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The Illusive Self

The Illusive Self

A. H. Almaas focuses on the obstacle of the self, its physical/psychological/spiritual nature, the illusiveness of this nature, and the question of whether it is our creation or a natural expression of reality. What does freedom from self means?

Key insights

  • The back of the individual, which is often unknown to us, holds the mystery of everything and nothing at all.
  • The individual consciousness is what gives a first-person perspective and personal character to our experiences.
  • The development of a sense of self as an individual with boundaries and a sense of identity is a mostly developmental process in human consciousness.
  • The sense of being an individual and the sense of identity develop slowly through experiences.
  • The individual consciousness is not the owner of experiences, but rather experiences happen to the individual consciousness, challenging the notion of a self that is self-reflective, self-knowing, and capable of remembering the past and thinking about the future.

The key idea of the video is that the nature of the self is a complex concept studied by various disciplines, and it can be understood as a combination of the visible self and the mysterious back aspect, with each individual having their own unique consciousness and mind.

  • 00:00  The nature of the self is a complex topic studied by spiritual traditions, psychologists, philosophers, and physiologists, and can be understood as two inseparable truths within each human being.
  • 01:18  The front is the visible self that we recognize, while the back is a mysterious aspect that holds everything and nothing, with different traditions and systems exploring its underlying nature.
  • 02:53  Each individual has their own unique consciousness and mind, which accounts for the personal nature of their experiences.
  • 04:15  Human consciousness is a foreign concept explored by various sciences and spiritual teachings, which discuss how the mind develops into a cohesive sense of self and identity through neural networks.
  • 05:17  The same region in the brain is responsible for the sense of self, sense of time, and autobiographical memory, which allows us to recognize ourselves as individuals throughout time, according to neuroscience and psychology.
  • 06:56  The inner core, also known as the core self, is the first-person experience of self, which is distinct from the observation of self from an external perspective.
  • 07:39  Buddha's teaching is that there is no self, but rather an individual consciousness that is necessary for all kinds of experiences.
  • 08:43  Our sense of self is constructed through experiences and memories, but through spiritual practice, we can dissolve these constructions and recognize our individual consciousness as pure and unique, exploring the concept of ownership and possession.

The self is a living organism that constitutes a field of perception and action. This is what we call “soul.” Fundamentally it is an organism of consciousness, a field of awareness capable of what we call experience – experience of the world and of self-reflective awareness of itself. Soul and self are used somewhat interchangeably.- A. H. Almaas, The Point of Existence, pg. 13

The Illusive Self - Hameed Ali (A H Almaas)

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