What is the Self?
If I asked you to point to the part of your body where your ‘self ’ lives, which part would you point to?
So is your ‘self ’ in your brain? It has been shown that a human being can lose 95% of his brain and still have an IQ of 126 and a degree in mathematics. So if your ‘self ’ is not in your brain, where is it?
It used to be said that the ‘self ’ lived in the heart but we change those out every day. Just because you get a new heart, it doesn’t make you a new person.
Your arms and legs then? No! Sadly, people lose them every day and don’t lose themselves.
What about your memories? Scientists have not been able to find memories in the brain and people lose their memories for various reasons but they are still essentially the same person.
A few decades and many millions of dollars ago, scientists promised us that they would find the ‘self ’ in our DNA but that has proved to be a dead end. As it turns out DNA are just the building blocks of life. DNA does not contain the plan or the builder.
So where exactly is the ‘self ’? If you close your eyes and keep very quiet, you will observe some thoughts go past the window of your mind. Beneath those thoughts you will find emotions. Is that where the real ‘you’ lives?
In order to move forward with this investigation, let’s do a thought experiment.
Imagine this scenario (A):
You are supposed to go on a date with the most desirable person you can imagine. A limousine picks you up to take you to a quiet French restaurant where you have a private room booked. As you approach the room where you are to meet this person, you are told that you must be blindfolded.
As you are led into this room you feel a warm soft, slightly moist, touch on your cheek. Given the logic of the situation you imagine it to be a kiss. Your heart explodes with joy as your knees go weak with desire.
Now imagine a slightly different scenario that involves exactly the same physical stimulus:
Imagine this scenario (B):
The world has ended. The undead have taken over the world. You are starving. Armed with only an old flashlight and a plastic spork you have to descend into the cellar of an old building to find something to eat. You can hear the drip-drip of water and the echo as your foot crunches on the granite step. Near the bottom of the staircase you can see cobwebs and empty boxes. Your flashlight fails. You are frozen in fear. Something warm and slightly moist touches your cheek! What do you think your reaction would be?
In both of these scenarios the physical stimulus was the same: darkness and a warm, moist touch on your cheek. The only things that changed were our belief about the past and our expectation for the future.
It is evident then that our reactions are dependent not so much upon actual events but rather they are based on our beliefs and those beliefs are based on the sum of our past, how we feel about that past and our expectation for the future.
WHY THE SELF OF NOW?
These are the three bricks with which we build our ‘Self of Now’.
- The sum of our past
- How we feel about that past
- Our expectations for our future
This idea of the ‘Self of Now’ has no inherent or independent reality. Change any one of those three things and your ‘idea’ of self will change.
The more we focus our mind and the power of our intention inward toward our core, it is as though a cloud begins to form within a cloudless sky.
This cloud slowly coagulates under the massive centripetal force of our intention into something almost solid.
[Centripetal formation of the ‘Self of Now’.]
I use the term ‘Self of Now’ because this aspect of ourselves doesn’t care about us. The ‘Self of Now’ doesn’t care about the you in five minutes or the you of tomorrow. Your ‘Self of Now’ will always push you toward things that will satisfy it at the expense of everything you hold dear.
The extra cake, the next bottle of wine, the affair with the secretary, why is it that our addictions always seem to destroy us?
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some examples.
Close your eyes and remember a time when you were carrying some plates of food to the table. Maybe you are carrying some cake! Maybe you are bringing cake for your children, your husband, maybe someone you love.
You glance down and realise that one plate has more or maybe it has something on it that you really want. It’s your favourite.
Do you remember that split second when you felt the urge to take the best plate for yourself?
There did that urge come from? Would you take the food out of your loved one’s mouth? Is that really the kind of person you are?
Can you remember a time when you were really busy or stressed and someone needed your help? Maybe it was your children, maybe your dog, maybe someone at work?
Just for that second you felt the flash of anger. Maybe you did actually snap at little Johnny. Can you remember the hurt look on his face?
Did you kick the dog or did you throw something at the cat?
