THE SELF OR SOUL – VYAKTA – VYAKTI
The Mantra: So’ham
Our Self or soul is the containment of the Divine
in the Manifestation.
It is an apparent limitation of the Divine wearing all the different aspects
like we wear layers of clothing in very cold weather.
a) Voltaire introduces the issue by asking:
What then do you call your soul? What idea
do you have of it?
You cannot of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence
within you of anything but a power unknown to you
of feeling and thinking.
Who is hearing? Your physical being hears not,
nor does the void. Then what does?
Obviously, the Self.
Gurdjeff answers both question with a powerful affirmation which will be shocking for quite a few:
Man is not born with a soul. Man is born with many selves,
but not with a soul.
When all these selves melt into one, integrate into one, and all these selves
are changed chemically and become one unity;
then you have a soul.
How will you integrate all your selves into one?
Aren’t we born with a soul?
Well, it depends on how we define it.
In any case, its manifestation down here is created through many lives, not just one.
More than 2000 years before Gurdjeff, Wu Hsin had already said:
You are not born with a self;
It is something you acquire and build on.
According to Camus,
If I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define, summarize it slips
like water through my fingers…This very heart which is mine
will forever remain indefinable to me.
Can you define your Self?
Should it be defined?
The essential point is that notwithstanding the appearances our true Self was never really lost as it seems and is persistently
reconquering all itself through the checkered joy and pain
of an aeonic passion and seeking and endeavor.
This is the Great Adventure that Mère summoned us all to.
In ancient Hebraic the term “anima” for the soul is made of ani,
meaning I or Being and “ma”, energy.
On a superficial examination our self appears as the so called “lower Self”, Vyakti:
a transient amalgam of bodily sensations, desires, emotions, memories and a crowd of thoughts.
On this level,
it seems to be merely a pattern, a configuration, a hologram, a mixture
of disparate elements which are constantly changing
and cannot be our real Self – Vyakta.
b) Consider this famous metaphor from the Katha Upanishad:
Two birds with beautiful wings, friends and companions
sit on a common tree: one eats its sweet fruit,
the other regards him but eats not…
To which of them does the Self correspond?
To the Inner Self (Vyatka) and the external one (Vyatki.)
An even more ancient metaphor from the Upanishad explains it thus:
In the secret heart’s cave two are seated by life’s fountain. The separative
ego drinks the sweet and bitter stuff, liking the former
and disliking the latter,
while the supreme Self drinks sweet and bitter
neither liking this nor disliking that.
However, not everyone agrees, for ultimately in the deepest or highest level the Self is ONE, not two.
For example Nisargadatta Maharaj asks:
How can there be two selves in one body?
The “I am” is one.
There is no “higher I-am” and “lower I-am”. All kinds of states
of consciousness are presented to awareness
and become identified with them.
There is no second or higher self to search for. You are the higher self, only give up the false ideas you have about your self.
Indeed our Inner Self has been there since even before the beginning of all Time,
but remains only a subliminal potentiality for us until we have done
a substantial amount of yogic work on ourselves
and most die without manifesting it.
Until we experience it and manifest it in our life
it is like it wasn’t there at all.
We are always thinking in terms of definite entities,
but the Self is a process of becoming.
Liara Covert made an interesting observation:
The Self is like the nucleus of the atom that has the power to alter
the spin of electrons around it.
c) In the Vedas the Self is called Atman,
which corresponds somewhat to the western concept of the soul,
but not to our personality and superficial “individuality” which are
but ephemeral, ever-changing formations.
The Higher Self is a ray of the Divine in the Manifestation, forever pure, free and impersonal, untouched by the shallowness of our desires and petty human dramas.
In the beautiful image of the Katha Upanishad just like the Sun remains undefiled even if someone with a faulty vision sees it wrongly, so
our higher Self is never defiled by anything
affecting our minds or bodies.
The Higher Self also is never defiled by anything in your mind or body.
The French, “ˆame” and the Italian “anima” derive from Latin a word meaning “to animate”, for it gives life to the body.
In Hinduism the Self is associated with the mantra Om,
for it is the consciousness in us which in the waking state
experiences the world,
while sleeping and dreaming experiences subtle images, and Ananda or Divine Bliss when fully immersed in dreamless sleep.
So many are complete strangers to themselves because they have never actually experienced their own true Self, and whatever name may be attributed to it
remains for them but a thought, merely a concept so far from reality.
