Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Science is grounded in observation of the world around us.  Based on these observations scientists hopefully develop testable theories as to how physical things will react under certain physical circumstances.  These theories are tested and if found to be accurate, can be used to make predictions as to what will be the energy result, or the velocity result or the chemical result of a series of certain specific physical conditions.  These are observations of the external world.  Even biologists who make their observations on living bodies, make them, most commonly, not on their own bodies, but on other bodies which are, at least from the perspective of the researcher, part of the external world.

Social scientists often rely on what is called 'internal' observations.  Often subjects are asked to observe their feelings, their behaviors, even their body sensations and describe them to the researcher.  And we all make "internal' observations regularly in our daily lives.  We determine, based on observation of body sensations, that we are hungry or tired or relaxed or achey or sick.  When we try on new clothes we observe our body sensations to determine how well the clothes fit.  If you have ever been to a yoga class you are asked to 'watch your breath' or to keep observing different parts of your body to see if you can stretch further and twist more without straining.

When we are younger, disciplinarians ask us to 'watch ourselves.'   All of psychological therapy, all of it, regardless of the particular branch of therapy that is being practiced, all rely on the ability of the patient to step back when they find themselves caught up in a familiar pattern of behavior that they would like to change, and notice what they are doing and feeling at that moment.  Certainly there is no hope for change, either when psychologists attempt to change unfulfilling behavior patterns, or when judges or wardens or anyone else involved in the jurisprudence system, attempt to change criminal behavior,  if patients or criminals do not have the power to step back, to 'watch themselves.'

It should be noted that even with so called 'internal' observations of body sensations, feelings and memories, that the body sensation, feeling and memory is still external to the observer.  We observe a body sensation, but we are not the body sensation that we are observing. When we observe our experience we are not the experience itself, but that which is observing the experience. This is equally true for imagined observations.  We are not the dream, but the dreamer; not the concept, but the conceiver.   Whatever we observe, even if it is within our own bodies, even if it is within our own imagination, is always external to us, the observer.

So what is this observer that is making all these observations?  First of all, and obviously, it is not the 'eye.'  When you make observations in the external world, you often use your eyes, although many times you intentionally close your eyes when you are detecting a sound or smell because you may be able to focus more intently on a nonvisual observation with your eyes closed.  And certainly observations of body sensations, thoughts and anything commonly thought of as within your body is not made with the eye.  Even if you use your eyes, it is arguable that the eye itself is not making the observation.  You are looking through your eyes.  Your eyes by themselves, even with all their neural attachments to the brain, are just mechanical/electric cameras, although fantastically intricate and precise cameras.  There still needs to be an observer, an 'I' looking through that eye to actually see anything.  Many thousands of patients in vegetative coma states have their eyes open.  Are they actually seeing anything through those eyes or not?  This is a question that plagues their loved ones and care takers.  Since they are totally paralyzed there has been no way of knowing (until recently, see post 'Brain Scans, Comas and Consciousness') if there is anyone 'in there' or not.  People intuitively understand that even if the eye is working, even if all the various parts of the eye are there and in good condition, even if the optical nerve is in tact and the connections to the optical tetum of the brain are whole, there is no vision unless someone is in there; unless someone is using this equipment; unless an 'I' is looking through that eye.

