Self-Realization is a misnomer?

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benjayk
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Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by benjayk » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:57 pm

The more I read about "self-realization" in the context of enlightenment the more it seems that it is flawed concept rooted in a missunderstanding about what selfness is.
What is self (even beyond ego, one particular self?). Well, it seems makes only sense with respect to another. Self is just self and not something other than self.
So it can't be absolute, because it doesn't make sense without an other, without duality. We always need two mentions of something to even speak of something being itself; the thing and itself. If we just say "thing", we haven't said anything about it being itself or not (even though arguably physical things are always themselves, but we can speak of other "things" than things).
Self is always reflective - that's why we say "he/she/it herself". But awareness is not necessarily reflective, it just is - that's why it is missleading to call it self.

If we just call it absolute, or awareness we don't have that problem. Absolute can be thought of as the opposite of relative, but just absolute is meaningful also. Awareness is can be thought of as the opposite of unawareness, but just awareness is also meaningful. Of course no word is really accurate, because words are just labels; but nevertheless it seems more accurate to not use a word which is not orginally used to make a difference between a thing and anotherthing (or between a thing and its reflection).

Selfness can be represented as OOOOOOO (O is O is O is O; O is itself is itself is itself...), but the absolute is not charaterized by reflecting upon a thing and itself, by going in circles.

So it seems that to call absolute awareness "Self" (or even true Self) is a misnomer rooted in a self-centered culture. I am not saying that the people that are saying that the ultimate truth is the self are not enlightened, they just intellectually bought into the illusion of ultimate importance of self.
I am not even saying selfness is not very important relatively speaking. It seems to me to be the most simple and pervasive ordering principle (self to self, grouping similar things), but it is not the absolute. The absolute is not merely itself, it is more simple than that: It just is. If the absolute would just be itself it could only go in circles "The absolute is the absolute is the absolute", but as we all can see in the world, that's not how it works. There is more to it than just selfness.
When awareness is called Self, that seems to be just an artifact of the self identifying with awareness. The self wants to make itself the absolute, because it is very important relatively speaking. But it never is and never will be the absolute.

Saying that the absolute/awareness is the True Self will mislead many searchers into searching for a Self (or the "true Self") where really what they are searching has nothing to do with selfness and otherness. Rather it involves transcending selfness and otherness.

What do you think?

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SandyJoy
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by SandyJoy » Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:26 am

There is only Self and Its reflections of Its Self. Nothing exists without this Identity I.

God and God's Self knowing is Life Itself. There is no separate self-- there is only This I Am. Life is Identity knowing Itself. Life, Self I am, knows what It is and what it is not and includes them both.

Awareness belongs to Godhead All and God's Self Knowing and Self seeing and Self Being is This Awareness I Am. It is impossible to take the Self/Identity out of Awareness. Impossible. They are one and the same thing, not two things. If you are here reading these words, then you are this Self Same Awareness. Awareness is not going anywhere. It belongs to Godhead the All in all and therefore it is Everlasting Life.

I am the beauty I see. I am the joy I see. I am the light I see, the light is see is me. Everything is Me, I see what I am. I can only see My Self. It is All My Self. I am the wonder and enthusiasm of everything I see, wherever I look, there I am. I am the Infinity, I am the all encompassing eternity of all that I be and all that I see—because, I can't recognize something unless I Am it It is me, It is I, all is my identity, and my Self Knowing is this holy Awareness of God I am. Awareness is looking and awareness is seeing, there is no other self here but this Light of God's Mind That I am.

Whatever God is It is being all that is, and It is the very seeing I be.

