Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Self That Serves

A whimsical notion came to me while dining with a close friend. We were talking about the nature of suffering (though it was not in the same terms as used in Buddhism). She has a feeling that during suffering there's another non-suffering version of herself somewhere in the background. During times of happiness, her suffering self* is just outside of the picture, but still there and may come back at any time. I am very happy that she is able to step outside of her deep suffering from personal loss and enjoy her moments. Here it does align with the buddhist idea that we can choose whether or not to suffer, that our minds create our reality.

The following line of thinking came to me:
At any time, every being is split into infinite parallel selves, an infinite number experiencing every conceivable flavor of suffering + one experiencing perfect peace and joy (non-suffering). It is possible to manifest any of these selves at any time, and the more conscious you are, the more skilled you are at choosing which self to manifest. Basically, our body is a shell that needs to have a self overlaid on it. Many selves are fighting to get in, sometimes the suffering selves really want to take over. The peaceful self is patient, strong, and self-confident. It waits until it is called upon and things are quiet. When we are able to quiet ourselves enough, calm down the masses of fearful, angry, desirous, suffering selves, and walk past them to choose for the peaceful, joyful self to come it, it does come in. It's hard to realize that the suffering selves do not serve us, they're so desperate to gain control that they trick us into thinking they're useful, such as the self convincing us of the joy of being resented.

It is a metaphor that fits for and serves me. Feel free to use it if it serves you.

*This is pretty reminiscent of the pain-body idea that Tolle writes and talks about, though I believe that there are some differences. Either way, they are both just metaphors. If either works for you, use that one to your best advantage. Here are a few quick distinctions of my metaphor: it does not talk about having a deep-rooted debt of pain. It also does not imply that the debt can be paid off. Nor that one person's pain-body is stronger than another. Also, all pains are not the same pains, they do not aggregate together.


  1. Suffering is just a perspective. When someone close to you dies, you can immediately choose to remember memorable time spend together nad recant stories of time with that person, or you can look at the glass as half-full and say "he was too young" or "why didn't his friend try to save him"...

  2. I think suffering you have descibed may be correct as suffering may be differnent and their magnitude may be different but the real root is same the soul here it does not count how much your soul has suffered ,it then simply comes that u have suffered.


  3. Patrick, thank you for sharing your views on suffering as perspective. I agree that suffering vs. non-suffering is a choice of the mind. If only it were easy for the mind to be trained into choosing.

    Amit, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your side. A question - do you believe that a *soul* can suffer? In my definition of a soul, it cannot suffer, only the ego or "self" pretending to be the soul can suffer. Though, I welcome different definitions and different perspectives, as learning opportunities and points of contemplation. I would really love to know your thoughts more.