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Diagrams of the self and their effect in practice: when the mind becomes tangible

brain representation with hand

In the latest French edition of The Path of Perfection published earlier this year, Professor Bahram Elahi presents a model of the human soul, or what he also calls the true self – a preview of which had already been given on this site (here and here). In this model, the soul, just like the body, is presented through a series of anatomy-like diagrams as an actual organism: a psychospiritual organism with which it is necessary to become familiar in order to perfect one’s humanity.

As I was reflecting on the model of the self presented by Prof. Elahi, I figured that I should try to apply it to myself. How else would I be able to experience the truth of this model if not by trying to identify and concretely grasp for myself and within myself, in the context of the most common situations of my daily life, the different potentials, tendencies or faculties that characterize it? This post presents three encounters I have had with the powers that comprise my soul. In each case, I have tried to interpret what I was living, feeling, understanding and doing in light of this model.

Me with a friend

I am jealous of a friend whose situation and success I envy. This translates into a desire to avoid being in contact with him, a desire that clearly comes from my ego. My ego doesn’t like to feel inferior and therefore tends to flee situations where it might be belittled. The situation also brings along a flux of energy that reaches the conscious part of my psyche and pushes me to rejoice over the problems faced by this friend, to be abnormally curious about whatever he does, or to criticise him… And yet this isn’t the only possible behaviour. On other occasions, I have been kind toward this friend, and consciously so. The state of mind I am in on such occasions corresponds to moments when my attention to God is more pronounced and I find myself in my deep conscious self. I no longer have issues with this friend, the grudges and hostility seem unfounded, childish, unacceptable even. But these moments of grace are precarious – the energies of the ego tirelessly strike back. They arise spontaneously and autonomously, independently of my will. It is the role of my sound reason to try to control these energies of jealousy by anticipating and getting ahead of them. In practice, it means striving to show affection and kindness toward this friend I am jealous of, in the hope that, with time, my jealousy will subside and eventually disappear.

Me with one of my superiors

One of my superiors at work talks to me disrespectfully. At a conscious level, I immediately experience a feeling of disappointment, coupled with sadness and bitterness. This feeling, whenever I experience it and every time it spontaneously overcomes me, has a distinct quality which has nothing to do with the quality of my thoughts when I think and reason about it. The disappointment and bitterness take the form of an energy that seems to be automatically produced within me, independently of my will. Referring to the model presented by Prof. Elahi, I can say that it comes from my ego. As I picture myself immersed in my ego, I try to adjust my perception; I try to gradually go down to my deep conscious self. In order to do so, I remind myself that according to Ostad Elahi, “We should not place our hope in anyone but God” (Words of Truth, 394, draft of the forthcoming English translation). I focus on the energy that made me experience this feeling of disappointment and bitterness, and I realise that it mainly comes from the fact that, because of some material aspirations I had, I had placed too much hope in my personal relationship with this person who happens to be my superior. If I want my intention to align with divine contentment, I have to correct this tendency: I have to do something about the powers that push me to imagine that my material situation is entirely dependent on my relationship with this person. By repeatedly making efforts in this direction, I become more aware of the fact that although my desire for material success is legitimate in itself, and even necessary, I am not limited to this part of myself, which is driven by career plans and wants a good position within the company. I am capable of more. In particular, I deep down aspire to a greater ideal than material success. The most noble aspiration within me is that of seeking divine contentment – seeking the Truth. This aspiration exists in each person, but not on the surface. In order to perceive it, it is necessary to make a special effort and to enter one’s deep conscious self. Once I have convinced myself of this, I see that my sadness and bitterness have disappeared.

This process is very concrete and its results are palpable. I was experiencing a painful feeling of disappointment and I no longer am. I did not repress this feeling or hide it from myself; but by shifting the direction of my thoughts and by referring to my deep conscious self or inner guide, I managed to control my inner state. We live in a causal world. The entire process I have described also took place according to precise causal rules. In order to reach the result just mentioned, I had to resort to a different type of energy. I was able to refer to a different level of consciousness through introspection; I carried out this introspection with divine contentment in mind and as a result I established a connection with Him. This is where I can observe the effect of “metacausal” energy, which I need to overcome the state I am in and to not let the difficulties I face get to me. It is a subtle and yet very tangible point. My train of thought becomes clearer. My thoughts acquire a quality that is completely different from that of the flux of disappointment and sadness that was stemming from the ego. By reasoning in that way, from my deep conscious self, I resorted to my sound reason and was able to better analyse the situation, including its spiritual dimension.

Me with family

This time, the person who speaks rudely to me is a member of my family. I have just been rebuffed and I am upset about it. I didn’t say anything on the spot, but it left a mark. In the following interactions, I acted grumpy, if not straight out aggressive. The fact is, I am holding a grudge. An independent power within me pushes me to be aggressive, to rebuff this person in return, to make unpleasant or negative comments. I get comfortable in this state, half-conscious of my mood change. Yet I do have moments of clarity when I notice a behaviour or a tone in my voice that makes me catch a glimpse of this power acting within myself and almost in spite of myself. But it is very difficult to control it. The first signs of a guilty conscience quickly fade away if I don’t pay special attention to them.

