(Audio version can be found here)
What is your true self? Your true self is the person you are when truth flows through you unimpeded. It is the version of you when you are full of love. Truth and love are the same thing looked at in different ways. Truth is the light of God filling you so that you see everything as it is. Love is the feeling and desire that we have for all things when the light of God flows through us. But it goes even deeper than that.
We, in the very essence of our being, are the truth of God. It is not only who we are, but what we are. Truth is a fundamental identity. It is an existential question. There is nothing more fundamental than the fact that the sum and substance of what we are is the spirit of truth.
Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth.D&C 93: 23
Our spirits were born of God. A child, when formed in the womb, receives his mother’s blood, and flesh, and is formed from the same matter that the mother gives him from her own body – he is created from her substance. And when birthed he becomes an extension of her body. They are of one flesh and therefore inextricably connected. A mother is bonded to her child as if they were one being.
Unable to attend to all of the eternal mysteries bound up in the truths of creation, let us learn from the natural processes of birth and allow them to teach us about heaven. Just as a child on earth is a physical extension of his parents, particularly the mother, so are we spiritual extensions of heavenly parents. In ways more literal than we perhaps imagine, we are born of their spirits and are extensions of their very beings.
And so, just as God the Father, and Jesus Christ are the “spirit of truth”, we too, are of the same eternal nature, having been born of them. Our true selves are when we live in that truth and receive of their organizing light and love. We become our true selves because we return to the state of nature of being in the truth – which resonates with who we are at our very core.
Love, truth, and light – the very substance of God, is our substance as well. It is the reality of our being. The more God becomes real to us and we comprehend him, the more we will comprehend ourselves. To know God is to know ourself.
If we want to become “who we are”, and “find ourselves”, we must single-mindedly seek to become full of the light and love of God. Discovering God is the same path to discovering the true self.
Any deviation to this nature, when we resist the truth of God in any degree, is a resistance of our true self. It is a sin against our own nature. To reject God by resisting light, truth, and love is a rejection of our selves. We cannot sin against God without also, at the same time, sinning against our very divine being.
If this is who we are at our core, and we are an extension of the truth of God in our very being, why is it that conflict, duplicity, division of will, self-deception, and internal chaos are the conditions we all struggle with? Why are we at war with ourselves?
When we were in the presence our heavenly parents – where the truth of who and what we are flowed to us without compulsory means, and we lived and existed in the perfect awareness of our true nature and who God is in relation to us, we were at deep rest. We experienced the peace of the knowledge of who and what we are – because we had perfect clarity of who’s we were. Through the fall we became cut off from the source of that knowledge. We were separated from the presence of heavenly parents who’s very identity and substance we shared. We became veiled from God, and therefore, veiled from ourselves.
“But behold, it was appointed unto man to die—therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth—and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man”Alma 42: 6
We are cut off from the Tree of Life – which is a mystery of eternal layers – it representing the love of God – which is comprehensive of representing our Mother in Heaven, our Savior and his atonement, God our Father, being in the presence of Heavenly Parents and receiving exaltation – and all things pertaining to eternal life. We are severed from God, and we are also severed from our true self.
And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.Alma 42: 7
We became subjects. To what are we now subjects? Following our own will. When we are severed from the presence of God, we lose knowledge of the good and it must be restored to us. We gain a knowledge of evil, what it is to be separated from God and our true self, and what that tastes like, and we experience it in reality of our being. We lose a clarity of our divine identity, and take on a “will” contrary to the will of God that violates the nature of that identity. In fact, it runs even deeper than that. Because we are divested of an awareness of a fulness of truth, and are veiled from our eternal reality, we create a false self.
The False Self
This false self is a creation of our making. It is the forming of an identity in a fallen and veiled state that is trying to reclaim the secure, solid, clear, and peaceful state of our former existence. It is hard for everyone to breathe on this earth. Deep down everyone is in existential crisis. We all know that we are in a death and all are desperate to preserve and gain their a sense of a remnant of a former identity. We are all desperate for life not really understanding what the source of that life is.
Cut off from the will of God that gave us life, we enter into a spiritual vacuum – and therefore have developed an alternative will. It is through this will that we try to reclaim an identity. Just as the scripture teaches us, we are subjects to our will. That is, the false will. The one at odds with God. The will that violates our own eternal nature.
