Posted 2/7/2006 3:37 AM (#256) Subject: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: New Zealand
Hello everyone, I've been pondering a question this moring and would love to hear your views.
How do we become to 'know' that we are eternal beings? There is far more written words on this subject that I could probably get through in this lifetime and truly honour all views and experiences. Through my meditation, I have personally experienced being in the state of 'I am not my body' but still being young in my spiritual development, am yet to satisfy my curiosity of whether my soul consciousness requires my body in order to have this consciousness. I do not need convincing on collective/group consciousness, 'life after death' etc etc but this is a 'belief' that I have based on my reading and discussions with others.
Will I ever come to 'know' within the physical condition that my consciousness will continue without it? Is it belief based on experience of knowing or is it belief based on trust and collective consensus?
After death, will I know that 'I' am still conscious or does the 'I' and the 'me', my personality, die with my body and therefore 'I' as I know myself in this body not know the consciousness at all?
For those that 'know' or those who are on the path to finding out, I'd love to hear from you.
Posted 2/7/2006 7:51 AM (#257 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: Hirosaki, Japan
this is only my thought, so take it with a grain of salt,
i think the "knowing" of being an eternal being comes from your heart, your essence.
conscience and sub-conscience,body and spirit, i could cut it up and break personality down into groups but in
life i have decided to ignore labels and seek only truth. everything is labeled, grass, trees, people, but these things all existed before a label was thrown on them and began to analyze them and break them down into catagories and sub-catagories.labels were invented for comunication and exploration purposes, try not to use those same inventions to communicate and explore yourself, consider everything as one thing.
then there no longer is a distinction between spirit conscienceness and that of the body, no longer any life or death, disolve all opposites, since there is no one without the other, that means it was really just one thing the whole time. fear of death is just fear of life, they are not seperate.
i dont think this is a thing that is transmittied in one second, but i do hope this plants a seed.
Posted 2/8/2006 1:20 PM (#258 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Hi Louise. You have presented a fascinating question for discussion! I have many friends who say they believe that when their bodies die they will cease to exist. They say they feel comforted by that and can bring their attention to their present experiences and appreciate Life and Mother Earth better. I find that I cannot easily imagine an end, a nothingness, because there I am imagining it all!! There is instead a sense of "being" an unchanging Observer, a state of being that has pervaded my entire life and transcended all of the many ego personas and dramas that I have created. In fact, it is only in connecting to this peaceful awareness that I have found the best relief or peace from those dramas. So, what if we are all simply this one eternal presence experiencing billions of "separate" realities? Then, the "I" that I have thought myself to be with all of its preferences, illusions and delusions disappears. What is left? It's all a guess and another opportunity to trust the great Unknown!
Keep up the great conversations!
Posted 2/17/2006 10:50 PM (#274 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: Arcata, CA
I am so happy someone asked this question on the UMS forum! This is by far my favorite question to think about! What are we really? Is our consciousness some kind of electromagnetic swirl of particles that are yet undiscovered by science? Are we some sort of phenomena that appears only for a lifetime and then goes out like a light upon death? Are we really a bigger self, and once the little selves disappear, the big self is still there and calls itself "I" just like the little self did?
Hmmm... these are the questions that keep coming after the questions until the mind gets into a terrible tangle and finally has to give up trying to figure it all out! There is a point where the human mind simply cannot go. The human mind has to get left behind. There is some sort of new perspective, a bigger consciousness that kicks in after the human mind gives up. This is why the state of giving up is the cusp of enlightenment. The human mind has stopped trying to grasp it. From there the answer to this question is evident, only after the body and identity as a human personality have been completely dropped. There comes a sudden "knowing," a rememberance of who you are. You just suddenly know that you are huge and eternal. It is almost like a whole different psychology appears in yourself and the human psychology is but a dream. It feels like a shock at first, but then you realize you always knew and laugh about the fact that in your human perspective you thought for a minute that you would actually be snuffed out of existence upon death. To this eternal self, wearing a lifetime is just like wearing a blue shirt, then the next lifetime is like wearing a green shirt... They are just shirts that come and go, but the eternal self is still the same and most certainly doesn't die. It would be like thinking that if you took off your clothes at the end of the day that you would die! You are not the shirt (the human body, personality and human "I"). You are the one who wears it!
