I find that many, if not most, people and institutions remain stymied in the preoccupations of the first half of life. By that I mean that most people’s concerns remain those of establishing their personal identity, creating various boundaries, and seeking security and success. These tasks are good to some degree and even necessary. We are all trying to find what the Greek scientist Archimedes called a “lever and a place to stand” so that we can move the world just a little bit. The world would be much worse off if we did not do the important work of ego-development.
I believe that God gives us our soul—our deepest identity, our True Self, our unique blueprint—at our own conception. Our unique little bit of heaven is installed by the Manufacturer within the product, at the beginning! We are given a span of years to discover it, to choose it, and to live our own destiny to the full. If we do not, our True Self will never be offered again, in our own unique form—which is perhaps why almost all religious traditions present the subject with strong words like “heaven” and “hell.” The discovery of our soul is crucial and of pressing importance for each of us and for the world.
We do not “make” or “create” our souls; we just “grow” them up. We are the clumsy stewards of our own souls. Much of our work is learning how to stay out of the way of this rather natural growing and awakening. We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life. This is why religious traditions call the process “conversion” or “repentance.”
Your “false” self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union.
.. To move beyond this privately concocted identity naturally feels like losing or dying. Perhaps you have noticed that master teachers like Jesus and the Buddha, all the “Teresas” (Ávila, Lisieux, and Calcutta), and the mystical poets Hafiz, Kabir, and Rumi talk about dying much more than we are comfortable with. They all know that if you do not learn the art of dying and letting go early, you will miss out on the peace, contentment, and liberation of life lived in your Larger and Lasting Identity, which most of us call God.
.. Christians are much more disciples of Plato (body and soul are at odds) than we are of Jesus in whom “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14), where body and soul are willing partners. Jesus even returned to the “flesh” after the Resurrection, as all accounts make very clear, so flesh cannot be bad for us. Our bodies are, in fact, the hiding place for our divinity. (This is why I believe in the necessary physical resurrection of Jesus, admittedly in a new form of physicality.)