Our will becomes the thing that we guard and protect the most because it is an extension of our new identity. We have to establish an identity because we live in the insecurity of not knowing our true one. This is the creation of the false self. It is more than just an image that we put forward to the world, it is a way of being that is trying to establish an identity equal to the eternal but forgotten, self – it is an existential crisis of the deepest kind.
The false self relates to the world by seeking its approval. By seeking judgment. It lives in fear of protecting and establishing itself. The false self must always be fed, and must constantly be justified. The collection of evidence for its worthiness is an exhausting and constant endeavor. For most of us, to one degree or another, it consumes our entire life. But this is natural, and it is what happens to everyone in a state of nature. It is, very literally, the natural man.
The natural man relates naturally to the world through fear. As the opposite of love, fear is a condition we experience when we are cut off from truth and love. It’s an existential experience. Our souls understand that we are cut off from the source of its life, and that we are going through a spiritual death. We are existentially desperate to reconnect with the tree of life, even if we don’t understand that fact. We are desperate for God even if we reject him and don’t believe in his existence.
What we are all trying to do with the false self is reclaim Eden. We want to go back to the garden. We fundamentally all desire to be back in the presence of God. Without this knowledge of the reality of our desperate situation, we try to recreate Eden on earth by building our own kingdoms. We try to reconnect with God my making ourselves into our own Gods.
All of these efforts are futile, and will yield nothing in the end. They are exhausting and vain. We may be able to create a beautiful kingdom for ourselves of the honors of men, the possession of wealth and comforts, and the best things a telestial kingdom has to offer. We may be able to divert ourselves through food, sex, entertainment, and hobbies. But deep down, no matter how we use the things of this world to insulate us, we know that all of these things are weak and temporary. Only that which is established on the light and truth of God is eternal. Fundamentally, we intuit that only eternal things can satisfy us eternally.
Perhaps the worst sort of the false self is the adoption of the religious posture to both satisfy the eternal requirement, but in reality using it as a brick in the wall of our earthly kingdom. Do we mimicking the forms of godliness in order to bulletproof the false self? This can be the hardest false identity to shed – taking upon ourselves the image of having the image of Christ, when in reality we are trying to make God’s of ourselves. Perhaps finding Christ in the chaos will take us through that path, but at some point, if it this image and false self is a temptation to us, it must also be put in the grave.
As C.S. Lewis observed:
“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good.”C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity
So, it is the sacrifice of this false self that we are awakened back to God. It is the laying down of the false identity. It is submitting the insulation of the creation of the will and our ego. But with this death of the false self, we are brought back into the creation of a new person – that is, the person that is willing to sacrifice all things to recover their eternal identity and allow the love of God to flow through them unimpeded by fear or falsehood. They allow the truth of God to be the dominant and animating impulse of their being. They find themselves again. They are strong, solid, secure, and in deep rest. And they love others and the things of God freely, without coercion and without constraint. There is no need to fearfully protect the false self. The only reality they now experience is that of the love of God for all of creation and desire his will in all things. Their will is Heaven’s will. And they are liberated. They are free to love and are divested of fear and control. No longer needing to protect and secure the false self, they are at peace and full of the deepest desires.
They now understand the lie that they have been told – that obedience and yielding to God is control and the suppression of their self. It’s not a total lie. What needs to die is the false self. From the perspective of the false self this seems like a death of the deepest kind. The thought of it strikes fear deep within the natural man. But allowing the false self to die is the channel through which we are reborn to our eternal awareness and truth about ourselves and our divine origins. In this death what we find is liberation and return to our eternal identity – as the extension of the truth of God.
How does the false self die? First, don’t focus on killing it. Don’t give it any attention at all. It dies by committing wholeheartedly to yielding to the spirit of truth. We must be restored to the truth by thinking truthfully, feeling truthfully, speaking truthfully, and acting truthfully. We yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit at any cost and single-mindedly (Mosiah 3: 16).
Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.D&C 88: 66-67
We abandon ourselves to the spirit of truth. We pray for it, we sacrifice for it, we allow it to birth us back to an awareness of God. It will teach us not only that he is real, but that he is the sum of all reality. There is nothing more real than God. And when we have that revealed to us we will both understand how we are the shadow and he is the light. And unless we are infused by his intense light, love, and truth, we are nothing (Moses chapter 1).
It is not sufficient to “know” the truth in order to be free. We must become the truth. We must embody it. As we receive of the transformative spirit of Christ he can bring us back to our true self. We can put the natural man in the grave and be redeemed on this earth. We can become ourselves again. We can become, again, who we are.