by Laurie Conrad.
True Confidence: Meditation Class: A Mystic’s Journal Entry: February 8, 2007
Thursday, February 8
The photo included with this entry is of the statue of Our Lady on our fireplace mantle.
Found a message on the Authorsden website, from my friend Marguerite: " Thanks for the prayers. I can feel them way down here in Louisiana. Melanie is feeling the prayers and says thanks and please continue to pray. She lives in Tennessee. Continue to heal and to heal others, FOR THIS I PRAY. Marguerite ‘lil flower."
Trudy said that she had briefly experienced the fragrance of flowers at a piano concert last Saturday night - a whiff of the supernatural. No one was aware of fragrances during class this past Wednesday, but during meditation I got some whiffs of the fruitlike scent we had experienced as we studied the poems of the Desert Fathers last year.
We are continuing our studies of the book The Ways of Mental Prayer (Lehodey; Tan Books and Publishers).
Trudy began reading a few sentences on what Lehodey calls trustful humility and humble confidence. Lehodey writes: Is not man’s greatest infirmity since the fall, pride, that strange compound of presumption and discouragement, of self-sufficiency and diffidence? Under various guises it is always the same evil ...
We found this a valuable passage; we have discussed this topic in class over the years - and we always seem to return to it as new people join class. Most people assume that pride, or "ego" refers only to a self-opinion of greatness and success: i.e. that we think that we are better than others, that we are overbearing, presumptuous, overconfident.
But philosophically speaking, this is not the case. "Pride" or "ego", on the spiritual path, has a very different meaning. Simply stated, on the spiritual path "pride" or "ego" means that we think we are our personal thoughts, thoughts which then lead to our emotions and actions. "Ego" here means thinking that we are the physical body and its thoughts and emotions and actions. Therefore, pride can lead us to call ourselves terrible names and to think badly of ourselves just as easily as it can tell us we are better than others. It is all the same mistake: we forget that we are the soul.
This led to a discussion on how important it is to identify with the soul rather than our personalities, rather than our thoughts and opinions of ourselves and others and the emotions that follow. And to also think of others as the soul. Once we think we are merely the physical body and its thoughts and emotions and others are only what we perceive, then we are caught in that reality, there is no escape: we will either have to defend ourselves, our thoughts and emotions - or judge them as lacking. There can be no steady confidence if we identify with the personality for the simple reason that the personality is not trustworthy; it will make mistakes, it will be lacking in almost every way at various times during our lives and days on earth. Therefore, the only way to achieve the trustful humility and humble confidence that Lehodey suggests is to identify with the soul. Because we are the soul we have a humble confidence and a natural nobility - we are humble before God and the soul, and yet because the soul is our true being we have a natural and humble confidence. We are humble before God and the soul - and yet in the knowledge that we are lacking as a created being, we also know that we are the soul and that we can rely on God. Without this knowledge and attitude we naturally fall into many mistakes, including the mistake of thinking ourselves unworthy before our fellow creatures - which can never be true , for we all are the soul. To think ourselves unworthy while still standing in the ego, while still identifying with the personality, i.e. with our thoughts and emotions, with our physical selves - can lead to nihilism, a sense of non-being. Or it can bring us to the neurotic idea that all others are better than we are, that we are worthless, useless as a human being. Both of these erroneous views are dangerous, destructive, and negate the truth that we are made in the image of God, that we are greater than our names and personalities. If I restrict myself to "Laurie Conrad", to my own human personality - I am falling into the ego, into pride. And if I restrict myself to "Laurie Conrad" and the image I see in the mirror, I will never be pleased with myself, never find this humble confidence that Lehodey speaks of, for the simple reason that as a created being I will always make mistakes and fall into error. That is the human condition.
When the saints speak of their own "worthlessness" and "nothingness", they are speaking of the "worthlessness" all created beings have when standing before God. The great saints can say that they are "worthless", that they are "nothing"only because the saints are already fully and continually identified with the soul. The saints are making a distinction between the personality and the soul: the personality will always be lacking before the soul and God. If we mortals are still standing in the ego and then say that we are "worthless" or any other negative description of ourselves - we are denying that we are the soul and actually insulting the soul and God. And we are still standing in the ego, i.e. prideful. For to be prideful means to forget that we are the soul, to place our trust in our own personal thoughts and emotions.
Trudy then read: Others (some of our miseries) depend in no way upon our will, but are a pure humiliation inherent to our condition as creatures and as men, and there is nothing for it but humbly to accept them: thus accepted, they will glorify God.
This distinction between the personality and the soul is one of the great secrets of the saints, and can lead us all to virtue and sainthood. We all must learn to distinguish between the vehicle we are given when we incarnate on earth and our true selves, the soul. Every created being will face this choice; we all share the same created vehicle and the perceptions it will give us, whether we are human or any other created creature. And when we can begin to see that we all share created vehicles that can blind us from truth, we can begin to feel a Oneness with all other created beings. Our weakness and fears, our mistakes and our sins are of the same essence as those of all other created creatures. From this feeling of Oneness with all other created beings comes true Peace and Understanding, Compassion and Love.
I then asked the class what thus accepted, they will glorify God meant. Trudy answered that if we accept that we are created beings we are already glorifying God, because we would not have existence without God. Our very existence glorifies God. She then said that to accept ourselves as created beings is also a gratefulness, a gratitude: life itself is a great Gift. And that we must trust that our lives have a purpose and that life itself glorifies God.