As a Healer's Blueprint Certified Practitioner, I think a lot about the subconscious mind, and how it relates to the conscious mind and the higher self, and also how all these concepts relate to the scriptural terms of the spirit, the body, and the natural man. What exactly compromises "self"? And how do we learn to love and accept that "self", no matter what?
As a practitioner, I work with a lot of people who speak very negatively of themselves, and I work on discovering the underlying sources and releasing them, so they can love themselves. In that process, I have come back to the first question: What exactly is "self"? Because I care deeply about truth, and I believe there is a universal truth that does not change with the whims or philosophies of men, I wanted to find the truth of what the self is, and how do we come to love our "self"?
Interestingly, other than the verse about loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39), there isn't a whole lot in the words of ancient or modern prophets having to do with loving yourself. Actually, hardly anything. All the talks and scriptures I could find were about loving God and loving your neighbor. (1) Paul even went so far as to describe one of the evils of our day as, "men shall be lovers of their own selves." (2 Timothy 3:2). I was so surprised by this general lack of reference from words of the prophets about loving yourself, because it makes total sense to me that one should love
oneself.(2) We are children of God, and his creations, are we not? And how do we love others if we don't love ourselves? Asking questions about this started me on an intense journey of scripture study and prayer.
I was led to a talk by F. Enzio Busche from Oct 1993 entitled Truth is the Issue. I read this talk and everything started to make sense. He explains that in mortality, we have the "real me", created in innocence and beauty(3), in a life and death battle with "the flesh", or the natural man. In time, through fighting this battle, we come to the place where we discover our weakness and realize that we can do nothing without Christ.
When we come to an understanding of our nothingness before the Lord (because of the Fall and being connected to the natural man to test our agency), how easy it is to understand that only through Christ is safety and security possible.
M. Catherine Thomas, a retired professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University put it this way, "What does the Lord mean by the nothingness of man? We recoil at the nothingness because we try so hard to overcome our feelings of unimportance. But nothingness refers to man's state in the mortal sphere. Nothingness describes not man's lack of value, but rather his powerlessness during his mortal probation and, especially, his all-encompassing need for the Lord. Nothingness reminds us of the reductions we voluntarily subscribed to before the foundations of this world in order to come to earth and learn how to be taught from on high".(4)
As I continued studying, I read a talk by Neal A. Maxwell from October 1990 entitled Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror. Almost the whole talk, Maxwell talks about the natural man in the context of selfishness. it led me to pondering about selfishness. Selfishness means that we are trying to take care of "self". Busche said that the flesh, in its unredeemed state, is enticed and influenced by the enemy of God. One of the enticings that the flesh falls prey to is a scarcity mentality, which Satan espouses. This scarcity mentality is that there is not enough to go around. There are only so many pieces of the pie, so we have to take a piece before someone else gets it. In other words it's the mentality that Korihor taught - a man prospers by his own genius and the "management of the creature" (Alma 30:17). Being, therefore, enticed and influenced by this scarcity mentality, the natural man wants to take care of self, which by definition is selfishness. The root of selfishness is that somehow, in some way, there is a sense of not feeling safe, not feeling secure. This is exactly in line with what we know about the subconscious mind as well. The subconscious mind is all about survival and security.
So how do we overcome that? How do we overcome that feeling of not feeling safe? How do you teach your subconscious mind that it can be safe?
Here is what I am learning to do. I follow the admonition of Busche when he says, "a disciple of Christ is therefore constantly, even in the middle of all regular activities, striving all day long, through silent prayer and contemplation to be in the depth of self-awareness, to keep him in the state of meekness and lowliness of heart." In the depth of self-awareness, we become aware that our subconscious mind is running the show, or in other words, the natural man is working in us. The Healer's Blueprint and muscle testing give us added insight into the workings of the subconscious, or the natural man. When I become aware that the natural man is working in me (I am being acted upon, instead of acting - see 2 Nephi 2), I go into this space where I ask myself, "What about this is making me not feel safe?" It's very interesting to see what I discover in that meditation. And then the next question I ask myself is this: "Is there a higher way to meet that need?" In other words, I have a need to feel safe, and my options are to have "self" take care of "self" - selfishness; or I could look higher and have faith in God that he will take care of me, and he will provide that safety and security that I need. When I break it down like that, the choice is a no-brainer!
To me, having faith in God means being connected to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true vine. He said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 5:15) Nothing!
