The Problem with Assigning Attributes to True Self/Awareness

Authentic spiritual awakening involves, in part, a recognition of Awareness (sometimes called “True Self”) as the unchanging space to which all phenomena come and go. If you are unfamiliar with this recognition, read some articles on this site or google “nondual awakening.”

It may be best not to buy into the idea that True Self/Awareness has certain attributes or that you are acting directly from True Self/Awareness. New age spirituality and some nondual teachings sometimes erroneously assign these things to True Self/Awareness.
True Self/Awareness is simply that which is perceiving or that to which everything is coming and going.

Assigning attributes to True Self/Awareness or believing that it has a certain voice/action is at best, a belief, and at worst, dangerous.

For example, there are stories of people who committed suicide by believing that a thought that said suicide was a good idea was coming from True Self/Awareness.

Although that is an extreme example, there are other reasons not to assign attributes to Awareness or claim that your actions are coming directly from it.

Many teachers who have abused students have used the idea that their actions were coming directly from True Self/Awareness as a way to rationalize bad behavior. I’ve worked with people in relationships who were at the receiving end of partners or friends who justified their hurtful behavior by claiming that it was coming directly from True Self/Awareness.

Also, when one believes True Self/Awareness is inherently peaceful or blissful, there can be a tendency to regard any negative state as coming from ego while the positive states are coming from True Self/Awareness. This can create a constant seeking to GET BACK to the positive state (“I got it, I lost it” syndrome) as well as an avoidance of and resistance to negative states (bypassing).

Notice that when you are at peace or even experiencing bliss, it is mostly because there is no resistance to what is arising to awareness. It’s all being accepted as it arises. It’s not because True Self/Awareness is inherently peaceful or blissful. It isn’t inherently anything.

Even when you are experiencing something negative or non-peaceful, awareness is still there. It’s that to which the negative thought/emotion is happening.

This is a more mature view, IMHO, because it allows for everything – every positive, negative or neutral thought, feeling, or sensation, state, experience – to be as it is. It helps to end seeking and bypassing, which by their very nature come from the movement of chasing the positive and avoiding the negative.

And ironically, it provides more peace, acceptance and even bliss, but even those states come and go to awareness.



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