Is that anger really who you are? Where did it come from?
To further clarify the arising of the ‘Self of Now’. Let’s look at how we deal with being in crowds.
It’s true that not many of us like to be in big crowds. Most of us get nervous and our behaviour changes.
In scenario A – we arrive at the check-in and there has been a computer glitch. The concourse is packed with people. We begin to feel the urge to panic. We want to run, our vision narrows. We become clumsy because we are shutting down our external sensors. We become agitated and aggressive. We react with anger if someone pushes in front of us.
In this scenario we are seeing the world entirely through our idea of the ‘Self of Now’. This creates a centripetal tension. This direction of intention further solidifies our sense of self and separation from the universe. Just as an apple falls when we drop it, so too is suffering the inevitable product when we direct our intention toward the ‘Self of Now’.
Now let’s look at scenario B – As you approach the airport arrivals concourse it is packed with the same people as in scenario A but only this time I give you a glimpse of everyone of your past lives since time began. In that split second of transcendental clarity you realise that every one of those people in the concourse had at sometime loved you and cared for you.
Can you imagine the urge to wave to the crowd and the feeling of belonging. You would want to touch the hands of all the people there.
In scenario B you would feel pleasure but in scenario A you would feel stress. Only the nature of the three bricks changed: the story of your past, how you feel about that past and your expectations for your future.
Unfortunately, most of us for most of the time become entirely hijacked by the flow of our thoughts and emotions to the point that we live our lives unconscious of the world around us. In many ways we live our lives like Zombies entirely controlled by the ‘Self of Now’.
Hijacked by the Self of Now
I’ve taken the day off and it’s a lovely spring afternoon. My thoughts emerge out of my emotions and float past my mind like twigs floating on the river.
As I cast my rod into the shade of a willow tree, I feel hungry. My mind follows the thought and I wonder what my wife packed for lunch.
Following that thought, I wonder what’s for supper tonight. I remember that my wife said that she had a vegetable curry in the freezer. I follow that thought as it flows past the thought of the vegetable curry. In my mind I am a long way now from the river where I’m standing. In seconds my mind has been hijacked by my ‘random’ thoughts. I’m existing now entirely in the ‘Self of Now’.
It occurs to me that the freezer is not working properly and it seems to be using a lot of electricity. It then occurs to me that our quarterly electricity bill is due and my pay check is going to be late. My stomach lurches with fear. I bite my lip.
From my fear, I begin to feel anger. I remember that my wife is shopping in the city with her mother today. I remember thinking that she is spending too much money on the children. I make a mental note to ask the bank for an overdraft.
At that moment, my mobile phone vibrates in my pocket. I answer my phone and it’s my wife who is really excited. She has managed to find a rare book on fly-fishing that I’ve wanted for years. She can hardly contain her happiness as she tells me that she got the book for five hundred dollars.
“You paid how much?” I scream down the phone. The line goes quiet.
“Take the bloody thing back”, I shout at the phone as I hold it in front of my face like a deadly snake I’d just caught in a mid-air attack.
“But it was for your birthday!” I hear my wife say through her tears.
“Why are you in such a bad mood? You’re out fishing! You should be happy!”
I don’t know what to say? I feel terrible for making my wife cry and I don’t know how we got from fishing to a big row about money but I can’t back down now. I hang up the phone and just about stop myself from throwing it at the willow tree.
You probably recognise something of yourself in those examples. Most of us are the victims of our own automatic reactions. We just shake our head and put it down to a moment of insanity.
We apologise eventually, but the truth is you can never unsay what has been said. You can never undo what has been done.
The Black Wolf
It is important to recognise that the ‘Self of Now’, the source of those thoughts, seems to have its own agenda. It behaves as if it was an individual in its own right.
Throughout history, different cultures have come up with stories and legends to account for the unpredictability and apparent independence of our automatic thoughts.
There is a Native American legend that explains that when we are born into this world we have two spirit guides, the Black Wolf and the White Wolf.
