Looking at (pun accepted) the selfie as a product, and a tool, in our society is a good way to better understand how ego-overidentification and solidification works.
This is because the selfie assumes that, through a photographic image of one’s external layers of flesh and hair, the visible projection of one’s fat, muscles, and skeletal configuration, one’s cosmetic and other physical modifications, and so forth, paired with the context of one’s surrounding environment (and the possible personal/ancestral history that a person is born into that can be seen), one can truly be, show, or see, the “self.”
The concept of the selfie assumes that the people who consume a projected image can observe (or that the person who constructs the image called the “selfie” itself can share), information about the value, beauty, life, state-of-being, and so forth of the individual, or individuals, being presented.
It assumes that an image of the “self” can be shared when framed in a specific way, and looked at within a specific context, on a medium that is filled with openings for interpretation and misinterpretation when the image of that a projected self itself gets filtered (pun also accepted) through the mind of another human-being, when this cannot be done.
The selfie, therefore, can mainly be considered a popular product, and tool, for ego over-identification and solidification based on the result of it’s function and purpose (not just based on any value judgment about selfies in general).
A photo, like language, can only communicate the process of efforts to communicate when seen in truth (this is especially true in the English language, which has multiple different meanings and connotations for commonly used expressions and words, and is often just “understood” as a reflection of the perceiver’s and expresser’s minds interacting with their limited understanding of shared words as opposed to any clear transfer of information).
A photo only has the ability to show us a framed expression of our ego-selves when we really look at it, in the same way that language does the same when we “hear” things being expressed. Only the mind of the observer can be known by what he/she sees, but there is no guarantee, based on his/her ability to see clearly, that the person expressing any given idea will be truly understood, or even heard.
Ideas, messages, concepts, images and sounds (think of color-blindness or auditory limitations for simple examples, but the mind interpreting things as a whole as a clearer one) can be shared and distorted through their expression, and this is the same way that the ego distorts the truth of the self when it is present.
The ego, like pictures presented in pixels on a screen, or with ink on a piece of paper, is a distorted projection, and an interpretation, of the true self that can only be known and expressed through being. The ego, therefore, can never completely express the full truth of one’s self and is a product that, although it often has a reaction when it interacts with the minds and egos of others, can never wholly reflect a full self or truth.
When words are expressed from one human-being to another, depending on the state-of-being of the observer, and that person’s ability to truly see and understand what is being expressed (based on history, preferences/biases, ways of speaking, vocabulary, comprehension abilities, mood, etc), much can be lost in communication and in understanding. The same goes for pictures, and for the ego. This is why Yoga strives to help humans dissolve the ego as a way to connect to, understand, and express (through presence and awareness), their true self, which can only be expressed through being-ness.
Spiritual development and the expression of one’s true self, like the expression of most internal states, can only be seen as a byproduct of the thoughts, words, actions, etc that one communicates through his/her “character,” and life choices when expressed in physical form. But, as we just discussed above, words, thoughts, and actions, and even “character,” are still like photographs that observers can look at as a reflection of truth; they are never truly an accurate reflection of anything except the implication that something original/true exists beyond what is being projected. All that we can ever truly see projected when we look at anything manifested in the world is the process of reflection of a state-of-being.
And since being-ness is the only pure expression of the true self, Samadhi is the closest that we can each individually, and collectively, get to full self-expression since Samadhi is the highest state of pure “being-ness” that one can experience in this lifetime…
But it can never be fully “communicated” in any way other than through direct personal experience, although we attempt to take metaphorical photos of it to share through our painted, orated, written, and other forms of expressions that includes not just creative works throughout history, but every thought, word, and action that we engage in throughout our lives to express higher states of existence as well. We, as a species, manage to get our closest to communicating the message of our true self with tone (our internal resonance of being), and even try to express this with the mantra “Om,” but even that falls short of our truth if we fail to recognize the silence and space from which the tone itself emerges.
Yoga simply reminds us, through practical application, that when we fail to “be” since we “are,” and then fail to further be conscious observers of ourselves, and all things in life, we run the risk of overidentifying with the distortions that we create within ourselves and the world, as opposed to seeing how, and that, we create these distortions and everything else that exists for us to potentially interact with as well. This can cause us to fall back into a state of unawareness if we over-identify too strongly with our attachments and move farther and further away from the purest expression of our true being.
