Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding is the concept of Self. Many religions and spiritual groups have misunderstood this concept. This has led some to focus on merging into an “other source” (eg. God), or in the becoming an Individual through body awareness. Both cases are extremes that miss the balance point of truth.
Oness is a precept of many mystics of East and West. The idea pertains to a concept of an external deity that is “greater” and a limited existence that is “less.” The greater expression is often called God, while the lesser expression is considered the individual self.
Whether the individual self is a consciousness alone, or a spirit-body complex, the goal of those seeking Oneness remains the same: to join one’s consciousness with the externally greater God.
A problem of this approach, is in the total annihilation of self. The merging of limited mind with greater existence, leaves only the greater existence. For some, this is considered spiritual suicide.
An opposite extreme, is the focus at the realm of the physical world. From this prospective, the Individual is recognized more as their physical self. They may have a strong view of soul or mind (or some form of self beyond the physical body), but their actions are preoccupied with the things of the world.
Religious zealot fit into this category. Consider the religious who identify more with a political goal than the spiritual. They surround us, they think voting in a “religious” candidate in a position of power will usher in some grand age. They are deluded and ignorant. Such thinking is far too stuck in an identity that is completely false.
Oddly, even the inversion of the religious are equally fixated on physicality alone. Whether it be an atheist or other inversion of the religious, they take solace only in their physical form. In this respect they are equal…. equally flawed.
The true Self is greater than the body, to that there is no doubt. There is existence beyond the body. There is also states of grand existence that expand beyond the bodily state.
Rather than seek some other god or deity to take over, the true solution is to explore the Self. As the Self does not end with the body, it needs to be considered as an expanding breath that is our effective consciousness.
Consciousness beyond the body, is recognized as located near the body, resembling the shape. Expanding further it becomes less and less identified with the bodily form. Stretching out to its totality, it fills out the universe and even goes beyond, into the spiritual realms.
The trek of Self extends from the limited body to the most expansive universal aspect. These extremes, and all points in between, complete the true Self. In this sense, true Self Identification are moments when one experiences the limitation and the expansive at the same moment, at the same time.
The issue of “God” is immaterial at this point. Trying to conceptualize a deity from our limited expression, will only create a being of limitation. Consider this the failure of many modern religions. Conceptualizing “god” as a man or woman, thinking such a being has a vested interest in a political faction rising to power, finding bigotry and fear over others who are different – these are all forms of god built from a failure to recognize the limitations of their own nature. These limited aspects of self, that think god is a republican or that god wants them to kill people of other lands… such is flaw of human identification, then projected as one’s god.
What most people experience, through spiritual effort, is not god at all. Instead it is the work of their own Individual Self that powers their work through limited expression.
“Did you feel god in the church service,” a zealot will ask. They felt something, they may have had a paranormal experience, yet it wasn’t god at all. It was a touch of their greater Self.
The Self as God
You should be asking how I know this to be true. Up to now I’ve only given ideas without any evidence to back it up. The only evidence worth considering is that of one’s own discoveries. If you take on faith what I say, they you are simply giving up your personal sovereignty, to follow yet another character. Instead, I request the reader to consider my evidence below and then examine and experiment with their own life.
For many years I believed that there was “one force” (God) that expressed through all religions and spiritual paths. It was the emptiness of the Buddhist, the Brahma of the Hindu, the source of the Daoist and so on.
My views were based on my personal experience. I transitioned through a dozen religions and spiritual groups and through the process I experienced the same force each and every time.
When I was a Christian, raised in my minister father’s home, I felt the presence of this Force, calling it God. When I left Christianity to become a Buddhist, I was surprised to feel the same presence as I knelt before my Lama (Lama Marut), when I took my vows. After I left Buddhism I felt the same force in various ceremonies of a Western Esoteric order. From the occult to the religious, the same force was experienced. When my mind detached from identification with the body, a sensation of this Grand Force was felt. Regardless of the tapestry of faith, the force remained. Initially I thought this was the same “god” through all these different forms of spiritual expression.
Yet a problem remained: How could I feel this force when I was a Buddhist, a religion that had no concept of “God?” I had an ephiany one day in meditation. It occurred to me that the Force, that Power that I mistook as God, was not a God at all, but my own nature.
Each of us has a Grand Self. That Self which is so expansive that to realize it, it feels foreign. We call it God, or Deity. Maybe we give it a name, or simplify it with a title. Through a belief system, our Intent is empowered by the belief or system of faith. Miracles, healings, second sight, the paranormal, these are all the outpouring of Self through the belief of the seeker.
If the seeker can realize this, they can remove the belief in an external concept, and in the realization they are creating the result, will retain the results gathered. This expresses the truth that the power of the work is the Aspirant themselves.
The True Self is not the body. Those who claim they will become a “living God,” are also deluded if they think that godly form will operate in their body. They are not the body, nor are you. The true Self is godlike, but it is not the body alone. It is Grand and yet Limited. Perhaps the prose of Aleister Crowley best describes the state:
3. O Thou that sittest upon the Earth! (so spake a certain Veiled One to me) thou art not greater than thy mother! Thou speck of dust infinitesimal! Thou art the Lord of Glory, and the unclean dog.Liber LXV Chapter 2 verse 3
There is depth to the above quote. We are the Lord of Glory (The expanded Self) and the unclean dog (the limited self). It isn’t a choice of one or the other, instead it is the acceptance of both.
When the body dies, our consciousness remains, and the extension of Self is still valid of concept. From the limited expression of spiritual essence, to the fully expanded form, this is our true Self.