The “self,” which I so often decry in these letters to You, is, in reality, the sensory consciousness whose whims and pleasures enslave us. But there is an ineradicable self beyond sensory consciousness. This unique individuality subsists beyond total dependence on sensory consciousness. We could not get rid of this “self” even if we wanted to. This “self” is a prerequisite for being human.
Thus we might refer to an “earthly” and a “heavenly” self. What we so often fail to consider thoughtfully about this heavenly self is its necessary preeminence over the earthly self. It’s the difference between the physical and the spiritual – the surface and the depths.
The genuine fundamental reality of the spiritual self is customarily subordinated to the perceived reality of the physical self and its whims. The physical self, with its sensory consciousness, can be controlled by us. It can, if we so wish, be demoted, diminished, denied, and even destroyed; but like powers over our spiritual self are not in our hands. Our only power over it seems to be to ignore it. It is the diminishing of our earthly, physical self with its sensory consciousness of the material world around us that, to a certain degree, facilitates the enhancement of our heavenly, spiritual self.
For me, confronting the spiritual self is often like entertaining a stranger. That’s how “at home” I am with my earthly, sensory self. However, we must cut through and push away many things about our physical selves in order to begin to touch our spiritual selves. The nature of contemplative prayer, I think, more aptly suits this pursuit than any other mode of day-to-day life.