Book Review – Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self by Richard Rohr

by Mark Votava


I love this book by Richard Rohr!  As I have longed for what is authentic in life, Immortal Diamond has been a companion to help me search for my True Self.  At the core of it, the True Self is the place where I can center my life in love.  I can live in the present moment and embrace all of life as sacred.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish what is the True Self and what is the False Self in life.  But in reading Immortal Diamond, it has given me a sense of awareness and discernment.  The False Self it seems is promoted by a lot of the church.  The church creates so many dualities, spaces where it is not safe to be honest, a fabrication of certainty and little tolerance for what is beyond the status quo.

Does the body of Christ really desire to discover the immortal diamond within itself?  The True Self is that part of ourselves that has always been there and no one can take it away from us.  It is given by God.  For many of us, we have never gotten in touch with it.

My False Self is not who I am, it is who the culture has made me to be.  It is a fabrication or an illusion of my own making.  It is taught to me by the media, my family, my schooling and many religious systems that are unhealthy in our world.  The embracing of my True Self and my longing for God are one and the same desire.

My desire for the True Self is comforting to me.  It is there.  I believe everyone has it.  Our True Selves are all very particular to who we are, and everyone has a True Self that is waiting to be discovered.  There is meaning when we are connected to the True Self within us.

The True Self is usually marginalized by mainstream religious culture.  We can’t discover our True Self when we have created a very tiny American Jesus in our own image.  It is ridiculous, but that’s what many of us do.

That is what is comfortable and safe.  It keeps us from being vulnerable, honest and authentic.  This is the North American way of narcissism that so many follow.  And we wonder why people do not like the church and find Christians anything but graceful and compassionate sometimes?

It is sad to me that many people experience the judgment of the False Self and not the love of the True Self.  Our world needs more expressions of love, not judgment.  We need to be extremists for love, nonconformists to the status quo and practitioners of empathetic listening.

I like how the book talks about when we get attached to our “successful” roles in society that is when we give up the search for the True Self and get stuck in the False Self.  It seems our True Self is within us and the False Self is always defined outside of us.  These “successful” roles we play in life have trapped our imaginations inside the dominant narrative of the market and empire.   We put in so much energy and effort into building the False Self that we do not even know there is an alternative to it.

Rohr talks about how it is not wise to fear, attack, or hate the False Self because God uses the stages we find ourselves in for our own transformation which help us to discover the True Self that is more expansive, authentic and compassionate.  If our pain is not transformed it will be transmitted to others.  So the True Self finds healing within that transforms our pain into a deeper way of being broken open to love.  I like the analogy of the immortal diamond that no one can give to you or take away from you because it is grounded in the core of love which is our True Self that everyone has within.

I highly recommend this book!  It will take you on a search for your True Self, bring to you more self-awareness and connect you to what is authentic within.  One of the best books I have read on the True Self.  Make sure you read it this year!

  • Your True Self

“Your True Self is that part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, although largely unconsciously.  Your False Self is just who you think you are – but thinking doesn’t make it so.”

  • A threat to the world as we have constructed it

“Somehow resurrection – which I am going to equate with the revelation of our True Selves – is actually a risk and a threat to the world as we have constructed it.  After any ‘raising up’ of our True Selves, we will no longer fit into many groups, even much of religious society, which is often obsessed with and yet indulgent of the False Self , because that is all it knows.”

  • Always live in the backwaters

“Perhaps the True Self – and the full mystery (not the same as organized religion) – will always live in the backwaters of any empire and the deep mines of any religion.”

  • A very tiny American Jesus

“I can no longer wait for, or give false comfort to, the many Christians who are forever ‘deepening their personal relationship’ with a very tiny American Jesus – who looks an awful lot like them…”

  • Stuck in the False Self

“Many people have lost all interest in our grand spiritual talk and our Scriptures because they too often have been used by people who are themselves still small (who are stuck in their False Self).  It does not help to deny that we are stuck, and yet it does not help to stand arrogantly above it all either…”

  • Little emphasis on spiritual practices

“Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, there has been little emphasis on spiritual practices…”

  • Utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time

“…in finding your True Self, you will have found an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time…”

