Re: Origin of Sense of Self
Oct 11, 1995 10:10 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
I'd like to get in a few more comments on the subject, and your
posting is handy.
>"All aggragates are impermanent"
In Theosophy we have a number of aggregates. While in full
embodied existence on a sphere of causes, we are an aggregate
of Monads. (We're really the Human Monad, in association with
Divine, Spiritual, Higher-Human, Beast, etc.. Monads. Each
such other Monad contributes to our aggregate experience of
being an incarnate human being.
In another sense, we are our karma, and we are our Skandhas,
and are not a fixed self.
In a third sense, we are, in existance, a series of
concatenations of causes (the nidanas), each of which provides
a self-sustained stream of cause and effect, different types of
karma leading to manifest existence.
Looking at our seven principles, we have both modes of viewing
things. When we take the "fixed self" view, we have Atman through
Sthula Sharira. When we take the "stream of conscousness" view,
we have Auric Egg through Linga Sharira. I'd suggest that both
are equally true and valid modes of experiencing life. Life takes
on one face or the other based upon *our perception*, but it
only changes *to us*. Outside of us, it exists both ways at once.
>"All things are devoid of a self (atman: "ego" or "soul")"."
>(Secret Oral Teachings of Tibetan Buddhists Sects, p 45.)
This is true *from one point of view*, which is being taught
in that passage. It is false from the other point of view.
>In other words, Mahayana Buddhists don't believe in atman, Rich.
They may teach the "stream of consciousness", a everflowing
fountain of life springing out of the Auric Egg. Another school
may teach the "eternal self", a fixed experiencer of life, the
Atman or Monad.
There *is* a part of us that is timeless, eternal, never-changing,
yet *uniquely us*. It is our personal version of the Heavenly Man,
our personal exprience of the timeless. It acts as the ideal that
ever drives us forward in time, seeking to continually express and
get closer to what it represents. This could be considered the
eternal self, yet at the same time, since it's above and out of
manifest existence, we cannot call it a self in the traditional
sense. It is not us as we know ourselves in existence.
>"What is described as the self [atman] is the essence or the inborn
>entity, the existence of which does not depend upon external conditions.
Yes, it is an essence, the "flavor" of us, our essential nature,
and totally without dependence upon external conditions, as it
transcends time and evolution.
>Selflessness [anatman] is without such a self" (p 54)
The Self that we know ourselves as, the Self that grows and changes
over evolution, is corruptible, subject to time and decay, and is
eternal over the time period of its respective manvantara. That part
of us that transcends this, the Not-Self, does not have changeable
qualities, but is forever and unchangingly *us* ourselves.
>"By conceivning the self,
>One perceives the existence of others.
>Differentiating between self and others
>Causes attachment and hatred."
Now we get into a discussion of the seven principles. When we first
start coming into existance, we take on the seven principles in
succession. Before we take on the principles in a universe or world,
we do not exist, we have no sense of time, and the universe *does not
exist* as far as we are concerned.
With Atman, we are first taking on a sense of that universe. We taste
its flavor, we are aware of it in a universal, near-nirvanic sense.
We are like non-existence goldfish that know the feel of the water in
the aquarium that they will appear in. We do not exist to the point of
being aware of others in any manner. There is no sense of self or
others, just of pure existence. We are in a state where we've basically
opened a laya center allowing for entry into that world, but ourselves
continue in a state of total dissolution of our Skandhas or unity with
all of life.
Coming into that world, passing through that opening or laya center,
we take on our first sense of awareness of the content of that world,
through Atma-Buddhi. Buddhi is the first vehicle per se, the first sense
of there being something to us that is not universally identified with
all that is. With Buddhi, we are aware of the different beings in the
universe. That awareness comes to us through living links between us
and others. Those links are the "inbetween space" that exists between
any two beings. That space is the storehouse of interpersonal karma.
We are aware of others as particular beings, but have a blissful sense
of unity with them, the sambhogakaya, the awareness of losing self in
other. Still, we don't have any sense of *personal self*.
To this point, we exist as a separate being, and we have pure perception
of others, but there's no awareness of us as *separate from others*.
That sense of separation or personal ego comes with Manas. When we've
taken on Atma-Buddhi-Manas, we're aware of the universe, and of others,
and of ourselves as distinct from the rest. With Manas, we have a
consciousness of selfhood, of separation. Before Manas, we still had an
individual existence, but without awareness of self.
At this point, with Manas, we are pure beings, without concern for
action in the world. We couldn't care less if we got married, wrote a
book, travelled to Tibet, or ate pizza for dinner. The sense of personal
self needs further qualification, there needs to be a *desire to do
things*, which comes with Kama.
But even with the desire of Kama, we need the actual life energies to
do our will in the world, Prana, which is that portion of universal
life or Jiva that we are able to contain and direct in our consciousness.
Without Prana, we may be burning with desire, but impotent to do anything
about it in the world. (This is the state of people that have freshly
entered Kamaloka, having dropped the lower principles, but still having
to exhaust their unspent desire energies.)
Having that desire, Kama, and the life energy to carry it out, what do
we now need? We need *contents*, both sensory input (Linga-Sharira or
the astral, the seat of sense perception) and a physical form to exist
in (Sthula-Sharira or the physical body). We are then completely
manifest on a Globe or world.
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