What is the inner-self?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by _Z_, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    I can say this about what I think the Inner Self is, based on a personal experience. While I could quote various traditions all day long and post my typical 10-jillion word essay ... how about something simple:

    In college, which was in many ways the purist time of my life (no drugs, no alcohol, no smoking, etc.), I had several experiences of samadhi, or satori. One of these was with a Teacher of Ageless Wisdom tradition. If I had not known better, I might have mistaken him as the Syrian Master (Jesus), but it was not him. It was, nevertheless, an experience in which my thoughtform of the Teacher was ensouled by that Teacher - and in this way, it could truly be said that for a short while, I and that Teacher were one.

    What I was already familiar with through study, meditation, and dozens of other direct experiences, was that we are more than the flesh, more than the emotions, and more than the mind. Indeed, these are but vehicles, or the "clothing" of the Soul, as it sojourns in the three worlds for four score years or so. My meditations up until this point, and certainly also after, would often take me in consciousness into the state described as the mind being held steady in the Light, and so I had already proven for myself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Inner Self (and everyone's) is beyond the personal ego, or personality. I also knew, by this point, of about 7 former incarnations, and already had some considerable insight into most of these - gained from no external source, though I have certainly had some corroboration, as well as much continued questioning.

    Probably one of the most profound experiences I had, was another Satori, experienced in connection with the same Teacher mentioned above. This time, however, it was an object distinct from both myself and the Teacher with which I identified (or, became `One'). It was an apple. And ripe with symbolism & significance, this juicy red, Washington State (perhaps my favorite variety) ... has come to me, through interpretation, some 13 years later, as but an outward representation of the spiritual heart. The connections have to do with shape, color, & design, and also with esoteric symbolism, but at the time, the experience was almost purely blissful, with the focus of consciousness being in the Sambhogakaya - or Buddhic vehicle.

    What's most important, for me - and the reason I add this to the discussion - is that I experienced, beyond a doubt, the "Peace which passeth understanding," of the Christ ... and/or the samadhi/satori of Hindus and Buddhists. It should be self-explanatory, but for clarification, this means that one can no longer from that moment forward ... ever fully forget (and why would one try?) ... the fundamental Union, Unity, or At-one-ment of all persons, all things, and all states of being. One comes to recognize in the outer awareness,
    as the reflection of the essential experience, that our Innermost Self knows & is the One-without-a-second - meaning that it abides eternally in the state of non-duality. If a deja-vu is like a tiny, microscopic rent in the veil, then I would have to say my samadhi experiences were like small `tears' - and only the (consciousness of the) Bodhisattvas and the Prajnaparamita will understand the full signficance of that double entendre.

    So, beyond the outer three vehicles, and even transcendent relative to the threefold Soul itself (Atma-Buddhi-Manas) ... I think our Inner Self is the living, electric Spark of pure Spirit. Like a spark within the flame of a candle, this highest state of our existence is utterly dependent upon, and in truth identical with, the flame itself ... nevertheless, we do recognize a distinction between the spark and its parent Flame. That distinction, though fleeting (watch a candle sometime - I imagine that's how G-d, or Adi Buddha sees it), is certainly of vital significance to you and me, for it forms the entire human pilgrimage through the lesser kingdoms, the Human kingdom, and finally through the wonder & bliss of the 5th, or Spiritual Kingdom ... to the summit of spiritual attainment, Moksha (or Liberation, Salvation). And all in the "twinkling of an eye" - verily, a Spark! ;)

    Season's Greetings ...
    taijasi
     
  2. earl

    earl ?

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    Hey T-well that pretty much more less is my view, too. To put it simplistically one could to use your metaphor to suggest that theistic religions would state the journey was one of recognizing one has/is the spark and then seeing/finding itself as the reflection of the Flame, while non-theistic religions such as Buddhism might say that there is only the Flame and its burning effervescence, no matter how shadowy it is in our particular corner of Reality. :p Take care, earl
     
  3. Dharmakirti

    Dharmakirti New Member

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    There really isnt such a thing as inner self...infact there isnt really a self that one can inherently find....
     
  4. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    Hi vaj,







    Really! So the very ‘it’ that is you, does not transmigrate? Or is it that there is no ‘it’ – hmm I suspect the latter! ;)

    This is where it gets tricky and we stumble upon words.



