The Subtle Senses Of Self

The Many States of Being

The Many States of Being

SOMEWHERE IN THE SIERRAS, CA—Some thoughts I’m fleshing out. Hopefully this will be enough theory for awhile. Sorry for the long posts.

Instinctual self: Our genetically hardwired sense of self responsible for self/species preservation.

Ego: The imaginary self consisting of a persistent belief that we are our thoughts, past memories, and current roles.

Mortal self: The body, thoughts, emotions, and experience.

Soul self: Consciousness which transcends the body, but is still individualized.

Radiant Self: Consciousness still separate from the surroundings, but with a powerful sense of Love (TaoGodHer as other) flowing through you and into everything you see or experience.

Emptiness Self: The pure Witness when the sense of separation from the surroundings vanishes. Everything feels as one/you/consciousness.

Witness, Transcendent Self or just Self (capital S): When the ego is dropped, that which is experiencing events.

Personal self or just self (small s): Any combination of the above selves which you identify with.

No Self: When the Witness is no longer identified with. Clunky phrasing, but to say something like “when you no longer identify with the Witness,” is completely contrary to the experience. Everything is One Thing (nondual), and there is no “you.”

A couple key points:

  • Self is all about identity… who or what you believe yourself to be. Not rationally, but experientially.
  • Self seems to fall into one of three broad categories: Ego (me, me, me), Transcendent (I Am), No Self (???). Hat tip to Adyashanti.
  • Most people’s personal self is the ego.
  • Mortal and Soul selves are more individual based (solid self boundaries), and thus most egos identify with a combination of these.
  • Radiant and Emptiness selves are ethereal based (subtle self boundaries) and thus most people who have “woken up” tend to identify with a combination of these.
  • Though Emptiness and No Self seem to be the same, Emptiness still has a subtle sense of identity (the Witness).
  • The instinctual self has a great influence on pulling the “self center” temporarily lower (toward Mortal).
  • TaoGodHer (the nondual Intelligence), subtly pulls the “self center” higher (toward Her).
  • My experience of No Self is limited, but the instinctual self seems to affect the No Self too—it contracts the identity into one of the lower self stages because of having a physical body.
  • I have yet to identify with the ego (imaginary self) since “waking up” back in 2009. However, I often (inadvertently) contract (solidify/harden) to the Mortal and Soul levels. In other words, I no longer experience myself to be my thoughts or my history or the roles I participate in, yet I still sometimes take thoughts seriously (Mortal) or see myself as an immortal individual (Soul).
  • When I talk about the Wayne-thing (or the me-me-me), I’m talking about my Mortal self and/or instinctual self (thoughts and/or self-concerns). For most people, the Me-thing is their ego (imaginary self).

This all came about because of two “knots” I was contemplating on my birthday:

  • Knot 1: Why does my sense of self, which tends to be centered in Radiance, shift between the other levels (Mortal, Soul, Radiance Emptiness)? Insight/Whisper: The shifting of the me-center is influenced in an upward direction by a “Divine pull” (TaoGodHer) and a downward direction by the instinctual self. Not like a tug-of-war pull, but more like a unified, yin/yang, moon/ocean, tidal-like experience… a flowing.
  • Knot 2: Why do I need to identify with anything? Almost identical to the box technique mentioned here (“Right now, do I need the ego?”), but on the next level up (not ego to Witness, but Witness to No Self).

As I said, I’m still fleshing this stuff out so it’s all a bit rough, and quite honestly I’m about sick of it (I’m much happier just living it rather than explaining it), but I wanted to post it somewhere so you guys’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about when I use that little four-letter word self.

Thanks for putting up with me (whoever that me is). 🙂

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7 thoughts on “The Subtle Senses Of Self

  1. Thank you Wayne
    I have read all your blogs since Jan 2008. I have done this because you are unique in that (a) you are transparent and (b) you are attempting to show baby steps from the weeds to enlightenment, rather than trying to make the monumental leap all at once.

    At first glance this post seemed to be the most useful one to date. It adds detail to the path you have been developing (to the extent that there can be a map). Each of the 7 lower and upper case “selves” seems to lie on a scale (goes to your progression teaching). You have said in the past that you can be on different places on the scale (goes to transparency).

    But you lost me when you said the personal self is “any combination of the above which you identify with”. There are 127 combinations! Back into the weeds. To stretch the map analogy a little further, how can I know where to go if I don’t know where I am?