The Black Wolf is the ‘Self of Now’. Born into a body limited by our five senses, the Black Wolf believes that he is alone in this strange and hostile world. He has been driven mad by the isolation of his prison. Just as a wolf will bite his own foot off in order to escape a trap, the Black Wolf seeks to consume the world in order to be free of it.
The White Wolf is the ‘Self of Tomorrow’ but the wolf we live with is the one we feed.
Obviously, I’m not saying that there really are animal spirit guides living inside of us. I include the legend only to demonstrate that the ‘Self of Now’ is not a new idea.
Why Are Addictions Always Self-Destructive
Have you ever had that drink too many? Have you had that cigarette, that cake, that hit, that affair that destroyed your marriage?
Why is it that our greed, our addictions, only satisfy the ‘Self of Now’ and inevitably betrays the ‘Self of Tomorrow’?
Why is it that our automatic reactions are so rarely a force of good in our lives?
Have you ever woken up to the evidence of your own stupidity and said to yourself, ‘I don’t believe I did that!’ Have you ever looked around for someone else to blame? Why does the ‘Self of Now’ always ruin our life?
In the face of our own addictions we can’t help but feel ‘out of control’. Who is in charge? Why would we sabotage ourselves? Why do the urges, that push us toward immediate gratification, go against our long-term goals and ideals? In fact, why do they usually destroy everything we love and hold dear?
Our addictions are as varied as humans are inventive, but the one thing they all have in common is the fact that eventually all of them ruin your life.
There is an old Jewish saying, ‘We cling to the demons as they destroy us’.
An entire industry has been created just to sell people more ‘self ’ but is that really what they need?
We have seen from the above examples that most people don’t even understand what the ‘self ’ is?
The ‘Self of Now’ will build a fence around you and will tell you that you ‘HATE’ everything outside of it. You don’t like Republicans, you definitely hate Trump and you only like Vegans. Someone else will decide that they hate Blacks, Muslims and Jews.
It is in this way that the ‘Self of Now’ will destroy us all, if we let it.
If you feel the need to shut people up before they can even explain their ideas, there’s a good chance it’s not really you! It’s just the ‘Self of Now’ trying to stop you ever finding out that you are being controlled.
The new fashion for street protests is a great example of this. We chant mindless and childish rhymes and glory in being in a group of people who all have the same opinions as we do. This isn’t political action it’s self-approbation.
Destruction of the ‘other’ is heroin to the ‘Self of Now’. You only have to look at the faces of these people, as they shout their chants, they all have the same look of mindless ecstasy.
A Genie in a Bottle
Because the ‘Self of Now’ is fundamentally an illusion it cannot really provide happiness, or long-term fulfilment, in your life. Like some malevolent Arabian Jinn the ‘Self of Now’ promises to grant us our darkest wish but just as in Arab Folklore, the Jinn is always a liar. Whatever we wish for will result in our destruction.
We are always eventually destroyed by our own greed and our willingness to believe in the genie’s promises.
Harvey Weinstein’s ‘Self of Now’ told him that he could have any woman he wanted. We all know how that ended!
The ‘Self of Now’ is extremely limited in its view. It can only see two roads ahead, the external and internal route to happiness. As we have already discussed, both of those formulas have been proven to not work. Neither adding things to yourself nor changing things about your self will give you peace.
Will the Real ‘Me’ Please Stand Up!
Your happiness and your ability to deal with the problems in your life depend on you gaining the ability to notice where your urges, emotions and thoughts come from.
But don’t worry! There is a real you that exists underneath your ‘idea’ of you, beneath your ‘Self of Now’.
Think about it! If you can ‘observe’ your thoughts, emotions and urges, who is doing the ‘observing’?
The ‘Self of Now’ is an illusion! It is just the reflection of the accidents of our lives.
The QM4YS system will teach you how to be mindful of your inner life and experience directly the arising of the ‘Self of Now’.
It’s not easy! It takes work, practice, failure and then more practice but everyone can do it! All you have to do is really want to.
Taken from the book: ‘Quantum Mechanics For Your Soul – How to Repair Yourself and Save the World at the same time’