Once we are connected to the true vine (through obedience to commandments and covenant making/keeping), then we are able to receive our nourishment, protection, and security from the vine. and over time, we are able to bring forth much fruit. In other words, we can produce - we can become something, even to where we can become powerful, using God's power.
Joseph Smith promised that "when selfishness is annihilated, we 'may comprehend all things, present, past, and future'."(5) What a promise! Maxwell also says this in a talk given in April 1985 entitled Willing to Submit, "God's counsel aligns us and conjoins us with the great realities of the universe; whereas sin empties, isolates, and separates us, confining us to the solitary cell of selfishness." This is what happens when "self" is taking care of "self". On the other hand, the ability to comprehend all things is a god-like power, which is at once a natural consequence and an exquisite gift, of overcoming the natural man with faith in Christ, and in time, becoming like Christ. We will retain our own individuality, just as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost have their own individuality, but we will become on in purpose with them. We will become one with the gods.
This is the end goal, after all, to put our trust and faith so fully in God, that we are able to "lose our life" and then find it (Matthew 10:39). Step by step, we choose God to take care of us, instead of trying to take care of ourselves - "self" taking care of "self". Step by step, we choose to receive God's perfect love for us, instead of trying to figure out how our "self" can love "self". Busche describes this beautifully in Truth is the Issue, "This is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open as we feel the full impact of the love or our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy. With this fulfillment of love in our hearts, we will never be happy anymore just by being ourselves or living our own lives. We will not be satisfied until we have surrendered our lives into the arms of the loving Christ, and until He has become the doer of all our deeds,and He has become the speaker of all our words."
Eventually in this state, the subconscious mind will hold no secrets from the conscious mind - the two will be in a state of harmony and resonance; there will be no hidden agenda, no false beliefs or any manner of being "acted upon". We will fully act, and not be acted upon. In addition, either through translation or resurrection, our spirits will be able to fully integrate with our bodies. The Lord has promised, "spirit and element, inseparable connected receive a fulness of joy" (D&C 93:33). And that joy comes from God being able to dwell in us. Our being becomes a temple in which God can dwell.
On the other hard, those who do not overcome the natural man through Faith in Christ, are "acted upon" and their beautiful and innocent spirits change over time and become filthy, such that when they die they will remain "filthy still" (2 Nephi 9:16). They come to a place where "the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples" (Mosiah 2:37). Since these spirits still need to be connected with the elements for a fulness of joy, Heavenly Father has arranged a telestial or a terrestrial body for them, according to what their spirit has become. A celestial body awaits those who overcome the natural man and whose souls - body and spirit together - are ready to become a temple (see D&C 88:28-31).
The ultimate give and receive cycle is the giving of our will, our instinct for self-preservation and carnal security; and then the receiving of God's love and his nourishment through the true vine, and the receiving of his power, such that we can produce good fruit. The Lord instructs us in these words, "that which is governed by law is also preserved by law, and perfected and sanctified by the same." (D&C 88:34, italics added).
In the end, the Lord says that after we are quickened, we will return to our own place and enjoy "that which we are willing to receive" (D&C 88:32).
To conclude, I no longer see loving myself as something that I seek after. It is a natural byproduct of loving God, so it is present in me because he loves me, but I will no longer teach that it's necessary or use it as a marker of progress. What I will seek after is becoming aware of my own nothingness, and me being a branch, connected to Jesus Christ and his Atonement as the true vine, and thus producing good fruit through his power. I am willing (with a lifetime of practice needed) to give up my "self loving "self" and let God do that instead. He is, after all,
1 I have since been presented with a speech by Cheryl C. Lant at BYU entitled God's Love in which loving yourself is specifically referenced. I am in alignment with what she reflects in this talk, but I feel like the approach that M. Catherine Thomas takes in this talk is closer to how the scriptures speak of it.
2 I did understand that we should not love the natural man or be selfish, but I did not understand the extent to which that natural man was present in my life until I undertook this study.
3 "Knowest thou not," John Taylor wrote, "that thou art a spark of Deity,s truck from the fire of his eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burning?" ("Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women," The Mormon 3 (28):3, 29 August 1857).
4 This quote from a talk that Thomas gave at a BYU Devotional that brought together all the elements of what I had been learning. I was thrilled to find it! The talk is called The Doer of Our Deeds and the Speaker of Our Words.
5 Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror