What is selfhood?

Photography by Jorge Royan, Argentina

Photography: Jorge Royan, Argentina

“It’s natural to want contentedness for my self isn’t it?”

Our sense of well-being, of contentedness, of meaningfulness, of how we perceive our personal identity – all these relate directly to the individual’s notion of selfhood. Without that sense of self there’s nothing to which we might hope to attach, or attribute to, those same states. Yet when we look at our own sense of selfhood, we find that our understanding is somewhat shaky. We can’t quite grasp that self within which we believe somehow inhabits our mind and body, or is identical with them as an interrelation of the two.

“I experience selfhood, but why can’t I explain it in words?”

So is our self that collective manifestation of mind and body? We could say this is so in regard to the consensually agreed upon social construct – the hominidal ‘thing out there’ that wanders amidst and interacts with its neighbours and so forth. It’s fair enough to think as if saying ‘there goes a self that is Hariod, off to the shops to buy yet another bottle of sherry’. And yes, something like that does happen (frequently); yet what is that hominidal ‘thing out there’ thought of as ‘the self that is Hariod’?

“Surely selfhood is my body and mind as a fixed and independent entity isn’t it?”

In actuality – meaning that which exists beyond thought and belief – the self that is ‘me’ is nothing enduringly fixed and self-like. There is nothing stable (even when I’m off the sherry) that we can identify as the self of Hariod the blogger. My body mutates, the cells die and others generate. It’s no more than a temporary aggregation of cellular structures with an emergent capacity to think and perceive with awareness, the component parts (cells and thoughts) of which are in a constant state of dissolution, regeneration and mutation.

“I must be the same self that I was born as, how can that not be the case?”

There’s no definitive continuity of the hominidal ‘thing out there’ which we think of as ‘the self which is Hariod’. This is true from one minute to the next, let alone over the course of my six decades of supposed existence as an independently instantiated and enduring self-entity. The attribution of any ‘self’ is warranted only in so far as being a conceptual reference to this discontinuous, and sometimes rather wobbly, Hariod-ness.

“There’s a fixed and constant, truly independent self or soul within me isn’t there?”

To think of someone, or even some ‘thing’, as constituting a self or as being self-natured, implies a very large, if not total, degree of autonomy or independent existence. It also implies a certain fixedness, of unchanging stability. It’s not strictly correct or logical to think of a ‘self’ entity which always remains conditional upon external factors, or which is in a constant state of dissolution, regeneration and mutation. Loosely, we can call such things self-entities, but they’re not that in actuality, meaning beyond the world of ideas and beliefs.

“If there’s no self, how can I ever experience anything?”

Now this may come across as being picky and pedantic, but it’s necessary. Why so? Because we all believe we possess, or are, a stable and enduring self-entity. And we all believe that self can somehow attach to, or absorb into, a sense of contentedness, or meaningfulness, or happiness. This belief drives the entirety of our motivated existence, and it runs and operates daily for the whole of our adult lives. It’s rather important. So let’s be clear as to what this thing is that we take to be ‘the self that is me’.

“I’m not just imagining my self as some fiction surely?”

My sense of selfhood boils down to, is constructed and held to, by means of an internalised narrative. It’s the on-going story of ‘me’ the sometimes tipsy blogger, or ‘me’ the loving grandparent, or the ‘me’ who loves quietism, abstract paintings, Border Collies and a bit of J.S Bach. The narration of this story is endless; it builds, unfolds, revises, adapts and is held to by a continuum of mental activity – of thinking, of assumptions and beliefs, and of the representations of the mind in general.

“Selfhood determines my future; I guide my own destiny don’t I?”

Within this unfolding narration, a deep and pernicious assumption embeds as belief. That is, the narration itself and in totality is believed to constitute and reflect a self-entity with agency, meaning an entity with doer-ship, authorship and autonomy or self-determination. This entity, being a partial aspect of mind and hence sharing mental faculties, is itself aware of its own self-conception: it is egoically aware in other words. It believes in itself as the experiencer of experience, the observer of the observed, the thinker of thoughts, and so on.

“What’s so important about understanding selfhood?”

Because of this egoic belief and awareness, the self-entity erroneously imagines it can determine its own future. This is my future, it’s your future. This means it’s the future – and the present – of ‘what I am’ and ‘what you are’ beyond this fictional narrative. It’s incredibly important; it’s my life, your life. It isn’t just some philosophical talking point, some conjecture abstracted from real life and real meaning. This is why when talking about human well-being, contentedness and so forth, we absolutely must bring into the discussion the nature of the self, the unique sense of our own selfhood.

“All this no-self business; what’s in it for me anyway?”

Throughout the many blog posts and comments that will appear on this site, we’ll together expand on this theme and unpack further what it is that constitutes our sense of self. What’s been said just here in these few hundred words is no more than an overview. It gets a whole lot more interesting as we progress; yet we’ll remain grounded and readily understandable. And the more we learn, the more we become fascinated by this aspect of our being which may largely have gone unexamined amidst our busy lives. Beyond this, our understanding will increasingly grant us access to much of what was thwarted or denied in our misguided egoical pursuit of contentedness, of happiness, of fulfilment and so on.

49 thoughts on “What is selfhood?

    • Many thanks for taking the time to read the article, and for your kind words – I greatly appreciate it, truly I do.

      My intuition suggests that in asking yourself that question, you knew it was conceptually flawed to start with.

      Warmest regards and with respect, Hariod.

  1. This is a beautiful approach to a question of the deepest and most central mysteries, Hariod. I am sure you remember this wonderful admonition from Dogen: “To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” It is my hope that the conversation you have begun will continue endlessly.

    • I am deeply honoured by your brief visit here Professor Hanagan; truly, I am.

      Many thanks for reminding me of those exquisite words; though my training was in Vipassana Buddhism, rather than Zen, I read a little on Mahayana texts and commentaries – very beautiful.

      With metta,

      Hariod.

  2. Self and belief were JUST addressed again in the focus of the very last public interview my husband gave a few days ago 🙂 (and which I listened to for the first time this morning). How fun to return for a little more time here with your eloquent shares this afternoon and to find this umbrella post waiting, addressing your perspective on experience with the very same. Delight delight.

    Not going to be a surprise, but being invited to sit Vipassana and being drawn to purchase a little Buddha statue seen sitting in an antique store window (with what turned out to be the Mahayana Heart Sutra carved on in it’s robes) were my calls to begin looking eastward as well. How could “randomly” 😉 connecting with the divine sister H of another Sky Goddess (aka BA trolley dolly) bring the fruits of knowing in any other than a magic filled, synchronistic way?!

    The blog format I chose to hang my words on was all about just offering a bunch of images on a home page to randomly choose from, to dive into directing one to a bit of shared story. Thus, chosen without using any words, gifted from the X marks the spot “one self” place past where words really work effectively, but where visual image (as the word in living art) embed the message just the same. This format endlessly frustrates my Virgoan friends. Aquarius winks in return, encouraging the overcoming our proclivities and sends them love all the same. lol

    -x.M

    (btw, besides being hugs and kisses as the cutesy potential meaning of the sign off of ‘-x.M’, the deeper secret meaning for me in doing this has always been about visually reminding my-self and those who have eyes that are remembering to see, about the just being nature of “true” self in the x marks the same shared name spot. It is that shared foundation where any separate name, such as the M for a Maren or a H for Hariod, springs from! I started my online presence with the idea of using beingM(aren), meaning just being & Maren together creating Maren. But not being Maren at the end of the day, this tended to cause more confusion than good for others. So, the x of the known unknowable as M (or currently unknown depending on how you look at it) works at seeingM for now :). When X marks the spot, on most maps when you dig deep enough, one usually finds buried treasure.)

  3. Loved this insightful, eloquent piece of writing. The idea of ‘no self” is central to my self-help book, “Overcome Any Personal Obstacle, Including Alcoholism, By Understanding Your Ego” – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/leewriter. The fact that it’s sold only six copies as of this moment isn’t a reflection of the publications’ quality but I believe my (the author’s) not promoting it as well as I could have. Also, fans of your blog might very enjoy my series of ‘Bad’ posts – I blogged about every single “Breaking Bad” episode and show the inherit dangers of an egocentric mindset. The blog is at http://sobrietybytamingyourego.wordpress.com.

  4. ‘. . . wobbly Hariod-ness.’ – I would never have guessed! Your writing is beautiful, also soothing to read. A real blog. I am going to pass it on to my friend in Sri Lanka. She will enjoy your writings, and your photos. I must go and look at the photos again, I have bought a new camera, a Lumix X17 – will keep me busy. . .

    Fondly, your friend Eve. x

    • Hello Eve,

      I don’t get wobbly very often at all in fact; one glass of sherry will do the trick though!

      I’m really very gratified to hear your kind thoughts about my writing. To be frank, I sometimes wonder if my style isn’t too formal, perhaps particularly so for American readers, though we can only write in accord with the nature of our thinking of course. At least, I’m pretty sure that is the case.

      Thank you also for telling your friend in Sri Lanka about this blog Eve. I hope she is able to take something from my efforts and that, like you, she enjoys the photography.

      Hope you get some great catches with the new Lumix!

      Hariod. ❤

      • 🙂 I will love the camera. . . The Americas have a very casual way of putting things across. We British, especially of an older generation, do to have that (formality). My husband is American, his English is much better than mine. Though with me, I am always in a drama when I write. . . No full stops for me! Lol, Eve.

  5. Hariod,

    It’s always interesting to see the different labels we use around the world, all trying to explain and describe the same thing. It is a marvelous wonder isn’t it, especially when you stop to think that those same questions and descriptions of ‘sense of self’ has inspired each of us, past and present, and never been satiated. Cheers my friend to the drink never satiating our thirst!

    Thanks for the drink.

    Mikey.

    • Cheers to you Mikey for letting me sip at your own offerings. [glasses chink]

      I’m not certain, though you seem to be pointing to a unicity in which the question of selfhood is largely rendered redundant – at least in terms of pinning it down conceptually or by means of the intellect. If this interpretation of your words is correct, then I agree that such efforts never quite slake the thirst of the intellect, even though, in unicity, there is no desire for that in any case. Still, the mind keeps on chuntering away in its own facile manner . . .

      Chin-chin Mikey!

      Hariod.

  6. “My sense of selfhood boils down to, is constructed and held to, by means of an internalised narrative. It’s the on-going story of ‘me’”

    Good observation, because the constancy that we have in our personalities is pretty elusive, but we don’t want to dismiss it altogether. I was just thinking today about a moment ten years ago when I should have stopped someone from making fun of another person. I hadn’t really thought about it until today, but it really bothered me that I didn’t stop her. I saw myself as I was then, a very different, shall I say, ‘insecure person’. So different, in fact, that I wondered what I had in common with that old self.

    Then I remembered my story, my internal narrative, all the events and people and choices that have changed me, cell by cell. Looking back on that moment frozen in time makes the self seem like so much aether, but there was someone – we want to say — behind all those little changes, accepting and rejecting them.

    An “I” that accompanies all my perceptions? Maybe something less empty than that?

    • Very many thanks for giving of your time to consider some of my words and for so graciously offering your observations; I truly appreciate it.

      You note that ‘. . . there was someone – we want to say — behind all those little changes, accepting and rejecting them.’ indicating that you are aware of things like the homunculus fallacy, the imagined observer of the observed and so forth. It’s very hard to escape the assumption that such an entity is ever-present isn’t it?

      If you have the time and inclination at any point, then I have a follow-on piece which you may be interested in: http://wp.me/P4wkZJ-1X That article goes on to explore the sense of separation that selfhood imparts to us.

      May I ask of you, what is your sphere of interest as regards the nature of self and so forth? I am curious because you mention the notion of emptiness in your closing remark.

