Self-transcendence of life

Alice Cheng

Bookstores are overstocked with books for successful living. Commercial advertisements also bombard us with how to attain beauty, self-confidence, health, and wealth. Self-actualization and self-transcendence are what we long for.


“I” am a very unified and organized living being. “I” have self-awareness and willpower, physical body, feelings, emotion, and reasoning. My motivation for growth comes from different levels of needs: physical needs, sense of security, sense of self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of accomplishment, and sense of morality, etc. “I” have a thirst for wisdom, affection, intention, and truth, kindness, and beauty.  However, my heart often wanders in transcendence and relativity.  This includes: between light and darkness, eternity and emptiness, sacred and evil, desire and repentance.  In short, there are endless struggles.


The “self-realization” emphasized by humanistic psychology is to live out your true self.  This is positive and enterprising.  However, when people push their desires to the extreme, they might become deviant. For example: self-love becomes narcissism, autonomy becomes betrayal, freedom becomes indulgence, and dreaming becomes ambition.  The distorted view of “self-realization” leads to “egoism” and deviates from the safe harbor of traditional relationships. The breakdown of relationships and the disintegration of families today are all caused by egoism. Viktor Emil Frankl, was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that describes a search for life meaning as the central human motivational force, which means not to aim at happiness or to avoid suffering. To him, self-transcendence exemplifies the spirit of responsibility, trustworthiness, adventurousness, and dedication. Self-actualization is only a by-product of self-reliance.


The Bible says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..” (psalms 139:14)

Therefore, “I” am not only noble in my physical being, exceptional wisdom, and ability but in our free will and power of love. “I” have a sense of morality, timelessness, creativity and beauty.  These transcendental consciousness, concepts and desires are innate. They are all given from the Creator, originated from and maintained by Him.  Human beings are the only ones who can communicate with the great and supreme Transcendent and Existence — the only God, other than themselves.  In the love and light of God, I can receive a kind of ultimate care and stability.  I obtain courage and strength from God to face the impermanent world and my own suffering since I trust in His protection and guidance.  God’s acceptance and forgiveness removes my guilt and affirms my worth.  His presence transforms me from weak to strong, from ignorance to wisdom, and from sorrow to joy.  The transcendence empowers me to go beyond self-limitation and to do his will.

Let God’s word transform you from inside out: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Author’s credentials: Bachelor at Overseas Theological Seminary, Master of Pastoral Counseling at Chinese Mission Seminary, Former minister at Hong Kong Christ Evangelical Church and Hiulai Church.