Handbook To Higher Consciousness
Chapter 18
The Illusion of Self

Chapter 18

The Illusion of Self

There are many paths leading to the top of the mountain of consciousness. It is important for you to find your path — and then stay with that path even when you find the going rough. One of ego’s tricks is to make you doubt whether your path will work. It will work — if you will work.

It may be helpful to take a look at three factors that represent aspects of consciousness growth. These factors are systematically intertwined so that an advance with any one of them will automatically provide a forward step with the other two factors:

  1. Eliminating your addictive demands.
  2. Quieting your rational mind.
  3. Disidentifying with the self which your ego guards so constantly.

The Living Love Way concentrates its techniques on the first factor above. The Five Methods enable you to eliminate addictions that create an adrenalinized consciousness which makes you throw people out of your heart. Your addictive demands soak up your energy by making you compulsively run toward things or away from things, destroy your insight and perceptiveness, remove your consciousness from the here and now by keeping you preoccupied with the past and future, and turn off the energy of people around you who might otherwise be able to love and help you.

The Methods of Living Love concentrate on showing you how to make rapid progress in eliminating emotion-backed demands that keep you constantly on the pleasure-pain roller-coaster. When you see the cause-effect relationship between your addictions and your suffering, you can constructively use your suffering to reprogram rapidly. You thus tend to work with a higher level of dynamic energy that you can channel into boosting your rate of consciousness growth. For many people, this is much faster than working directly on quieting the mind or dropping away the self. And since an increase of any one factor accelerates the realization of the other two factors, eliminating your addictions may also be your most rapid technique for calming your mind or knowing what you really are.

One of the great approaches to the mountain of consciousness involves the letting go of the self with which we are identifying and which we protect so laboriously. And progress in disidentifying with the myriad of things we contain within our self boundary also helps us quiet the mind and drop away addictive demands.

As children, we learn to experience a territory that we call myself or mine. This self is considered to be bounded by our skin, although we experience extentions of the self with concepts such as my toys, my room, my dog, my clothes, my friend, my reputation, etc. We feel that everything is mine or not mine. And we generate the experience of alienation and anger towards people when they appear to encroach on territory we consider our own.

Since the ego is constantly busy protecting the territory it has defined as mine, it can never relax into the here and now. It must always be securing its future happiness. This continuous activity reinforces the sensation of an I or me or self to whom the territory belongs and to whom painful experiences are always threatening to happen. One’s programming reinforced by memory thus forces the ego to continually protect its territory — which it identifies as self.

The frequency with which one’s biocomputer is running off addictive programs creates the illusion that this I or self is an entity — a somebody — rather than a robot-like activity. When this activity of I or self is recognized as an activity rather than an entity, we begin to see that we are responsible for our suffering.

The I is this activity of defense. When we stop defending, there is no more I or self.

We work hard to make ourselves suffer. It’s a full-time job with no time off even on vacations! As this activity and basic attitude of addictively securing one’s future happiness begins to be reprogrammed, the I loses its purpose and begins to merge with what is here and now.

Depending on one’s security, sensation and power profile, the self boundary is drawn at different places with different people. For example, a man may defend as a part of himself various patriarchal feelings towards women that involve domination, control, and masculine superiority. Another man may not identify his self boundary with these subject-object relationships, but instead he experiences as essentially like himself all beings who happen to be encased in female bodies. Thus the area that we regard as part of our self will fluctuate, depending upon the attitudes and concepts one has acquired and the stage of consciousness development one is in.

If we would understand the nature of this experience that we regard as myself, it may be helpful to realize that the self boundaries we defend are like boils on our skin. A boil is a part of us — and yet it is not a part of us. It is just a functional thing that arises and that can pass away. It is not a structural part of our body like our liver or bones or eyes. Like a boil, the self concepts that we pick up in our cultural milieu cause a lot of pain and messiness. And also like a boil on our skin, the self will dissolve in its own way as we get healthier.

One might ask, How could this experience of ’self’ be such an impermanent part of us when it is felt so strongly? Our experience of self is created by the frequency with which our ego is defending our security, sensation and power addictions. Since these lower three Centers of Consciousness determine most of our experience before we begin to grow toward higher consciousness, our minds are moment-by-moment reinforcing the boundaries of this impermanent experience of self. The waves of the here and now are constantly trying to wash away this boundary of self that we are maintaining by our addictions and our stored memories. But we keep drawing a self boundary in the addictive sand of our personality so that it is continually defined and redefined in our experience.

With each addiction that you are successful in upleveling to a preference, you will find that a hunk of this self disappears. Instead of experiencing people as objects, you increasingly feel them as us or like me. Gradually, with the upleveling of almost all of your addictions into preferences, this sharply defined experience of self leaves you. You then begin to identify with other people even when they do something that previously would have triggered an angry response in you. You just see that they are doing something that you have done hundreds or thousands of times — and you do not throw them out of your heart.

When you are heavily addicted, your experience of self is solid like a block of ice. When you have succeeded in reprogramming almost all of your addictions into preferences, your self loses its rockness and begins to have the adaptability and clarity of water. When one is operating primarily on preferences, the hardness melts and instead there is a conscious fluidity. In this state, like water, your sense of self is infinitely flexible to accommodate itself to your here-and-now surroundings. But there is still a gentle experience of self even at the Fourth through Sixth Centers of Consciousness. All of the intense separateness and alienation of the previous rock-like self is gone — but a shadow of the former self still remains. Since it is now so flexible and since you have trained your ego not to fire your energy into guarding and defending it, this gentler experience of self does not keep you from enjoying a happy life. The self boundary created by your preferential programming enables you to love everyone unconditionally — including yourself.

For the few intrepid explorers of the mountain of consciousness who wish to go to the top (which in the Living Love Way we call the Seventh Center of Consciousness), even preferences must be reprogrammed. The same tools of mindfulness that enable one to get rid of addictions can be used to eliminate preferences. But one should realize that just as the ability to skillfully play the Brahms violin concerto is extremely rare and attainable only by a few people, the ability to reside in the Seventh Center of Consciousness is unusual today. Enjoying life in the Fourth through Sixth Centers of Consciousness is something that almost every one of us can do when we are sufficiently fed up with yo-yoing between pleasure and pain and are determined to use the Five Methods to get free of the addictions which keep us from continuously enjoying life.

At the Seventh Center of Consciousness even the fluid self boundaries disappear. As water evaporates, it becomes a transparent vapor. Similarly, at the highest level of consciousness, the experience of self becomes a transparent vapor that does not affect perception or dam up the intuitive wisdom that is within each of us. As our perception of self or somebody disappears, we become nobody — which then lets us be in a unitive space with everybody.

And so, step by step, we climb the mountain of consciousness. We find the path that most beckons to us and then we let the cosmic energy within each of us impel us toward the loftier regions where serenity, unconditional love and fulfillment await us.

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