    A key concept you use in this post (and which you can see in just about any literature about “the self”) is that of “identification”. I have contemplated the significance of this for years in my spiritual inquiry (nod to Adhyyashanti). It seems to me that if I could clearly see what the process of identification really means it would be an epiphany.

    The best I can do is say that what you are identified with (which self you are) is that which you are willing to defend. If you are defending the body you are identified with the Instinctual self (your chipmunks). If you are defending your beliefs, you are identified with the Ego self. If you are defending your emotions you are identified with the Mortal self, etc.

    The logical end point is not defending anything (total surrender as you have talked about in past posts) and hence you are at the No Self level.

    Perhaps, then, the key is to feel what I am defending, as this seems much easier than trying to figure it out logically using your definitions (too many combinations). Yet your definitions may be critically important in terms of any type of communication of where I am.

    If all this is true, then does it follow that to move from “lower” combinations of self to No Self is really a process of ceasing to identify (defend) through non-resistance and total surrender to what is here and now (TaoGodHer)?

    Is this a fair way of interpreting your excellent post?

    • Good point about defending. See Merton’s words here.

      What do we defend or protect? Only that which we value. One of the reasons the ego is so tenacious is because it values thoughts.

      Feel the contraction, use it as an indicator to tell you what you are valuing right now. Maybe that will help.

      Re the 127 combinations: Two points: (1) The selves are a line of the One, not individual boxes. (2) At any moment, you are at one point on the line, but the next moment you may be at another.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Once upon a time I chose God in my heart, I decided to seek him+her out. Once I’d made this decision things started to flow. Shortly after, the flow brought me to your blog. Since then I’ve enjoyed the reading and had my eyes opened to another seekers way of seeing things. I hope since my arrival on your blog I’ve not been a pain in the butt.

    related to your post i have a question, how are you to make things One if everything is divided?

    I am not my thoughts, I am not the ego, I am not the instinctual self, I am not the mortal self, I am not the soul self, I am not the radiant self, I am not the emptiness self, I am not the Self, I am not the self, I am that I am. Whole with everything just like you.

    Yahwah, Bless, Amen.

      • Yesterday I had conflict with the paradox, today I know.

        I don’t believe in the paradox, everything was created as One. After we are born into this world our brain goes off and it gets to a point where it’ll start dividing things(separating things). Forgetting Oneness.

        If things had been separate from the being, the paradox would be believable but things didn’t, they started as One.

        Two truth
        1) everything is One.
        2) everything appears separate.(I’ve call this the illusion for some time)

        You are not your heart, and you are your heart. doesn’t work for me.
        You are not your heart, your heart is a part of you.
        you are not it, it is a part of you.

        the same for All the “I am not’s” from before. I am not them, they are a part of me.

        Yahwah, Bless, Amen.

  3. @All: Though it is important to understand theory, it is far more important to live it.

    The ego loves the mind and speaks through the mind, TaoGodHer loves the heart and whispers through the heart.

    This is probably why you often hear me rail against my own “theory posts.” My inner conflict should be apparent to any longtime reader. My mind (Mortal) wants to explain but my heart (in Radiance) wants to just live it. But She (TaoGodHer) tells me to post, so I post (but I don’t have to like it). 🙂

  4. Hi All,

    Just wanted to lend some support and say that I think Wayne is on the right track in describing distinguished senses of self. Descriptions of subtle distinctions between senses of self, similar to levels of consciousness, serve as a tool to help remove polarity from the mind that finds itself traversing the subjective territory of spiritual evolution. Just as ice is not the opposite of water, which in turn is not the opposite of vapor, the soul is not the opposite of radiance, which in turn is not the opposite of the witness. I think this understanding helps the duality-prone mind avoid the polarity of the opposites, which is the trap that so many non-dualists fall into: constantly avoiding their own karma by declaring that “only the non-dual is true”. Of course, in such a declaration, non-duality is just a concept that is now at odds with its opposite, thus perpetuating the experience of duality. It would be more helpful to respect the momentum of the downside of the dualistic mind with humility while viewing enlightenment in the context of a progression. The progression itself isn’t linear, but an understanding of the possible stages involved could help prevent a lot of unnecessary fear, confusion, and disillusionment.

    Take care,


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