The Vedic Rishis knew that their soul is one with the Divine,
which did not define but called just “THAT”.
How would you call it?
Ha ha ha ha!
According to Jacob Bohm,
The Soul is an eye of the undetermined Eternal,
a similitude of eternity, a perfect image and figure of the first Principle,
and in its eternal nature is similar to God the Father in His person.
What does “God the Father in His Person” look like?
Ha ha ha ha!
But the first sentence is right.
The way that Kabir put it is:
When this selfhood is blotted out, then there is no other.
When I am not, there is but One;
when I obtrude, then two.
What happens when there are two?
Don’t be deceived.
d) An image from many spiritual texts is the one of the Self
both within and beyond all, like space both surrounds a pot and is as if it were contained in it:
our own Inner Self is the one of everyone else.
To which extent have you realized this?
What does this imply?
How does it make you feel?
Our self’s essence is So’ham, the awareness of “I am”:
the whole universe is our Self and nothing else at all exists;
after our final Liberation we see all
as our own Self.
Do you already see everything in the world as your own Self?
Vivekananda had the right attitude:
All is the Self or Brahman.
The saint, the sinner, the lamb, the tiger, even the murderer, as far
as they have any reality, can be nothing else,
because there is nothing else.
Everything in this universe comes, stays, and goes.What doesn’t come,
stay or go is your own Self.
e) When you discover who you really are
at the same time you will also find the Divine,
but if you hope to find Him without first realizing your own Self…you are in for a very big disappointment.
Our Self does not move, the world moves in it.
We are not a body with a soul but a soul dwelling in a body, not
human beings trying to be spiritual but spiritual beings
practicing to be human.
Sri Aurobindo sums it all up thus:
In relation to the individual the Supreme is our own true and highest self,
that which ultimately we are in our essence, that of which
we are in our manifested nature.
For our real self is not the individual mental being, that is only a figure, an appearance; our real self is cosmic, infinite, it is one with all existence and the inhabitant of all existences.
The self behind our mind, life and body is the same as the self behind
the mind, life and body of all our fellow-beings,
and if we come to possess it, we shall naturally, when we turn to look out again upon them, tend to become one with them in the common basis of our consciousness.
In His first year of teaching in the Kabul Madrassa, the mullah didn’t like something that the Kabuli said which was not orthodox enough for him, and sarcastically asked the students who this arrogant young Sufi thought that he was.
None of them said anything, so the Kabuli answered him with:
Honorable Faithful, since Hallaj went to the Compassionate I gave up thinking,
so how can I answer your question with mere words?
Forever SILENT the Self always remains!
It is recorded that then the Kabuli started twirling so fast that his white robe was all a blur, and the mullah hid his face in shame.
How could you ever say what your Self is with mere words?
The Veil was caused by the human ego and the adverse forces
resisting our progress and evolution to prevent us
from realizing our Higher Self.
Like the psychic being, our Self or soul is not part of the Dreamgame and has no correspondence in it.
Wei Wu Wei is a bit hermetic, but goes very deep into the issue::
The other is the self; that which is other the self; this which I am
is neither self nor the other.
Neither self nor the other?
As the Mandukya Upanishad affirms:
The Self is above all pragmatic rapports, unseizable, featureless,
unthinkable, indescribable by any name
The Bhagavad Ghita said the same thing:
The Spirit (Atman, Self) is said to be unexplainable,
incomprehensible, and unchanging.
Papaji put it very simply and powerfully:
Everything in this universe
comes, stays, and goes.
What doesn’t come, stay or gois your own Self.
But then, ask yourself:
What in me does not come and go?
Please look at it a little longer before reading on.
The Devil’s Advocate:
The Self, the Soul…such BIG words….how can you possibly fail to see that they are just that, meaningless empty WORDS?
When was the last time you has a dink and a nice chat with your “self”?
Wherever in us the consciousness concentrates itself forms a nucleus
of vague, fragmentary and ephemeral personality
most mistake that for their Self.
But the Self is always in a process of constant transformation
and it is not something that can ever be “found”
but that we must CREATE.
How will you create it?
Words of Power:
The Self is BEING,
not a being
“When mind is quiet, all is Self.“
“Transcendence constitutes selfhood.”
“You have never seen the Self.
You ARE the Self.” Mooji
“The great man has no self.”
“To know itself the self must be faced
with its opposite — the not-self.“
“Souls are fires whose ashes are the bodies.”
