I recently read a book by James Martin, SJ. His book titled ‘Becoming Who You Are’ gives its reader insights on living the True Self from Thomas Merton and other saints. In this book Martin, SJ immediately sets the pace by quoting the most famous phrase the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, wrote in his book New Seeds of Contemplation. “For me to be a saint means to be myself, therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem, of finding out who I am and discovering my true self.” This quote gives us a clear image of who the True Self is and how significant this is in living a whole life.
What is interesting is the fact that Merton, in his constant search for his True Self, questioned his monastic vocation as much as he embraced it. He desired solitude as much as he craved attention and affection from his brothers. He sought intimacy with others as much as he treasured his chastity. He battled with his religious superiors as much as he hoped to follow his vow of obedience. Most of all, he wished for fame and influence as much as he saw that humility was the foundation for healthy monastic life.
In his writings Merton makes us ask the question; “Why do we have to spend our lives striving to be something we would never want to be, if we only knew what we wanted? Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just opposite of what we were made for?” Therefore before coming to know the true self, one must confront the false self that one has usually spent a lifetime constructing and nourishing.