The Contemplative Life Program, which meets at Salem Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, has been studying the booklet ATTENTION / INTENTION, published by Contemplative Outreach. The booklet is organized around daily practices, and the entry for Day 27 has been a great help to me. We are instructed "[to do what we] intentionally want to do purely for the love of God. Observe the tendency of the false self to want to usurp this intention. Observe it uncritically. Let go of it. Return to your intention—again and again."
The part that resonated with was the instruction to observe the tendency of the false self uncritically. This honest and uncritical observation of the false self turns out to be incredibly freeing. Somehow I had developed the idea that I had to deal definitively with the false self every time I saw it in action. As a result, I would either “look the other way,” or over-react by turning from what I was doing to confront my false self.
I decided to try the approach given in the booklet. As soon as I intentionally tried to do something for the love of God, I immediately heard an internal commentary listing all the personal virtues and benefits related to my effort. I actually remembered smiling as I took the role of observer, saying to myself “look at that false self in action.” Then I simply let go of it and returned to what I was doing—what I was really wanting to do. Taking this easy-going approach of noticing and letting go has reduced my frustration and, at times, even helped me feel comfortable just being me—alive in the “human condition.”