Anyway, there's my 2 cents worth! Words will never be able to convince a person about this. Only direct experience will. Keep meditating and getting deeper and deeper underneath the human mind. Soon you will see for yourself what goes beyond the human perspective, and you have already had glimpses. One thing I have found is that it never stops deepening! Discovering the inner universe of who we really are is an endless adventure! There is still an ever-unfolding achievement of enlightenment (enlightened means "to know"), no matter how enlightened a person gets. You can't ever stop getting more and more enlightened. That's the cosmic irony about the idea of enlightenment! it is never really achieved, for there is always more to discovered.
Posted 2/20/2006 5:33 PM (#277 - in reply to #274) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
I came across your post in this discussion and basically agreed with almost everything you wrote, with exception of the phrase: “You are not the shirt (the human body, personality and human "I")”
I don’t think this comparison is entirely accurate. At the least, shirts do not think and do not have personalities, but we do. One of the components that build us is our memory and another – our personality. Are you saying that this is irrelevant to our super-self, or eternal self? Or maybe I misunderstood your thought?
Posted 2/22/2006 3:52 PM (#280 - in reply to #277) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: Arcata, CA
Hi there! Thanx for asking for clarification on that! Yes, the comparison of our human personalities to a shirt does seem insulting to the egoic identity that we wear in a lifetime, but yes, I do believe that it is irrelevant to our eterneral self what the personality thinks and feels. It is just an experience to the eternal self, the experience of what it is like to wear the __________(fill in the color) shirt, assuming for this analogy that a shirt is like the personality with thoughts and feelings. The eternal self knows that the personality itself, the human identity, the memories, the collections of thoughts and feelings, isn't any more real than the images that are happening on a movie screen in the theater (ie: those characters, the villain and the hero, aren't who those actors really are, in real life they are somewhat different). You are not the character you are playing in this lifetime, the name you wear, or the personality (clothing) you are acting like. These are temporary things that come and go, and anything that appears and disappears is illusion. Therefore, only what remains after the comings and goings of things is real. That is consciousness, awareness, something that is undescribable, really.
The other thing is that the eternal self is not trying to "build" itself. It doesn't need to heal or fix itself. It doesn't even need to learn things. However, the eternal self is consciousness, and the nature of consicousness is to explore itself and have imaginings. It is impossible to not imagine something sooner or later. It is why consciousness moves between stillness and not-stillness, it is it's inherent nature. All that happens in the universe is an imagining in the consciousness of the eternal self, including planets, civilizations, personalities, thoughts and feelings. When the imagining is over, the eternal self finishes off the popcorn and says, "Hmmm... what an interesting movie (imagining) that was!"
I know this all sounds a little far-out, but when you get really deep into a bodiless state, you'll find that all this makes more sense and the personality will appear to be paper thin and insignificant with all it's self identity, thoughts and feelings. To the eternal self, those are all like leaves blowing by that are just passing expereinces. The enternal self remains the same, no matter what happened in any given lifetime, positive or negative, because it cannot be harmed by any expereince, and in turn it cannot be "built" or enhanced by any expereince. It is already whole and complete, and it simply goes on to the next experience when the consciousness "moves" again. When all imaginings cease (which may be impossible) the universe itself will disappear. Obviously, God, eternal self, is not finished having a vivid imagination!
Posted 2/23/2006 6:25 PM (#281 - in reply to #280) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Thank you for the further clarification.
Let me elaborate on the topic.
So, basically if the eternal self is aware of what his/her mortal character is doing, wouldn’t it be true, that the mortal feelings and experience somehow affect the eternal self? Even when we watch the movie with someone else playing a role, we get affected somehow. And so (if not more) do the actors, playing those roles. Maybe the eternal self’s input in the mortal life is limited to the “inner voice”, but our mortal feedback should be pretty noticeable.
