A Deeper Consciousness: Overcoming Self

So, I was reading the other day that certain spiritual traditions maintain that the best way to achieve an enlightened mind is to overcome one’s sense of self. What stands in the way of our general well-being according to this thinking is that we all participate in an on-going internal narrative in which the protagonist ‘I’ takes a dominant role.

The idea here, as I understand it, is that consciousness precedes the recognition of self which we conjure up as we interact with others and make value judgments regarding our relative goodness; this egotism or lack thereof inhibits our ability to engage fully in the world.

Apparently these ideas of denying Self have been around quite some time and have led to a variety of approaches. A common religious position has been to acknowledge one’s inherent inadequacy and humble oneself before the benevolence of God. I guess that’s what a leap of faith is.

Another approach is Mindfulness meditation which teaches how to suppress your stream of thought, like through breathing exercises and such, in order to grasp full consciousness. This apparently takes quite some time maybe because as soon as you focus on not thinking about your Self you are thinking about your Self or you’re thinking about not thinking about your Self.

Then, there is the ‘Great Perfection’ of Tibetan Buddhism which aims at attaining one’s primordial state, which, I guess, means pre-self. This apparently can be achieved without years of meditation by those who are properly prepared which may mean time with a guru in Tibet.

And, I guess, there are certain drugs that will do the job as well.

As I sit here thinking about this I do favor the meditative approach. And I take heart in the realization my consciousness is present, first, and for those brief moments when I’m able to lose my Self in the beauty of nature, purely absorbed without description or language of any sort. Such brief glimpses realized are indeed enlightening.

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6 thoughts on “A Deeper Consciousness: Overcoming Self

  1. Thank you for writing such an insightful post about the self. In practice, there would be no “self”, which we can argue through various philosophical and scientific reasons (we are one with the universe, impermanent beings, etc.). I would add that mindfulness meditation does not necessarily suppress stream of thought, rather, it accepts and allows it to flow. A concentration meditation Samadhi may be closer to the idea of suppression, but a better word may be restriction (the idea is intense focus on a single object of awareness). I hope this helps!

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