Perception of Self, the One and the Many

By Glenda | September 28, 2012

“…It is common for humans to conceive of the world as a sum of complementary pairs, such as good and evil, light and dark, male and female, body and soul. The most fundamental of these oppositions is that between subject and object—the knower and the known. Most people perceive themselves as discrete, bounded entities, able to experience the world around them but ultimately separate from it. This area of demarcation is felt as an inviolable sense of self, and is given many names: consciousness, ego, mind, soul—or spirit…” Clifford Bishop

“…The Buddha asserted not only that there is no separate soul, but that there is no soul at all: the doctrine of anatta (non-soul). The Buddha taught that suffering (dukkha) is caused by misguided identification with the individual self or ego, which is not eternal but temporary…” Richard Waterstone

“…A lot of people have a hard time understanding native people and native patience…but I think to understand Indian people and the native mind you have to understand that we experience the world very differently. For us, there is not just this world, there’s also a layering of others. Time is not divided by minutes and hours, and everything has presence and meaning within this landscape of timelessness. For me the illusion is that we’re separate…I have a poem about the presence of those other worlds and the ways in which they interact. I have a sense of all those worlds as being very, very alive…” Joy Harjo

“…The mantra, ’Tat Tvam Asi’ (‘Thou art That’), is the central dictum of the Upanishads. It defines the relationship between Thou, the atman (soul in every being), and That, the transcendent Brahman (Absolute), which pervades the whole universe.” Richard Waterstone

“…In the first four words of the Creed are the two most important words that the human being uses: the word I by which he identifies himself, and the word God (for which we can substitute the word ‘Thou’ because it refers to God and our neighbor as well).

Each of us brings his own meanings to the use of these two words, meanings that he has learned in his relationship with the important people in his life. One man brings such egocentric meanings to them that we have to brace ourselves against him lest he suck us into his egocentric way of life. God becomes a minor satellite moving vaguely on the outer edge of his universe. Consequently, he uses the word Thou with the same self-centered meaning with which he uses the word I. The fact that he says the Creed once a week may have only contradictory rather than saving meaning.

Here is another person who brings more positive meaning to his use of the important words. The effect of his presence is to bring out, encourage, and strengthen the trust and capabilities of those around him. He brings to human encounter an outgoing, helpful, accepting, and self-disciplined relationship. We realize that this person’s center is outside himself. He is a religious man….” Reuel Howe

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