The pitfalls of self-deception within the pursuit of a spiritual life are cunningly subtle. We can so easily become satisfied with our efforts that spirituality becomes and ego trip. We can begin to feel so good about our prayers, devotions and meditations that a silent, self-complacent cancer grows within us. This spiritual cancer is deadly. It can grow continually, if unchecked, until it’s too late. Its name is “I,” as in “I am doing great spiritually.”
Now, obviously, one cannot help feeling good, even ecstatic about successfully seeking and meeting You in different ways every day. But attributing this great feeling to ourselves is very dangerous. In a proper understanding of the “feel good” part of the spiritual life, we should actually feel pretty miserable about ourselves. The joy comes from the consolation that You don’t feel nearly as badly about us as we do about ourselves and, in that, there is much room to feel good.With even cursory consideration it should become evident that You are the amazing grace in our lives.
We must be very cautious too about crediting ourselves with the openness to receive Your graces; even this must be recognized as a grace from You. Nonetheless, the ego may become involved in further feelings of pride that we are so favored. There is a subtle but real connection between feeling good about such favor and feeling proud. Knocking the “I” out of it entirely fails to acknowledge the reality of a mutual relationship. Getting a proper fit for the “I” is the precarious goal. In simplistic terminology this implies the necessity for a kind of “Big You – Little Me” mentality, the truth of which popular culture rebels against. Trying to figure out how and where in this relationship I fit can be tricky because, ultimately, my vision of reality, wrong or right, is formed by me. In this circular sense it is almost impossible to eliminate “I,” but not impossible to assign the ego to its proper place once discovered. The individuality of that proper place, more by Your grace and gifts than by anything I do, has evolved into a unique mode of seeking You here now, in this place – one in which Your will only need be accepted by mine. Anyway, when all is said and done, it’s You who choose me not I who choose You.