This I, this observer, is what people with spiritual curiousity are interested in.  There is no reason why spiritual curiosity cannot happily coexist with scientific curiousity; scientific curiosity being an interest in observations of the world around us; and spiritual curiosity being an interest in the observer itself.  And there are several things about this 'observer' that are extremely interesting and extremely rewarding to anyone that has a real curiosity about it.  One interesting thing is that no matter what you are doing or experiencing, if you are able to observe it, then you notice that it, whatever you are observing, whether it is inside or outside of your body, whether it is real or imagined,  is always outside of you, the observer. So the observer, which is you, always eludes definition.  Whatever you decide this observer is, whatever concept you conjure up for it, that definition and that concept exist outside of the observer.  To try to 'figure it out' you have to conceptualize something and in doing so you automatically create something outside of yourself, the observer.  The observer is not a thing and it is not a concept.  It may be helpful to say that the observer is the context, the non-physical bowl within which you experience all  your experience.  It may also be helpful to use the analogy of the foreground and the background of a painting.  If a painting contains any objects what so ever, there must be a background for those objects to emerge from.  The observer, then is the background of your experience, and the foreground is the actual experiences of your life.  Yet this is not perfectly accurate either and cannot be taken too literally. If you imagine a painting with a background and a foreground of objects, then you, the imaginer, are niether the background nor the foreground of the painting, but the non-physical background which is imagining the entire painting including background and foreground.  If you extend your imagining to include all the walls of the museum where all these pictures appear, then the walls become the background of all the picutres, but you the imaginer are the context, the background which includes the entire museum.  And if you visualized the entire universe and all the endless dark space out of which emerges suns and planets and comets and nebulae and constellations, then you, the visualizer are not the endless black space of the universe but the invisible bowl, the invisible background within which that endless black space and all the objects within it are imagined.  Any image of contexts or backgrounds, if held on to, will actually prevent you from experiencing, and by experiencing, from knowing, the observer by itself, when it is not making any observations at all. And since you, yourself, are the observer, these concepts, and the continuous restlessness of desires which keep you ever focussed  on the objects of your desire, in the external world or in your imagination, prevent you from experiencing the observer by itself, apart from all observations; and since the observer is you, the real you, your inability to stop, even for a minute or two, the restless movement of your desires and your mind, which is the servant of your desires, prevents you from every really knowing yourself, from self-realization.  The observer, or the self, then, is not any of these things or images that we use to define it.  The observer IS.

You can also notice that the observer, whether you are using your eyes, your nose, your ears, your skin, your memory or your intellect, that the observer, itself, is exactly the same observer no matter which sensory organ or combination of sensory organs you are using to arrive at whatever it is that you are experiencing.  You, the real you, as opposed to your body, your mind or whatever it is that you experience, are the observer.   You are the seer of your sights, the hearer of your sounds, the thinker of your thoughts, and the 'senser' of your body sensations.  If you are able to separate yourself from what you are experiencing, you will notice that yourself always feels exactly the same to yourself, and that includes not just whatever you happen to be doing or experiencing at that moment but also wherever and whenever you happen to be doing or experiencing it.  The you that observes smells inside your nose and the you that senses touch sensations all along your skin, the you that tastes things in the roof of your mouth and the you that sees things between the external end of the optical nerve and the retina, and the you that hears things between the external end of the cochlear nerve and the ear drum, are all exactly the same you.  Also, your 'you' doesn't change with time.  There is no morning you and evening you; a summer you and a winter you.  You are always the same ground of experience, the same focus, the same observer, no matter what, where or when you are observing something.

So even when you were a small child, your experience of yourself to yourself was exactly the same as it is now.  That is why sometimes you wake up in the morning and before your adult thoughts and concerns come rushing in you have a momentary insight that you, yourself and to yourself, without the distraction of any thoughts, feelings or body sensations, are exactly the same as you always were.  That is also why people with Alzheimers, where the logical and time oriented connections in the brain have begun to deteriorate, can get terribly confused and think that they are present at a much earlier time in their lives.  That is also why all old people, when they can separate themselves from their body sensations,  never feel old to themselves but exactly as they always felt to themselves and are often surprised to see themselves in pictures and realize that they really are, at least as far as their faces and their bodies are concerned, old.  The same is true for people who have lost a limb, have gained a lot of weight, or whose body has undergone any drastic change.  They still feel exactly the same to themselves as they did before the change took place and often momentarily forget that that change has taken place.  Even stroke victims and people that have experienced brain damage know, even if they are no longer able to communicate this knowledge, that in their innermost self, they are still the same as they always were.  The intense frustration that these people feel comes from the fact that even though they are no longer able to translate their thoughts into words for others or even for themselves, the same impulses, the same desires that would formerly result in thoughts are still there but, maddeningly, they can no longer be communicated.

