Crucifying the False Self

The real meaning of crucifixion is to crucify the false self, that the true self may rise. As long as the false self is not crucified, the true self is not realized.
—Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Bowl of Saaqi, January 9th

First of all, I revere Inayat Khan and his transmission of human spiritual liberty. There is no other teaching of which I am aware that is so balanced and so free of judgment on things humans do. But he was not perfect — there ARE no “perfect masters” — and there were some things that I believe he might have rethought had he lived longer.

The problem I have with the formulation “crucify the false self” is the implication that this crucifixion is an intentional (and implicitly violent) act directed at something concrete, and that we can cause this to happen. I do not see it this way, based on 45 years on this path.

Any direct action we take against our “false self” will be interpreted by it as an attack upon our very existence, and will be resisted FIERCELY, resulting in a deeper internal split, and tying-up enormous amounts of life force that properly should be available for living life.

Furthermore, the false self is not a “thing” but a perspective, an identity through which the soul tries to perceive itself, and it is called “false” because of its particular limitation of separation from the Divine Ground of Being. We transcend the limitation of this identity by the grace of the experience of ourselves as larger and more multi-dimensional than a time-apace object, not by judging and suppressing anything of our impulses & potentials.

When this experience is real, it uproots the identity, at least for a time. For the most part, these experiences are what are called “spiritual states” and they are not permanent.

This is not something we can arrange to happen, because the part of us that contrives it is the part that must be transformed. It can only happen, and is only of value, when we surrender to the cosmic set-up when Ecstatic Grace or Fierce Grace are visited upon us.

Nevertheless, these experiences can be profoundly transforming and healing because of what is revealed to us about ourselves. This must happen many times and in different sectors of our being for the larger perspective to be integrated as a spiritual station, a permanent feature of one’s consciousness. And the ego is not “crucified,” it is de-centralized so that one may dismantle and rebuild, a brick at a time.