Is S-E-L-F a Four Letter Word?

"If we are established in our Self, then we feel connected to everybody." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Like so many of us, I was raised with the Western Christian concept of the self. Self was a dirty four-letter word. I was supposed to condemn myself as a "sinner," and regard everyone else as a "sinner" too. Then, somehow, I was supposed to love, selflessly.
From the earliest age, our religion educates us to believe that, at the primal core of our being, there is something wrong. In fact, we are at fault even before we are born, infected with "original sin."
But this is only the teaching of the Church, not the teaching of Jesus. Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven is within you.... You are the light of the world." A spiritual Master never teaches original sin, but original innocence.
When I was in college, I received initiation from the Guru, through the Shankaracharya tradition of India. By Grace, I directly tasted the radiance, the beauty, the oceanic loving-kindness of the Self. Then I knew through direct experience that this boundless Being is not merely my Self, but the Self in all. And I saw that this Atmic splendor is the very Kingdom Within that Jesus spoke of. It became so obvious that there is no conflict whatsoever between Jesus and the Masters of India. They shine the same Light, refracted into different beams through the prism of human culture.
The Self is without sin. In the Self, there is no thread of imperfection, not even the slightest hair-like fault line. If I see imperfection, if I see ugliness, if I see wrong-doing and attribute blame, then I need to look more carefully not at what I see, but at the one who is looking. I see the world with the same degree of clarity with which I see the Self.
As I see, so are my actions. Disconnected from the Self, my vision is overshadowed by duality. I see only separateness, otherness. My actions reflect that separateness in judgment, competition, prejudice, defensiveness, and aggression. But what happens when I see my neighbor, or even my enemy, as my own Self? Then I can see through the clarity of compassion, with the eye of the heart. Everyone is acting from their own conditioning, in their own level of consciousness. The violent need our help, not our judgment. And if we perceive their faults, we perceive them through the fractured lens of our own mind.
Yes, right now it appears that the shell of civilization is shattering like an egg. That is because the old world is rooted in the false vision of separate religions, separate races, separate nations, separate selves in competition. But none of them can "win." Only wholeness can win. We are birthing a new world, rooted in the vision of one Self.
Ramana Maharshi said, "Transforming your Self is the means of giving light to the whole world." Who are you, really? Beyond your name, resumé, gender, race, religion, behind the external form of this body and the mask of this personality, who are You?
You are the boundless clarity of the sky in the midst of clouds. You are immaculate stillness at the center of the storm. You are eternally free, regardless of external circumstance. Your are the purest pearl, even if you have fallen into the mud of this mind.
You are awakened space, giving birth to stars and galaxies from vibrations of pure consciousness, waves of infinite possibility. Your Self is a luminous jewel faceted with all other selves, scintillating with complexity in the diamond of unity. And the binding force of light that plays through you is Love. Love is the subtlest law of nature, at the basis of physics, physiology, and astronomy. Love is the science of your heart.
The Bible said, "God is love." Yet something was not spoken. Now is the time to tell the whole truth. Time to say, "God is love. I am love. You are love. This entire creation is woven out of love. Love is the light of the Self."
Jai Guru Dev

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