“The individual self and the universal self are one; in every world, in every
being, in each thing, in every atom is the Divine Presence,
and man’s mission is to manifest it.” Mère
are you manifesting it?
To which extent?
‘He is the Self above Nature, above Fate.”
“Always and inalienably, the Self is Ishwara, the Lord.”
When Vijay first read this passage in the Maitrayana Upanishad it was like he had been swept away by a tsunami:
“Bodiless, breathless, cannot be grasped, endless, eternal, independent, free from desire, imperishable, invisible, Unmanifest, pure,
like a spectator deep in himself, the doer, the delighter, the goer,
the hearer, the perceiver, the pervader…
unborn, undefiled, unmoved. assumes all forms, is golden, knows everything, ascends the highest, always alone in his splendor, thousand-rayed,
abiding in a hundred places, the spirit of all.”
From the Poems:
The discovery of the Self is the Terror:
alone each of us must ere the end
one’s rough Awakening endure
beyond the Drowning; primal Death
with promises of Immortality
ever deceiving us, the Void
grotesquely pretending to be our very soul:
in the desolate wastelands merely of Absence made
with our human hearts its bottomless hunger
of our lives down here the inner poverty
vainly are we trying to fill, for our hearts
never really our own can ever be, until…
Question/ko’han 1 to 3:
Which is your concept of your own Self?
By which frames of reference did you reach this concept?
What make you feel that it is the right one?
Question/ko’han 4 and 5:
Speaking of the Self, the Upanishad asks:
By whom the Knower, the One who knows and supports everything,
by whom could He possibly be known?
How will you know Him?
How will you know Him?
Question/ko’han 6 and 7:
The Maitrayana Brahmana Upanishad affirms that
The direction of our outer Self can be inferred
from the one of our inner Self.
Which is the secret direction of your inner Self?
Are you SURE?
Sri Aurobindo has the last word.
All is in the Self; when identified with the universal self all is in you.
Everything acts in the self. The whole play of Nature
takes place in the Self, in the Divine.
1) Consider these words of Plotinus:
As long as we have agent and instrument, there are two distinct entities; if the Soul uses the body it is separate from it. But apart from the philosophical
separation how does Soul stand to body?
it will be the double task of philosophy to direct this lower Soul towards the higher, the agent, and except in so far as the conjunction
is absolutely necessary, to sever the agent from the instrument,
the body, so that it need not forever have its Act
upon or through this inferior.
2) Meditate on this passage of Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Both the external and the inward self
The obsession with being an “I” needs a second obsession, a “Super I” to be healed, like one uses a thorn to remove another, or a poison to remove another poison. All assertions raise a negation…
But this is only the first step. The next
is to go beyond both.
This is also the core of Buddhism.
How will you go beyond both?
As the Buddha said,
To know the world, you forget the Self.
To know the Self, forget the world.
3) Practice this technique of Vivekananda:
Close your eyes and see what picture appears
when you think of your “I”.
Is it the picture of your body that comes, or of your mental nature?
If so, you have not realized your true “I” yet. The time will come, however, when as soon as you say “I” you will see the universe, the Infinite Being.
Then you will have realized your true Self and found that you
are infinite. That is the truth: you are the spirit,
you are not matter.
1) These words of Wu Hsin:
Can the self free itself from itself?
This is the problem you are faced with.
The self cannot dissolve itself;
Only the Self can dissolve the self.
One must only stand vigilant.
In the absence of the noises of the physical world and
The tumult that is the mental world
The song of the Self is heard.
There can be no meeting the Self.
To meet the Self requires one to be separated from It and
This is not the case.
2) This passage of Sri Aurobindo
The Soul is the divine spark that abides at the center of all of us and is identical to its Divine Origin, the divine part of us, while the Psychic Being is gradually formed around this center in the course of countless lives until
when it is fully formed and awakened becomes like an envelope
of the Soul, identified with the Divine and its perfect
instrument in the world.
The soul is in the body in the same way as the mind or vital – but the body is not this gross physical body only, but the subtle body also. When the gross body falls away, the vital and mental sheaths of the body still remain as the soul’s vehicle till these too dissolve.
3) These verses from Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri:
He is a spirit in an unﬁnished world
That knows him not and cannot know itself:
The surface symbol of his goalless quest
Takes deeper meanings to his inner view;
His is a search of darkness for the light,
Of mortal life for immortality.
Of matter from collapsed stars is our body made,
astronomers say, as everything material is.
Of what is our soul made of? Perhaps from the star’s fire
descending into our mortal dimension?