Caring for the Soul

November 30, 2009

Beyond the Self

In today’s postmodern western context there is a great desire to become more aware of the self. Who am I? What do I want out of life? What will make me happy? These have become common questions. This fixation with introspection stems from our desire to reach a certain level of self-fulfillment. Some believe that the better they know themselves, the more likely they are to be fulfilled as individuals. Undeniably, introspection may produce a certain level of satisfaction, but there is also the danger that the more one looks inward, the less one has the ability to see through another’s eyes. When we become too consumed with ourselves, egocentrism sets in and it becomes difficult to value the opinions of others.

Having Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in mind, it appears that this desire to look inward is most prominent when basic needs have been fulfilled and an individual is comfortable and safe within a certain way of living. Thus there exists a connection between achieving self-enlightenment and having one’s needs met. It is when one is secure that he or she begins to look inward. So, if one were to be removed from his or her comfort zone it is reasonable to conclude that he or she would be more readily to look outward, beyond the self. Consequently, once one is removed from his or her comfort zone, then one becomes less concerned with the self and finds a greater appreciation for other perspectives. In other words, being away from one’s familiar context ultimately produces a greater appreciation and sensitivity for the unfamiliar.

If we reach a point of becoming so secure and comfortable that our vision of the world beyond us becomes blurred and we become immersed in our own world, then how can we reach true fulfillment? It is only when we look beyond ourselves that we are truly able to enjoy life fully. When we step out of our comfort zone our eyes are opened.

It would be safer to remain secure in our small self-centered worlds, yet this is not what God called us to do. He said go unto the uttermost parts of the world. This is a command to live outside of what is comfortable: to look beyond. We can attempt to be fulfilled or satisfied through remaining in a safe zone where all our needs are fulfilled and therefore are able to reach a certain level of enlightenment, yet regardless of how introspective we become, satisfaction can only be achieved through knowing our creator and not through knowing the creation.

So being consumed with ourselves, being safe with our lifestyles, being surrounded by what is familiar will not satisfy. It is only when we move beyond ourselves, beyond our comfort zones into the unfamiliar that we can reach true fulfillment. It is then that we are doing what creation is purposed to do and that is to go beyond the walls of comfort and security, to step out in faith and to listen to His voice to go wherever He leads and do whatever He commands.