“SELF” … a perspective of “individuality”

“An inability to find our way out of our own mind and thoughts to an ‘Other’ which is reliably there turns us back in on our ‘selves’ and our own desires become the reasons to justify whatever “we will”. Then our vision of freedom becomes our prison because we are unable to see any bars.” [D Willard]

A rather profound question: What is the essence of identity, and does it survive?Freedom is knowing who you are, what you’re supposed to do and doing it. It’s not doing what we want.” [Natalie Goldberg]

Up front I want to stress that autonomous control of our life by our soul is key to soul growth, and submission to either spiritual GoOD or spiritual dEVIL is critical.

What follows is my own interpretation of – An illustration of two forms of interest in Christianity adapted from “A Preface to Christian Theology by John Mackay. – and C S Lewis sums it up – “What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what kind of person you are” [C S Lewis]

“I cannot really stand aside from the universe, even in thought. Only by a meaningless pretense can I place myself at some vague point outside it, and from there reproduce on a small scale the succesive stages of its genesis. Nor can I place myself outside myself (a revealng parallel) and question myself upon my own genesis.” [Gabriel Marcel]

Have we any reason to suppose that total self-knowledge, if it were given us, would be for our good? Children and fools, we are told, should never look at half-done work; and we are not yet, I trust, even half-done. You and I wouldn’t, at all stages, think it wise to tell a pupil exactly what we thought of his quality. It is much more important that he should know what to do next. If one said this in public one would have all the Freudians on one’s back. And, mind you, we are greatly indebted to them. They did expose the cowardly evasions of really useful selfknowledge which we had all been practising from the beginning of the world. But there is also a merely morbid and fidgety curiosity about one’s self—the slop-over from modern psychology—which surely does no good? The unfinished picture would so like to jump off the easel and have a look at itself! And analysis doesn’t cure that. We all know people who have undergone it and seem to have made themselves a lifelong subject of research ever since.” [C S Lewis – Letters to Malcolm]

Self-actualization and self-realization are two concepts in psychology, philosophy and spirituality that refer to the achievement of the possibilities and potentials of the self. Both terms may mean the goal or motivation that drives a human being, the process of achieving one’s potentials, or the state achievement of said potentials. In psychology, the two terms are sometimes used together interchangeably and mean the same with only subtle differences.

Self-actualization is defined in psychology as the motive or drive to realize one’s full potential.

Self-realization is the process and the goal of realizing one’s character or personality and the resulting full knowledge of one’s self and achievement of one’s potential. This concept traces its roots to eastern philosophy, religion and spirituality, particularly the various philosophies and beliefs from India.

The first question we as individual’s need to answer for our own personal journey then is about the question itself. “Is the question posed personal (subjective) or general Objective)?”

“His [Jesus’] first “New Commandment” was that each individual must develop a true and real personality. Each of us is unique, each of us has, in addition to a body, a soul in which our spirit or our character (a gift from our Creator) is preserved and this is our unique personality. Our body, though frail and mortal, is our energy package or battery providing us time and opportunity to move our soul, our indestructible and timeless “being” out from under the “way of death” and into “the Way of Life and Truth”. This is Jesus’ most important teaching and is implied in everything He said and did. We have a duty to become “self-conscious”, not in any egotistical sense, but to become as deeply aware of who we have been created to “be” (as we are able) as an act of God’s creation. We may have all kinds of collective experiences (as a family, tribe, nation or group) but our soul/personality, as we work with Jesus to shape it and carry it stands absolutely alone before God. God knows everything about us, and sees everything that our spirit, soul and body imagines, thinks and does. Our knowledge of this is key in the understanding of our self-consciousness and it’s activity or passivity (our “choice”) in our own self-determination towards God (life) or away from God (death). Our knowledge of this is a foundational and key element of our self-consciousness. Linked to our awareness of our “self” is our individual “free-will”, the responsibility and imperative of “self-determination”. Each of us, by the exercise of our free-will, must mould and shape the personality or soul planted in our genes before we were born and which belongs to us throughout our lives. However insignificant or impotent we may appear to be, we all have a will which is free, and we therefore possess the right and the ability to exercise our individual and absolute self-determination of who we are. Our unchained personality is, or can be, all powerful over itself, or we can place it in the hands of its Creator to mould and shape into its full potential. Personality, human uniqueness, or soul is the glory of each human being and its implications are infinite and that eternal infinity has accountability to its Creator. With, or without, our Creator, we alone are responsible for our “soul” or “personality” as we shape it during our lives and we, alone, will be responsible for it after death.” [Paul Johnson]]

“Let us notice that the system of the Bible is excitingly different from any other, because it is the only system in religion or philosophy that tells us why a person may do what every man must do — that is, begin with himself. There is, in fact, no other way to begin apart from ourselves — each man sees through his own eyes — and yet this involves a real problem. What right have I to begin here? No other system explains my right to do so. But the Bible gives me an answer as to why I can do what I must do — that is, to begin with myself.” [Francis Schaeffer]

