Some in the non-dual world talk about no self, conventionally we say we have or are a self, and some even talk about Self with capital S.
What if there is some validity to each of these?
Human self. There is certainly a human self in a conventional sense. A self made up of this body, sensations, thoughts, senses, behavior and so on.
No self. There is “no self” in a few different ways. All is a seamless whole, all is the divine, all is consciousness, and we are that, so there is no separate self within this. There is no independently existing separate self. Although there certainly seems to be when there is identification with and as that self. The self from above appears as a separate self, and what we are, when there is identification with and as it.
Self. And there is a Self with capital S. A Self that’s the divine, consciousness, love, Big Mind, what everything happens within and as.
The no self view can be understood from a systems view. Or as Carl Sagan said, “we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos….”, pointing to the wholeness of existence as our real or deeper identity.
And how do we taste it? We can taste it through various forms of inquiry such as the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, and sometimes Living Inquiries.
How do we invite identification to shift out of the self and into the Self? That’s perhaps most reliably done by examining the different identifications the mind has, allowing each one to soften and eventually release. We can do this from the consciousness side through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work), and it can also invite these to release from the energy side (Vortex Healing).
From a conventional view, we can see that a systems view is accurate. It’s all the universe or life exploring and expressing itself in all of these ways, including as selves taking themselves as separate selves. But it may seem a bit far-fetched for center of gravity to shift into this larger perspective. And yet, mystics from all traditions describe just that, sometimes as glimpses, and in other cases as a more stable shift in (or out of) identity.
When that happens, our human self is still here and it continues to operate more or less as before. But what we experience as our “real” self is all of existence, including the void it all happens within and as. A thought can describe it as consciousness, love, wisdom, appearing as all of existence, and that’s what we actually are.
So each of the three views has validity to them. There is a human self here. That’s not what we ultimately are. And what we are can be called Self with a capital S, as some traditions do.
And all of that are words with their inherent limitations. It will be misinterpreted, and that’s OK. Until this shift happens, and there is little or no need to talk about it. (Although we try anyway.)