Types of Self

When people use the English word “self” or any of its variations (myself, himself, etc.), they may refer to one or several things. Most commonly, they’re talking about

the personal self or me. Yet if you ask them who they are, they’ll offer their name and profession: what I’m called and what I do – not what I am.

If you ask them who they experience themselves as being, they’ll probably think the question odd and be unable to answer it clearly. They may drop into stories to explain who they are. But if they explore the question, by default … Continue Reading…

Being Conscious

One of the defining factors of being human is our potential to reflect and embody consciousness to quite profound levels. This isn’t exclusive to humans but it might be called one of our greater potentials – to live reality right in form.

Many of the things we’ve often considered “human” can also be discovered in plants and animals, although the expression varies considerably. For example, some cats are very present, some live in their own world, and some are thick as a post. Trees have senses and emotions but experience very differently.

Our path isn’t about “getting enlightened.” It’s better to … Continue Reading…

The Last Surrenders

Just as we’re composed of body, emotions, mind, intellect and ego individually, so too are we structured this way cosmically. Some cultures refer to the cosmic aspects as gods.

The I-sense for an individual person arises from the trinity of mind, intellect and ego. Mind makes the stories of a me and the intellect distinguishes self from other, leading to the I-sense and idea of separate self. In the absence of anything else, we become identified with that I-sense and self-story.

The cosmic I-sense or Self (atman) is the same. In fact, the individual version reflects the cosmic. When we … Continue Reading…

Selfish Mindfulness

An interesting article in The Washington Post on how Mindfulness is being “diluted and distorted by the prevailing narcissism of our time.”

Mindfulness would be good for you. If it weren’t so selfish.

Similar things have happened to yoga and meditation. A watering down and a shift to making it about me. This is natural in an ego-centered culture. But it is useful to know so we’re not lead astray in our practice.

My perspective is that mindfulness arises naturally with culturing yoga. If there is sufficient presence, we can favour it here and … Continue Reading…

Emotional Healing

We digest everything we consume: food, drink, sensations, and experiences. Some of our thoughts and emotions are a symptom of this background processing, although more is done at night in dreams. However, it’s batch processing so we can only vaguely associate the activity with the prior experiences. You can see this clearly with dreaming.

If we’re under stress, energy is diverted from digestion and the higher forebrain to ready the body for fight, flight, or freeze. We also fall into resistance, grasping at what we want to keep and resisting what we don’t want. This resistance further impedes digestion. … Continue Reading…

The Heart and The Gut

While we all have seven primary chakras and various sub-chakras, each of us can have a somewhat difference emphasis. Yet the heart and solar plexus chakras typically have significant roles in the post-awakening process.

We usually grow up around people with poor energy skills and hygiene. We may take on the same patterns to fit in and thus learn anxiety, fear or control. Or we may rebel with anger. None of this serves us well though.

With greater awareness, those unhealthy habits become conscious and can be resolved, freeing us from the massive energy drain that sustaining them takes.

The … Continue Reading…

More on Stages of Witnessing

There are many nuances in the approach to awakening and in awakening itself. Self Realization is a watershed moment in the history of our soul. A new birth into a new way of being.

I’ve written many articles on the approach including Gradations of Awakening, What is Witnessing?, and The Stages of Witnessing.

In the later article, I talked about non-abiding witnessing, abiding witnessing and actual Self Realization as 3 possible stages in the approach to awakening. Recently, Lorne Hoff spoke of the steps in another way. I realized this added a fourth possibility.

1) The … Continue Reading…

What is a Soul?

The topic of souls came up in conversation with friends. In the west, we debate if animals have souls and talk of loosing one’s soul, splitting the soul, and so forth. A lot of that is confusing a sense of self driven by mind with the eternal, untouchable soul.

The Vedas contain several philosophies with some variation on this topic. But generally, soul is seen as equivalent to jiva, a living being with life force. In other words, a dog and a plant have a soul but a chair does not. Even though everything arises in and of consciousness, it … Continue Reading…

The Conflict of Ego

Awareness is aware of itself both globally and at every point within itself. It is simultaneously fully aware and collapsing to a point at every point. And further, that point is expanding back out again in every moment. This collapsing and expanding in every moment is the very breath of life. Our natural growth process reflects this too. We collapse into a point of apparent individuality and then expand back out again in enlightenment.

From the perspective of a body or person, we experience from one of those points. The intellect then distinguishes here from there and the I-sense arises. … Continue Reading…

On Trust

A reader sent me this excellent talk by Brené Brown on The Anatomy of Trust:

On YouTube

A few notes:
Trust is built in small moments – do you avert and betray or connect and build trust.
What is trust? Choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.
Distrust – what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.
Acronym “BRAVING” – when we trust we are braving connection with someone.
Continue Reading…

The Trinity of Self

Atman or the Cosmic Self has a three-fold nature. It has a subject or observer aspect, the process of observation, and the object or observed aspect. I illustrated this here.

As consciousness is aware of itself both globally and at every point, it can observe its own dynamics and experience this directly.

“Locally” or personally, we experience this as the ego or I-sense, the intellect, and the mind.

Samkhya describes how Buddhi (intellect) recognizes self as different from other, creating Ahamkara, the I-sense or ego. This arises in early childhood as a baby distinguishes itself from mother.

Manas … Continue Reading…

Atman and Sattva

One of the curious things about the spiritual journey is that the reality of one stage is not the reality of another. As each stage is a shift in being, it brings its own sense of self and the world. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used to say, “Knowledge is different in different states of consciousness.” For example, we can easily compare waking and dreaming states. The reality in each is quite distinct.

This also means that terminology that well-suits one stage doesn’t work as well for another. My book editor, for example, steered me away from a few phrasings … Continue Reading…