God tends this Universe and It tends me, and neither of us are going anywhere. 8)

Love, Sandy Joy
You are not finished, until you play in that meadow and live there. You can, you know. But only you can take yourself there.

unbornawakened
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by unbornawakened » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:56 am

ben,

you made some good points ... i have wondered about this myself in the past ... my own conclusion is that it is better to set aside spiritual beliefs -- not spiritual practices though, because some are helpful, and meetings and gatherings are good as long as you are careful -- there seems no way to make sense of them, so it is best to drop them altogether ... i envy people who have never read spiritual teachings ... the world may look much more beautiful and simple to them ... if you take spiritual beliefs seriously, you might be driven to suicide (maybe a good thing ?) and apathy ... if you dont take them seriously, but practice some tips, you might benefit much more

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Ananda
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by Ananda » Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:38 pm

Hello benjayk,


When awareness is called Self, that seems to be just an artifact of the self identifying with awareness. The self wants to make itself the absolute, because it is very important relatively speaking. But it never is and never will be the absolute.


You have to keep in mind that in the context of self-realization the word 'Self' is an approximation of the sanskrit word, Ātman. Ātman doesn't have a direct translation into english, and has been variously called 'self', 'soul', 'spirit', or 'person'. It simply refers to a positive existence at the root of individuality, or ego. In the Indian Sāṃkhya philosophy, the Ātman is called Puruṣa, and is distinguished from material nature. The Sāṃkhyas maintained an eternal distinction between the self and the world, whereas the non-dualists use the distinction only as a method of teaching; to help discriminate the real nature of the self through a negation of superimposed attributes. The Ātman isn't really separate from anything else, but in everyday experience it manifests as the subject of perceptions, of 'other' things (objects), so to speak of a distinction between self and other is helpful in the first stages of self-enquiry.

Ātman (or 'Self') is the content of the word 'you'; it's what 'you' really are, so it wouldn't be entirely appropriate to only talk of it in strictly impersonal terms (of which there are a few). It doesn't refer to some sort of external, impersonal absolute; it is the very essence of what makes you 'you', it isn't different from you, nor an object of your knowledge (rather, it is the very knowing subject). Awareness isn't an object, it's you- we cannot talk about awareness as something that can be identified with, because it is the very entity upon which superimposition/identification takes place; it's the basis of the one who identifies with other things. When the superimposition stops, then it's easy to see that words such as awareness, Ātman, Self, Subject etc. all refer to the same positive entity, you.




Hello unbornawakened,


i envy people who have never read spiritual teachings ... the world may look much more beautiful and simple to them ... if you take spiritual beliefs seriously, you might be driven to suicide (maybe a good thing ?) and apathy ...

I dread to think of which spiritual teachings you read that made you feel this way. D:

the key master
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by the key master » Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:06 pm

I was going to respond to the OP, but it was indicated ananda was going to so i decided not to :mrgreen:

Howdy anan :D . Hope you are well bud.

benjayk
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by benjayk » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:49 pm

@SandyJoy: What you write sounds very nice, and is a nice metaphor. My point is that it is ONLY a metaphor and can be quite misleading. It is a bit like saying "Awareness is a sunset rising" or something similar. It is not really ultimately untrue, but it is a relatively narrow expression. Of course we can't state the absolute in words, but some statements carry less baggage. Self carries alot of bagge, because what we call self is usually ego, or it is used to reflect on a thing (a thing and itself).
That's why I see it is not very useful to use as much and with such an absolute as it is often used. Not without reason did the buddha say there is no self, and in spirituality we often talk in terms of there being no self.
I am not even saying the I does not belong in consciousness, it belongs in consciousness like a flower does; but it is NOT equivalent to consciousness.
I am also not even that the I is not extremely important. In fact, in the relative world the Self is what is most important to Self, it is just natural, since the self mainly sees itself from the perspective of itself.

That the I sees itself everywhere is a consequence of the openess and love and empathy that results from realizing the absolute awareness as being beyond self and other, and realizing everything is connected; but actually it is NOT the I/the Self that is everywhere. You can see yourself in everything, sure, but you ARE not everything - even though "you are everything" can be a *metaphor* for "the absolute experiecing through you is everything".

I think the reason that Self is often used as a term for awareness is that awareness is not something other than awareness - just as self. But it is also isn't merely itself. The categories of Self/Other don't really apply to awareness. It just is. It isn't itself, it isn't an other.

