I read Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept by Michael Taft, and thought it was very good.
One of the topics was self vs non-self, and I see that both have validity for me, in their own way. Reality seems to embrace both ends of any (imagined) polarity, and is also more than either, and less than either.
No-self. When I look, I cannot find a self. I look at images and words, and feel sensations, and cannot find a self here. I cannot find a self outside of what’s made up by words, images, and sensations. I cannot find a general self, and I cannot find specific selves – such as the body, deficient selves, or inflated selves. I also cannot find a “Self” as what I am, as awareness, or Spirit. It’s unfindable. (Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, only that it’s unfindable when I look systematically and thoroughly.)
Self #1. There is also a “self” here as what I am. As that which all experience happens within and as. As that which my world – my field of experience, the outer and inner world – happens within and as. That which a thought may call awareness, or presence, or Spirit, or even Brahman (if it wants to be more grandiose). This is the “ground of being”, the “ground” of any experience which also makes up any experience. It’s a “self” without an “other”, or which includes any ideas of a me and other, an outer and inner world, and any other content of experience. (I don’t like calling it a “self” since that word is often understood differently, as something separate and with an “other”.)
Self #2. This is the conventional self, our human self. The self that is a whole that includes (what we call) mind and body. The self that has an “other” in the wider world and other beings. The self that can be more or less healed, mature, and aligned with reality. (A reality that keeps revealing itself to us.)
So there is a self here, in two ways, and there is also no self to be found. Reality is more than either or all of these descriptions, it’s richer and fuller. And reality is also less than either or all of them, it’s simpler and more immediate than these ideas.
No-self – cannot find when look
Self – as what I am, what experience happens within and as (my world, my field of experience including outer and inner world, others and me) aka awareness. Spirit, presence
Self – as this human self, more or less healed, mature, aligned with reality (always new layers, discoveries, revelations)