The Nature of the Self


The Self is Awareness or Consciousness. It is not awareness or consciousness 'of' anything specific such as a feeling or thought or a physical object. If you subtract the objects that appear in Awareness and the activities that place in refliected awareness (the human mind) ...perception, experience, memory, thought, emotion, imagination, intuition, are left with simple, ordinary uncontaminated impersonal Awareness. Awareness is the container of experience and experience is the contents. We exist quite happily without experience but we cannot experience without awareness, the substrate.

The goal of Self inquiry is to realize that one's primary identity is Awareness. Most of us take ourselves to be the content, the ideas arising awareness, like I am the body, mind, intellect, ego, man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, etc. Since the content of awareness is always limited we have come to view ourselves as limited beings.

Therefore the statement that the Self is limitless is difficult to accept. For example, nearly everyone feels limited with respect to time.  The day is simply not long enough to accomplish everything we wish to accomplish.  As we age we become increasingly aware of our mortality and this does not please us.  Who does not feel limited financially?  Is there ever enough money to satisfy our seemingly endless desires?  Think of the misery we suffer in our quest to find love.  How needy we can be, seeking attention, recognition and validation at every turn.  The body, which most of us call 'I,' is forever short of energy and constrained by any number of factors: heat and cold, pleasure and pain, injury and disease.  A sense of smallness and inadequacy causes many to strive for power and influence.  That this is an insecure world and that I am equally insecure seems so obvious no one questions it.  Every day in myriad ways we struggle against a pervasive sense of self limitation.  I am never good enough, pure enough, strong enough, kind enough or wise enough... no matter how hard I try.   Only occasionally, at peak moments, during epiphanies, satories and fleeting samadhis does this sense of limitation dissolve and I see that I am in fact limitless.  

     Not only am I limitless I am whole and complete.  Because I do not suffer lack, I want nothing.  Therefore, unlike the small self we normally take ourselves to be, I am desireless.   A desireless self is blissful itself.  Nothing robs happiness more quickly than one's cravings.    Because I am whole and complete I fear nothing.  Just as nothing can be added to me, nothing can be taken from me either.  Because this is the way I am...and I know it...I am peace itself.   Favorable outcomes do not elate me and unfavorable outcomes do not depress me.  I am the same in pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. 

     I am not a body or a mind.  I am ordinary non-dual awareness.  I live without breathing.  I am always awake.  Feelings and thoughts, memories and dreams, desires and fears, fantasies...a myriad of fleeting subjective happenings take place in me every day...but I am unaffected by them.  I remain uncontaminated like space. 

     I am not a doer.   I am already accomplished, unborn and unmade.  I need do nothing to survive.  I need to accumulate nothing to feel secure.  I am security itself.   Will the one who is pleasure itself seek pleasure in this ever-changing world?