The Search for Our True Self

We are all looking for an immortal diamond: something utterly reliable, something loyal and
true, something we can always depend on, something unforgettable and shining. There is an
invitation and an offer…from John’s very short Second Letter, when he writes: “There is a truth
that lives within us that will be with us forever” (2 John 2). But most of us know little about this,
so we end up as St. Augustine admits in his Confessions: “Late have I loved you, Beauty so very
ancient and so ever new. Late have I loved you! You were within but I was without!”


The search for soul has gained a bit of clarity in our time by finding words that make sense to the
modern, more psychological mind. We might now call the False Self our small self or ego, and
we might call the True Self our soul. When the True Self becomes clearer to you…you will have
found an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the
very same time.


I promise you that the discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight
have fallen from your back. You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote any idealized
self images. Living in the True Self is quite simply a much happier existence, even though we
never live there a full twenty-four hours a day. But you henceforth have it as a place to always
go back to. You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self. You are like Jacob
awakening from sleep and joining the chorus of mystics in every age.


Your True Self is what makes you, you. It is like the Risen Presence that “comes up and walks
by your side” while you are on the road to any Emmaus (Luke 14:15). It is the Christ Mystery
that appears and grabs each of us now and then on our journey until we finally “make our home”
there (John 15:4) and anoint (literally “christen”) the stone of that place (Genesis 28:18) as a
place to return to.


Once your soul comes to its True Self, it can amazingly let go and be almost anything except
selfish or separate. It can also not be anything that you need it to be or others want it to be. The
soul is a natural at detachment and nonaddiction. It does not cling or grasp. It has already
achieved its purpose in pure being more than in any specific doing of this or that.


Most of humanity is so enchanted with its False (concocted) Self that it has largely doubted and
rejected—or never known—its True Self. And so it lives in anxiety and insecurity. We have put
so much time into creating it that we cannot imagine this False Self not being true—or not being


This False Self world is sad and fragile. Yet the answer we seek is already inside each of us and
largely resolved—not fashion but fact. Our True Self knows that there is no place to go or to get
to. We are already at home—free and filled.


You do not create your True Self, or earn it, or work up to it by any moral or ritual behavior
whatsoever. It is all and forever mercy for all of us and all the time and there are no exceptions.
You do not climb up to your True Self. You fall into it, so don’t avoid all falling. There,
ironically and happily, you are finally found.


We each set out trying to create our own hand-cut and handmade diamond; but experienced
pilgrims tell us that the diamond was first made by Another, and it is indeed drawing us forward
into a brilliance that is now uniquely ours.

These excerpts are taken from Richard Rohr’s newest book: Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013.

January 01, 2009 by Richard Rohr
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