@unbornawakened: I agree, honestly most spiritual beliefs are bullshit and some are nice metaphors, but always have to be taken with a grain of salt. I think that most spiritual people are attached to beliefs about spirituality (but also to certain practices), and that's why the absolute awareness is not realized as being beyond self and others in them. They expect alot of good feelings, positive results, they want to become the absolute, they want to die into awareness (and don't realize nothing has to die except a fixation on self), they want the absolute to be self, they follow what someone else says, they want to realize the absolute completely and finally as THE absolute (while the absolute just is, and there is no way to achieve a particular state of final realization of the absolute is).

@Ananda: I agree with your first paragraph, that the self is awareness appearing as relatively seperate from other things, while truely the self isn't absolute seperate from everything else. But I don't see how awareness is me, or you in any absolute sense. That doesn't make much sense to me. What is it supposed to mean that Self and awareness are equivalent? In which sense? Awareness is certainly the essence of me and you and self - it is the essence of everything. But awareness is beyond self, and that's why it makes not much sense to use the terms interchangably. Awareness is not external or objective, but not internal or subjective either. You say yourself, awareness can't be indentified with. But if we say Self is awareness, than we are indentifying ourselves with awareness, are we not?

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SandyJoy
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by SandyJoy » Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:26 pm

benjayk wrote:@SandyJoy: What you write sounds very nice, and is a nice metaphor. My point is that it is ONLY a metaphor and can be quite misleading. It is a bit like saying "Awareness is a sunset rising" or something similar. It is not really ultimately untrue, but it is a relatively narrow expression. Of course we can't state the absolute in words, but some statements carry less baggage. Self carries alot of bagge, because what we call self is usually ego, or it is used to reflect on a thing (a thing and itself).
That's why I see it is not very useful to use as much and with such an absolute as it is often used. Not without reason did the buddha say there is no self, and in spirituality we often talk in terms of there being no self.
I am not even saying the I does not belong in consciousness, it belongs in consciousness like a flower does; but it is NOT equivalent to consciousness.
I am also not even that the I is not extremely important. In fact, in the relative world the Self is what is most important to Self, it is just natural, since the self mainly sees itself from the perspective of itself.

That the I sees itself everywhere is a consequence of the openess and love and empathy that results from realizing the absolute awareness as being beyond self and other, and realizing everything is connected; but actually it is NOT the I/the Self that is everywhere. You can see yourself in everything, sure, but you ARE not everything - even though "you are everything" can be a *metaphor* for "the absolute experiecing through you is everything".

I think the reason that Self is often used as a term for awareness is that awareness is not something other than awareness - just as self. But it is also isn't merely itself. The categories of Self/Other don't really apply to awareness. It just is. It isn't itself, it isn't an other.

No, I think what I wrote is not about me being everything, not about a self I do not know--- it is about me being me and knowing who I am and knowing The Everything and All That includes me. I am speaking bout Me as an individual. There is a very individual real self, a very unique and distinct real self. I am not speaking about some big empty void of absolute that I become one with everything. No, not me, I found there is real live living self here, it is happy and tender and strong and unafraid...this is the missing corner stone, we really are supposed to literally find our Self, the original Self, The Child that Lives before time and space and is also right here living fully here in the world. I found this Real Self is very much the little girl I was at about 7 years old. She is alive and well and she has taken my heart and my hand and she brings Grace and Beauty and Joy with her.

No, I am speaking of a Child within us. It is the third step and I think while here in this world, I think it is the final step. This Child opens doors where we can bridge heaven and earth and live the objective world while also having a good ground in the subjective.

I am not speaking metaphorically, I am saying I have a real Me, a very real Identity and It is all my own, just mine, just me, It is the Child I know very well, she is who I am.

The third step is to search is for and find The Child we are. Become as a little child; tender, stripped, unafraid, innocent, pristine, pure.

It is real, we recognize our self, it is like coming home when this Child comes alive again and returns to us. It is the Joy longed for, the fullness of our self, lived again.

