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"self" expression

I like school because it helps to fulfill my need for social interaction and "self-expression" (though I'm afraid my classmates might soon tire of hearing me talk). But what "self" am I expressing? How can we express oursleves when we have no clear idea of what that "self" is?

My likes and dislikes. Are they my "self"? My views, opinions and beliefs. Are they my "self"? What about my appearance? My physical body? Are they my "self"?

Tastes change. Opinions change. Even appearances change. It's a "scientific fact" that this body is completely recycled every seven years. So if these cells have completely replaced themselves 3 or 4 times now, how can I call my body my "self"? Can I point to my arm or leg, or even look at my face in the mirror, and say that it's my "self"?

My body is not my self. I am not my body.

Yet, as all these things change (externals: body, appearance / internals: opinions, desires) there is one thing that remains constant... consciousness. That consciousness has accompanied me throughout my "change of bodies" ("...from boyhood, to youth, to old[er] age..."), isn't it reasonable to expect that it will continue beyond the death of this body?

That constant that remains, that is unchanging, must be my "self".

What are its characteristics? Its properties? How are these things expressed? If my self expression communicates anything that is inconsistent with my factual identity, how can it truly be identified as self-expression? If my sense of self is based on misconception (I am male. I am white. I am American.) then my self expression can only be an exercise in confusion and miscommunication.

What is the nature of self expression for one who is fully self-realized?

"Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both. That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul." (Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 2.16-17)

4 Responses to “”

  1. Blogger Colin 

    I do enormous amounts of yoga. It's my only spiritual practice. It has persuaded me that the body may be as good a place as any to start with the search for self. I mean,the more I figure out my body, the more I understand the dialogue it has with the mind, the more I invite prana in, the closer I get to something higher.

  2. Blogger ericdbernasek 

    No doubt. The body is an incredible thing. We are fortunate to have a human body, becasue from here we can make progress in spiritual life, but... (I bet you had a feeling that was coming) the body is just a tool or a machine. Like all machines it will eventually break down and stop working. While we have the opportunity we should try to understand the gross body, and its relationship to the subtle body (mind, intelligence and ego) and their relationship to the soul (the "self"). Get out while you still can.

    What kind of yoga do you do? At home? With a teacher?

    I do (moderately) enormous amounts of yoga, too. But probably of a different sort.

  3. Blogger Colin 

    i take a lot of classes with john dorsey at West Hartford Yoga. also from a guy named shankara. but that is, i admit, kind of the province of lots of well-heeled west hartford ladies wrapped spandex and driving BMW SUVs. when i want to get a little funkier, i go over to Samadhi in Manchester. not that i've ever attended it, but the co-owner there runs a monday night study group of the B-G.

  4. Blogger ericdbernasek 

    Ah-cha! I didn't know about Samadhi's study group. I recently started working at Sacred Rivers Yoga in Glastonbury. Beginning in October, I'll be leading a little "B-G" study group of my own, but I'll have to drop in to Samadhi's at some point.

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