      With much gratitude and respect to you.

      Hariod.

      • Hi Hariod,

        I responded to your thoughtful post. Thanks for taking the time to read mine!

        My sphere of interest is mostly Western, I’ll admit. Only because Eastern philosophy, as well as most poetry, evades my small literal mind. As far as the self goes, though, I haven’t read too much about it in either camp.

        The emptiness I mention is the idea of the self as a unifier of experience, which I talk about in my reply to your other post. I don’t know if I agree that the self can be boiled down to that which unifies experience, but even if that’s all it is, I’d say that’s a pretty important function!

        But is the self really so empty? I think we want to say it’s our personalities. There’s a sense that I am who I am, a certain number of traits don’t change. For instance, I’ve always been stubborn. When I make efforts to be not so stubborn, I can do it. But it’s always an effort for me, whereas others do it naturally. Is this personality trait a component of my self then? Well, personality can change. And my stubbornness could just be a fiction I tell myself, but I don’t think it is (but maybe I’m just being stubborn!).

        The idea of personality as self is so commonplace and intuitive that I hesitate to decimate it with arguments. I easily see how it can happen. I just think in general it’s better to take into account the things we intuit (maybe take for granted), in some way that makes more sense rather than do away with them.

        I think you were onto something in your ‘narrative as self’. I don’t know what, exactly, but I find it intriguing. Could there be a way to bridge the gap of self as an empty concept and the commonsense intuition of self as some unique personality?

        • Thank you once again for engaging in our discussion here: http://wp.me/P4wkZJ-1X We have covered the idea of ‘self’ as a ‘unifier of experience’ in that discussion of course.

          You say ‘But is the self really so empty? I think we want to say it’s our personalities.’ As you now will have gathered from our discussion linked to, then my position is that it’s not a question of the self being ‘so empty’, rather that it doesn’t exist as an actuality. Of course, we can say anything is a ‘self’, in as much as there may appear to be some independently instantiated entity with an enduring fixity as to its characteristics. Let’s keep this to the question of whether the human individual is rightly a ‘self’ by that criteria:

          What you describe as your character trait of ‘stubbornness’, I regard as no more than a habituated tendency, one that if not always volitionally exercised, then comes into being as a result of supporting circumstances. Perhaps right now it is surfacing within you as some feeling arises along with an attendant thought such as ‘this Hariod is an awkward contrarian so-and-so and I’m going to prove my point!’ Accepting this is happening (though it probably isn’t!), then why must it be attributed to any putative ‘self’? That’s an altogether unnecessary addition to the actuality of experience is it not? ‘I think I’m stubborn therefore I am’ – putting Descartes before de horse as you philosophers used to joke. What’s more, then if the necessary supporting conditions do not obtain, then where does this ‘habituated tendency’ and/or the stubbornness reside? No where. They do not exist as actualities any more than moonlight exists without a moon, a particular configuration of two planets, darkness, photons, a healthy eye and sentient system.

          You say ‘When I make efforts to be not so stubborn, I can do it.’ Here then, you are using an overt and sustained volition in order to overcome either the habituated tendency or a weak volition to indulge it. Where is the ‘self’ involvement? There is no homunculus deciding what level of volition to exercise, I know you would agree. So isn’t the volition just that – a volition? In fact, for me to state that ‘. . . you are using an overt and sustained volition. . .’ is inaccurate. A more accurate statement would be ‘volition is being sustained by supporting conditions’

          You then say ‘Is this personality trait a component of my self then? Well, personality can change.’ Again, why attach the concept of selfhood to the personality trait? As you say, personality can change, and in fact, much of the time does not exist at all. For example, where is your personality in this very moment, or when you are asleep, or peeling carrots? As with its apparent subsets of volitional or habituated tendencies, it – the personality – comes together only under certain conditions; it is not any enduring entity of fixity. Simply because a pattern of actuality repeats in your mind, it does not mean it is the same pattern of actuality that occurred yesterday or whenever.