    Ok let us throw away all the labels… [It – self etc.]



    In the Egyptian book of the dead, it appears that the spirit of the dead goes through halls of judgement these are like transformation processes. At the nineteenth we meet the ‘hall of eternal flame’ this essentially represents the complete annihilation of everything that we are! It is not just the spirit body that is destroyed but absolutely everything, yes even the ‘it’ or ‘inner self!
    From this arises the phoenix [to cut a long story short – and as I see it], thus death is like a cleansing process!
    [A similar view is held in druidry, which is why the dead are burned as opposed to being placed in a tomb. Interestingly in the oldest tradition [of this land - Britain], the bodies were brought out of the tomb at relevant intervals and the heads and limbs removed, that the individualised spirit becomes one with the collective ancestor spirit.]



    This all seams somewhat paradoxical as – if all is destroyed how can a phoenix arise? In my mind there must be an aspect of our being that is indestructible [perhaps one with infinity!!! or actually infinity itself as the beyond infinity 'state'], and this is intrinsically linked with your ‘aspects’ and ‘natures’ e.g. the relevant part of the Akashik. In universal time we always exist, as do all things!
    For me the result of all of this is simple, there is the indefinable innermost nature that is not chaste or confined until it occupies a vehicle. Call it what we will yet the nature remains the same for us as it does for anything e.g. god and the gods/deities [if they exist].
    Remember – ‘once it is written it is lost’ and ‘the truth is naked’ imho of course!



    To all...

    Ok so what is the hindu, janist and other ‘eastern’ views on the inner self?



    Taijasi, hi,



    You like long posts don’t you! may I just say that the blue text hurts my eyes! :) However what you say is indeed interesting!



    I think I get the general idea of your post [please correct me if I am wrong], is that - however we describe ourselves – we are something other than this description as well as that which we are describing! One of my favourite sayings is simply ‘we are not what we are’!



    The world is the stage [including our vehicle/body] we are but actors. There is that which is bound [the world] and that which is not [spirit], all begins and ends in absolute simplicity, between which is the subtle and the gross.



    Does this make sense?



    metta 2 all :)

    Z
     
  5. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Z,

    Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, for that matter, all believe in an inner self or jiva. Hinduism and Sikhism also believe in the Universal Self. In Jain Dharma, there is no Universal Self, but only the individual self. Also, in Jainism the liberated individual self is considered a God, as in the case of the 24 Tirthankaras … this is my understanding at least.

    In Sanatana Dharma, there are various opinions on the inner self, soul, jivatman, or whatever you want to call it. I suspect you already know the Sanatana Dharma position on the inner self ;), but here goes:

    Non-dualistic schools teach that there is no eternal difference between the individual and the Universal, as we’ve discussed before. What transmigrates from body to body is the inner sheaths carrying karmic impressions from previous lives. So, yes Hindus believe there is something that reincarnates. The soul body is the innermost sheath, the sheath of bliss (anandamaya kosha). After liberation from samsara and the resolution of all karmas, the anandamaya kosha melts away, there is no more individual, but only the Universal, there is complete oneness. Ultimately there is no "I", no individual self, but only the undifferentiated Self.

    In dualistic and monist-dualist schools, some sort of eternal difference is admitted between the Universal and individual self. Differences admitted between individual and Universal vary depending on the school of thought (there are several). In general, dualistic and monist-dualist schools think in terms of the small self as a spark of the Universal Self. Also, all schools that don’t accept pure monism, speak of the small self uniting, rather than merging into oneness, with the Universal Self after liberation. In the final state of union, the individual self is completely free, and can move and function within the Universal, and enjoy blissful existence for eternity. There is always a difference in this union, and never complete sameness … like salt dissolved in water, to use a traditional analogy.

    Hope that helps :).

    OM Shanti,
    A.
     
  6. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    Agnideva, hi and thanx for reply.