Understanding, through observation/concentration/contemplation, is key when striving to understand experience itself. We use these tools in order to see and appreciate how existence unfolds through our constant, inevitable, creation of thoughts, words, and actions in every given moment, and we use our understanding of this to further expand our knowing of what this means within the larger context of all that exists, and that will exist, moving forward from our present space and time.
Samadhi, therefore, in it’s undistinguished state, as we have been discussing for the past week or two, is being-ness that we work to come back to when we inevitably reach the heights of distinction as conscious beings/creators through practice (whether structured or inspired) in physical form expressed and manifested (and therefore distorted) in the world, all while remaining an indisputable reflection of the truth of our existence.
The best way to remember the reality of your distinction from your true self, is to remember your physicality, changing and manifesting into new expressions with environmental changes, hormones, food, stresses, and activity, and being recreated at an atomic level in every moment in which you exist, all while simultaneously fading back into un-manifested form as you move closer and closer to death (like we are all programmed to do at a DNA level), all while our universe and the entire cosmos expands endlessly into eternity and maybe also toward its eventual end/back to the un-manifested pure essence.
The sum of the parts of the overall expression of a person, over time, is what we often use to gage different things in our society, including, “state-of-being,” but external expressions are never an accurate reflection of the truth of one’s being, they are only an expression of one’s ego; everything that is not the original expression is a distorted projection of the original. Our consciousness allows us to connect with the source of what we are reflecting and reflecting on, and it allows us to know who/what we are only in this way.
Humans can use words as a gage for “state-of-being,” but words are only a distortion, thoughts expressed even through numbers, or imagery, or poetry, have also been used in our collective and individual efforts, as we, human beings, have tried everything to communicate this truth, but all of our manifestations are still a distortion. Why?
Well, it is because, your truth, although you will have your entire life to test this within yourself again and again, is only expressed and felt in the presence of your being. This is the closest that we, as humans, come to being undistinguished from the true self. This presence is only communicated at a subtle level that can only be “channeled” or “translated” through concepts, ideas, tone, and in how one’s presence impacts others, but again, all of these expressions, though “wonderful,” are still distortions.
I (which is now used so that we understand that I am referring to the physical human-being named Kidecia King, who is often called variations of the original sound of those letters based on who is pronouncing/looking at them), sometimes watch Obstacle Course Competitions, and some internet TV shows for the purposes of observation, research, and occasional fun (although enjoyment may or may not come from these activities) when “I” am not working, singing, thinking out loud, cooking, stretching, writing, studying, sleeping, or doing something else that I enjoy.
As a natural scientist, and a curious individual (which are often one and the same, but not always), I am constantly observing to see how humans create, and negotiate, reality and experience within and around them, and I find watching the human imagination expressed in creative mediums to be an interesting way to observe how “we” got to where we are today, and how what we are currently doing/what is “trending” in the department of the human ego expressed in our society, and how imagination, will shape where we are potentially headed.
One thing that I always laugh to myself about when I hear it expressed from competitors, fictional characters, or celebrities who are attempting the communicate their “awesomeness” to the world on these shows is the following sentiment: “I’m…[this, this, and that]…just look at me!”…implying that one can visibly see who they truly are (beyond their ego) through their physical body or through the manifestation of their efforts, words, and choices in life reflected in the people and objects that they have accumulated around them.
Your true self cannot be expressed any more fully than it already has been expressed based on the fact that you exist; the goal of Yoga is to slowly dissolve all of the layers of distortion that do not allow you to see, know, and be this. And when you become unattached to the layers of distortion that get in the way of your true understanding and being, only then will “you” be undistinguished from your true self. From that point on…well, just see what happens and how you create your thoughts, words, and actions, and a reality around you, from there…Once connection and awareness is obtained, since, in most cases, you will not just, *poof,* physically disappear into the source upon connection, but exist in physical form for as long as you live, it will be truly a blessing to watch what you create in, and with, this world as you stand firmly rooted in it, but clearly only connected from the inside looking out…
As our week comes to a close, please, remember what we started our discussion with a reminder of something that I wish to again reiterate:
First, you must “understand the nature completely, then bring it under your control and then push it aside and get liberated…There is no other way except to understand it, handle it properly and then rise above it.”-Sri Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Seek understanding first, then gain control guided by this understanding. Once you have done this, you can then choose liberation, or more accurately, liberation can then express itself within you.
From here, a stronger connection to your true self can be maintained, but never distorted.