Picture people sitting on a high front balcony of a Spanish house which looks out over the road below. The road is the main route for pilgrims or travellers on their “journey” to Jerusalem/the foot of the Cross/the Kingdom of God and the house is located somewhere near to the travellers destination. Those on the balcony may be experienced pilgrims and people of intellect and means, however, they are mixed with some who, in their minds and experience have not seen the “pilgrimage” as essential to arrive where they are, but all pilgrims on the road below are seeking earnestly and sincerely the destination of their pilgrimage. The “balconeers” can overhear the travellers conversations below and often engage, talk and chat with them; they may comment critically on the way the travellers are walking; or they may discuss questions about the road, the different routes that have led to the house; or what different things may be viewed from different points along the road; and so forth. But they are onlookers and their problems and proposals are theoretical only. The travellers, by contrast, face physical, mental and spiritual situations and conditions, which, though they have their theoretical angle, are essentially practical problems of “which way to go” or “how exactly to make it through a particular environment”. Problems which call not merely for comprehension and understanding but for decision and action too. Balconeers and travellers may think over the same area, yet their problems differs. For example: in relation to “evil”: the balconeers problem is to find theoretical explanations of how evil can consist with the goodness of God and His sovereignty, but the travellers problem is how to confront the actual presence of “evil” and overcome it in order to bring God’s goodness out of it. The traveller is working through his personal “sin” small “s” and “SIN” capital “S” and hoping for deliverance, while the balconeers are debating whether it is “sin” or “SIN” being experienced by the traveller along the pilgrim’s route.
Travellers may not be in a situation where conditions allow the appropriate “peace and the time” providing the “space” required to analyse the question from an Objective or impersonal perspective, whereas the balconeers have too much appropriate tranquillity and time to examine all questions from an Objective perspective, but, because they are not journeying, are unable to see the question from the individual’s personal, subjective perspective. Some will be unable to put themselves in the travellers shoes at all.

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” [Edmund Burke]

I believe that the “humanist or secular culture” is, in our time, busy with a process of inverting, corrupting or perverting Jesus Christ’s statement “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“[John15:13] … into a very dangerous imitation – Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a “greater good”, or for a “great cause“, or because the “lack of the goodness, worth, or value” of the human species makes him dangerous to our environment.

The “Upside Down” life, or “How to breathe underwater”.

“As soon as philosophy separates itself from the life of people it begins to lose its vitality and is heading in the wrong direction” [Paul Johnson p193]

“Socrates spent his life resisting “the denial of independent thought by individuals”. Institutions rest on consensus and when every individual distrusts their received wisdom, and even reject the possibility of their being a correct and incorrect answer to problems, then getting consensus, especially the “right consensus” proves difficult indeed, if not impossible.” [Socrates by Paul Johnson p93]

“Destroy personal freedom, and ultimately the state destroys itself. No state succeeds in the long run by taking away freedom from individuals, other than those strictly necessary for guaranteeing individualism. And unless the state recognises this established fact its destruction will be both certain and brutal. Alternatively, a state that steps back from the edge of collectivism and reinstates individual freedoms will survive. This is the theoretical advantage offered by democracy, when the people can peacefully rebel against the state, compared with dictatorships when they cannot.” [Friedrich von Hayek]

The problem for every individual though remains – the moment I think some people’s interpretations, of the Bible or anything else, are authoritative and some aren’t I am being subjective in my discernment, it is unavoidable. And Paul tells me to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” [Phi 2:12] then at what point does my personal discernment or my personal “individual subjectivism” surplant Christ and “my god become me”?

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than ones-self or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than ones-self.” [Viktor E Frankl]

“Real spiritual need and change, it must be emphasized, is on the inside, in the hidden area of our life that God sees and that we cannot even see in ourselves without His help. Indeed n the early stages of spiritual development we could not endure seeing our inner life as it really is. The possibility of  denial and self-deception  is something God has made accessible to us, in part to protect us until we really begin to seek Him. Like the face of the mythical Medusa, our true condition in separation from God would turn us to stone if we ever fully confronted it. It would drive us mad. God has to help us come to terms with it in ways that will not destroy us outright.” [Richard Rohr]


Maslow’s heirarchy is turned upside down, see above diagram. “Neither happiness nor success can be end’s, they are the “means” to an “end”. To live unhappily because happiness is an “end” or objective, actually makes the “end”/happiness unattainable simply because happiness is a state of being which is an unintended side-effect or by-product of devotion to something/someone other than happiness itself.”[Viktor E Frankl]

Jesus says, “My son give Me thy heart”; your heart must be fixed in and on the right Substance – Me.

The moment you have fixed your heart on Me we have a vision – My vision for you; we have the means for you to reach that vision (the Holy Spirit, Me and your ‘self’) and all you need to do is repent and, giving your utmost for My highest, intend to reach Me with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. I am the Door that was opened, I am the Kingdom on the other side of that door, and I will, not only help you through that Door but help you stay on the other side of that door in the Kingdom.