          You go on to say ‘The idea of personality as self is so commonplace and intuitive that I hesitate to decimate it with arguments.’ I agree, that would be a pointless, futile exercise, as it is not a matter of logic or reason. Rather instead the ‘self’ (however conceived), must be – can only be – obliterated in direct and actualised experience. The ‘self’ cannot be philosophised away unfortunately. 😦 On the question of intuition, then we of course cannot presuppose its efficacy. Much of the time, our intuitions are false interpretations of feelings and hidden desires. It’s a devil of a job trying to untangle what has been usefully intuited and what was say, coincidence, luck, or the correlations of wishful thinking. It is, after all, rather scary to imagine we are not a ‘self’, is it not? o_O

          Please feel free to come back and decimate anything here!

          Hariod.

  7. Interesting post, especially in conjunction with your post on ‘conceit’. You are a philosopher through and through.

    All of this is interesting in light of listening to Mooji last night. I found him thanks to you and am very taken with him and his style. I can follow for one thing. One big thing. Marked a few of his videos and got two of his guided meditations which should keep me busy for awhile. I think you mentioned him in a comment to someone, forget now who.

    Thank you as ever, Hariod, for your profound insights.

    xx Ellen.

    • Thank you so much Ellen for reading this article and for adding a comment, which I always deeply appreciate – particularly from one such as yourself who has shown regular interest in my articles.

      I don’t know anything about Mooji myself other than that he is in the lineage of Papaji, who in turn was instructed under the great Ramana Maharshi. Ramana himself insisted that he was not part of any lineage and instructed through engaged silence and self-enquiry, as perhaps you have now discovered.

      I posted the video of Mooji laughing hysterically on Michael’s site ‘Embracing Forever’ by the way.

      For anyone interested, here it is:

      Lots of love to you dear Ellen.

      Hariod. ❤

  8. Thank you, Hariod. I couldn’t remember where I had seen it. I will have to look up Papaji because I think he is linked with Siddha Yoga. I am a follower of Yogananda whom I love deeply but whose course in meditation is, for me at least, quite demanding. Will see how Mooji works out. I like the practical approach he seems to have and loved the laughing video.

    Lots of love right back to you, Hariod! xx

  9. I like the subject of the post and had a laugh with the Mooji video. This post and the video made me wonder. Could the video question drowned out by laughter have been, “Why is it an eye cannot see itself?” It is a good post to get people thinking and pondering who do they think they are.

    • Thank you very much Jack, for casting your wise eyes over this article; your presence here is always a delight to me. I am pleased too that you enjoyed the video; it reminds us that the path of knowledge, whilst necessarily needing to be walked in all earnestness, should not ever be without humour as a companion.

      I imagine the question was rendered redundant in the encounter, and as Mooji said “The question was. . .”, as if to demonstrate to the young man as much. Your own question reminds me of the play ‘Julius Caesar’, when Brutus says to Cassius “No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.”

    • Thankyou so much for your interest and supportive words; I appreciate both greatly. I shall of course read both of the articles which you have kindly linked to, and do so with interest.

      All best wishes,

      Hariod.

  10. Me, myself and my stranger? You have very deeply and scientifically approached this big question, dear Hariod! And what happens if we have illusory body perceptions due to health disorders? Do we need a specialist to train us?

    I wish I were an autonomous observer without being affected by external factors, and being able to find out what is objectively true with myself. An interesting article, arousing many questions which are dormant in our inner self.

    Best, Doda.

    • Thank you so very much dear Doda, for casting your wise eyes over this offering, and also for leaving such a generous and reflective comment – I greatly appreciate both, as well as your valued presence of course.

      I must apologise to you for not responding previously, but the internet has been down for several days in the rural community I live in, and we have only just come back online. I am quite snowed-under as a result.

      Sending you my very best wishes, and gratitude,

      Hariod.

      • Thank you very much for appreciating my humble thoughts and for stimulating us to delve into the unfathomable depths of the human soul. Plenty of ‘her’ unfolded and with darker sides, so persistent work is needed for her perfection.