On another note – do you think that each one of us has his/her own eternal self, or it all comes to just one eternal entity – The One?
Posted 2/26/2006 7:02 PM (#285 - in reply to #281) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: Arcata, CA
Well, you bring up a great question as far as whether we all have our own eternal self, or if it is all one self. I personally believe it is all one self having many lifetimes and experiences, but I certainly am not the authority on the question, and neither is any human that has ever lived or will live. As long as we are on this planet, it is, afterall, speculation, eh? So that said, I vote for One Self. In my meditations and peak spiritual experiences, that seems to be the consistent result on that question. However, you will need to find out for yourself. When you ask yourself the question, do we all have our own eternal selves, or is it just one self, what does your intuition tell you?
As far as whether the eternal self is affected by what happens in a lifetime, yes, I agree with you, there would be some affect, but how much is probably only equivalent to the same amount we feel when we watch a movie, or act in a movie, all the while knowing that it isn't real and it isn't really happening to us, per se. The affect would not "change" the eternal self, it would be a passing emotion or thought about what it just witnessed. Just as a pond returns to stillness after someone made ripples, so does the eternal self. It returns to its original state.
When you watch a sad movie, you feel sad while it is going on, and occasionally your thoughts go to it once in a while in the future when it pops into your mind, but you know that it was just fiction (for this analogy, let's just assume that all movies are fiction, for our lifetimes are fiction to the eternal self) and that while it caused "movement" in your heart, you are not really harmed or changed, for once the emotion or thought has passed, you return to your original state, which never changes. For instance, you are not the one who spent a lifetime suffering as an abused slave, or whatever terrible lifetime you can think of, just as you are not the one who was diagnosed with the terminal cancer, or whatever sad movie plot you might think of, in the movie you just watched. It wasn't YOU. That is what is important to realize. It was something you witnessed, and yet you are not that. It is something that passed through your experience, through your emotions and thoughts, but it isn't who you are. Who you are is beyond all of that, beyond all experiences of any sort, positive or negative. The eternal self itself is consciousness, and doesn't have any opinions in particular. It just is. It does not make value judgments on "good or not good" or have feelings in quite the same way that a human, or for that matter any being, does. And yet, somehow, it does have some sort of emotional content, maybe it is that it contains all emotions at the same time and therefore stands outside of duality, I am not quite sure how to explain it. However, it isn't thrown to and fro by any emotions or thoughts. It remains steadfast, still and very aware.
What you are speaking of when you say the eternal self might be affected by something is not the eternal self. That might be another divided down version of the eternal self. The eternal self has divided itself into many physical beings (humans, animals, plants, rocks, etc.) in order to have adventures. In the same manner, perhaps you could think of it as that it has divided itself down into many souls or monads (or other non-physical types of identities) in order to have non-physical types of experiences. Maybe you are thinking it is your soul or monad that is having the reactions to the lifetime. However, this is still not the eternal self. The eternal self does not make value judgments on experiences whereas the soul or monad might... This might also be the source of the question you asked that I addressed above in the first paragraph about whether or not it is all one self or do we all have our own eternal self, might this be another illusory identity issue? Is it the soul, monad, or super self that might think it is the eternal self?
You can be sure that if there is any leaning toward one opinion/feeling or the other about an experience, this is not the perspective of the eternal self. It is the perspective of an illusory identity that the eternal self is playing with. It gets pretty tricky for the mind when the super-ego starts getting involved! The super-ego can disguise itself as the soul, the monad, the perfect self, and even the eternal self. It can trick your human ego into thinking that it is the eternal self! This is why sooner or later the mind simply cannot be appeased and it must let go.
Of course, you can cut through all of it by going straight to the source, the eternal self, which is always available to you in every moment, no matter what form you are in, physical or spiritual. Like I said, there is a point where the mind has to just let go of trying to figure it all out and simply be at ease with consciousness itself and realize that the awareness that is coming through the mind is what it is looking for!