The fact that the observer, which is the true self, has not changed since one was a small child, can at first seem abhorrent to the ego.  Yes, you have a whole shelf of trophies that you have accumulated, you have a wall full of advanced degrees; you have a fabulous home, a fabulous car, and a wonderful family.  But all these achievements and acquisitions are external to yourself.  I know that you don't think the same thoughts, have the same understandings, feel the same feelings, have the same values or perceive the world in the same way as you did when you were much younger, but, again, all of these are the contents of consciousness, not consciosness itself.  In the same way, you may now be haunted by failures, guilts and disappointments.  You may be lonely and depressed in a way that you never were in early childhood.  Yet, these feelings, this 'sense of yourself' are the things that you observe or even the things through which you observe the world, but they are not the observer itself.  It's as if you have accumulated dirt on the surface of your flashlight.  The light that comes out is not as bright as it used to be, and all the things you see look dirty because of it; but if you remove that dirty cover of the flashlight, if you get below the surface, the light inside is exactly as bright as it always was.

So two curious things about this observer are 1. that everything it observes in the material world and in the imaginary world is external to it, and 2. that it never changes.  The things it thinks about change, the body sensations it experiences change, the values and and relationships and feelings that it dwells on at different times change, but it, itself, not the experience, but that which experiences the experience, in other words, you; you, apart from your ever growing and aging body and your ever changing stream of thoughts, you, yourself,  never change.  This is exemplified beautifully in a Hindu legend of two birds in a tree.  The first bird is singing, then not, building a nest, then not, laying eggs and feeding children and then not; flying, eating, singing, and then not.  The other bird just sits absolutely still in the tree and silently observes everything the other bird is doing.  This other bird never moves; it never sings; it never does anything but silently and absolutely peacefully observes.  The first bird the Hindus refer to as the self with a lower case s; what they call the relative self.  The second bird  the Hindus refer to as the Self with a higher case S; what they call the witness.

Another thing that is most curious about this observer, or self, which I will now call this Self, is that it is not observable or measurable in any way directly.  Of course, it is usually quite obvious when a Self is present in the body of a living creature, because the presence of the Self means that that creature is alive; and the absence of a Self means that that creature is dead; usually a very obvious difference.  Yet when people are in vegetative comas and are being maintained by life support systems, it becomes very difficult to tell if they are alive or not; and no matter who is asking, no matter whether it is 'uber materialist' Steve Pinker, or 'man is merely a computer' Richard Dawkins, the question is always, even if the entire body and brain seem to be in tact,  "is anyone still in there?" Unless the person is not completely paralyzed and can voluntarily move some muscle, whether it is to wiggle a toe, blink an eye or clench a jaw, there has been no way (again, until very recently) to determine whether 'anyone' is in there; and always family and loved ones and caretakers, even neo-Darwinist materialist caretakers, are desperate to find out.

Even in healthy bodies, although the responsiveness of a living person gives you prima facie evidence that there is some one, some thing, some entity, in there that is hearing and considering your words and giving you reasonable responses based on those observations; the actual hearer of your voice, the being that is making sense out of your words, the being who is initiating a whole series of responses including the firing of millions of neurons, the contraction and expansion of several muscles in his tongue and jaw and the directing of just the right amount of air through his vocal chords to respond to your questions, that being, so obviously deduced from his or her reactions, is not actually visible or even directly measurable.