Much Love, Sandy Joy
You are not finished, until you play in that meadow and live there. You can, you know. But only you can take yourself there.

benjayk
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by benjayk » Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:00 pm

Ah, OK, I see. I am not denying the self as an individual. Of course that exists - and indeed is important. I would even say the individual self is the most important thing from a relative perspective.

What I wanted to express is that there is something more primary than that. And when we talk about enlightenment, we talk about realizing that which is more primary than the self, even though it allows the self to flourish, and its primary means of expression is the self. Without individual self, there is no life to be lived. And without collective self, there is no culture and society that is needed for the individual self to flourish.
But if we fixate on the self as the most important thing, we miss what is more primary than that (in a sense it is closer to what selfness really means than mere selfness). Therefore I think it is not very wise to call the absolute "Self" without qualification (or even worse call enlightenment self-realization without qualification) and rather make the (non-absolute) distinction between absolute awareness and its primary emanation, the self.

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SandyJoy
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by SandyJoy » Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:32 am

Yes, in these days we must find our True Self.

My point was supposed to be that Self-Realization is a very good word for it.

Our One True Self within Us is The Self who can take us through the objective world view and not be duped by it.

I just think that In these days of growing upheaval and dissolution it is important that we find our Inner Guide, the Christ Child Within Us, our Steadfast, Genuine, Immutable Selfhood.

This One is above the fray and will not be drawn into the confusion and chaos that is about happen. This is Inner Light, the Inspired Knowing Self, the Child Heart that cannot be fooled. This Self knows the Truth and It is strong and tender and vulnerable and honest and Its is not going to be lead astray in the days ahead.

Knowing Who You Are, Find your Self, it is essential.

You find This Self and you will never be an instrument of other people agendas.

It is important that we find our Self.

Without the Self we are like little boats without rudders. The Self is our core, our ballast, our compass, our guiding Light within Us.

This Self knows exactly which way to go and It takes us there.

Ok, for now, you didn't really get it, but I will let this go as is.

Love, Sandy Joy
You are not finished, until you play in that meadow and live there. You can, you know. But only you can take yourself there.

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Kutso
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by Kutso » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:07 am

Oh boy. Another one of those mental masturbation threads.

People like to define things different ways. And in Advaita Vedanta, for example, one often use the term "Self" as synonymous with "the knower of phenomenon". I don't see the problem with this, but I understand that some people don't like this definition.
Not that. Not that. Not that. Not that. Not that. Not that. Not that. Not that.

randomguy
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by randomguy » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:33 am

This is/you are, with or without any name or explanation.
Do the yellow-rose petals
tremble and fall
at the rapid's roar?
- Basho

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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by HermitLoon » Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:02 pm

There is a Witnessing Presence - infinite and eternal - the essence of "being".
"We" are "That".
Peace

arel
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by arel » Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:16 pm

benjayk -

In your original post you use the word "I" a lot. You also use "you" and "we" a lot. Your post is addressed to someone that would know you are saying something and ideas would form around what you said, and be known to the knowing who you are addressing. That's obvious right? So when you say "I" what do you refer to? Do you refer to the body? It's possible, but it's only a bit of a mistake because the body is known to the "I". The presence of body is associated with presence of "I" that knows the body.

The "I" knows of itself and knows of the memory of itself that is in the body I guess (how we can talk about it and use it in our conversation). So yeah that's what is talked about and is refereed to as Self, the identity of "I". Self Realization is the correction of that mistake experientially.

What else do you want to talk about on here? We can talk about football, sex, intention, quantum physics, etc etc, and give our opinions of how it appears to us from our individual perspective. But then the presence of something is there in that discussion that knows of itself in the other.

