We, as humans, always strive to find our identity, our purpose in life, something that sets us at par with other human beings, the crowd. And hence we come across the concept of Self. We all use the term so often as it is an integral part of our understanding, perhaps even our existence. Myriad philosophers have tried and explained their notions of Self, nevertheless, it occurs to me that we can each have our own notion for Self.
Let’s dive into a train of thoughts and try to decode what makes us, Us.
The first thought that comes to our minds, when asked what is Self, would be how someone thinks, evaluates, or perceives oneself. But the twist in the tale comes when we realize that the thoughts in our heads are all borrowed, maybe from the people around us, the books that we read, the movies that we watch, or the songs that we listen to. There could be a thousand things that influence us over time, and gradually, become a part of our thinking, our sentiments, and eventually our identity. We might be just a breathing exoskeleton of our perceptions.
The confusion did not end here. There are times when we feel disassociated, it is perhaps the most human feeling of our existence, but we hardly muse over it. Isn’t our concept of Self, transient, or ephemeral? We don’t look at things the same way always, we don’t behave the same way under all circumstances, we change. So, our notion of Self does as well! There are so many versions of our own selves that we create and forget, make and remake.
Maybe we don’t even really understand those versions of ourselves, because we keep pushing it under the layers of conformity. We either keep telling our sanity that we are unique, special, at par with others or we just bury our identity among the crowd by trying to look, sound, and think like others. Perhaps, we’re here in the middle, away from either of these extremities, deriving thoughts, sentiments, inspiration, and influence from everything, and everyone that surround us and assimilating it with our consciousness to build what we are, to construct what we call — our Self.
Every single person on this earth is living with their unique realizations about their own lives which are simultaneously true and false in relation to the circumstances of their state-of-being. It’s as if we as individuals, don’t just exist, we evolve with our experiences. We dwell in states of impermanence that we call phases in our lives, and they keep molding us. Apparently, the only thing we ought to do is to keep ourselves open to what might come next, best or worst, good or bad, no matter what. These tiny evolutions could lead us to the enlightenment of ourselves, possibly not just the one we’re right now, but one we want to be — our better self.
In the end, we don’t have any one concrete answers or definition to what is Self, however, I hope that my perspective did give you the much-needed stimulus to invest some time in this thought.