I was pondering on what the self is, and why we protect it so strongly. Wikipedia explains the self as; ‘the essential qualities that make one person distinct from all others’. Are we the self, or is the self just our false identity?
Through our life we acquire habits and ways of being that become a reference point of who we are. For example; he always does this, or she is like that. We become identified and referenced as being a certain way and for exhibiting certain behaviors because of the way we portray ourselves to others.
Is that the true self? Is that self just made up? Eastern traditions view the personal self as a belief of separation from the whole. It is this self that becomes egotistical and does everything in its power to prove its worth to everyone.
In spiritual traditions the Self (capital S) relates to the true essence of who we are, the God Self if you like. When operating from the God Self we are said to be aware of a power bigger than us that is in charge of everything, and we then have no need to prove anything to anyone.
It may be challenging for many to let go of the self-identity they have created, as no-one wants to be the same as everyone else. Our achievements, our financial situation, and merits we have gained are all part of the identity people want to keep. The power imbalance is favored by those with the power.
When we are identified with the God Self we become unique expressions of the oneness of creation. This form of self-expression resonates in harmony with life, rather than opposed to it. All become equal, and there is nothing to protect. You can see how this could be threatening to many people who have a lot of self-achievements.
Whenever we meet someone new, usually the first question we ask is; what do you do? We try to pigeon-hole people into categories of where they work, how they spend their time and what they look like. It is rare that anyone truly sees an individual as the God Self that they are, rather than the persona they portray.
Sadly due to our false self of identity we have learned to be afraid of each other. The media, and past experiences have left us mostly suspicious of others, and the self they have created to disown their true Self. Even although we cannot see it, the God Self is always there as the ultimate reality of every being on the planet. It is our need for self-acknowledgement that can cause us a lot of our problems.
Interestingly, when we acknowledge someone as their true Self, something in them is ignited and they will acknowledge you back from that truth. Same as if you have a judgment or belief about someone, they will respond to you in line with the belief you hold of them. This is all done unconsciously. We know if someone is judging us or honoring us without any words being exchanged. Perhaps instead of being afraid of each other we should honor the truth of each other.
Jesus, the Buddha, and any other enlightened masters who lived in alignment with their true self were living in harmony with life, seeing only oneness, and instead of creating a false self-image based on separation; they set the bench mark for how to live peaceful and fulfilling lives.