        All the best to you, dear friend Hariod,

        Doda.

  11. I like the law of attraction view point, in that what we think of as ‘self’, is more of a perspective. That there is one source in the universe with 7 billion perspectives on this planet. I also loved your comment about sustaining the self by internal dialogue or constructs. Essentially, we are all made up of the stories, myths and beliefs we support through thinking, feeling about, and telling again and again, to ourselves and others. I enjoyed this piece.

    • Thankyou Noelle, for casting your eyes over this offering, and for your kind words of encouragement; I appreciate both greatly. I must confess I do not know what this Law of Attraction is, although I have occasionally heard the term in passing. In any case, I would agree that the ‘self’, in the sense that I discuss it here on this blog, is very much a particular perspective, a subjectively apprehended internalised model that looks out at the world, and also upon itself (i.e. egoically), based on certain conditioned proclivities and tendencies.

      This would be as distinct from the self as a social construct, which is a projection with referents in our outward behaviour, or the self as our physicality which has its referents in our morphing cellular structure. The self we are dealing with here has no referents whatsoever other than itself, because it has no independent or actual existence, and is merely a reflection of itself as that internalised model. Anyway, many thanks once again Noelle, and I must apologise for the tardiness of my response to you on this occasion.

      With very best wishes,

      Hariod.

      • All the Law of Attraction is, is that which is like to itself is drawn – meaning we attract to ourselves what we are inherently putting out into the world. Thoughts have a habit of attracting each other. One of the main reasons I’m not a fan of ‘Bitch Sessions’ in the workplace is that they only attract more ‘bitching’ and less solving. Our passions work the same. Get into that ‘zone’ and hours can go by without you even noticing, because you kept drawing in more and more of whatever it is your are so zoned in on.

        There is a ‘self’ that exists outside of time and space. In many spiritual traditions referred to as the watcher – the self that is never tainted or marred by events here, but can only expand and be more of what it is. Lovely discussion. Thanks.

        • Oh, I see; it appears to be related to communication, albeit perhaps including non-verbal communication. Yes, I can go along with it if it is something like that Noelle. I recently wrote a piece on empathy and mirror neurons which touches on this idea of putting oneself within the frame of reference of the other, whether consciously or otherwise. It can be a very draining phenomenon when we are caught up in others’ self-centricity, and I think that is akin to what you describe in those workplace scenarios, if I interpret you correctly.

          Yes, some do refer to a Self (capitalised) as being our true identity, and which concept originates in pre-Buddhistic Vedanta: the actualisation of Ātman (our inner being essence) as identical with the transcendent Self of Brahman. It can get a little confusing with the various philosophical traditions speaking of different forms of selfhood, and the way we use the term in contemporary society, as well as in academe in sociological studies. This is why I think it is important to define terms before we get too deeply into discussion on the matter.

          Lovely to talk to you too Noelle,

          Hariod.

          • Language is a curious thing; it allows us to communicate ideas and also to confuse each other. So many words have similar meanings, or totally different meanings depending on how you use them, or what culture you come from.

            I do agree, too, with your point on identification with another, which can suck you into a dynamic they are in. I think we often feel we’ll pull people out of something, when often we find ourselves being sucked into what they are experiencing. I’ve thought over the years that joy simply lacks drama; while negative situations are loaded with drama which, like moths caught to a flame, we then find we can’t look away from!

            • Yes Noelle, I find that particularly in relation to both discussion on consciousness and also on so-called ‘spiritual’ matters, that it is possible for the other to read the complete opposite meaning, in contradistinction to what one has intended, by virtue of their cultural or societal-group conditioning. I had that rather a lot in response to a recent article I wrote called ‘The Unattainability of Spiritual Freedom’. Some readers took offence in thinking that I was dismissing the great spiritual traditions, and the psychological freedom their doctrine’s elucidate, whereas in fact I was merely clarifying a commonly held misconception – I was trained in Buddhist psychology and meditation for some 25 years, so felt qualified to write on the matter. Admittedly, I chose a rather provocative title for the piece, yet at least it spurred discussion!

