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The Self Sees Itself, No Experiencer Necessary
Randy: Hi, James. I’m struggling to understand something I’ve read in your How to Attain Enlightenment book that I’ve also seen stated in quite few other places by other writers. Why can we only see a reflection of self? It would make more logical sense to me if we could see both the self directly and the reflection or neither. Can you please explain?
~ Thanks, Randy
James: Hi, Randy. Because the self is beyond perception. The person, Randy, the subtle body, is reflected awareness. It is not actually conscious. It is like the moon. It has no light of its own. It can only reflect the sun’s light. The sun “sees” it, but it does not see the sun. But this is not to say that the self cannot be known. It knows itself without the aid of a body and mind. It is funny when it tries to see itself through the body and mind – because it is already seeing itself. This attempt to see/know/experience yourself is the result of maya, ignorance. So Vedanta removes the ignorance by getting you to look at yourself in a different way. Then the self, which was seeing itself all along, but unaware that what it was seeing was itself, rediscovers itself and the seeking stops. I know it sounds completely crazy, but that is the way it is. Enlightenment is only the cessation of seeking that comes when you realize that you always knew who you are. The problem is that self-ignorance causes the self to apparently identify with the body and mind and become an experiencer. You live for many years as an experiencer, chasing things in the samsara (including enlightenment) that you think will complete you, when you are complete already. This seeking completion experientially becomes a habit and you think that the self is another experience to be gained.