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Have You Seen My Self? (The Difference Between Zen and God-Meditation)

I was recently browsing videos at the local library and glanced at one titled, Zen–the Search for Self. I thought, Yuck.

Please don’t misunderstand–I’m not bashing Buddhists. I deeply love and respect people of all faiths. But if you don’t mind me saying so, I’d rather not go looking for “self.” I’m trying desperately to lose it. And strangely, the more I succeed at doing so, the better I feel about myself!

I’m discovering myself really for the first time–the enhanced version, my truest self, the person I was intended to be. As songwriter Sarah Groves said, “I just showed up for my own life.”

I’ve chosen a “religion” (if you want to call it that) that teaches that in order to find one’s “self” (or “life”), one has to lose it. Self has to be buried, reckoned as dead. One’s life has to become “hidden in God.” How different from endless meditation on “self,” trying to find oneself, to make a name for oneself.

Every now and then I lose perspective and get full of “self” — either through feeling like I’ve said or done something really special and everyone should applaud me, or through facing my own stupidity and feeling swallowed up in the foolish words of my big mouth. I have to say, whichever way, being so “full of self” feels really gross.

A humble harpist came to our church some time ago and told the “sock” illustration: I am like a sock and Jesus is the matching sock–my soul mate. The man then interlocked the socks together like one does when folding clean laundry and said God wants me to be lost in Him, and He in me, like that mated pair of socks. I rather like that idea.

I don’t think any one of my socks, if it were alone, and could talk, would be going around saying, “I need to find my self.” Drawers full of unmated socks are annoying.

I recently was at prayer and asked God, “Show me where I’m proud and arrogant.” Then I quickly changed the request to, “Better yet, just let me hide myself in You, and what I don’t know won’t hurt me.” And “my meditation of Him became sweet” (Ps. 104). It’s really a wonderful thing, the loss of self.


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