You may have been in yoga classes or done deep relaxation exercises where the instructor asks you to be absolutely still and, without moving at all, to 'bring your awareness' to your foot, 'bring your awareness' to your hand, to your chest, to any part of the body where you are experiencing tension.  All of this is done while you are being absolutely still.  If everything in your body, not the microscopic movements within your cells, or the involuntary movements within your blood stream and digestive tract, but everything within your conscious control is absolutely still while your awareness is moving freely all around your body, then, clearly, your awareness is not a thing.  And your awareness is really you.  When you are asked to 'bring your awareness' to a certain place its not as if you are bringing or carrying something external to yourself called your awareness.  It's not as if you are moving to your foot and you decide to take your awareness along with you.  How could you move to your foot and not bring your awareness.  You and your awareness are the same thing; they cannot be separated.  You could as easily say, without moving, 'go to your foot,' or 'be with your foot,' and you will get exactly the same result.

The reason you can move the Self freely around the body while the body is absolutely still is that the Self is not a thing at all.  It is context not content.  It is the non-physical bowl within which you experience all your experience.  It is not made of molecules or atoms, of waves of energy, of quarks or neutrinos.  It is not a thing.  It is no thing.  I could call it consciousness, but that conjures up an image of something that includes the contents of consciousness, all the things that consciousness experiences.  Yet you are pure consciousness, not the contents of consciousness.  The Self is actually you at your deepest level, yourself,  and the moment you try to conceptualize it, to observe it in your imagination, you step outside of yourself and create an image or a concept that is bounded, limited and not really pure consciousness, which is unbounded, limitless and precedes any content.

The observer, the Self, is not understood but realized; it is not figured out but experienced.  In fact it is the only thing (which is not really a thing) that you can know with complete confidence.  To know the Self does not require an observation of anything.  It does not require the use of a measuring instrument which gives you a quantity or a quality of a thing, but never the thing itself.  It does not require the use of sense organs which receive some signals that are impinging on them and ignore others and which signals are interpreted by ourselves based on our previous experiences.  It does not require the brain, which is the organ which records and defines our experience and through which we look out at the world from a certain point of view.

As opposed to science, the experience of the observer, of the Self, requires no beliefs.  When contemporary scientists look back on past scientists they have no problem using the word 'belief.'  Scientists used to believe that the earth was the center of the universe.  Scientists used to believe that fire emitted a substance called phlogiston.  Scientists used to believe that time and space were discreet, separate qualities, as were electricity and magnetism.  Those same scientists when they were alive would have been just as upset and outraged by anyone calling their 'laws' or their 'conclusions' beliefs as contemporary scientists are about calling their current unerstandings beliefs.  Yet time always changes laws into beliefs that are only understood to be beliefs in retrospect.  The observer, the Self, however never changes.  It cannot change because it is not a thing and only things change.  Mystics and saints trying to put into words their experience of the Self and the effects of realizing the Self, use the same words and make the same attempts that they did five hundred years ago, five thousand years ago and last year.

All this brings us to a fourth interesting thing about the observer, the Self.  I saved this aspect of the Self for now because it is, unless it is understood carefully, the most ego threatening of all.  This fourth aspect of the observer is nothing more and nothing less than that the observer, the Self, that is looking out and observing the world from behind my eyes, and the observer, the Self, that is looking out and observing the world from behind your eyes, is the exact same Self.  In fact, the Self that is looking out and observing the world from your cat's eyes, or your dog's eyes, or any living beings eyes, or, if they don't have eyes, any living being's sense organs, the observer, the Self, in all living beings is the exact same Self.  Again, I do not mean that any two creatures perceive the world in the same way; that any two creatures have exactly the same values or feelings or thoughts.  I am not implying that every creature even has values or feelings or thoughts.  Yet every creature is conscious; every creature has at its center an observer, even if all it observes is to detect whether something is to be approached or avoided, eaten or ignored.  If a creature is alive it needs nutrients and it gravitates toward the things it needs and it expends energy to arrive at those things it needs, whether that means hunting, grazing, running, flying, swimming,  turning its leaves to face the sun or sending out roots to find water.  This creature, whatever it is, performs these tasks not because of gravity, electro-magnetism, the weak force or the strong force, but because it wants to, because of the force of desire; and it desires what it needs not because it, or we humans for that matter, have any understanding of our biological needs, but because we experience hunger, a conscious experience, which is the desire which draws us to what we want to eat (and also, thanks to the wisdom of the universe, to exactly what we need to eat).  And the 'that which experiences hunger' of that simplest creature is the exact same 'that which experiences hunger' in us humans, which is the exact same 'that which thinks our thoughts', and 'that which calculates our most sophisticated calculations.'