    Yes I have a rough idea of Hindu philosophy. The thing is that whenever we make a description then both it and the reality are both overlaid [as you would say – like a sheath] upon the true inner nature. If we look at it from a non-linear perspective then we are not just considering the singular, as our entire history is part of what we are! So now I am looking at the entirety [hence – ‘universe in a grain of sand’ thread]. I have been tying science to spirit without looking at the big picture, I see the first moment of conception with the inner-self being intrinsically linked in a kind of magical formula of the different natures of oneness [oneness, the whole & the singular]. What then if we expand upon this! In universal time our ‘entirety’ may perhaps be seen as being reflected in our birth and life, like north and south magnets we are matched to our ‘place’ in future history!

    But now I am aiming towards a much freer view where there are no absolutes! In a nutshell then – the spirit is not demanded upon, I mean that one may be of self nature or universal self nature, it is not restricted! It is hard to put it into words but there is that elusive element that acts as the will and may be self yet is not self! ‘it’ is not even an it!



    The thing is that if we ‘melt’ into oneness of universal self, then what happens to our natures? We still exist in universal time. But then when I think of the phoenix, being reborn after absolutely everything has been stripped away in the fires of eternity, then I can see how the phoenix needs not be born at all – hence we are freed from our natures! However I am still left with the idea that the phoenix must arise, as there is an essential nature [indescribable] that is indestructible and will always ‘collect itself’ by the principle of ‘like attracts like’?

    It is confusing as upon entering the void, I still felt like this essential nature is focused and if one un-focuses [de-centralising mind] this does not take away the essential nature that is like the wind rather than like a sphere or atom.

    Hmm – still confused.

    Perhaps all will be revealed upon enlightenment eh! :)





    Z
     
  7. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Z,
    What about the color of monks' robes? ;) Any better? Hmmm, I dunno ... I'll go easy just to play it safe ->
    Anyway, yes, what you say resonates with my personal understanding, or codification - as I think we must all somehow translate our experience(s) into something that can be communicated. Thinking of meditation as being an effort to observe only ... we often find that it can be difficult to practice detachment for even a few moments, let alone minutes. But even amidst a seemingly-perfect calm, when a flash (sustained or otherwise) of insight comes, the revelation seems to be that - we are more than the Observer.

    I think I worded that clumsily, as it has also often been said (and probably more accurately), that we can even learn to "observe the Observer," or should I have said Observe with a capital "O," and observer, like this? A reincarnate Tulku used to suggest to me ... that my stumbling block at this point, is the very notion that "self" is in any way a "special thought." It is not; rather, it's just a thought, like any other. Only such an attitude might lead us beyond ego. I believe Buddhists call this challenge, self-cherishing. And we could also just say that it's self-centeredness, but not with the usual pejorative connotation. That's just a statement of facts, perfectly objective!

    I think there's a fairly familiar alembic available for understanding samadhi-satori-Void experiences. I imagine standing on a bridge above a small, flowing stream, amidst a quiet, idyllic setting - say a botannical garden (I have a particular one in mind). At first I may identify with myself, with the bridge, and with the flowing water - bearing leaves as it makes its way. For awhile, the leaves and the water will symbolize and "map to" my mindstream, full of thoughts - appropriately enough, at least most of the time. If I were a good or accomplished meditator, the leaves would eventually disappear, and the water would simply flow.

    I would stop noticing that some of the water was coming from behind me, and that it was also flowing in front of me (and under me - the present moment) ... and there would just be water, flowing. This is now. But this is no great accomplishment, it is simply a preliminary stage, as I have come to understand ... (or believe).

    The focus of one's attention need not always be upon the water, or the leaves, the arising (or flowing) from the past, or out in front (the future). The bridge itself (the connection between mind and the physical world, and the outer means of support - or body), is no longer of concern. I can take awareness of the beauty around me - the flowers, the wildlife, the scents of spring in the air, or the color of the leaves in autumn (each of these symbolic, or literal) ... and of the quiet, or Silence.

    Meaningless as this next expression will seem, I think we all intuitively understand what it means to experience something like this, and to go deeper and deeper ... into it. We do so, not with the idea of escape, but of just the opposite. We are seeking, above or beyond all else - Identity. And of course, even that conception, and the moment we think it, and the entire mass, or tangle (however delicately & beautifully organized we may have maintained it all these years) ... which comes tumbling in upon mention of the word ... does not change - who we are.

    It is that Indestructible Essence, as you've said.


