View Full Version : Confused about Self

28 June 2012, 04:24 PM
I am confused about the idea of the soul or "atman". There is obviously an indestructible part of ourselves.

Is the soul SIMPLY the feeling of "I" because it seems like from the time i was an infant---> teenager----> adult---> etc, my knowledge and thoughts keep changing...but it is the feeling of "I" that doesn't change.


is it a combination of the feeling of "I" combined with the ability to perceive


is it the feeling of I combined with our consciousness because this seems to not make sense as i am a different person than when i was 3 for example. obviously if this is what the atman is, then it IS destructible, and changing constantly

Help me out i'm so confused:D

Eastern Mind
30 June 2012, 09:00 PM
Vannakkam: The 'I' you are referring to is the ego. It is the part of you that says, "I did it myself". This is not the Self, as understood in Hinduism.

I still think the term 'Self' is misleading, and the cause of confusion. In order to distinguish between the two concepts usually the Self of Hinduism is capitalised, and we use ''self' lower case for the normal thinking ego self.

The Realisation of the Self is not to be confused with the psychology term of the same, sometimes called self-actualisation. This is just coming to grips as to who you are or your social identity in this lifetime.

The Self is the unchanging aspect of the atma, the part that never changes. It is beyond words, beyond time, beyond space, yet Absolute Reality, identical with Siva, the very core of your being.

Another way that might help understand it is to use "I" in this sense, and follow this logic:

I have emotions .. therefore I am not the emotions .. How can an 'owner' be the same as that which he owns..

Similarly .. I have a physical body .. I have an ego .. I have intelligence .. I have intuition .. until you have eliminated everything you can possible think of ... the 'I' that is left is the Self.

I hope this helps a bit, but it is very difficult to use the intellect to describe or grasp a non-intellectual concept.

Aum Namasivaya

30 June 2012, 10:16 PM
namaste seekinganswers.

'I' is not just a feeling: it is the expression of the very consciousness in the individual soul--jIvAtman, which is essentially identical to the universal consciousness of Brahman.

• Although you are a different 'person' now than what you were when you were three, when you think about both these states of existence in life, how do you think of the child that you were? Typically, the thinking is 'when I was a child of three years...' So, what has changed is not the expression of consciousness, but only its association (with your body, mind and senses) at that time and now.

• Notice that this association of the consciousness is now--as it was then--with the body, mind and senses which are material, and time which is an illusion due to changes in states of existence (of the animate and inanimate world around us).

• What has actually changed are the body, mind and senses and the world around (as indicated by the passage of time). The pure consciousness of Self in us, which is expressed as the certainty of 'I' has never changed.

• Why think of the time of your childhood? Everyday we pass through the three states of wakefulness, dreamy sleep and deep sleep. In the first two states we associate our 'I' with the body, senses, mind and the world created by our stored past impressions. In deep sleep even the feeling of 'I' dissolves, and yet that unchanging Self remains identical through all these three states.

• As we get deep into into sAdhana--spiritual efforts, we will be more and more certain about the changeless 'I' (first intellectually and then experientially), and learn to separate it from its associations. We would understand that any change in state requires a changeless background (like the movie screen) and that this background is the Self in us whose consciousness is universally expressed by the individual feeling of 'I'--individual selves.

• In other words, this 'I' is our connection with the universal consciousness, which is why sages like RamaNa MaharShi wanted us to explore the answer to this simple but persisting question 'Who am I'? The nature of 'I' is revealed, when and where its association with 'my' and 'mine' ceases.

When did the primordial 'I' arose? It arose when Brahman who was alone wanted to know more of itself and became a multitude of manifest individual selves.

30 June 2012, 10:45 PM
Those two above were THE BEST explanations i have ever heard. That you so much. peace and blessings upon you

01 July 2012, 09:07 PM
namaste namaste seekinganswers.

For practising the distinction of Self from its associations, we have at least two threads here in HDF:
Advaita in Practice

I just came across this blog--yet to go through it:

05 July 2012, 07:37 PM
Your signature quote is beautiful.