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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  There's more than meets the I
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Monday, August 5,2013

There's more than meets the I

By Cary Bayer  


“The mind is an iceberg. It floats with only one-seventh of its bulk above water.”—

Sigmund Freud


Who am I? It’s a question that has riddled almost every college student of every generation as he or she wrestles with the existential issues of growing up. It’s a close cousin to the question that Pilate asked of Jesus: “What is Truth?” Four hundred years earlier, Socrates was imploring Athenians to “Know thy Self,” or, in other words, answer the question, “Who am I?


The title of this column is a deliberate pun, because the original maxim on which the pun is based also speaks to the fact that there’s more to life than what appears on the surface to the observing eye. Another way of saying it is that there’s more to life than perception. And, as the title of this column indicates, there’s also more to life than the psychological perspective known as your “I” or “ego.” There’s also more to life than thinking, as Hamlet says to his best friend, “There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.”

What is it that’s more than perceiving, more than thinking, more than feeling, and more than the ego? The answer is your higher Self, the very thing that Socrates was teaching us to discover. It’s also the very thing that Yoga, in its purest form, is imploring us to realize.

But it’s not the self of your personality, because that has a tendency to change; one day you’re up, the next day you’re down. The higher Self is beyond your personality; it’s also beyond your thinking, beyond your perceiving, beyond your feeling, and beyond your individual separate self, known as your ego. It’s the nonchanging, unbounded, universal part of your being; in fact, it is your very Being itself.

Personal growth systems like Yoga-which means the yoking or uniting of your individual small self with your universal big Self-and meditation are designed to bring you in touch with that. And I can vouch for meditation’s effectiveness, from the experience of having taught Transcendental Meditation since the ‘70s, and Higher Self Healing Meditation since 2010; they do just that.

The irony is that, with the help of meditation you can go beyond your “I” to your “Self,” and thereby enrich that very “I.” And enrich your eye, too. Because once you start tapping into the root of your individuality at the universal level of who you truly are, you enliven all aspects of what makes you unique, in much the same way that when you water the root of a tree, all aspects of the tree-its leaves, fruit, bark, and so forth-are made healthier. In other words, you begin to perceive the world with fresher eyes because you’ve cleansed the doors of perceptions, as the poet/painter William

Blake put it. As he wrote in “Auguries of Innocence:”

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.”

Many people who are bent on spiritual development have mistakenly believed that the ego is, in some way, a bad thing. It’s not. It’s just a limited thing. The view from the sixth floor of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan isn’t a bad thing; it’s a limited thing, because it’s highly obstructed by all the large buildings that surround it. The view from the eighty sixth floor’s observation deck is, however, a wonderful thing because, from that great height, there are no other buildings to obstruct your view. In fact, there’s nothing that can obstruct your view; you can see as far as the eye can see.

This analogy explains the difference between the limited ego and the unlimited higher Self. The problem with the ego, if there is a problem at all, is that it likes to think that it’s the only game in town, that it commands the best view. It doesn’t. And when the higher Self awakens, the ego realizes what it is and what it isn’t, and becomes what it’s designed to benamely, the intermediary between the world and your universal nature.


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