… The problem is really the problem of the self that I am busy protecting. All my fears come from concern about the self; all my thrills come from catering to the self. How can I become “unselfed” from the self so that I can attain total freedom?

… As long as [the self] is the focus of attention, we will get nowhere. What we need is the state of thoughtlessness, the state of illumination, or the state of love where we melt into another.

… How do we measure our progress in the spiritual life? The more we get out of our self-love, self-will, and self-interest, the more we progress. Unself the self. “For everyone must keep in mind that in all that concerns the spiritual life his [or her] progress will be in proportion to his surrender of self-love and of his own will and interests” (Sp. Ex. 189)

… [A]s long as I have my self-love, self-will, and self-interest, can I do the will of Christ? The love, the will, and the interests of Christ might be different from mine.

… What Ignatius is trying to bring about is rather the following. If I could mystically identify with Christ, then there are no longer two different interests, there is only one… “[It] is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me” (see Gal. 2:20). That is what can happen on the experiential, mystical, and emotional levels. So there are no longer two interests, just one. Then we have unselfed the self.

Anthony de Mello, Seek God Everywhere, pp. 139-143

Last Spring, after six weeks in Manresa with the Ignatian Immersion Course, I came home with the concept of kenosis, which I tried to develop in a blog on this theme. In a way, if Jesus emptied himself of his divinity to become human (Phil. 2:7-8), we are invited to empty ourselves of our humanness to let the divine in…

I am reading Anthony de Mello’s book with the greatest interest because I am preparing for a thirty-day retreat in the Fall. I want to be ready for what is awaiting me and enter the mystagogy of the Spiritual Exercises.

Anthony de Mello, with his experiences of Eastern and Western spirituality, has a way of using one to explain the other. As I looked for an illustration for this post, I remembered a small Jain statue which represented just the outline of someone which was filled with space. He or she had reached enlightenment and was totally liberated from his or her self.

The idea of unselfing the self amuses me tremendously because I am so very self-involved, and have been for as long as I can remember. In the course of my life, however, every so often when I think, “How does this make me feel?” or “What do I want to do with this?”, the question, “Who is the “me” or the “I” I am talking about?” comes up. It never failed to give me a feeling of lightness and detachment. I can suddenly place a distance between a situation and myself.

Does this mean that I will ever unself my self, that I will indeed become one with Jesus or Godde’s will for me? I do not know. What I know, however, is that I would like to reach this point and had been dreaming of it long before I became a “returning Catholic”. It seemed to be the most beautiful path there is; and I still feel this way today. Hence, my fascination with this section of Anthony de Mello’s book.

 

Art: Sukhi Barber, The Presence of Absence.

[The Jains have an unusual concept in their art of the Siddha Pratima – the realized soul who is represented by a void. For more information on this, see here.]

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