As Deepok Chowpra says, "conciousness is a non-local phenomena."  Living beings are ways of separating consciousness, not that it is really separated, but by committing to a separate body and a separate brain, and participating in this world only through the agency of this body/brain, each of us develops our own separate way of experiencing the world and maintains the illusion of separation.  In this light, a species is a group of living beings that share a common understanding of the world and that can therefore understand one and other.  Variation within a species means that while members of the same species share a basic understanding of their world, they do not share it exactly.  Yes, from an evolutionary point of view, variation within a species increases the chance of survival of that species in the face of a new predator or a sudden change in environment.  But from an experiential point of view, variation within a species means that each member of a species has an exciting life as it gets to know, but never fully knows, is continued to be surprised by, the other members of that same species.  Members of the same species have enough in common so that they can understand each other and do not die of loneliness.  Members of the same species have enough variation so that they can never understand each other fully and do not die of boredom.  Understand here that I am not coming from the point of view that we are here merely to try to survive.  If that was the only thrust of evolution we would have stopped in the very beginning with microbes, which began all living creatures and still dominate all other living creatures by billions or trillions to one.  Survival has never been the main issue.  The thrust of evolution is to provide an experience and as environmental conditions on this planet and available elements on this planet have allowed for more and more complex organisms, they have been created to provide a more and more complex and interesting life experience. And evolution stops with humans not because more survivable creatures are not possible (as I said, microbes are exponentially more survivable), but because we are the living creatures, finally, that have the complexity to realize, during our own life time, that we are not separate, in other words, humans are the first creatures that have the capacity to see through the game of life and realize who we really are.

If we were forced to summarize Christianity in one sentence it would be 'the Golden Rule,' Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  This is the central teaching of Jesus and it appears in Hebrews in the Old Testament and in the writings of Buddha, in Hinduism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.  Yet these great teachers of ancient religion were after something more than molding 'nice' people.  Look at the Golden Rule not just as a prescription for behavior but as a learning tool.  By acting as if other people are as worthy as yourself, you eventually come to realize that they really are as worthy as yourself, in fact, that they and you are all aspects of the one great cosmic Self.

Whether or not we have that complete realization that we, in our essence, are really one, we still get intimations of it.  Those intimations we call love.  Love is the experience that we get, if even for a moment, that the other creature that we are looking at, or listening to, or touching, or smelling, or just thinking about, is really the same being as we are; and the usual sense of separation that we always have, and that I referred to above, the separation between the observer and the thing that we are observing, for a moment, disappears.  The feeling that we get is that the thing that we are relating to is not a thing at all, but a being, a being whose essence is the same consciousness, the same Self, as ourselves.  In that moment the illusion of separation is penetrated and our sense of self expands to include another.

Even though that moment of actual union, which can take place within or without the context of sex, and can take place with a child, a parent, a friend or a pet; can take place with an art form, with an audience, with a stranger or with a tree; that moment does not last, at least not at that intensity, for more than a moment.  As soon as you and the other being resume your activities, you do so from your own point of view and the other does so from his or her point of view and that sense of union may linger but not at the level of intensity that you experienced at that one transcendent moment. Yet these moments of experiencing the piercing of the boundary between oneself and another, bring all the rest of the universe closer.  You feel in a completely new and much deeper way, that you belong here, if not on the whole planet, then at least that you belong at that particular place where you had this experience.  You experience some of that closeness and shared experience that you had with your loved one with the other people and even with the objects in that place.

