|Apologies to Renoir|
Thomas Merton wrote much about the "true self" and the "false self."
The true self is what we have been created for; viz., union with God. The false or illusory self "wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and love, outside of reality and life." (James Finley, in Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours, 25)
In what is possibly the coolest description of the false self Finley writes:
"This counterfeit and evanescent creation is dedicated to the narcissistic cult of its own shadow in self-orbiting liturgies of egocentric adulation, ordering all things in its universe around itself." (Ib.)
Wow... Anyone else recognize this thing that shadows all of us?
"The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of this disturbing stranger who occupies our psyche, and enter by love into union with the Life Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls. To live in this conscious communion is what Merton means by contemplative life that plants in us something of heaven." (Ib.)
Jesus said he came to bring us life to the max. This is found in connecting with him. We can be released from the delusionary thinking of self-absorbed narcissism.