Dear Spiritual Explorer: How can you tell if it’s the self and not your mind talking? Laura P., Reno, NV
Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi
Dear Laura: The self and the mind have been long debated by pundits and ordinary humans for lifetimes. In fact, amongst those of us sincerely on a spiritual path, we have taken many passageways to discover the self. For some people, this has involved living in ashrams, meditating for years and even for some, doing some arduous renunciations and austerities. And yet, no matter how advanced one might seem to have become in terms of so-called spiritual progress, if the mind has not been conquered, some might say it is for naught. I am referring to those who have amassed a wonderful character of kindness, goodness and service. While those attributes are not to be sneezed at, someone who is truly a spiritual aspirant might see them to be just sidelights and not the goal they wish for. For the best description of how to attain the self, see The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi.
First of all, your self is your deepest place inside; it resides beneath the mind. If you ever get to sit in the self, there are no words. That’s how you know you’re there, at the self.
However, if you need an immediate answer to some of life’s challenges, sometimes you’re going to have to settle for a few spaces above that space where concepts occur. Hopefully, you have arrived at the wisdom space. How do you know when you have arrived? When the voice that speaks to you is kind, wise, generous, forgiving and loving.
The difference between the mind and self.
It’s our minds that make terrible judgments of us and past actions, not the self. Our minds can be cruel and harsh. The mind is a tool; in its worst scenario, it is a godforsaken place, unforgiving, judgmental and harsh. Mostly, it is an old computer, bringing up the same programs and advertisements on our screens, an old movie we hang onto and live in for years.
If you are fortunate enough to have some transparency of your mind, your spirit can permeate it. You can then if you are lucky, make enormous contributions to yourself and the world.
- How long does it take us to make that distinction between the mind and the self? Sometimes a lifetime.
- What is the antidote to forgetting the self? Awareness and remembering you have a choice of whether to listen to the mind or your wisdom self.
If you have a question about “the self,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.
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