And, very importantly, you do not need another person to have this experience.  In spite of all the bad press that religion has received over the last decades, and how mindlessly and numbingly unconsciously so many religious practices are repeated by rote now a days, religion and it's rituals and practices were really created as a path to getting to a place where one can love one's Self.  Notice I did not say a place where one can love one's self.  That kind of love, self-love, has to do with a kind of pride about some aspect of your relative self that you feel is superior to a similar aspect in other creatures.  You obsess about this superiority of yours, not because of how ecstatic it makes you feel, but, usually, because it makes up for something else in your self that you feel is lacking or deficient.  This is precisely the kind of pride that you are reminded to get in touch with by well-intentioned but non-spiritual care givers.  "Why are you so depressed, a beautiful, young girl like you?"  "I know you are struggling with your studies, but remember what a gifted athlete you are." "I am sorry that the kids make fun of you, but you have to realize that they are just jealous of your intelligence."  This kind of bolstering of one aspect of the self to overcome negative feelings about another, doesn't really get you off the cycle of ups and downs, of ecstatic pride in one's victories and haunting shame in one's defeats.  What gets you off the cycle is realizing that the relative self, your body, your brain, your patterns of behavior, even your values, feelings and memories, are not the real you; they are part of the self, not the Self.  Your body and your brain are not you.  They are the equipment that you, the Self, use to experience the world and to satisfy your desires in the world.  But they are not the Self, which is not a thing or an activity, not a talent or an achievement; it is the context of everything else, it is pure consciousness, and by experiencing it, by knowing that that is what you really are, and what everybody else is, then superior and inferior disappear.  You can compete, but the life and death importance of competing is lost.  You are no longer competing because you need to  have a good sense of yourself or out of fear that you might wind up having a bad sense of yourself.  You know that your Self (not your self) will be exactly the same regardless of any defeat or victory.  This insight does not prevent you from competing, just competing with tension, with fear, with life or death stakes.  Competing becomes a game between two equals, in fact two identicals, who agree, for the sake of the game, that one will take of his shirt and be a 'skin' and one will keep on his shirt and be a 'shirt', or one will put on a black shirt and be black or a white shirt and be white; or a black body and be black or a white body and be white, or a male body and be male or a female body and be female; but all of this is part of the game of life, this game that, at times, but only at times, and actually at rare times, is competitive, but competitive as in a game and not as in those ridiculously dreaded and tension bound words......real life.

To love one's Self is to realize that in your essence you are exactly the same as every one else and every living being on this planet, and that you and everyone else are parts of, are different aspects of, a cosmic consciousness that is beyond space and time and is the source of all love, compassion, creativity and intelligence.  This Self can be discovered hap hazardly, which many religions call grace, or it can happen in an organized way by practicing a spiritual path.  Both experiences fade as you turn back to the world and pursue your interests within it with your usual point of view; although this experience is transforming enough that it will usually alter your perspective so that you will continue your worldly pursuits in a way somewhat different that you did before; the reason you are continuing to do the things you were doing will probably undergo a shift, and you may actually not continue to do what you were previously doing, but undertake some different activities.  If this experience comes as a result of a spiritual practice, then the experiencer knows how to get back to this experience once it fades; by going back to the spiritual practice that got her there. If it happens haphazardly and you are desperate to recapture the experience that you have lost, may I suggest a spiritual practice, anyone that appeals to you, as a vehicle for rekindling this experience?  If it is from a major religion, it doesn't really matter which practice you do, as long as you bring your full consciousnes and full desire to the practice. You know the experience that you want and that you love, so bring the fullness of that desire to your practice.  And, as I said, any practice of a major religion will do.  Major religions have lasted for thousands of years precisely for this reason, that they do deliver to the person who zealously undertakes their practices, this very experience that I have been describing.

