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Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self Hardcover – January 22, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Robert Rohr, author of Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

Richard Rohr

Q. What do you mean by False Self and True Self?
A. When I use the term False Self, I mean that it is the self we manufacture and adopt to find our identity in the world—our jobs, our occupations, our religion, our culture, our sources of status. False doesn’t mean that it’s bad; it simply means that it's external, passing, that it changes. Everyone has a False Self—you need it to function in the world. True Self is who you are objectively in God. Most religious and spiritual traditions would call it the soul, although it is also mysteriously more than that. You do not create True Self by your own personality or choices or, or experiences. It's nothing that you manufacture or do. It's your innermost, essential being.

Q. How do the concepts of True Self and False Self relate to the questions you explored in Falling Upward?
A. In my book Falling Upward, I try to talk about the journey, the transitioning from the first half of life, the necessary suffering in the middle of life, and the liberation of the second half of life. In talking about True Self/False Self in Immortal Diamond, I'm trying to actually explain what it is we're finding in the second half of life--our True Self. If you don’t find or recover your True Self, you remain in the first half of life forever, as many people do. They think they are their occupation, their family, their culture, their religion; without the falling apart of what Thomas Merton called our “private salvation project,” without that falling there is no upward. In Immortal Diamond I'm calling the upward the True Self and I'm trying to explain what the True Self is.

Q. Why is finding True Self so important to the spiritual journey?
A. In many ways this quest for the True Self is the foundational issue. Your True Self is the only part of you that really has access to the big questions, things like love, suffering, death, God. Your False Self just entertains itself. But once you make contact with your True Self, there's a natural correspondence between who you are and who God is. Let me put it this way. When you discover your True Self, it's very easy to recognize the presence of God. When you're living out of your False Self, you tend to be more attracted to externals--external beliefs, external rituals--but you are never really touched at any deep level because it's not really YOU that's making contact. It's your temperament, your personality, your culture, all of which are okay, but your True Self is that part of you that already knows God, already loves God at some unconscious level. When you can connect with your True Self, the whole spiritual life opens up.

Q. What is the connection between finding True Self and facing death?
A. The phrase "you must die before you die" in one form or another is found in most of the world religions. Jesus would say, "Unless the grain of wheat die it remains just a single grain." This means that this concocted False Self, this manufactured identity that is who we all think we are, has to go. That's what the language of being “born again” really means. It’s not some kind of magical transaction that takes place between you and God, but the death of the passing self, the one you have created for yourself. That's what has to die. Until that False Self dies you don't really know who you are. Once you let go of your passing self, as St. Francis said, "The second death can do you no harm." In other words, once you have experienced the little losses and failings or falling upwards, you know at a deep level that you’ve been there before and none of it is going to kill you. You've already learned how to die. If you don't learn how to die early, ahead of time, you spend your life avoiding all failure, humiliation, loss, and you're not ready for the last death. Your True Self, your soul knows spiritual things, and knows God. So if you don't awaken it, you really don't know God. You can be religious, but you don’t encounter God at any depth. It's just spinning the necessary prayer wheels, whatever your tradition tells you is the appropriate prayer wheel. It isn't really transformative religion.

Q. How can we make contact with our True Self?
A. It is hard work to remain in contact with your True Self. That’s why daily prayer is important. Somehow we have to reestablish our foundational ground over and over because we lose it every day. I surely do. I get caught up in letters, emails, what people want of me, what I need to be, the little dance I have to do today for this person or that person. It may be necessary, but if you are living in that world, that revolving hall of mirrors, you so get enchanted with these reflections of what everybody thinks you are or wants you to be that you forget or you never discover who you really are before you did anything right or anything wrong, before you had your name, your reputation, your education, your family, your culture. That’s how we get caught up in what some call our “survival dance.” Finding True Self is about finding your sacred dance, who you are forever and who you always will be. That's the self that can go to Heaven, if you want to put it that way, because it's already in Heaven. It's already there. So you're returning home.

Q. Where did the title, Immortal Diamond, come from?
A. The metaphor immortal diamond came from a poem by the Jesuit Englishman, Gerard Manley Hopkins. The last lines of this beautiful poem say, “I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and/ This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,/ Is immortal diamond.” When I first wanted to clarify this notion of True Self/False Self, I immediately said that's going to be the, the metaphor. I think it names what I'm talking about, something that's strong, true, clear, but hidden within us.


How well do we know ourselves? So many roles and identities shape individual lives that it's easy to be confused about what is authentically "us." Rohr, a Franciscan priest and founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.Mex., leads a narrative excursion to the "True Self," the core of character that lies like a diamond buried within. Writing for secular seekers, the author claims that individuals need to allow the false self to fall away in order to get in touch with the true self, allowing it to breathe and flourish. Grasping onto the superficial identities of the false self, such as job, class, race, or accomplishments, can keep people from being the loving and generous conduits of the Divine that they are meant to be. God is always communicating with humans, but those who cling to ego and social position can’t hear these divine messages. The author makes clear that it is not easy to shed this falseness for truth in the inner life, but it is a spiritual path well worth the effort. (Jan.) (Publishers Weekly, February 2013)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118303598
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118303597
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation ( in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he also serves as Academic Dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. Fr. Richard's teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy--practices of contemplation and lived kenosis (self-emptying), expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized.

