Monday, March 5, 2018
When we consider our feelings as only one part of us, instead of identifying ourselves completely with them, we can more easily avoid being blinded by their intensity. We can catch ourselves before we act inappropriately or sinfully. By being more and more conscious of what we are made of, we can act more and more wisely and with discretion. This is the only sensible and effective course for achieving a dynamic self-understanding and healthy self-control.
As a familiar saying has it, the difference between a hero and a coward is that cowards act because of their fear; heroes act in spite of their fear. When we acknowledge the whole spectrum of our emotions, how strongly we are influenced by them, and that our behavior does not have to be determined by them, we open for ourselves an opportunity to grow in virtue and mature in character that we cannot afford to pass up. Our self-understanding and our happiness depend on it.
Nevertheless, as essential as such interior work is, it does not constitute the end of our search for self-knowledge. We are not simply the sum total of every thought, feeling, virtue, and vice that we have ever had. Even if we were completely aware of them all, we must go further, because we still sense a deeper ocean of mystery within us. As we learn to channel our energies in positive and creative ways, this awakens in us the recognition that here also is where we meet a fountain of energies much greater than our own. Paradoxically, this is so only because we truly meet ourselves as we really are.
Without coming to know this mysterious reality at the center of our person, we will remain ignorant of what we an be. We will not fully know ourselves.
-The Monks Of New Skete, In The Spirit of Happiness