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Old 02-20-2018, 04:24 AM   #1
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What is self?

Im so confused, I have read The guardian explain what is meant by self aswell.
Im frustrated that the writings tell me to turn away from my self but then does not go into adequate detail what self even is, for an overthinking mind its just frustrating. What about my individuality? I mean where is the line drawn between self ? how can you ever turn away from yourself, its frustrating having to follow loose terms i wish God would make it simpler I have no idea what self is and where the line is drawn. Also we are told that ego is bad and our goal is to overcome our ego, many people actually say the ego has a positive aspect and can help a person achieve things in life?

Last edited by Yousefy2; 02-20-2018 at 04:34 AM.
 
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Old 02-20-2018, 07:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yousefy2 View Post
Im so confused... ...the writings tell me to turn away from my self but...
Absolutely! On the one hand we're told
Quote:
...not be consumed by the fire of self and passion... (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 168)
and on the other hand we find--
Quote:
Man should know his own self, and understand those things which lead to loftiness... (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 145)
--and on the third hand we know we can't because
Quote:
to know one's self in substance or essence is impossible. (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 405)
Just the same, some how it seems that if we can deal with the fact that light is a particle and light is a wave, then we can work with the reality that we make personal selves a lot happier if we focus on the well being of others.
 
Old 02-20-2018, 09:17 AM   #3
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The self is like a permeable well of water, if it allows the rains of mercy to fall upon it's land it is filled, even to overflowing to other wells that they may be filled and satisfied.

Justice does not permit the well that receives the rain be filled with foul dregs, therefore it may be emptied of all stagnant water and coarsely scrubbed before the rains of mercy may enter.

Therefore be not ashamed of the corrections God gives you, humble yourself before God and supplicate at his mercy and love your neighbor as yourself in the love of God and not vain preferences.

In short apprehend the subtle realities and them more than the outward senses and body except what is conducive to health as you have already been aquatinted with them from your childhood and know and love God in spirit and truth and not mere appearances.

Such is my understanding.
 
Old 02-20-2018, 10:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yousefy2 View Post
Im so confused, I have read The guardian explain what is meant by self aswell.
Im frustrated that the writings tell me to turn away from my self but then does not go into adequate detail what self even is, for an overthinking mind its just frustrating. What about my individuality? I mean where is the line drawn between self ? how can you ever turn away from yourself, its frustrating having to follow loose terms i wish God would make it simpler I have no idea what self is and where the line is drawn. Also we are told that ego is bad and our goal is to overcome our ego, many people actually say the ego has a positive aspect and can help a person achieve things in life?
You are not alone

I see this is our task in life, to find the Self of God within, the unconstrained.

I see self as all that is not of God. Thus in this life we will have self, the question is how much can we give up of our own free will.

Luckily this is why we were gifted Abdul'baha, look at me, follow me, be as I am was what Abdul'baha asked of us.

I like this Hidden Word;

"O CHILDREN OF VAINGLORY! For a fleeting sovereignty ye have abandoned My imperishable dominion, and have adorned yourselves with the gay livery of the world and made of it your boast. By My beauty! All will I gather beneath the one-colored covering of the dust and efface all these diverse colors save them that choose My own, and that is purging from every color."

I currently see self as anything that prevents us living the Life as a Baha'i. Thus I would offer we have a lot to learn.

The best advice from Abdul'baha is "Little by Little day by day".

This prayer a great thought, my wife accepted the Faith before me, by just reading this prayer;

"God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord." ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

I wish you well in this daily quest.

Regards Tony
 
Old 02-20-2018, 04:22 PM   #5
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I have come to look at the "self" referred to as to be turned away from is the spoiled child within that metaphorically screams and kicks to try and persuade us to get what we want when that is in conflict with what is right. I suppose it is an aspect of ourself. Of course we need to know all aspects of ourself to gain control over them and become the most effective human beings we can.