Fr. Richard is author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam's Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love.

He has been a featured essayist on NPR's "This I Believe," a guest of Mehmet Oz on the Oprah and Friends radio show, and a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday. Fr. Richard was one of several spiritual leaders featured in the 2006 documentary film ONE: The Movie and was included in Watkins' Spiritual 100 List for 2013. He has given presentations with spiritual leaders such as Rob Bell, Cynthia Bourgeault, Joan Chittister, Shane Claiborne, James Finley, Laurence Freeman, Thomas Keating, Ronald Rolheiser, Jim Wallis, and the Dalai Lama.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras VINE VOICE on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although I've only recently become aware of the work and writing of Richard Rohr, I've been engaged in Centering Prayer for nearly a decade. Having become convinced that the psychological and spiritual foundations of this practice are profoundly valid, I have read and re-read virtually everything written by Thomas Keating, the primary proponent of this re-imagined method of developing a contemplative life for the "secular" person. One of the most valuable and vital aspects of this brilliant merging of theology, spirituality and psychology is the articulation of the human condition and the True Self/False Self conceptualization as a replacement for the more traditional language of "Original Sin".

This most recent book by Rohr is an incredibly valuable further development of these insights, and contains some absolutely priceless discussion of True Self and False Self and the applications of understanding them to our everyday circumstances. Although this book was purchased from Amazon by my husband, I literally "jumped on it" as soon as it was delivered; hence, this is not one of my own "Amazon Verified Purchases". Also, this is a quick review, designed to express my unbridled enthusiasm more than deep analysis. I will leave that for more qualified reviewers, simply saying: I LOVE it: READ it!

As I indicated at the beginning, although I haven't read as much by Richard Rohr as I have by Thomas Keating and other authors who write on the contemplative theme, I find his work extremely accessible and very much to the point.
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86 of 91 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Stewart on January 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oh, man.

Just finished this book. What revelations!

I figured it was just another trinket, sales of which would support Richard's "Center" in Albuquerque.
What an incorrect and snide thought on my part: this is good stuff.

I've been to "hear" the man many times now; I ALWAYS learn--it seems, along WITH him--something new.

Get the book...and be on the way to YOUR own true self.

[First, ever, review of anything.]
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jan W Koczera on January 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone on a serious spiritual search. It will make sense most to those conversant with the Christian tradition, but he writes in a way that is acessible to all serious seekers of the truth. This is not another New Age feel good book, not another "The Secret" gimmick. There are deep truths here, rooted in the Christian and Jewish scriptures. However, if you believe that your brand of religion has all the answers and there is no room for another viewpoint, then please avoid this book because it will only make you angry. I am a Presbyterian minister and I had no trouble understanding Father Rohr despite the vast difference in our backgrounds. I give it my highest recommendation.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Dubious Disciple on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ready to experience the mystical side of Christianity with a Franciscan friar? Here's a journey that Father Richard Rohr promises will secure a happier existence. It's the quest for your True Self ... the resurrected self, the "immortal diamond" deep within you, which he says is neither God nor human, but both at the same time.

It took me a little longer than usual to get into the book, which keeps it below a five-star review, but it was worth the persistence. My problem was that Rohr writes with a sort of matter-of-fact authority that left me wondering if I missed the proof text somewhere along the way. Perhaps I did; Rohr has published around two dozen books since his first in 1976, and this is the first I've read.

Rohr's target is those who sense God is closer than they've been told. If you find yourself "in recovery from religion," you're in Rohr's crosshairs. He wants to introduce you to a deeper meaning to life, deeper even than the surface Christian tradition that has been your paradigm to date. While Rohr's heritage is clearly Judeo-Christian, and many of his quotes come from the Bible, he aims at uncovering the perennial truths that all religions share.

Resurrection is key, both of our Lord and of ourselves. Resurrection is necessary for new life, life in unity with God. As "children of the resurrection" (Luke 20:36), our relationship with God changes ... we "breath God in and out--much more than we `know' God, understand God, or even talk to God." There is an intimacy with God at this level that we never reach within our selfish, base existence, the "False Self."

A deep read, if you're ready to take the leap.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Hector Lasala on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

richard is my most reliable guide into the MYSTIC.

i've read most--if not all--of his books, so i can categorically say that with this one he compresses his wisdom into an even simpler yet multifaceted gem: the better to reflect the LIGHT that is the VERB that IS creation.

with each book, ROHR comes ever-nearer to the clarity that is SPIRIT once released from accrued religious opacity.

this book is simultaneously a primer AND yet a much deeper meditation into vivid and lucid unveilings.
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