Religion, not the mind numbing rote repitition of rituals that is often practiced nowadays, and which is done because "you're supposed to", or because "God wants you to," or because "the priest (or the rabbi or the imam) told you to,"  but vibrant, experiential religion, which is practiced without any more belief in it than we have in anything else we do.  We spend time and money to go to a movie in the hope, in the belief, that we will derive a good experience from it.  We spend time and money and energy acquiring an academic degree because we hope, we believe, that it will somehow pay off.  Every investment that we make of our time and energy we do in the hope or the belief that it will result in an experience that we want for ourselves or for others.  Precisely the same holds true for religion.  When Buddha and Jesus attracted followers, the followers came to them not because they were Buddhists or Christians and that was what you were supposed to do; there was no such thing at the time as Buddhists or Christians.  Rather, they came with a very simple belief.  They saw in Buddha and in Jesus something that they wanted to emulate, that they wanted for their own lives.  They simply said, "is it possible for me to achieve some of the peace, the wisdom, the love, and the vitality that we see in you?"  And Buddha's and Jesus' answer was "Yes.  Just follow me!"  So the followers followed.  They did the things that Buddha and Jesus suggested not from a mindless belief, but because there was something very tangible that they wanted to achieve for themselves.  If they didn't achieve it, they would stop their practices.  If they did, they would continue to follow and even teach these practices to others.  Thousands of years later these two religions still thrive, not because of rote practitioners who got no value out of their practice (how long would that last?) but because enough people experienced real results, real change and improvement in their lives; enough to continue and rededicate themselves to these practies and teach them to new generations, not of blind followers, but of spiritual seekers looking to know and experience their true Selves and their true natures.

The Self is the observer and when you observe from the true Self, you observe without the intermediary of your relative self, twisted by personal memories and driven by personal desires.  That is why pschologists and judges, both, can say with confidence, "Just watch yourself."  The Self that is watching the self; the Self that can step back from the self, is a higher Self, a Self whose observations are not twisted by momentary desires.  The Self always picks the reasonable path over the irrational path; the solution for the greater and longer range good over the solution that benefits one side (even your own side) over the other; the solution that makes you feel better about yourself in the long run even if you have to forego the immediate satisfaction that would give you pleasure in the moment but a diminished sense of yourself over the long haul.

Spiritual people are thought of, in some circles, as delusional.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Spiritual people have profound experiences of themselves and a vision of the world that is based on that experience and that really makes sense.  Materialists view the world in such a pathetic, disorganized and frightened way that they believe is based on reality.  It is actually based on a series of absurd beliefs  including the accidental rise of life from nonliving matter, the accidental rise of the physical universe from a random explosion, the ability of molecules to desire and experience and feel things, the ability of coded messages to form themselves, by themselves, into impossibly complex and synchronous ideas (the genetic code forming itself, by itself, into living bodies) which is the equivalent of letters forming themselves into great novels, numbers forming themselves into  the most sophisticated equations, and computer code forming itself into the most advanced software.  Not realizing that the Self is not a thing, they go through life fearing the destruction or the diminishment of the self.  Not knowing that we are all the same Self, they take pleasure in bullying and domineering others, and derive self satisfaction from thinking of themselves as higher up on whatever ridiculous hierarchy they think is important to them at the moment.  Not knowing that love of the Self and through love of the Self, the love of all others and the love of the cosmos, can be discovered within, they desperately seek out relationships, believing that only through relationships can they find any happiness at all.

Someone with Self realization participates in this world without fear, because they know that whatever the outcome of their endeavors, the Self, the observer, will not change.  They may be involved in hierarchies, but they don't take them seriously.  They relate to others as if they are brothers and sisters, because they are.  They do not enter a room with trepidation waiting to see if they are liked or not.  Their happiness does not depend on anyone else's opinion of them.  They enter a room of people to enjoy them, to share with them, to celebrate with them our common humanity and to discover with curiosity the unique path that each of them has taken. The Observer looks out at the world with fully conscious, open eyes.  The unrealized person looks out at the world with a certain tentativeness, because their sense of self (as opposed to their Self) depends, they think, on how the world will react to them.

As always, I welcome your comments.