"O ye loved ones of God! In this, the Bahá'í dispensation, God's Cause is spirit unalloyed. His Cause belongeth not to the material world. It cometh neither for strife nor war, nor for acts of mischief or of shame; it is neither for quarrelling with other Faiths, nor for conflicts with the nations. Its only army is the love of God, its only joy the clear wine of His knowledge, its only battle the expounding of the Truth; its one crusade is against the insistent self, the evil promptings of the human heart. Its victory is to submit and yield, and to be selfless is its everlasting glory. In brief, it is spirit upon spirit:"

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 256)

O people of the world! Follow not the promptings
of the self, for it summoneth insistently to wickedness
and lust; follow, rather, Him Who is the Possessor of all
created things, Who biddeth you to show forth piety,
and manifest the fear of God. He, verily, is independent 42
of all His creatures.

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 41)

This is also interesting:

With regard to every one of these qualities however the differences among different people are differences of degree, not of essence. Just as darkness is but the absence or lesser degree of light, so evil is but the absence or lesser degree of good-the undeveloped state. A bad man is a man with the higher side of his nature still undeveloped. If we are selfish, the evil is not in our love of self-all love, even self love, is good, is divine. The evil is that we have such a poor, inadequate, misguided love of self and such a lack of love for others and for God. We look upon ourselves as only a superior sort of animal and foolishly pamper our lower nature as we might pamper a pet dog-with worse results in our own case than in that of the dog. We may be brilliantly intellectual with regard to material things but we are blind to the things of the spirit and lacking in the higher and nobler part of life. Evil is always lack of life. If the lower side of man's nature is disproportionately developed, the remedy is not less life for that side, but more, life for the higher side, so that the balance may be restored.

(SOW - Star of the West, Star of the West - 5)
 
Old 02-22-2018, 07:25 AM   #6
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"What is self?"

That...

Is a really profound question that we could spend forever trying to analyze.

Trying to avoid making an essay-length response, so: The way I view it is that "selflessness" when described by any religious messenger that talks about the topic, from Guatama Buddha to Baha'u'llah, seems to be about detachment. Letting yourself go from your wants, impulses, and desires. Your attachments to this world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yousefy2 View Post
Im so confused, I have read The guardian explain what is meant by self aswell.
Im frustrated that the writings tell me to turn away from my self but then does not go into adequate detail what self even is, for an overthinking mind its just frustrating. What about my individuality?
Well...

Admittedly I view the whole process of detachment from a somewhat unorthodox light.

But I'd view detachment and selflessness as more of a confirmation of individuality than a rejection of it.

All our attachments to this world, our wants and desires, they, I believe, hinder and limit our individuality. They are the drives commanding us to do this-or-that, to indulge in this pleasure, or to acquire that thing. The philosophy of the "libertines" is, contrary to their name, not a lifestyle of freedom but one of slavery and servitude to their desires.

Thus I view detachment, selflessness, as an ideal of absolute freedom. Of total liberation of one's individuality from the passions and desires that seek to make us their slaves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yousefy2 View Post
Also we are told that ego is bad and our goal is to overcome our ego, many people actually say the ego has a positive aspect and can help a person achieve things in life?
There are a myriad of definitions I've seen ascribed to "ego", and so I'd need you to describe what you mean by the term before I could try to address this last point.
 
Old 02-23-2018, 07:05 PM   #7
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"What is self?"

My kind of question !

Here are my thoughts: the Self is not the physical body, the Self has use of the physical vehicle, on a lease !

Also the Self can be spoken of as Consciousness, which has a lower self(ego/mind)of which it has to overcome.

I have a physical body - I am not the physical body.
I have a mind - I am not the mind.

I do have strong leanings to Hinduism and Buddhism, but do like the Bahai faith.
 
Old 02-23-2018, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twirlytoast View Post
"What is self?"

My kind of question !

Here are my thoughts: the Self is not the physical body, the Self has use of the physical vehicle, on a lease !

