|. Shalom Place||
Discerning "Who's Who" on the Spiritual Journey
by Philip St. Romain
|62 page paperback book. $9.95
Amazon Kindle eBook: $3.50
What follows is a "sneak preview" of the text of my doctoral project. It was written during the fall of 1995, and accepted by my advisor and the staff of the Graduate Theological Foundation in spring of 1996. When I let my publishers know of it, they expressed interest, but wanted a total rewrite to make it more palatable for a general audience. As I did not have the time nor inclination to do so, I put it on the shelf, thinking that none but a few friends might express interest (and that, out of politeness).
After doing a couple of workshops on this work, however, I learned that there was a greater hunger than I'd anticipated in things metaphysical--particularly as expressed in the Christian tradition. Ever since Vatican Council II, the metaphysical teachings of theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas have received short shrift. There are many reasons for this, none the least of which is the "pedagogical sins of the pre-Vatican II Church," as my friend Jim Arraj likes to put it. Metaphysics was taught in seminaries and universities, but it was a dry and seemingly irrelevant topic. Following the council, psychological approaches came more into vogue, and remain so today. But just how, precisely, do these approaches fit into a "larger understanding" of human nature? This was the issue which my workshop participants seemed to want to know more about. It is the primary concern of this book.
Part One: What is God, Self and Ego?
Essence and Existence
Emanantism and Creationism
God and Self
Self and Ego
The Ego and the False Self
Part Two: Facilitating Unitive Experiences
References Cited in Footnotes
Figure One: God and Creation
So, what is Self and
Put simply, it is "I".
But this ineffable experience we know to be "I" has two aspects:
potentiality and actuality. The "I" of potentiality is the larger,
more universal aspect; the individual actualization of this potential
is more unique and personal. Hence, Self can be considered the
subject of the unconscious, and Ego the subject of desire,
intellectual activity, and conscious experience. These are not two
different subjects, but they are two different experiences of "I".
Self is "I" as the human spirit, who is present in desire and all
manner of experiences, while Ego is the conscious and active
dimension of "I" in this embodied state. When one consciously
realizes this connection between Self and Ego, then the Ego loses its
sense of alienation and isolation and begins to experience the
social, cosmic, transcendent and holistic qualities of Self.
Because of our false self conditioning, however, our awareness
of this connection between Self in Ego can be so terribly distorted
that the Egoic "I" does not know from whence it comes, and so it
attaches to all manner of things within and without the person in an
attempt to complete itself. "I" can then become lost in the
convoluted activities of the mind and emotions, becoming, instead, a
"me," or object of my own mental activity. In such cases (and they
are legion), then "I" am not merely shaped by my experiences, but
determined by them. They are not "mine," but "me." Excessive self-
definition and judgmentalism follow from the creation of this mind-
self, which is not-"I".
And what of God? Is God "I"?
No, God is not "I". Rather, God is the "Am" in which "I" affirm
the fact of my existence: "I Am." This "Am", or pure Being, is
utterly distinct from "I", for "I" cannot, of its own accord, know
anything more about It than the fact that "It Is." And yet Being is
also the source of "I"; apart from It, "I" has no existence, no "Am."
Something of Existence must therefore be present within "I", for It
is the means by which "I" has its own being. "I" cannot extract
Existence from itself, however, so "I" can never know what it is
apart from Existence. Through the "I" in every person, then,
something of the glory and numinosity of Existence Itself shines
forth. Those who are awake to their own "I" know this truth, but
those who have lost themselves in the disordered mental activity
stirred up by the false self are asleep to the wonder of Existence.
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So, what is Self and