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.