The Road to Eccentricity
01 February 1992

The road of selflessness and honesty, of love and purity is less travelled than some. It has superb views but is strenuous going.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Whatever the road Robert Frost was referring to, the road of selflessness and honesty, of love and purity is less travelled than some. It has superb views but is strenuous going.

I rather feebly and hesitantly took that road some 20 years ago, mainly as a response to the vision of being a co-creator with God of something new and healing in the world. I don't think it was my inflated ego, more a call to the heart. I have staggered often, fallen into the ditch frequently and rejoined the main highway several times. But I have always been grateful for the peace and freedom and adventure of that other road when I've got back onto it. It has made all the difference.

The self is much talked of and written about. Self-love, -denial, -fulfilment, -motivation, -doubt and -realization. Yet we hate self absorption -in others.

An Indian philosopher helped me separate the small `s' self from the big `S' Self. The small self, he wrote, is the actual, material me, body and mind. The big Self is the three dimensional me, the true Self that I grow to be as I explore who I am in relationship with God.

When my small self alone is loved and served with her seemingly insatiable desires, other people are alienated and relationship with a higher purpose is blocked. The big Self discovers God at the centre and displaces the small self. The small self is still there to be loved and nurtured, but now in partnership, loving and serving a greater reality. She is no longer central, though cared for, no longer in power, though listened to.

The person whose self-axis is displaced from the centre becomes truly eccentric - like the saints through the ages. The global implications of this eccentricity are staggering. Just think of the release of time, money, energy, food, love and land.

Unselfishness does not mean never thinking of oneself at all. I need to know myself thoroughly if I am to open the deepest truth and healing and make my known self God as co-creator.

Certainly unselfishness means the freedom to put others first, the willingness to go out of one's way, to have one's plans spoiled, one's sleep disturbed, one's food and money shared, one's time disrupted. But not as a fetish, not as a desperate route to self-worth and recognition.

I have abused others as doormats and allowed others to abuse me similarly. That is not true unselfishness - its ingredients must be honesty and purity with the love that yearns for the best and highest for all concerned. It is the wonderful freedom of being willing and available, no matter the cost, knowing that my worth and reputation are affirmed in my relationship with God alone.

Such vulnerability is frightening. But at every crisis moment of my life, my recurring conviction has been that God will supply all my needs as I honestly do what seems to be right. Emotional needs as well as physical. That God will look after my `self' if I remain true to my `Self'. And that has been unfailingly true, but needs, mind, not greeds, of which I have many!

The world has suffered from a hostile, straitjacketed concept of morality. Unselfishness has been entangled in the `ought modality' and there are millions who have experienced slow, spiritual death from a `hardening of the oughteries'.

The attempt to escape from moralistic compulsions, by doing what I want, when I want and to hell with the rest, leads to its own forms of slavery. We have yet to make friends with a deeper interpretation of morality. Within the surprisingly loving embrace of God's eternal truths is perfect freedom - and even a little eccentricity too.

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