At the core of most Eastern views of spirituality is the belief that every human being is by the nature of the soul, balanced, whole, complete, and immortal. The soul is that aspect of our inner being that we all sense is there, but rarely something we think about or have much to do with. The soul is also called our True Self, our Higher Self, and our Divine Nature, etc.
To discover our inner nature or True Self we enter on our spiritual path which is an inward journey through the many layers of personality traits to unfold what likes under the many masks we all wear. Meditation in particular enables us to deepen our discoveries of our true self. What we call our personality is actually a collection of masks or costumes that surround and layered over our True Self. In fact, the derivation of the word personality is persona which means mask.
In the East the dimensions of personality are called Koshas which means sheaths or coverings, and they are like shades around a light—they filter and cover our connection with the brilliant being we are inside. These layers have traits we usually assume are who we are but in actuality are a false self. There are many layers of masks we can talk about which are composed of subtle energies and subtle bodies, as well as the mental realms of beliefs, perceptions, and emotional reactions.
Through various spiritual practices the layers or masks diminish and become lighter and thinner and as a result we experience our deeper selves with more clarity.
The journey through the koshas or masks is what defines our spiritual journey. This process is not accomplished so much by thinking and analyzing with the mind as much as an inner attunement beyond the mind. It involves relaxing the body and mind and turning our awareness inward with a focused intention to dissolve the illusions of the layers.
The more obvious outer layers are composed of the physical body and it’s needs and drives and the emotional body which often seems to automatically react even if we don’t want it to. We are all driven by urges and desires for food, sex, sleep and self-preservation and much of life is consumed in satisfying those needs and drives. Our emotional lives often get us in situations we end up apologizing for or wishing they never happened. So these outer layers seem to control us and seem to beyond our control.
These primitive instincts lead to a collection of the memories of our experiences with pleasure and pain. As we delve into our spiritual practices they can impede our inner journey because we can find ourselves focusing a great deal of our energy and attention on them. These distractions from our spiritual path can impede our journey or even divert us from our spiritual goals.
Lying at our core of our being is what has been said to be beyond the mind, emotions and words and sometimes described with the words Sat Chit Ananda. Sat means true, real or existent and carries with it the idea that the Self is beyond all impermanence and can never cease to exist.
Chit means Awareness or consciousness. Actually the awareness that pervades all things. Ananda means bliss. In this True Self that we are, there is completeness, balance, harmony, and happiness, and there is no disharmony and no lack, pain or struggle.
Our spiritual path then is to enable us to navigate through the outer layers or koshas with wisdom, balance and harmony, while deepening our realizations of the true nature of our being which is the Sat Chit Ananda.
The True Self of Sat Chit Ananda lies waiting for us to discover its gifts. The way home is more simple than most realize and lies in releasing and letting go of all that is not Sat Chit Ananda while embracing all that is. While that may seem somewhat obvious, the process must be deliberate. In other words, just know about it and doing it are two different things.
What is remarkable is that in attuning to the inner truth of our being we actually cause it to emerge more and more and integrate into our everyday experience. It is most helpful to have someone guide you in this process who has already made the inner connection and attained a unification with that awareness. Trying to do it on your own is quite challenging and usually leads to discouragement along the way. Please give yourself a gift of connecting with a spiritual teacher you respect and availing yourself of what that teacher offers. You will save yourself a great deal of time and disappointment if you do. I wish you well on your journey.