    Sometimes, I feel like there's a Sphinx staring back at me, even after all that ... and I expect He is. But He's the Guardian, after all, and that's His job. I apologize if my background in the esoteric gets in the way. Sometimes (like um, 98.5% of it?) I just forget ... that it's really the experiential which matters. And that can only happen - Here & Now. Wow. ;)

    Cheers! :D
    taijasi
     
  8. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Z,

    thank you for the post.



    i can only find excerpts of the full Sutta online, nevertheless, i'll excerpt a bit of it here:

    http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/khuddaka/index.html

    The king asked: "Venerable Nagasena, is there any being which transmigrates from one body to another?"

    "Certainly not, your majesty."

    "If, venerable Nagasena, there is no-one who transmigrates from one body to another, then would not one be released from evil deeds?"

    "Yes, your majesty. If one is not reborn, then one would be released from evil deeds. But indeed because one is reborn, your majesty, then one is not fully released from evil deeds."

    "Give me an analogy."

    "Just as, your majesty, if some man were to steal the mangos of another, would this be an offense worthy of punishment?"

    "Yes, venerable sir, it would be an offense worthy of punishment."

    "But, your majesty, since these mangos that he stole were not the same mangos that the other had planted, why would it be punishable?"

    "Venerable sir, they came into existence by means of those mangos that were planted, therefore it would be punishable."

    "Indeed just so, your majesty, it is by the deeds that one does in this mind-and-body, lovely or unlovely, that one is reborn in another mind-and-body, therefore one would not be fully released from evil deeds ."

    the transliteration is a bit weak.. but should give you an idea of what we are on about.

    with regards to transmigration or rebirth, the same text continues:

    The king asked: "Venerable Nagasena, is it so that one does not transmigrate and one is reborn?"

    "Yes, your majesty, one does not transmigrate and one is reborn."

    "How, venerable Nagasena, is it that one does not transmigrate and one is reborn? Give me an analogy."

    "Just as, your majesty, if someone kindled one lamp from another, is it indeed so, your majesty, that the lamp would transmigrate from the other lamp?"

    "Certainly not, venerable sir."

    "Indeed just so, your majesty, one does not transmigrate and one is reborn."

    "Give me another analogy."

    "Do you remember, your majesty, when you were a boy learning some verse from a teacher?"

    "Yes, venerable sir."

    "Your majesty, did this verse transmigrate from the teacher?"

    "Certainly not, venerable sir."

    "Indeed just so, your majesty, one does not transmigrate and one is reborn."

    this particular Sutta isn't available intoto online. you can find a complete copy from the Pali Text Society or, perhaps, at a large bookstore with a comprehensive Eastern Religons section.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  9. sjr

    sjr New Member

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    yet another excerpt from a master:


    That inner Self, as the primeval Spirit,
    Eternal, ever effulgent, full and infinite Bliss,
    Single, indivisible, whole and living,
    Shines in everyone as the witnessing awareness.
    That self in its splendour, shining in the cavity of the heart
    This self is neither born nor dies,
    Neither grows nor decays,
    Nor does it suffer any change.
    When a pot is broken, the space within it is not,
    And similarly, when the body dies the Self in it remains eternal.

    ~Sri Ramana Maharshi
     
  10. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    For me? Mea solo. I alone...as opposed to outer self (what others expect me to be, so I conform, and project). Is that what you were looking for Vaj? ;) v/r

    Q
     
  11. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    Thank you vaj, most illuminating!


    "Your majesty, did this verse transmigrate from the teacher?"




    It all appears to point at a schism between reference points, and the self is being seen - as the metaphor points out – as a secondary nature, whereas my argument is that the ‘it’ [or let us say the non-it] is the primal nature, I do not see the division between the inner most nature and the outer nature [that secondary elements cannot transmigrate]. Perhaps if we view it in universal time [in a non-linear fashion], then ones continuum ‘line’ becomes as the sheet of paper that we are in essence eternally one. This ‘one’ is that which is ever-present thus it does not move or transmigrate it simply remains so! Fleeting elements and aspects then are that which transmigrates.



    Is that something like what he meant would you say?

    i think i got there in the end! but is cirtainly worthy of much thought - thank you for the quote's! :)

    Z
     

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