Also the Self can be spoken of as Consciousness, which has a lower self(ego/mind)of which it has to overcome.

I have a physical body - I am not the physical body.
I have a mind - I am not the mind.

I do have strong leanings to Hinduism and Buddhism, but do like the Bahai faith.
Hi, welcome to the forum.

What you said about self is pretty similar to the way it is described in the Baha'i Faith.

I believe that our self is the soul, not the physical body...
We experience the soul every day because we are a soul. The soul expresses itself through the physical body, but our body is just a vehicle that carries that soul around while we are alive on earth. Thus the soul is our self, our true reality, and the body is just the outer shell.

The nature of the soul is a mystery no human mind will ever unravel.

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths...” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 158-159

We cannot know the nature of the soul but we can know the function of the soul.

The soul cannot be perceived in the material world except as it is expressed in outward signs and works. The human body is visible, the soul is invisible. Nevertheless, it is the soul that directs human faculties. As outer circumstances are communicated to the soul by the eyes, ears, and brain, the soul communicates its desires through the brain to the physical body, which thereby expresses itself.

The soul comes into being at the moment of conception and it animates the human body. The body needs a soul or it cannot live, but the soul does not need a body, so it continues to exist after the body dies. The body is destructible and temporary so eventually it dies; the soul is indestructible and eternal so it lives forever in the spiritual world.

The soul is the sum total of the personality so it is the person himself; the physical body is pure matter with no real identity. The person, after he dies and leaves his physical body behind remains the same person, and he goes to the spiritual world where he continues the life he conducted in the physical world. The soul takes on some kind of a spiritual form made up of heavenly elements that exist in the spiritual world. We cannot possibly know what that world is like, which is one reason what no religious scriptures have ever described it. It is a Mystery of God
 
Old 02-24-2018, 06:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
Hi, welcome to the forum.

What you said about self is pretty similar to the way it is described in the Baha'i Faith.

I believe that our self is the soul, not the physical body...
We experience the soul every day because we are a soul. The soul expresses itself through the physical body, but our body is just a vehicle that carries that soul around while we are alive on earth. Thus the soul is our self, our true reality, and the body is just the outer shell.

The nature of the soul is a mystery no human mind will ever unravel.

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths...” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 158-159

We cannot know the nature of the soul but we can know the function of the soul.

The soul cannot be perceived in the material world except as it is expressed in outward signs and works. The human body is visible, the soul is invisible. Nevertheless, it is the soul that directs human faculties. As outer circumstances are communicated to the soul by the eyes, ears, and brain, the soul communicates its desires through the brain to the physical body, which thereby expresses itself.

The soul comes into being at the moment of conception and it animates the human body. The body needs a soul or it cannot live, but the soul does not need a body, so it continues to exist after the body dies. The body is destructible and temporary so eventually it dies; the soul is indestructible and eternal so it lives forever in the spiritual world.

The soul is the sum total of the personality so it is the person himself; the physical body is pure matter with no real identity. The person, after he dies and leaves his physical body behind remains the same person, and he goes to the spiritual world where he continues the life he conducted in the physical world. The soul takes on some kind of a spiritual form made up of heavenly elements that exist in the spiritual world. We cannot possibly know what that world is like, which is one reason what no religious scriptures have ever described it. It is a Mystery of God
The soul is the sum total of the personality so it is the person himself; the physical body is pure matter with no real identity. The person, after he dies and leaves his physical body behind remains the same person, and he goes to the spiritual world where he continues the life he conducted in the physical world. The soul takes on some kind of a spiritual form made up of heavenly elements that exist in the spiritual world. We cannot possibly know what that world is like, which is one reason what no religious scriptures have ever described it. It is a Mystery of God

While we are here, the physical body is part of our identity. Our personality is the combination of the soul and our brain. Likewise in the next world we the combination of our soul and the spiritual elements that make up our spiritual body. In another sense there is no self, our self is always changing so we are not the same person we were yesterday. This is according to the Buddha who was a legitimate Manifestation of God.
 
