I’ve made the point a number of times in talks I’ve given that it makes an enormous difference whether we view our starting point as sin or grace. A column in the current issue of Shambhala Sun (which contains my review of Brad Warner’s There is No God and He is Always With You) expounds nicely on that same theme.
We are a mixture of wisdom and neurosis. Everything we think, feel, perceive, say, and do has both an awakened and a confused aspect.
So, we are a mix of good and bad. This we all know. The important question is which we really are, which is the deeper reality of human nature. Which is more original, as it were, the sin or the goodness?
How we answer that question will define our path to becoming better people – whether we are struggling against our basic nature or trying to realize it.
What the author of the column describes as the Buddhist path to becoming a better person proceeds from the notion that it is the goodness that is more original. “The Buddhist path to becoming a better person is about being who we really are.”
Although not a Buddhist, I proceed from the same premise. If I take seriously the idea of being created in the image and likeness of God, and believe that God looked on his creation and judged it “very good,” than it is the goodness that is more original.
That means that our task is not struggling against our basic nature, but uncovering what Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and others term our “true self.” Our task is to peel away the false layers of ourselves so that we can be who we really are.
Splendid. Foundational. Critical. Sadly elusive in our culture.
I generally read your blog and am blessed with your insight and love of our Lord. This post however clearly strays from the norm…
“If I take seriously the idea of being created in the image and likeness of God, and believe that God looked on his creation and judged it “very good,” than it is the goodness that is more original.” Let us keep in mind the comment from God you reference was PRE-FALL. Disobedience changed the entire original dynamic between God and His creation… simple evidence to that truth, Jesus had to step out of eternity, into our time and space and die for the transgressions of men.
“That means that our task is not struggling against our basic nature, but uncovering what Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and others term our “true self.” Our task is to peel away the false layers of ourselves so that we can be who we really are.” This statement negates the work of Christ on the cross! Once our “true self” is revealed through your “peeling” process, we can then be who we truly are. Where is Jesus’ atoning work in this type economy? “We” are incapable of saving ourselves, regardless of what cathartic process we may attempt.
I’m quite honestly surprised, this is NOT Christian theology in any way.
I did not intend to suggest that we can accomplish this without God’s grace, John.
Susan, I believe I “know” your heart, but when something is published in a forum such as this, our thoughts need to accurately reflect the truth of God’s word. Man’s “goodness” is insufficient and to even suggest it calls into question Jesus’ work on Calvary. I really don’t want to appear anal, but as you realize I can be a stickler in certain areas, this being one of them. shalom.