what ways can our system of education trick us in thinking that we have achieved enlightenment? In what ways is education beneficial and in what ways detrimental? How might we use our education in transformative ways?