11 May The Energy of the Separate Self
Ramana Maharshi, I understand, only because I do not have the exact wording to hand or where it was recorded (or in which language), used to pose the question, “When the sense of the personal self collapses together with the energy of the sense (my italics) of self, what remains?” What remains is absolutely nothing, non-plussedness, disbelief, what? as it is immediately experienced if unprepared, such as I, and which can cause a cataclysmic reaction because an actual energetic field vanishes.
The idea of who we think we are is built up since infancy with thoughts and emotions which are electromagnetic (they have a charge) – synaptic connections that validate this false concept put in by the world around us continue to grow in number, as we add mini-ideas upon the initial suggestion in infancy. These propagate, perpetuate and multiply to create a full-blown living, pulsating sensation which we refine, modify, tinker with, re-haul, chop and change in order to perfect ourselves in the world in the belief it is real.
Consider how we bristle in response to something unwanted that is said; how we react if we feel something is untrue about ourselves – the energy-field of self tells us that is not in line with who we think we are. I bristled for decades because everywhere I went, particularly in the 1950s – 1980s, I was asked because of my skin colour, “Where are you from?” And, the most extraordinary statement I heard was when I lived in Frankfurt in the 1990s, when I am told it was said of me, “What kind of species is that?”
Just to illustrate, in order to be noticed in the world as a Eurasian, and not be classed as a second class citizen, I set out to excel. My father was a a brilliant Muslim mind who had been orphaned at the age of 11 in Bengal in 1933. His only escape from the staggering poverty was, via the Jesuit Mission in Colombo, to win a scholarship to London University in 1944 to read Mathematics, Politics and Economics. He excelled because he knew he had to survive (and in Great Britain which was about to lose India). The boarding-houses for students in those days had notices in the window stating, “No Coloureds No Dogs”. From him, I had the idea I might be second-class because of how the Anglo-Indians were considered in India during the Raj, an idea which was inconceivable to my mother who is the epitome of Britishness and a convent-educated Catholic at that.
And excel I did, building layer upon layer on two ideas: the prime which is the input that I was an entity, and secondly, that I was second-class. Thus, as I investigated myself through enquiry (Eurasian? How in God’s name could this happen to me?), I had to to find a place in the world maximising my talents and personality. Good for me. There were times I knew I was at the top of my game. Everywhere I travelled I had the world at my feet, outwardly. People wanted to know me, I was exotic, charming, knowledgeable. I had developed a highly intellectual mind, but was obviously an experienced woman and for some reason, fascinating. I must have been a potent mix. My mind’s ability to produce get-out-clauses and survival tactics to cope with my extreme life situation as I have recorded, was astounding and thank God, because of my child.
The God I prayed to in my early life had a Christian flavour because of my gentle, soft mother; my father did not teach me about Islam, although I have my first Koran given to me by him in 1966. The God I found in my early 20s was without any labelling, of course. What happened at the start of the cataclysm in 2012 that completely and radically wiped me out, is shown here diagrammatically by the best description I have ever come across. It is taken from the book, What is Self?, by Bernadette Roberts (b.1931), an advanced Catholic contemplative, who is for me one of the outstanding spiritual writers today. Together with Bernadette’s writings and the book, Collision with the Infinite, by Suzanne Segal, I came to rest. Please note the scan was difficult, but I will explain by writing out her text verbatim:
Figure 1: Ego (gray circle); experiences God at its centre (black pinpoint)
Figure 2: Ego disappears and is replaced by Divine center (Unitive Revelation)
Figures 3 & 4: In a new life of fearless, selfless living, we experience less of self as the Divine increases. This is God’s creative act within us.
Figure 5: Self is gone. (No-Self)
Every aspect of my life journey is represented here. The Infinite decides how it will haul us back, and there are no correct procedures about how It executes this. Intricate descriptions around semantics of words and definitions are fodder for the mind. The infinite beauty of each of us, as points of divine consciousness, is such that when the toll-bell rings, it is not only the idea of self that vanishes at the Infinite’s behest (or command, if it dramatic), it is the entire energy sensation that built around this falsehood that is the supposed self. The is the meaning of Ramana’s reference to the energy of self and which, in my surrender, I came to experience.
Circle Depicts Self. Roberts, Bernadette. What is Self? A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness. 2005 Sentient Publications Boulder CO. p. xx1x