What is the self

The self

The self means, among other things, the self-conscious self.

The self - explained from the yoga point of view

Who am I?

That's that big question. In Greece there was the saying: know yourself. In Sanskrit there is the expression: Atma Sakshatkara. That means: the realization (Sakshatkara), the real experience of the Supreme Self. What is the self?

There are so many different definitions of self. In Vedanta the important question is actually: Who am I? There is the Atma-Anatma-Viveka, the distinction between the self and the not-self. This distinction means that one asks: Who am I? And there are different approaches. On the one hand, you can ask yourself: I am the one who perceives. And what is perceived is not-self. Because when I say: I perceive something, then I am the one who perceives - and what is perceived, I am not. In this sense, the self is what perceives and is not perceived. The self is also that which is constant, because when you look back you always feel like the same self. So what has stayed the same is also the self.

With this in mind: Am I my clothes? No of course not. Clothes change. I can "watch" clothes, put on and take off. And even if many people's self-image is related to their clothes, they are still not the clothes.

Am i the body Is the body the self? No, the body is not the self. I can perceive the body, I can see, hear, taste and smell it. Parts of my body are constantly passing away. If I z. B. cut the nails, part of my body goes away. Hair falls out. If I were the body, when would I be the body? Am I the soup when I spoon it, or is the self the soup when it comes into my mouth?

Is the digestive gruel already the self or only when the nutrients go into my blood? Is the blood the self? Or what about the urine molecules, what about the debris in the joints, is this the self? What is the self? If I go to the toilet and urinate, and that was in my cells before, is part of myself in the toilet bowl? If I sweat and the sweat evaporates, is that part of myself?

It is relatively clear: no, I am not the body. The body is not the self. You can even change body parts, e.g. B. receive an artificial heart. In the meantime, an artificial hand has even been transplanted. The body is not the self.

Even the psyche is not the self. Thinking and feeling is not the self. Thoughts come, thoughts go. Character traits can be cultivated. You can change too. Thoughts and beliefs change. All of that changes and you can watch it. You are not all of that.

What is the self now? Ultimately, the self is what observes everything and always remains the same. The self survives even physical death. Are there several "selves"? No, if that were the case, then each self would have to be limited. The boundaries of the self would be perceptible, and what is perceivable is not the self. The self has to be without limits, otherwise the self would perceive something, and if the self had limits, the self could perceive its limits, and then it would just not be the self. The self must therefore be limitless, limitless in time and space. And there cannot be two temporally and spatially limitless at the same time. Hence there can only be one self. The self of you is the same self of everyone else. And the self that you call "I" is ultimately also the world-self, the world-soul. Ask yourself: who am I? Know your self and be free.

This was just a brief exposition of the Vedantic analysis "Who am I?" to know what the self is. Incidentally, the self in Sanskrit is called Atman. Some would also refer to it as Paramatman, Supreme Self. There are extensive treatises on the question "Who am I?" On our website. You can go to our website, www.yoga-vidya.de, and search for "Self" or "Atman", or for "Who am I?" or look for "Vedanta". There you will find a lot about "Who am I?"

Information and suggestions on the word or expression The Self in this short lecture. The yoga teacher Sukadev speaks here about The Self from the point of view of classical yoga.

The Self Audio Lecture

Here you can find the audio track of the video above, i.e. an audio lecture about The Self:

See also

Other terms in the context of The Self

Some terms that may not be directly related to The Self, but may be interesting, include The Absolute, Chandra Nadi, Brahmastra, Dhamma, Hermit Life, Enlightenment, among others.

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The adjective The Self is a word that has something to do with Vedanta, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, Raja Yoga.