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Self Awareness

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Self Awareness

Allowing Meaninglessness and Its Underlying Emptiness to Become More Conscious

Various religious or spiritual ideas, therapeutic approaches which “explain” one’s emptiness as a lack of gratification in one’s history or relationships—or even more external factors such as new work projects, new relationships, even new possessions—are all too available to fill the hole of meaning in a person’s life. But if this emptiness is filled, even with notions of spirituality, it is not possible to penetrate the emptiness and become available to the arising of one’s true nature. In our work, we approach this—as all questions—with open-ended inquiry, in which the student is invited to investigate his feelings to discover their truth within his personal experience. The teacher guides him only to inquire sincerely and points out his assumptions and defenses regarding his self-awareness. A certain understanding informs this approach: We observe that with an inquiring, empathic but noninterfering support, the individual will move naturally and spontaneously towards the truth of his experience. This allows the meaninglessness, and its underlying emptiness, to become more conscious, revealing that the emptiness is in his self, and not in those external situations.

Most of Us Have had Profound Experiences Involving Deep Self-Awareness

That there are dimensions to human experience other than those of conventional reality is universally known. Most of us have had profound experiences involving religious insight, deep self-awareness, or some other opening into a realm of Being not generally seen. Visual art, music, and literature aspire to enable us to see or feel aspects of the world or of ourselves without the usual veils. We have been moved by moments of awareness of a larger reality or an unseen force, or by visions or insights, that cannot be explained within the conventional concept of the self. Love and wonder, a sense of light and grace, and peak experiences of oneness in nature are all insights into deeper dimensions of reality. In addition to appreciating these more commonly experienced deeper dimensions, it is also possible to become aware of the more specifically spiritual dimensions of the human self, what could be called the true human qualities: selfless love, radiant joy, inner strength and will, brilliance and clarity of mind. These qualities are universally acknowledged and valued aspects of ourselves that we can at least participate in occasionally.

Self-Reflection Brings Self-Awareness but it Also Brings Conflict

Almaas: Yes, that’s one way the mind is very clever; it creates ideas like loss of God and Eden and all of these things. What we are saying here is that self-reflection brings self-awareness, but it also brings conflict. The central manifestation of this conflict is identifying with being a separate entity that has its own will and doership. We are completely free when we don’t reflect on ourselves, just like little children. Little children don’t reflect on themselves. They don’t even look at themselves. They don’t know who they are, or whether they exist or not. When their minds start developing and they begin to reflect on themselves: “I am this, I am that, I am good, I am bad . . .” then the trouble starts. When they begin to attempt to control themselves and reality, that is false will. That’s the effort. But if there isn’t that division between who you are and who looks at you, there is just one who doesn’t look at herself. There is no effort.

You Must Have Some Understanding that Your Difficulties Come From Inside You

We have an obvious way to lead people back to themselves. First, people must learn to sense themselves, to pay attention to themselves, so that the necessary information is available. Most people go through life without this self-awareness because they are trying to avoid feeling the emptiness, the falseness, the something-is-wrong feeling. You can’t avoid self-awareness and do this Work. The things that can empower your work include whatever will you’ve got and whatever love for yourself and understanding you have. You must have some openness (conscious or not) to your desire to return to your true nature. In addition, you must have some understanding that your difficulties come from inside you. If you fundamentally believe that your problems will be solved by making more money, becoming more beautiful, having children, getting a better car, and so on, you cannot do the Work. The Work begins by seeing that the difficulties come from inside us and sensing that the fulfillment we seek will also come from inside.

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