“I Don’t Like My Self”
If we are confused about who or what we are, this will cause us suffering in life. Our problem lies in not noticing that we have two protagonists – two leading characters – or rather, seemingly two!
‘I’ and my ‘self’.
In this context, we are saying that the ‘I’ is the observer, none other than consciousness; the spirit within this body and mind.
It is only when consciousness becomes aware of its emptiness that it realises pure consciousness, which is our essence (it’s easy to be confused about this point as it’s a matter of semantics).
If we do not acknowledge pure consciousness, then we are stuck with an identity of an accumulated self. The word ‘accumulate’ means ‘heap’ as does the Sanskrit word ‘skandha’. The five skandha are: form/rupa (matter or body), sensations/vedana (feelings, received from form), perceptions/samjna, mental activity or formations/sankhara, and consciousness/vijnana (ordinary consciousness – the word ‘consciousness’ has 2 meanings: faculty of mind and pure consciousness, which is our essence).
These are the aggregates that make up the feeling of ‘me’. Take any one away, and ‘me’ falls apart.
So, back to “I don’t like my ‘heap’!” 😀
When, through meditation and analytical practice, we (consciousness) acknowledge that we are not this mind and body, and that these are merely the product of accumulated ideas, we may feel, “I don’t particularly like this self,” because we have become aware of its limitations.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling – but it is also the path to enlightenment, because we realise that ideas about these limitations are causing us suffering.
Even though we may not have the body of an athlete, the heart of a saint, the mind of scientist, the skill of an artist, we have all we need right now, to become enlightened. And anyway, having all those talents might prove to be a distraction!
We may not like our selves or our life – and may even find it ugly – but what is totally beautiful is the profundity of consciousness itself. It has a great heart. The heap of self does not truly exist as it’s an accumulation, a gathering of parts. What truly is, is pure consciousness. We cannot not like that, as it sees all that there is to see.
Enlightenment is just seeing and not believing.