Sunday, June 23, 2013

Journal of a Soul 22

The Real Me?

Malahide, Co Dublin just after sunset, June 2013
I ended my last post with a host of questions as regards who the real me is:  "Is the real me or true self the angry me, the selfish me, the happy me, the compassionate me, the helpful me, the moody me, the joyful me, the suffering me, the moaning me, the selfless me, the generous me, the mean me etc?" 

A short book, entitled The Untethered Soul: A Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer (New Harbinger Publications, 2007) suggests that there is an "inner voice" or even "voices" inside our heads that are constantly in conversation with us.  Now I readily admit here that there are authors, too, like R Carter (and unlike Singer) who argue that there are multiple selves as well as multiple voices.  (See Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality that argues the case for multiple selves, not just multiple voices. London: Little, Brown, 2008).  Now, without going into any lengthy arguments, I will dismiss the second proposal here by saying solely that it is extremely counter-intuitive and very much lacking in common sense.  

Let me quote Singer more fully here, and then make some comments on his fundamental proposal or principle on which his whole approach to self and spirituality is built:

There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.  If you don't understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you.  People go through changes in the name of "trying to find myself".  They want to discover which of these voices, which of these aspects of their personality, is who they really are.  The answer is simple:  None of them.  (Op.cit., p.10)

Singer is a Yoga Master and Meditation Leader acknowledged worldwide. What he is saying here is that in meditation the "I" (The Real Self, not the Ego!!) becomes the Observer, the Seer, or what Ken Wilber calls the Witness or what the Jesuit Anthony de Mello calls the Centre Point of Awareness and others the Still Point.  In that Still Point, the great monk meditator Thomas Keating says we sit like underwater observers looking up at the bottom of the surface of the river as boats (thoughts and distractions) float by above our heads.  We do not get distracted by any of these thoughts and feelings - those many, many boats.  No, we just observe them, and in observing them we acknowledge them and just let them drift off down the stream in such a way that we never become obsessed with them.  We just let them go.  Singer says that we are the One (the Real Inner Me) who hears whatever voice comes up from our preconscious or unconscious; the One who acknowledges it; observes it; lets it go.  If images come up, we are the One who sees them; visualizes them; acknowledges them; lets them go.  Again, let us finish this post by listening once again to the wise and practical words of this great teacher, Michael Singer.  As we enter any period of meditation, no matter how long or how short, we might do well to momentarily recall the substance of the following words:
You are the one inside [your head] that notices the voice [or voices] talking... That is the way out.  The one inside, who is aware that you are always talking to yourself about yourself, is always silent.  It is a doorway to the depths of your being to be aware that you are watching [or listening]. (Ibid., p. 13)
My meditation Candle
The thing that appeals to me here is the principle of the Observer or Witness who is very much a centre of Unity, a one-pointedness, always a singularity, never a plurality.  It is the singular vision or the singular hearing of the Witness that gives unity to the Self.  Hence my introduction above that insists that any psychology which proposes a plurality of selves is destined to end up not alone in sheer confusion cognitively for the poor searcher (or patient or client) but also in sheer mental disintegration or schizophrenia for the same poor soul.

Meditation or mindfulness, coming as it does from that one-pointedness of awareness, is, from my reading and  from my practical experience, the key, not alone to healing the myriad manifestations of anxiety we experience in our modern world,  but is also the main avenue in providing us with no little meaning in our lives.

You may read about Michael Singer and, indeed, read about and perhaps even buy or get a loan of his small but powerful book:  Singer

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