Posted 3/4/2006 5:59 PM (#296 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
I believe that ultimately we can achieve an enlightened state. According to Yogananda, (and probably others), after the physical body is shed, the astral body still exists. After the astral body is shed, the causal body still exists. This causal body is the last barrier, or separation, from the Ultimate One Reality. Once that body is shed, the final merging with the Cosmic Absolute takes place. I guess it all comes down to experience and belief, and there does seem to be many different ways to see the same thing. Yogananda had said that the existence of a body conveys the existence of desire. Unless you have an Avatar, of course, which is reincarnated on earth for an entirely different purpose.
I believe that we have souls and we are here on earth to fulfill desires and work out our bad karma, and to evolve. And underneath these physical, astral, and causal bodies, we are all one. I do believe that the eternal Self never changes, but that our astral bodies, or souls, do learn from our experiences on earth. That, the way I see it, is how our souls evolve.
I've heard this somewhere, and it rang true to me, that "knowledge is having and knowing is being". So as much as we can try to intellectualize these concepts, we have to internalize them through experience, which transcends logic. And from my experiences, this takes time!
Posted 3/4/2006 6:22 PM (#297 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Of course, I also think it's possible to destroy/shed the ego and become enlightened while still in a human form. I think there have been many authentic saints that have walked this earth. And what happens after that, I don't know!
Posted 3/11/2006 11:48 AM (#304 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Hi Louise, I have been thinking about this alot lately. Because I have lost family members that I believe continue to live and lost a very special dog this past year, I am coming to believe that we have many bodies that make up ourselves. What we mainly observe is the physical. I know that my Sporty still exists because of signs, sounds, and messages that she sends me. I still see her in my mind when I least expect it. I believe she is showing me that we do in fact continue to exist. with that in mind, I have to look beyond the physical and that which can be explained, I have experienced too many After Death communications not to believe. Now I prefer to go inside and trust that little voice, the one that led me here to this web site, the guidance that led me to begin meditating 6 months ago and believe that there are many truths inside us we can access when we get quiet and go inside. Lori.
Posted 3/18/2006 4:13 PM (#314 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Hello all I have just come across your site and this the first question to catch my attention.
Our perceptions change as we evolve into the spiritual beings we are.Personally I feel strongly that we do not die at the time of our physical death in that we are part of the divine spark which is eternal.After 18 years on this quest there are many questions I needed answers to that were clearly given and in the process doubt was removed.This being one.I feel certain that this body ..is but the means of experiencing through sensory perceptions this human experience designed in order for us to 're-member' that we are in fact so much more than meets the pyhsical eye and that we are in fact on our way home.As I said this is but my personal belief that has forged over the years.
Light and Love
Posted 4/25/2006 9:10 AM (#368 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: New Zealand
Hi Everyone - its great to see so much debate on this question, thanks for all of your input. What is interesting is that there are some common ideas/beliefs/knowing (call it what you will) here which to me seems we are tapping into some universal truths somewhere!
Posted 4/16/2007 10:53 AM (#1709 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: United Kingdom
I do not share the belief that we come into this life without anything and that we pass out of it again with nothing. We are children of God, eternal beings - we are consciousness and we come into every new lifetime to grow some more through learning, each from their own first hand experiences and in the course of a great many lifetimes. Through the knowledge and wisdom find on our way, our consciousness slowly expands ever more and we move upwards on the evolutionary spiral of life. The only thing that truly ever is ours is our consciousness and whatever we learn is ours to keep in all eternity. That alone we bring with us into each new lifetime and whatever learning our soul manages to acquire during this one, we shall be allowed to take with us into our other world, in preparation for the next one. With love - Aquarius
Edited by Aquarius 4/16/2007 10:54 AM
Posted 4/22/2007 1:42 AM (#1738 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
I believe it was Buddha who said that 'All is Mind' and Jesus mentioned that "as a man thinketh, so is he." For me, the only eternity I can concieve of is the Now. At least, that's the only eternity I need concern myself with since this is where I am. Making the best of what I have seems to be the work or play that I must focus on. If I am not eternal, which implies time and the unfolding of cyclic change, then what am I? where could I possibly go...nowhere, into nothing but always capable of thought if I should desire to go another round in the form world. On the other hand, maybe I never stop thinking ,and therefore creating, on some level or another.
