Inner Peace: Finding our Sense of Self.

Self inquiry is mostly exploring the source of the sense of self and determining what we actually are. It's an odd question because, while there seems to be no doubt there is a self here, it can't actually be found, as mentioned in the article on suffering.

When most folks are asked to locate the sense of self physically in their body, almost everybody will point to either the chest or the head. Those with a dominant feeling orientation will point to the heart area while those with a dominant thinking orientaion will point to the brain. The reason for this is clear and it's directly related to our association of feeling with the heart and thinking with the brain.

sense of self Of the latter group, most will specifically point a little behind the eyes. The reason for this is similar to the reasons for pointing to heart or head; that point is more or less the intersection of the four senses located in the head. Drawing lines in from the ears, eyes, nose and mouth will approximate that location and the odds are that's roughly where you locate your sense of self in your body.

Of course, we can see that the only reason for this is because we associate our self with our experience, which comes to us through our senses and is processed by the brain, so this sense of self is found by symbolic inference only and really isn't an indication of the actual location of this self.

We may conclude that what I am is my thoughts or feelings, but it's clear that there are moments, at least, when no thought or feeling is appearing, which would mean you cease to exist. Thoughts and feelings are continually appearing, disappearing and changing, and whatever you are is aware that this is happening, and so you cannot be that which you are watching come and go and change.

The other possibility is that you are the whole body itself, but if that were true, losing a part of your body would mean losing yourself. However, the sense of self remains unchanged even in the absence of the majority of your body.

You might decide that you are a brain, and here it gets more subtle. It can be recognized that whatever appears to you cannot be what it appears to. In other words, if you are observing it, you must be prior to what you are observing. Another way of saying it is that you must be 'behind' the object that you observe. As such, you can realize that you are not anything that you can see, and conversely, you cannot see what you actually are.

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So whatever you are, you are not physical and cannot be seen. What science refers to as consciousness fits these requirements. It has no form or location. However, science generally concludes that consciousness arises from the neuronal activity of the brain, though how this comes about is unknown. If we again apply the same realization we just used, we can see that consciousness is not the result of the brain because it is prior to the brain. That is, consciousness is more fundamental than anything that appears to consciousness as physical form.

The truth of the matter is that consciousness does not form in the brain, rather the brain forms as an object in consciousness, and you are consciousness itself. Again, consciousness has no form or location, and so there is no justification for believing that you are located in the body through which you apparently experience the world. If you have no form and are not located anywhere, then you are not in the body but rather the body is in you.

Recognizing that you are not the body which is born, and will die, is a critical step in realizing inner peace and happiness.

Phil Beaumont

Return toHappiness Home
Return from Sense of Self to Inner Peace

More Inner Peace Articles:
Suffering and it's Causes
Volition / Free Will
Roller Coasters, Billy Shakespeare and Head Banging for Happiness.
The Simplicity of Dissolving the Questions Finding Inner Peace: Looking for Peace in all the Wrong Places.(part 1)
Finding Inner Peace: Looking for Peace in all the Wrong Places.(part 2)
The Wave Who Searched for the Ocean
Acting with Virtue Vs Being Virtuous
Ground of Sadness

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"All that is actual is that Intelligence that is presently imagining everything, and yet is nothing. The choiceless dreamer of choosing. The thoughtless dreamer of thinking. The unborn dreamer of birth, and immortal dreamer of death. "

Phil Beaumont

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