The Self and its Reflection (by Eva Alba)
As anyone has the ability to deny its own existence, the fact of Being is the unique experience undeniable by any individual. However, the exclusive leading role that the "I" plays in the life of each person is for many systems of knowledge, such as of the Advaita of the non-duality, the basic mistake that lead us to the suffering and to the oblivition of our true inner nature.
With its etymological origin in the Latin term ego, the "I" is the entity in which the human beings recognize ourselves as independent individuals, identifying ourselves with the body and the mind, and distinguishing us from the others in base on the fact of a unique and particular personality. According to this, the "I" is commonly defined as the thinking and conscious entity that, exercising freely its will, acts and makes use of its rational capacity to make contacts with the others and to analyze and to know the phenomena belonging to the physic manifestation. Therefore, the ego is the one who also experience the reactions caused by its own acts, through the emotions that these acts provoke in him.
These processes of perception and cognition are fundamentally based in a conceptual distinction between the entity who knows, the "I" itself, and the known objects, including the other individuals, from which the later see itself as entirely separated. In this way, defined by its innate mental activity, the "I" centralize the exclusive attention of the human individual existence, considering itself as the only scriptwriter, as well as the main actor of it.
However, the sense of being an individuality become weaker and losses its leader role during the dreams, when we become as mere spectators and passive witness of the dream scenes projected by the mind. The individuality becomes completely dissolved in the state of deep dream, in which even there is not conscience of being. This conscience is only recovered in the return to the awaking state, when it is restored the recognition of the body and of the representation of the environment around.
Therefore, defined by the impermanence and the discontinuity, the "I" is formulated by various systems of knowledge, especially by the Advaita of non-duality, founded in the XI century by the scholar and visionary Adi Shankara, as a perception of relative character and like this deprived of an objective reality.
The oblivion of the Self
Denominated ahamkara in Sanskrit, the ego is described by the theory of the Advaita as a transitory, non constant and variable category, which therefore cannot be considered as consistent, as all what is confirmed as real has the attributes of the immutability and the persistence. Therefore, as it is postulated by this doctrine, the ego, recognized as a complex accumulation of thoughts, emotions and instincts, is just an expression of the extroverted mind, that, identifying itself wrongly with the body and according to a bunch of subjective perceptions, included the categories of time and space, feels itself independent from everything and experiments the objective world in duality. This make the ego to conceive a endless sequence of pairs of opposites, such as the joy and the sorrow, the ignorance and the wisdom, which in an unavoidable way lead it to the experience of suffering, a experience that the ego itself must suffer and solve through the discrimination.
According to these conclusions, the Advaita asserts that the individual "I" constitutes a kind of deceit that in fact never existed and that can stop being conceived only when the attention is fixed in the Self, this considered as the only permanent and immutable reality, non susceptible of objectivity and therefore impossible of being known through the mental abstractions.
In this way, the great monism masters, the majority born in India, like Ramana Maharshi, Nisagaradatta Maharaj or Adi Shankara himself, explain that is precisely the oblivion of the Self what put in movement the ego, that is to say, the mind, which in this way becomes the primordial germ from where arise the rest of the ideations. Understood from this view, the manifest universe, as well as all the conceptual parities, acquire existence only for the "I" which projected them, reason why the Yoga Vasishtha, one of the top works of this theoretical School of Knowledge, states that "heaven and hell, as all the illusions related to the liberation, exist only while the sense of ego exits", why, when this arrives to its extinction, the conflicts and limitations derived by the dual mind will stop.
Dissolving the ego
"We cannot be what we are until we awake from our dream of the phenomena, until we see the dream as it is and until we stop to conceptualize and to objectify", was explained by a disciple of Nisagaradatta Maharaj, Ramesh Balshekar, another of the great masters of the Advaita.
According to this system, the starting point in order to dissolve the ego and to perceive what oneself truly is consists therefore in withdrawing the inner consciousness from the material world, whose contents give place to the sensorial attraction and to the desire, which only feed the idea of the "I", with all its luggage of ideas and projections. However, when this idea vanished and the mind gets completely dissolved, the objective manifestation has no existence anymore and reaches the state of full transcendence, in other words, the inner realization. In this way, the attainment of the mental stillness and the resulting and definitive suspension of the thoughts require the control of the senses and the practice of concentration, with what the mind is directed towards the state of contemplation.
In opinion of Ramana Maharshi, the master who in a spontaneous way got the enlightenment at the feet of the sacred mountain of Arunachala, in South India, the ego acts as a kind of knot between the Self and the body, which is inert and has not consciousness of itself. Therefore, from the fact that "the existence of the ego as a phenomenon is transcended when one submerged himself in the source from where the 'thought I' is born", for untying this knot in a secure and efficient way, he proposed the technique of the self enquiry, capable of destroying the notion of being an "I" and allowing the direct knowledge of the Self that one Is and has been always being.
With this method, trough which is attained the inner silence, the attention must be focused, not in the object of the enquiry, but in the entity which starts the enquiry process. "First, take the ego – the Maharshi clarified – and, then, wonder how to destroy it. ¿Who is putting the question? It's the ego itself. The question is a good way of pampering the ego and not of killing it. If you are looking for the ego, you will find that this has not existence by itself. This is the way to destroying it". When the ego looks to itself, trying to find the source from where it itself sprouted, the result is always its vanishing, as in that moment it is clearly revealed that its pretended existence is just a mere appearance of mental nature, being the pure conscience the only thing what truly Is.
The pure Conscience
The subtle and hided relation between the individual "I" and its source of origin is well clarify by the master of Arunachala, who explained that "the mind focused towards inside is the Self, while the mind focus towards outside become the ego (…) However, the mind doesn´t exist aside of the Self, although the Self exists without the mind."
Like this considered, the ego is only a mere reflection of the Self, which manifests itself as pure conscience, this is to say, as that indescribable and imperishable presence that transcends the frame of any conceptual definition and that is translated into a state of supreme joy. And is precisely inside this conscience, and not in a place outside of it, where exist the ideas of the "I", of the others and of the external Universe with all its contents. Therefore, "the one who knows that this multiple and wonderful universe is not real, —declares the Asthravaka, another of the exponent texts of the doctrine of the non-duality—, is left without desire, as Pure Conscience, and finds the peace as if nothing was existing".
Having this in consideration, despite of the exit or of the failure of the techniques to be used, and of the level of personal effort to be make, those who have internally realized their true nature persist asserting that such Conscience or Self exist always and is always realized, as constitutes the immanent reality in all, in all moments and in everywhere. As the Yoga Vasishtha states, "when That is seen, all has been already seen; when That is heard, all has been already heard; when That is touch, all has been already touched. The world is because That Is".
In this sense, the Being results incomprehensible from the point of view of the intellectual analysis and cannot be qualified with specific attributes framed in the ambit of the duality. In fact, being the essence of oneself and being omnipresent in all the manifestation, the only way to perceived it is precisely transcending the "I". In other words, is not something that can be described, but something that can be only Being.
by Eva Alba