Old 02-25-2018, 12:32 PM   #10
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Thanks for the welcome, I've been away for some years on my infinite journey to find out the BIG questiion; what is Reality ? Will anyone ever know ???!!!

We have a physical body which is powered through and by the etheric body(I can see this(its color is a vibrating blue).
The mind & brain are the tools of the Soul via the Astral body.
The Oversee is the Soul/Consciousness.

I have seen the etheric body on many occasions. I also occasionally see people no longer trapped in their flesh prison.

As I said previously this is the material I truly enjoy discussing. I belong to a school of thought which says that their is no Man made interpretation of God but that their is an Intelligence way, way beyond our conception. A Divine Intelligence.

I also have investments in reincarnation.

Great forum.
 
Old 02-25-2018, 02:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twirlytoast View Post
Thanks for the welcome, I've been away for some years on my infinite journey to find out the BIG questiion; what is Reality ? Will anyone ever know ???!!!
What is reality? Abdu'l-Bahá knew:

Strive ye with all your hearts ...until this narrow place of shadows be widened out, and this dust heap of a fleeting moment be changed into a mirror for the eternal gardens of heaven, and this globe of earth receive its portion of celestial grace.

Best,

from

gnat - or rather the speck on the pupil of a dead gnat
 
Old 02-25-2018, 03:28 PM   #12
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Sorry for being off topic. Welcome back Twirlytoast. I am curious. What do you mean when you say "I have investments in reincarnation" ?
 
Old 02-26-2018, 12:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yousefy2 View Post
Im so confused, I have read The guardian explain what is meant by self aswell.
Im frustrated that the writings tell me to turn away from my self but then does not go into adequate detail what self even is, for an overthinking mind its just frustrating. What about my individuality? I mean where is the line drawn between self ? how can you ever turn away from yourself, its frustrating having to follow loose terms i wish God would make it simpler I have no idea what self is and where the line is drawn. Also we are told that ego is bad and our goal is to overcome our ego, many people actually say the ego has a positive aspect and can help a person achieve things in life?
One thought that has helped me to start understanding this is to consider the self as something good or true when connected to God, the Ultimate Reality, and to consider the self as something bad or false when taken in isolation from God, the Ultimate Reality.

To me it is all about connection.
The term Religion, in the end, comes from "religare": restore a bond, a connection.

In understanding my true self, there are a lot of attributes that are real when they are considered just aspects of the "Big Scheme of Things", the Reality, but illusory when I fancy them as the truth of what I am.

For example: if I define myself as a "white male 51-year old doctor" I will live according to the illusion of what a white male 51-year old doctor is expected to think, say, and do by the society I live in, or by the beliefs I have been raised with.

Intellectual arrogance, thirst for money and prestige, excessive concern on my sexual performance, even subtle racist prejudices, will become drivers of my actions and thoughts, to the point in which I lose sight of God, Who is the Source and Foundation of my true self. I will end up empty and miserable.

On the other hand, I may grow to recognize that while it is TRUE that I have the attributes of being a white 51 male doctor, these are only transient, almost accidental features, none of which can define me. Those attributes are not my essence.

If I worship those attributes and cling into them as the true source of my identity, I will start building walls that will interfere with my connection to other people, to nature, to humankind, to the totality of Existence (in other words, to God). That "religare", that bond-making, will be lost.

Idolatry, in the end, means to make the mistake of worshipping as Totality/Essence (God) anything that is only a Part/Attribute (an idol).
Money is good, when connnected to every thing that makes it valuable (the right purpose, rationality, justice, hard work, collaboration, etc. ). Then taking good care of your money becomes part of living for God.
Money is bad when disconnected from all above, when taken as a goal in itself. Then money becomes an idol.

Last edited by camachoe; 02-26-2018 at 12:30 PM.
 
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