Excerpt About Conventional Self

The Conventional Self is Born and Lives and Dies

The nature of the dynamic relationship between the individual and realization is what we are exploring here. On the spiritual path, we can experience the individual consciousness in many ways. At the beginning of the path, we experience the individual consciousness as the individual self, which is the ego self or the dualistic self. This self is an individual who is separate, who has a history, who lives in the world of other selves and other people and other objects. The conventional self is born and lives and dies—that is the ordinary view. As we explore this view, we realize that it has a great deal to do with impressions from our history and with mental constructions and concepts of a self-existing, autonomous individual. As this conventional sense of self is deconstructed by spiritual practice, it is possible to experience the individual consciousness without the fixation of a separate and dual self. Most Western traditions use the notion of soul to connote the individual consciousness that is without the fixation of a separate self. The Eastern traditions have different views and terms for it. Most Hindu schools usually refer to it as jiva or jiva-atman. And the closest terms for it in the Buddhist tradition are “stream of consciousness” and “mindstream.” When the dual sense of self is understood, the individual consciousness is free to appear as a soul, which is a living, conscious, and dynamic presence. But the view itself can still be ego-logical, since the individual consciousness can continue to experience itself as a separate and independently existing soul. However, it can also be free from that fixation and recognize itself as an expression of Living Being.

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