The Self believes it is a real thing – a phenomena predicated on the perceived existence of the body-mind. Because the body-mind can apparently manipulate and master other phenomena, the Self believes it can similarly manipulate and master life. Within the illusion, this seems a sensible assumption, and is precisely why people spend a lifetime attempting to fulfil their needs and desires in a fruitless attempt to find happiness.
The illusionary Self labours under the misapprehension that it is the source of its actions and can manipulate and control life, which is analogous to the leaf in the river’s flow believing it controls its own movement. The source flowing through you appears to originate from within the body-mind. The illusionary Self is born out of this misapprehension, it claims ownership thereby changing ‘experience’ into your ‘experience’ and distorting and filtering all sense perceptions through this erroneous perspective.
Because the illusionary Self falsely assumes life can be manipulated and controlled for its own benefit, when you are presented with life’s seemingly insurmountable problems, you instinctively want answers and set about gaining additional knowledge in order to increase understanding and find solutions. It is quite natural to ask questions and seek answers, because throughout life you have been fed questions and taught the answers; having answers feels satisfying and gives a sense of security and control. Furthermore, doing things in the world of phenomena appears to bring results, such as learning to play the piano, but you cannot apply the same rationale to tame and understand life. The illusionary Self cannot touch life let alone control it.
For those committed to a spiritual path a process of incremental progression seems sensible, in the same way that you might take lessons to learn how to drive or play a musical instrument. However, making progress through practice, patience and repetition is only possible in the world of phenomena (objects in the physical world). To understand this, consider a goal such as learning to play the piano. You - a ‘body-mind’ (phenomena) can act upon a piano (phenomena) to learn the mechanics of playing through memory, coordination and repetition. With dedication, practice and patience, improvements can be made, and goals approached or even attained.
However, goal-oriented endeavours fail when phenomena (objects in the physical word, including body-minds) attempt to act upon noumena (the spiritual/non-physical or meta-physical, that which cannot be known or perceived). Using your intellect and working with what you believe is true to form an understanding of your relationship to others, to yourself and to the world around you, and then applying that understanding in your daily life may seem quite sensible. However, attempting to work on life as though it were a piano objectifies it into something you believe you can master. The assumption is that just as you can learn to play the piano, you can similarly learn to play life. Unfortunately, learning to play life is impossible simply because it is life that is ‘playing’ you.
Life is the manifestation of the Absolute – an Absolute that animates everything: the source that flows through all body-minds, including you and me. You mistakenly believe the source flowing through your body-mind originates in you and is personal to you – that you are a self-directed independent entity out of which life emerges. This is the illusion of being a Self. This personalised Self vainly attempts to control and master what it believes to be its own inner source with theories, ideas, contemplations and actions. Again, all such efforts are useless; like the leaf on the surface of life’s river you are carried along in the flow, you have no control over your movement.
Counselling in Present Moment Awareness