“New self”, thus a pinch of psychology and philosophy

Today in the second reading from the letter of Saint Paul to Ephesians we can read: “You must have your old self, which gets corrupted (…) so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way”. In the common sense the person “full of himself” is an image of mediocrity, of selfishness, while the truly mature, sage person is humble and ready to endure sacrifice. Either in the case of our faith, the central moral theme is to renounce oneself (“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”). Thus the self would seem to be something that is better to lose than to find. For what? For what reason should we deny ourselves? It seems that for something that exceeds the ordinary self, for something that actually resembles more to a non-self than to a self. What is this? How should we understand this paradox?
In other words we can call “self” as “self-consciousness”. In practice, when I am aware of the glass that “is” in front of me, the “me” indicates that I am simultaneously and necessarily also “conscious-of-being-conscious” of the glass. It means that I am conscious also of my conscious “me” (=“Here I am and I am looking at the glass”). And because of that being conscious, is formed in me the image of my “ego/I”. I am self-objectifying myself and knowing myself as my own “self”. But the “self” is not “who I am”, but at most “what I was”. The self is the trace of the action, of the “passage” of me. Like the trail of smoke in the sky is the trace of the passage of the plane, but it is not the plane!
Therefore now the paradox of self can be revealed. The “ego/I” is not the self , nor the “me/myself”. The “I/ego” is the whole person (the subject), but the “self” is the continuous and always necessarily partial image of my ego/I. That’s why Paul talks about leaving the old self. In order not to block the development of the person, not to block my continuous self-transcendence, my continuous crossing my own limits or continuous crossing my own selfishness. And this full development, full dynamism of psychic life, full crossing own selfishness we can find in… Jesus! And it is the spiritual revolution – new self that has been created in God’s way.
Fr Michal

Categories: Reflections