- Self (spirituality)
The Self is a complex and core subject in many forms of
spirituality. Two types of self are commonly considered - the self that is the ego, also called the learned, superficial self of mind and body, an egoic creation, and the self which is sometimes called the "True Self", the "I" (or "I AM"), the " Atman" (as in Hinduism), the "Observing Self", or the "Witness". [Hall, Manly P. "Self Unfoldment by Disciplines of Realization". Los Angeles, California: The Philosophical Research Society, Inc. 1942. page 115 "On rare occasions we glimpse for an instant the tremendous implication of the Self, and we become aware that the persoanlity is indeed merely a shadow of the real."]
Traditions such as
Buddhismsee the apparent self (our identification as souls, minds, bodies and egos) as a "grasping-after" self -- i.e., inasmuch as one has a "self," one has it only through a deluded attempt to shore it up.
Descriptions of the Witnessing Self
Ken Wilberdescribes the Witnessing (or Observing) Self in the following terms: :"This observing Self is usually called the Self with a capital "S", or the Witness, or pure Presence, or pure Awareness, or Consciousness as such, and this Self as transparent Witness is a direct ray of the living Divine. The ultimate "I AM" is Christ, is Buddha, is Emptiness itself: such is the startling testimony of the world's great mystics and sages." Ken Wilber, "A Brief History of Everything", ch. 12, p.197-199] He adds that the Self is not an Emergent, but an aspect present from the start as the basic form of awareness, but which becomes increasingly obvious and self aware "as growth and transcendence matures." As Depth increases, consciousness shines forth more noticeably, until::"shed [ding] its lesser identification with both the body and the mind ... in each case from matter to body to mind to Spirit... conciousness or the observing Self sheds an exclusive identitywith a lesser and shallower dimension, and opens up to deeper and higher and wider occasions, until it opens up to its own ultimate ground in Spirit itself. And the stages of transpersonal growth and development are basically the stages of following this Observing Self to its ultimate abode, which is pure Spirit or pure Emptiness, the ground, path and fruition of the entire display."
In a similar vein,
Evelyn UnderhillEvelyn Underhill, "Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness, Section III, P. 55.] states:
"It is clear that under ordinary conditions, and save for sudden gusts of "
TranscendentalFeeling" induced by some saving madness such as Religion, Art, or Love, the superficial self knows nothing of the attitude of this silent watcher—this "Dweller in the Innermost"—towards the incoming messages of the external world: nor of the activities which they awake in it. Concentrated on the sense-world, and the messages she receives from it, she knows nothing of the relations which exist between this subject and the unattainable Object of all thought. But by a deliberate inattention to the messages of the senses, such as that which is induced by contemplation, the mystic can bring the ground of the soul, the seat of "Transcendental Feeling," within the area of consciousness: making it amenable to the activity of the will. Thus becoming unaware of his usual and largely fictitious "external world," another and more substantial set of perceptions, which never have their chance under normal conditions, rise to the surface. Sometimes these unite with the normal reasoning faculties. More often, they supersede them. Some such exchange, such "losing to find," appears to be necessary, if man's transcendental powers are to have their full chance."
(Note: this is a blatant plug for this organization, not factual content)The new scientific approach to spirituality, "Self-realization Akram Vignan," makes a clear distinction between the self, known to the world as 'I am George or Mary', and the eternal Self
Atman(the knower and seer of all experiences through thoughts, speech and acts), and grants one the indelible experience of this state of the Self through the direct approach called the Gnan Vidhi of [http://www.dadashri.org/gnanvidhi.html Gnani Purush Dadashri] . This direct approach is called the Akram approach and because it is scientific in nature it is called Vignan.Shuddha of Dadashri states that the experience Self in all its pristine state is now available through the new approach of Akram Vignan of Gnani Purush Dadashri. See [http://www.dadashri.org the dadashri website] for more information.
Similar concepts to the Observing Self:
* Holy Guardian Angel (Thelema)
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