              With very best wishes once again,

              Hariod.

  12. Hariod, after reading your excellent post and most of the comments, I wonder if the thought I have been entertaining will appear too simplistic, not sufficiently serious. However, nothing ventured:

    It is obvious that we do not continue, over time, to attack the intruder in the mirror. That suggests (to me) an enduring self, and of little or no practical consequence (again, to me) if only a construct of our disparate and communal, on-going, internal dialogues. ☺

    • Thankyou very much Robert, for your interest and interesting response, both of which I appreciate. You may need to expand a little before I correctly grasp what you are getting at, but are you suggesting that our physical reflection alone is a signifier of an enduring entity of selfhood? If so, does it not rather in fact confirm only two things? Firstly, that we continue to misidentify the bodily form as our notional ‘self’, the same as we do in another way in our thought processes and memorised narrative constructs, and secondly that we accept the perfectly sensible – literally sensible too – idea that we are indeed in part physicalised entities. There is, quite simply, a body, whether or not we regard it as being synonymous with any enduring entity and agent of selfhood. We identify with the reflection in the mirror, precisely because the belief in a self pre-exists, and which first formed in the second and third years of our life, prior to which it was not present. Nothing happened or became evidential in those years to prove the existence of any such self, other than our particular genotype – the closest we come to any self? – following a path cast in tens of thousands of years of evolution, and in which for survival purposes the sense of a continuously stabilised object-perception of selfhood proved beneficial. Beyond this, we seem in fact to be agreeing that the self is a construct – a narrative formation – which has no ontological status other than that same mentational put-up job. Am I misunderstanding your point in some fundamental way Robert?

      Further thoughts on this matter, should you be interested my friend: http://wp.me/P4wkZJ-1X

  13. Hariod, you certainly understand all or most of my point, my question to myself, quite likely better than I. Your mention of evolution is apt, as that is core to my thought. Elephants, Dolphins, Magpies and some Apes also recognize ‘self’ yet do not question whether this representation is legitimate and complete (as far as we know). We, as Homo Sapiens, as a successful evolutionary experiment, discarded a seamless mind/body integration, which the others apparently possess. In American vernacular, is it possible that ‘we get in our own way’? I certainly have not reached any conclusion, but I have suspicions that many of our ‘advances’ in the physical world are due to this exact evolutionary discard, this apparent lack of integration.

    • As regards the notion of us ‘getting in our own way’, then an expression I often use if that we are ‘caught up in the gearbox of our own comprehension’. As I am certain you would agree Robert, the mind evolved to think only in terms of subject and object, and to even conceive of an awareness outside of this paradigm is impossible for it. That is not to say that awareness cannot exist outside of that paradigm – I and many others, yourself too possibly, would maintain that it can – but that this same awareness cannot itself be stored as a representation, a memory-percept, in the way that all other phenomena can. In short, awareness does not subsist purely within a subject/object dichotomy, though what we think of as ‘my consciousness’ does. Thankyou Robert; I am enjoying engaging and exchanging ideas with you greatly.

  14. This is great, as I just discovered your blog. I am always searching for aspirational words that allow me to reflect on personal development and change that comes from within. I look forward to reading more posts. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, BP — sorry, I don’t know your name. Fiddling around with websites isn’t exactly a forté of mine. Come to think of it, nothing is. Anyhow, thanks for stopping by and for your kindness, both are much appreciated.

  15. Beyond appreciative for your considerable insight into my recent post. 🙂 I know that you have busied yourself with the writing of a new book and that your spare time is little. Wishing you a brilliant & peaceful day, dear friend Hariod. ❤

    With love & respect,

    Doda.

    • Thank you for stopping by and offering a kind thought, dear Doda; it is much appreciated. Yes, I am quite occupied currently with some more long-form writing, though it is always a great pleasure to peruse your wonderful offerings, including the last concerning your visit to Barcelona. Wishing you peace, good health, and contentedness as always.

      With love, respect and gratitude,

      Hariod.

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