The Illusion Of A Self
Our identity as a self is constricting
For as long as our identity, who we fundamentally perceive ourselves to be, is tied to the limitation of a body-mind entity - a 'me' that will eventually die - we are not and cannot be FREE.
Our attachment to this self sense is the core source of almost all our psychological pain, feelings of being trapped or bound, unhappiness, discontent and our search for a depth or truth beyond the seemingly small confines of 'our' lives.
It is NOT simply an idea
Identification with a separate entity, a self called 'me', is not simply an idea about a self that we can abandon through sheer will-power or intention alone. Our self sense is not merely one idea that can be dispensed with in one quick-&-easy step, in order set us free.
Separate self sense comes from a lifetime of conditioning
The tangible and overwhelming conviction that I am merely this body-mind self results from a conglomeration of a lifetime of conditioning, impressions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, unconscious impulses and beliefs. Since the body, mind and spirit are an integrated whole, many ideas and feelings about 'ourselves' are held unconsciously, or in the body, even at a cellular level.
Unless we have done deep inner inquiry work, much of our self sense is unconscious. This conglomeration of impressions and conditioning can be referred to as the 'knot' or 'bundle' which is our self sense.
Freedom is being free of the burden of a limiting self sense
Many of the deepest ancient teachings of enlightenment have referred to a 'knot' of identification that has to be undone before we can be truly free.
Dissolving or untying the 'knot' of the self sense is NOT just a matter of seeing intellectually, or even experientially, that there is no separate entity. This sort of insight gives some measure of relief, but does not untie the knot.
To be truly free, we need to be free from the shackles of a self sense.
How to free ourselves
The conditioning and false ideas, holding in place the sense of being entrapped in a body-mind, have to be dissolved before the separate self sense will truly disappear.
Ramana Maharshi referred to this as the dissolution of the vasanas and samskaras (conditioned impressions and tendencies). He said that these needed to be dissolved before Self Realization could be possible.
What is holding the sense of a 'me' in place?
The chart below depicts the 12 key elements which hold the separate self sense in place. For as long as these elements have a grip on our consciousness, there will be significant distortion of our perception and lack of clarity.
Stable awakening or integrated, embodied enlightenment can begin to unfold once these conditioned aspects have been fundamentally dissolved.
Examining and inquiring into these 12 elements below, especially with the help of a guide, teacher or practices, and in the context of an awakening teaching, will allow the knot of self contraction to soften and dissolve, opening the door to clear seeing and true freedom.
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© Lesley Skylar