Real Self


If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where does

personality lie? What is Real Self? How does it differ from soul?

Self is living entity, not immutable like soul, but mutable and

ever-changing life, which is body when observed by senses, and which

is mind when experienced by introspection. It is not an entity lying

behind mind and body, but life existent as the union of body and

mind. It existed in
our forefathers in the past, is existing in the

present, and will exist in the future generations. It also discloses

itself to some measure in vegetables and animals, and shadows itself

forth in inorganic nature. It is Cosmic life and Cosmic spirit, and

at the same time individual life and individual spirit. It is one

and the same life which embraces men and nature. It is the

self-existent, creative, universal principle that moves on from

eternity to eternity. As such it is called Mind or Self by Zenists.

Pan Shan (Ban-zan) says: The moon of mind comprehends all the

universe in its light. A man asked Chang Sha (Cho-sha): How can

you turn the phenomenal universe into Self ? How can you turn Self

into the phenomenal universe? returned the master.

When we get the insight into this Self, we are able to have the open

sesame to the mysteries of the universe, because to know the nature

of a drop of water is to know the nature of the river, the lake, and

the ocean--nay, even of vapour, mist, and cloud; in other words, to

get an insight into individual life is the key to the secret of

Universal Life. We must not confine Self within the poor little

person called body. That is the root of the poorest and most

miserable egoism. We should expand that egoism into family-egoism,

then into nation-egoism, then into race-egoism, then into

human-egoism, then into living-being-egoism, and lastly into

universe-egoism, which is not egoism at all. Thus we deny the

immortality of soul as conceived by common sense, but assume

immortality of the Great Soul, which animates, vitalizes, and

spiritualizes all sentient beings. It is Hinayana Buddhism that

first denied the existence of atman or Self so emphatically

inculcated in the Upanisads, and paved the way for the general

conception of Universal Self, with the eulogies of which almost every

page of Mahayana books is filled.