The idea of oneness is so big and at the same time infinitesimally small. I have been studying photgraphs of the various nebulae and star clusters lately and they look so much like the interior cosmos that I see within myself. Whether we are eternal or not is a moot point as it is certain that our now is, right now, indescribably magnificent. Would it not be enough for us to just enjoy the present moment and trust that it is what it is? Shalom
Posted 4/22/2007 4:10 AM (#1739 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: Tokai Region, Central Japan
What a great topic! It's wonderful to read everyones comments regarding such a central theme.
I come from a background of studying applied physics, where hardcore data is essential for any claim.
When it comes to matters of the heart and mind, I am learning that hardcore data is not so easy to measure in the depths of a meditation. I've also come to realize that things established as facts, are easily changed, depending on the perspective taken. One of the personally inspiring aspects of this course for me is the search for a link, whether it be qualitative or quantitative, of the power of our thoughts between this eternal consciousness and our perceived physical reality, without it being purely philosophical in nature.
When studying physics, I do remember a most famous experiment about the search for an ether. I would like to look a little deeper into that some day.
In terms of the measurement or proof issue that seems to be part of this theme, I believe current scientific ideas about measuring what is 'real' needs to and will develop as the need arises. Often in traditional physical sciences ideas that can't be measured are dismissed outright (which doesn't mean they don't exist! LOL). I feel that we can't solve this problem, with the same mindset that created the problem in the first place.
I try to take an approach of letting go of my 'old school' rigid scientific analytical thinking, and through open mindedness, open heart, learning to trust my intuition and just letting go, I can experience the eternal consciousness.
I'm new to all of this, and find everyones contribution valuable.
Posted 4/22/2007 11:23 AM (#1745 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: United Kingdom
The way I see it, the time is now, always now. There is no tomorrow and no yesterday. They are mere concepts that exist only in your world, because they help to set boundaries and give structure to your life. You are in Eternity and Eternity is now.
Because on the inner level of life we are all one, when one of us changes their attitudes and thinking patterns, everything changes with them. If you are familiar with spreadsheets, think of the whole of humankind and our whole world as one gigantic spreadsheet. Now change one figure – imagine that this figure is you – and watch the effect rippling through all the other figures – the rest of humankind and everything else in your world. See how they too are all changing; it’s pure magic! The world we are living in is a magical place, or so it frequently seems on the outside. Whatever you do, always remember that inner manifestation comes before outer and that things can only manifest and change in the outer world, after there has been some kind of change on the inner level of life. Therefore, if we want our world to change, we first have to change ourselves.
Posted 4/22/2007 10:26 PM (#1753 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Eternity Aaa.... how I wish I could see in full a plane of eternity and grasp with myself the totality of time. I can only glimpse this, hymn, this timeless world like the rapture of one seeing love from afar, and, hope one day, perhaps, to see in totality. This, to me, is true meditation. And, I hope the spark of life never leaves it though it be tested by the monotonous and mundane tribulations of life.
Posted 4/23/2007 10:09 AM (#1755 - in reply to #256) Subject: RE: Simple Question? The eternal self
Location: United Kingdom
Bless you, my friend - the Divine spark of life - that is in you and me - and everybody else - will never leave us, no matter what befalls us, i.e. whatever tests and trials we still have to endure on our healing journey back home into our true nature and the oneness with God. In truth, we never really lost it - if you see what I mean... We are eternal beings and it's not surprising that our earthly self finds it hard to grasp the term Eternity - whilst our soul finds it difficult to get to grips with Earth life. However, time itself is part of the illusion of earthly life - it doesn't exist anywhere else.