Understanding the Self

Via Yesica Pineda
on May 21, 2010
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Why do i feel what I feel?

Why am i angry? Why am i sad? Why am i happy? Why am i jealous? Why am i afraid? Why am i envious? Why do i need to know why?

Like i read in “Eat, love, pray”, ‘Why is a hard question to answer in any language’; nonetheless is part of everyone’s effort to understand the self.

Notice that i write the word i not capitalized – which it is grammatically incorrect in English – this i do in order to remind myself of the danger of taking my self (I) to seriously and in giving myself more importance than what it is. My I is already a huge source, enough to deal with, without having to capitalize it. Me, mine, I – just imagine.

Understanding the self is not only a human challenge, it is also the first goal in all religions, practices, cultures, story tales, families, rituals…Know thy self…the first rune in the Celtic culture.

To start from the beginning, “I” is made of Earth, Fire, Water, Ether and Metal; elements of universal creation manipulated by holy science through the wisdom of the atom across the spectrum of light. Now I am here, now I am not ~ eternally.

Then, I is relative to reality as is.

Let’s talk about its physical reality for today:

The Self

1. When dependent on the six sense-spheres (sight, hearing, speech, touch, taste, mind), contact arises;

2. Then, dependent on contact, sensation arises;

3. And so, Dependent on sensation, craving arises. …

…and we come to the I: I want, I need, I love, I hate, I, me, mine.

How to understand the self?

“Our breathing patterns reflect our emotional and mental states. The breath is jerky during anger, momentarily ceases during periods of fear, gasps during amazement, chokes during sadness, sighs in relief, is slow and steady during periods of concentration, and changes during periods in which the mind is subject to passing thoughts and emotions of a random nature. While it is difficult to control the mind and emotions directly, they can be mastered indirectly by using the breath.” (M. Govindan, M.A.)

Impermanence: the key to successfully understanding

We can certainly say that the understanding of the self begins with the observation of the self. Several different starting points are observing respiration, giving attention to bodily movements. It is from these points that we can progressively develop our understanding. However, no matter from which point the journey starts, stages come which everyone must pass through on the way to the final goal.

These stages are:

1. One dwells observing the phenomenon of arising.

2. One dwells observing the phenomenon of passing away. 3.

3. One dwells observing the phenomenon of arising a passing away.

Unless these three levels of Impermanence are experienced, we will not develop wisdom– the equanimity based on the experience of impermanence.

We don’t need to Change ourselves

Whatever answers you find to your questions of Why, start from the right understanding of the self ~ I am earth, I am water, I am ether, I am metal, I am fire, I am millions of atoms which look like mini solar systems and behave like one ~ then it will be clear that the drama of the Self -YOURself- (your anger, your happiness, your jealousy, your fear, your pride, your envious self) are only but the contents of your mind: mind being  one of the six sense-spheres that dependent on contact create a sensation and dependent on your sensation (pleasant of unpleasant) create your cravin… bringing you back to the I, me, mine.

To close with good advice I will step away from myself and I am going to use Pema Chödrón’s word when I tell you that while working with understanding the self, we often think that, somehow, we are going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who we really are. It is a bit like saying, “if I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “f I could only get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others; we might say, “if it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get along, my job would be just great. And “I if weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.” But Understanding ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Loving-kindness means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change our-selves. Understanding ourselves isn’t about trying to throw our-selves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

…Then the transient journey of this material life will be worthwhile.




About Yesica Pineda

Yesica Pineda is a time and space traveler, viajera del tiempo y el espacio. Yeye is a musician, yogini, and writer, who thinks of herself as stardust creating the Universe, and loves the feeling of positive vibrations. She is the founder of the multilingual portal for the encounter of the worlds, Namaste La Onda Natural. You can also read her work at Destino Magazines®, Baja.com®, BajaTraveler2016®, and follow her column here at Elephant Journal. She is a social media lover, and as the lead producer of Namaste Conscious MultiMedia, Yeye produces Yoga Videos in Spanish for www.Gaia.com and leads live power yoga & music events at 101 Namaste SJ art district®, and every full moon you can enjoy live music, friends, and nature by the Sea of Cortez at El Ganzo in Los Cabos, where she and her husband Justin Miller present Full Moon Yoga with Planetary Moods. She is a Vipassana Meditator. Born and educated in Mexico City, she has fully lived and continue studying in Los Angeles, CA; Boulder, Colorado; and Los Cabos, Mexico. Countries she has travelled include USA, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Holland, Turkey, and New Zealand, and beautiful Islands such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. She is a traveller of the worlds. She lives with her family and two dogs somewhere in the Universe. She believes in Love. To follow her Planetary Moods you can hear in Soundcloud at WaterWalkers or Yeyeorganicpop. Or, visit her website.


6 Responses to “Understanding the Self”

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you. This was exactly what I needed to read right now. I was feeling exactly what you are describing above…

  2. yeye says:

    You are welcome Sarah. 🙂 Thank you~ be happy

  3. Hi, yesica. Great post. We happen to be dealing with exactly this topic in the Bhagavad Gita.

    Here's the opening to Chapter 6, which says pretty much what you wrote so beautifully above. Notice that this translator use the same device you do of lower case "s" for the egocentric self (and the upper case "S" for the impartial cosmic observer Self.)

    He who performs his duty
    with no concern for results
    is the true man of yoga–not
    he who refrains from action.

    Knowing that right action itself
    is renunciation, Arjuna;
    in the yoga of action, you first
    renounce your own selfish will.

    For the man who wishes to mature,
    the yoga of action is the path;
    for the man already mature,
    serenity is the path.

    When a man has become unattached
    to sense object or to actions,
    renouncing his own selfish will,
    then he is mature in yoga.

    He should lift up the self by the Self
    and not sink into the selfish;
    for the self is the only friend
    of the Self, and its only foe.

    The self is a friend for him
    who masters himself by the Self;
    but for him who is not self-mastered,
    the self is the cruelest foe.

  4. smithnd says:

    Yes yes.

  5. yeye says:

    Thank you Bob 🙂 INsPiration as always 🙂

  6. yeye says:

    yes 😉