Some Mormons, other Christians, and perhaps people generally, are uncomfortable with the idea that the truth is found within us. They might consider this to be incompatible with the gospel, navel-gazing, narcissism, and selfishness. But I think the whole purpose and goal of the Christian gospel, and of spirituality more generally, is to help us discover that Truth is at the core of our being, which is our divine nature in God, in Reality. This is beyond all that is “selfish” in us, reaching the ground of who and what we really are.
Many of the things being taught in the world about the “self” can be taken the wrong way, which only fuels the ego, selfishness, and narcissism. But those are misunderstandings and corruptions of the deeper truth, in my view. The truth is that what we are in our essential nature is a Child of God, a Son of God, a Manifestation of God, and we can come to perceive this directly within ourselves through prayerful practices such as meditation and contemplation. When we come to know this, we come to find we are One in God, even as Jesus did, and which he prayed we would too (John 17). We realize the at-one-ment in ourself. This is theosis.
In order to see this Truth, however, we must put off the “natural man,” that ego which is our common state of consciousness, which sees only “I,” “me,” and “mine.” We must surrender the “self,” submit our individual will, allow it to subside away, even pass away. Contemplative practices of all traditions can help us with this. Then we will see the Saint emerge from deep within us, which was always there but which was hidden and obscured by the veil of the ego, or “natural man,” as noted in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 3:19.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
There are many other scriptures which guide us towards this, such as 2 Corinthians 3:18. Seeing this deepest truth within us is very much like looking in a “mirror.”
We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
When we come to see God within ourselves, God’s law (Truth) is written directly on our minds and hearts as noted in a couple scriptures in Hebrews 8:10, 10:16. We see this Truth within our Self, which is our being in God. This perceiving of God within ourselves is likewise spoken of in the Book of Mormon:
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And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?… I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (Alma 5:14, 19)
When we are born again in God, when we are purified of the ego-self, and are thus “converted” at a very deep interior level, when we “repent” (Greek metanoia, a “change of mind”), we realize God’s image in our countenance, deeply in our own heart and being. That image of God is then found on and in our very Self, and we likewise see it in all others as well, all of Life and creation.
This is all part of the plan of becoming like Christ. We come to see Christ in ourselves, and to be “like Him” (3 Nephi 27:27). And if Christ is in ourselves, then we know within ourselves what we should do. Our will becomes One with God’s will, in perfect harmony with Divine justice, mercy, and Love.
But again, this is only known when our ego passes away, the psychological “self” is seen through, when that ego is “crucified with Christ” as the Apostle Paul said, and we find that “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The ego will often try to make itself into our head, into its own sovereign authority, taking the place of God in us (2 Thes. 2:4), and all its activities will be towards its prideful self-aggrandizement and self-protection, its ungodliness. That is not the authentic self, what we really are, but what is often called the “false self.” That is the self that must be sacrificed, as on an altar, or on a cross, in similitude of Jesus.
The True Self is Christ in us, known in other religious traditions as the Buddha-nature, the Atman, the al-Insān al-Kāmil (Perfect Man), the Messiah, the Manifestation, the One, the Soul, the Tao. And when this is truly realized, revealed, then we begin to act as God in Love, in Truth.