There is presence... but presence of what? Can you sense it now? When somebody were to say to you "become present to the computer screen you are reading now", what appears in that moment? Anything changes that moment of experience, that you are aware of, beside the screen coming into focus? If yes, then what is it?
What I say is only my viewpoint.

benjayk
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by benjayk » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:06 pm

OK, I see now that there is no problem with the use of the words self and self-realization per se. I was just somehow confused by the the word self. I think this is still a valid point to be careful about the word, because it may lead to false association with the usual personal self, or, as in my case, leads people to overly intellectually reflect on selfness (because the word is used in our language to intellectually reflect on a thing and itself), which leads to missing the obvious.
But of course it is necessary to point to the fact that we really are not that personal self, but still are ourselves. So we somehow have to use the word self, I guess.
Otherwise it is fine, actually self-realization even seems to be a very accurate word for it. I really wrote some bullshit in my post, honestly. I was just having problems with words, even though there is none (at least not for everyone).
But maybe it can be good example of self-denial, which is also common in many other seekers. Of course I am myself, and since there is nothing else to find, I have to be awareness itself. D'oh.

Thanks for clearing up this issue :) .

unbornawakened
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Re: Self-Realization is a misnomer?

Post by unbornawakened » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:34 am

Hello,

Good old Ananda is back :wink:

It is a good question, actually, and when I wrote this, it just flowed from me spontaneously, unconsciously, so I could not immediately answer your question in a dramatic way that would satisfy you. Why ? Because probably you are actually feeling better with the certainty you think you have gained by reading Advaita texts, and sticking only with those. And that is fine. In general, there is a great beauty, simplicity, a sort of feeling of having touched fundamental naked truth, something like physics, mathematics, and even more importantly a kind of magic, wonder. I understand. That is how I felt with Ramana Maharshi's teachings ... often it brought tears to my eyes, just reading some of his words. Something deep in my hear must have been touched. Maybe it was the need for certainty, love, and magic. I cannot refute or confirm those teachings, but they can give you good feelings especially when you develop a kind of unshakeable faith. Or maybe that is not at all how you experienced it.

Nevertheless, a few mystical experiences that give a little confirmation are not enough. Doubt can arise. Eventually, with time, the medicine starts to turn into poison. Because, everyday, every moment - almost - you are confronted with what negates all that, and it flies in your face. Sure, you can have great moments of peace, joy, serenity ... life may feel like heaven ... but a few days later, it is reversed (at least, in my experience - whatever that means).

In general, spiritual beliefs, conceptual beliefs about what is truly unknown - contain contradictions. If you have a compartmentalized mind, you might not realize it - but unconsciously, it is still there. Then there is everyday life which is going in the opposite direction of your beliefs. That is common to all spiritual beliefs.

Religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam have beliefs that really seem infantile, and raise more questions than they answer, and contradictions that cannot be resolved. This drives the intelligent believer to madness, until they renounce the whole thing. I have known many such people.

Buddhism is known as the religion of pessimists. Our life experience is seen as poisoned, and we are deemed in urgent need of medical care , metaphorically speaking. Trapped unti reaching nirvana. But the path to Nirvana is long and arduous, and is most often taught to be almost unreachable. Here you go: you are trapped, and there is no way out - perhaps only in a billion will escape. This is a good path to suicide.

Gnosticism. Manicheism. Many mystical sects. What are they talking about ? The physical universe is the creation of a lesser god, a demiurge, who wants to keep us trapped here. It wants to keep you trapped here at any cost. It will send prophets, teachers who will promise you that the world will be reformed, if only every single person would follow the teachings and become perfect (think of the statistical odds ..). It will make you believe this is a wonderful place, despite the obvious horrors that go on. The true god never had a hand in creation. It is out of it. You are trapped. Gnostic beliefs are at the root of many spiritual sects.

In the end, it seems healthier to not speculate on what we do not know. Heck, even the biological robot theory, the simplest one - Occam's razor - is the one with the least complications. No conspiracies, no mysteries answered. No supernatural explanations or causal agents. Random events brought us here. You are here for a while, and soon you will be gone. That is all. Not that I believe in this... because it is a sort of belief ... but still one that has much fewer loopholes for charlatans to come in, and with far fewer answers than religions and sects will give you.

Ananda wrote: Hello unbornawakened,


i envy people who have never read spiritual teachings ... the world may look much more beautiful and simple to them ... if you take spiritual beliefs seriously, you might be driven to suicide (maybe a good thing ?) and apathy ...

I dread to think of which spiritual teachings you read that made you feel this way. D:

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