There is such a thing as our “True Self” or our “Authentic Self.” This also means we also have a “false self.”
In religious people, there is a religious false self that is very distracted and busy trying to be authentic, but it just misses it. The religious false self employs spiritual processes and institutional instruction in hopes of building up their faith and finding God. The cultural church in like manner tries to build itself up with a menu of different processes for spiritual progress.
These processes each have the potential of creating and growing the religious false self because each of those processes is tainted or formed through a lens created by other religious false selves. They presuppose they know the path to God.
Thus the pursuit of authenticity is usually separate from these processes, but it may employ aspects of these means and benefit from them. This is why there is subtle confusion between the process and that progress which is behind them. Enlisting in the process is not a sure path to spiritual formation.
The point at which one is satisfied with spiritual formation, or the point at which one believes any direct process or method is the way to such satisfaction–is the moment falsehood is germinated. This starts a cycle where the persons deeper journey toward God is paved with falseness, and they get more religious but not more authentic. They actually miss God because of their efforts not despite them.
The tension is to eliminating the false processes as a way of exposing the kernel of authenticity, or to continue on a path where faith is in the process itself. It’s subtle. This is why Jesus said the road is narrow and only a few find it.
The question is how do we define authentic progress?
If we gain understanding and embrace it, how do we know that understanding isn’t an attachment to a learning process that is more false or if that understanding is the voice of liberation?
When we change our positions on things, we presuppose progress or that something higher is gained. Thus we have a tendency to aim for the new idea.
But be careful here! While we need new ideas, and paradigms for progress, authenticity is not about the new idea, but the process of conformity to that source which is higher up or further back than the new idea. Authenticity ties us to the mind behind the idea, not the idea itself. For if spiritual progress takes place, our beloved new idea will be replaced with one newer in time.
If we focus on the idea, we will forfeit the source behind it. Thus going deeper must mean going “indirect.” This is because the direct path is biased toward possession of the idea, not toward proximity to its source.
Possessing knowledge is vital, but misleading. Proximity without knowledge means we lose the riches that proximity offers. Deeper authenticity seems to be “informed proximity” in flux. And this means ambiguity without confusion. Certainty in change.