  • The alternative to your False Self

“I promise you that the discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight have fallen from your back.  You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote any idealized self image.  Living in the True Self is quite simply a much happier existence, even though we never live there a full twenty-four hours a day.  But you henceforth have it as a place to go back to.  You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self…”

  • Settle into any “successful” role

“Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lesson if we settle into any ‘successful’ role.  We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it.  Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…”

  • The name we have always had

“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had…”

  • To see what is – as it is

“The soul has no agenda whatsoever except to see what is – as it is – and let it teach you…”

  • What makes you, you

“Your True Self is what makes you, you…”

  • We cannot imagine this False Self not being true

“Most of humanity is so enchanted with its False (concocted) Self that it has largely doubted and rejected – or never known – its True Self.  And so it lives in anxiety and insecurity.  We have put so much time into creating it that we cannot imagine this False Self not being true or not being ‘me’…”

  • It will feel like freedom and liberation

“When you are able to move beyond your False Self – at the right time and in the right way – it will feel precisely as if you lost nothing.  In fact, it will feel like freedom and liberation.  When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the mere part.  You are now connected to something inexhaustible.”

  • Our False Self does not let go easily

“Our False Self does not let go easily.  But that doesn’t mean the False Self should be attacked or eliminated.  In time, it will reveal itself for the false wizard that it is.  If you go after it directly, it will only disguise itself further, while you in the meantime get to feel quite virtuous…”

  • The separate self is the False Self

“The separate self is the False Self, and the False Self thus needs to overdefine itself as unique, special, superior, and adequate…”

  • The True Self sees everything in wholes

“The True Self sees everything in wholes and therefore in contrast to the way the world sees things, which now appears upside down to them.  The False Self sees everything in parts and hierarchies and in reference to itself, which is not to see very well at all.”

  • A largely mental and cultural construct

“Your False Self is not bad or wrong; it is just mortal.  It is relative and not absolute.  It is passing and not substantial, a largely mental and cultural construct.  It will die when you die…”

  • Without meaning

“Without meaning we are surely less than human and deeply discontented…”

  • The home for our greatest hopes

“Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes.  Without such implanted hope, it is very hard not to be cynical, bitter, and tired by the second half of life.”

  • The good, the true, and the beautiful

“The good, the true, and the beautiful are always their own best argument for themselves – by themselves – and in themselves.  Such beauty, or inner coherence, is a deep inner knowing that both evokes the soul and pulls the soul into its oneness.  Incarnation is beauty, and beauty always needs to be incarnate.  Anything downright ‘good,’ anything that shakes you with its ‘trueness,’ and anything that sucks you into its beauty does not just educate you; it transforms you.”

  • The same longing

“Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing…”

  • Our True Self remains untouched

“Our True Self remains untouched for most of us…”

  • Various forms of immediate gratification

“The False Self has no substance, no permanence, no vitality, only various forms of immediate gratification…”

  • Do not fear, attack, or hate the False Self

“Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self.  That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway…  In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted.  God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them.”

  • No hatred or violence in God

“There is no hatred or violence in God…”

  • The True Self is a shared and sharable self

“The True Self is a shared and sharable self, or it is not the True Self…”

  • Pain transformed is no longer pain transmitted

“Remember that resurrection is not woundedness denied, forgotten, or even totally healed.  It is always woundedness transformed.  You still carry your scars forever, as both message and trophy.  They still ‘hurt’ in a way, which keeps you mindful and humble, but they no longer allow you to hurt other people.  Pain transformed is no longer pain transmitted.” 

  • People who risk intimacy

“…people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more real people…”

  • Your True Self is who are, and always have been

“Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God, and at its core, it is love itself.  Love is both who you are and who you are becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower…”

  • The very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives

“…the very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives are what lead us into larger life and love…”

  • This strong diamond of love

“For the True Self, there is nothing to hate, reject, deny, or judge as unworthy or unnecessary…  The detours of the False Self were all just delaying tactics, bumps in the road, pressure points that created something new in the long run, as pressure does to carbon deep beneath the earth.  God uses everything to construct this hard and immortal diamond, our core of love.  And diamonds, they say, are the hardest substance on this earth.  It is this strong diamond of love that will always be stronger than death.”

Do you feel like you have experienced living in your True Self lately?