It’s all dynamic. Mathematical physics allows us to devise models of the evolution of systems in time according to causal laws. This is why it is so effective in describing and governing natural processes. But the self is no exception to the rule: it also evolves dynamically, following precise rules; it is in constant evolution and, at all times, some specific powers and energies arise at the level of our conscious self and orient our thoughts and actions. Now in order to get back in control, we have to provide ourselves with appropriate models. Going back to my example, I don’t feel like making peace, I don’t have the strength to make peace. Clearly, the grudge I hold and the aggressivity I show come from my ego. If I don’t take action, these feelings will develop by themselves – they will soon be in control until, with time, things finally calm down and my mood automatically goes back to normal. In such a disposition, I am passive and the ego rules. But as soon as I manage to see my soul’s interest more clearly and align my thoughts with divine contentment, I can see more clearly what needs to be done: I have to make peace. Then all it takes is an effort to sincerely ask for divine help and to receive it. This additional energy will help me take the plunge.

Once more, we can see that the conscious self is constantly filled with forces that emanate from different types of powers. Grudges, aggressivity, and other similar feelings, come from the ego. Forgiving, controlling one’s mood, making peace with others out of sheer human duty or with the intention of seeking divine contentment, these all come from the deep conscious self, and in particular from the sound reason.


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20 comments

  1. Peter May 22, 2018 7:51 pm 1

    Fantastic article. It really clarifies the model of Self presented by Prof. Elahi.

  2. gian May 23, 2018 2:43 am 2

    Thanks for this analysis of real-life cases. The process and method are clearly laid out. I would really like to read further experiences or follow-ups.

    I can share some preliminary results from my “personal lab”.
    I’m working on being affectionate or more precisely avoiding a tendency I have to oppress people around me. This tendency can manifest in my expectations of people who are close to me, which can then lead to a lack of patience or even caustic comments.
    After a long period of observation, followed by trials and errors, I’ve noticed that some particular situations tend to trigger a not so pleasant push back on my side. So now, I tend to get prepared before the “scenario” occurs. This approach is similar to diving into my inner guide as described in the article, though I’m not formalizing it yet.

    Finally, I can confirm the need and effect of an additional force to oppose my oppressive tendency. This really helps, even for the preparatory step of diving into my deep conscious self.

  3. FA May 23, 2018 5:52 am 3

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have had very similar cases and by using the model of self and trying to enter my conscious self while concentrating on divine contentment and receiving metacausal energy, I was able to perceive things differently (while I had full concentration). Even the reactions and feedback from others became much more positive. It is such a calming and wonderful feeling when you are free of the ego’s control (even just for a very short time).
    This is a true scientific approach, using the same methods, we have similar results! I just have to get better at applying these methods. Still a novice scientist with limited sound reason… I need to learn to enter my deep conscious self more often, stay there for longer, and I absolutely need more metacausal energy to continue…

    1. elia Jun 05, 2018 1:02 am 3.1

      @FA
      What do you mean by “while I had full concentration”?
      For me, the simple act of thinking ethically in my daily life is equivalent to entering my deep conscious self. For example, should I send this text message to someone who is probably stressed out by an exam? If I were in her shoes, I’d be pleased to get one. So, let’s do it. I think this is the voice of my inner guide in this case(?)

  4. A. May 23, 2018 6:05 am 4

    Thank you of this article. After reading it I have become aware of the external and (especially) internal tendencies of my inner self.

    Amongst the external causes:

    • My eldest son came back home at 4 AM and after waking up at 1 PM the next day he spent the rest of the day lying in bed and watching TV. My reaction was instinctive: I flat out told him that he was not going to get any weekly allowance (for his meals at school, etc.). We ended up bickering and he was disrespectful. I was overcome by a desire of revenge which led me to make further mistakes. During dinner, since he kept getting up from the table while the rest of the family was eating (after a while) I told him to go away to his room with no explanation.

    • And then there is that acquaintance of mine who owes me money and continues to go on holiday and send me postcards/photos but refuses to refund me the money after 18 months. My ego continues to conjure scenarios where I am able seek revenge.

    • And finally my work, which is soo repetitive and where I spend countless hours on useless conference calls to solve administrative problems. Even though I am in a commercial role.

    After having reading this article, I took the immediate decision of delving in my deep conscious self and my vision completely changed in 15 minutes!!

    • Issues with my eldest son: I had been a poor educator. Certainly, I had to punish him, but first I had to educate him and reason with him, for instance about the benefits of doing some sports instead of lying in bed all day. Also, I had to change my vision of who he was: instead of an arrogant, lazy boy, I had to remind myself that he had gotten good grades at school, that he was a human being endowed with a soul and had faith in the Source, etc.

    • As for the acquaintance who did not want to pay me back the money he owed me, it dawned on me that it was clearly a trial sent by the divine source to test whether my initial acts of generosity were done for His contentment. I needed to fight against this resentment by trying to befriend this acquaintance although I should no longer trust him.

    • Finally, as for my work, it had a lot advantages: a good salary, a lot of freedom with my time, etc.

    So, to make the story short, after 15 minutes I no longer felt any negativity and was full of good resolutions. Thank you metacausal energy!!

    1. Lee May 25, 2018 9:50 pm 4.1

      @A.
      Thank you for sharing this sincere account and analysis about life’s difficulties. We can feel the divine warmth.

  5. John May 23, 2018 7:55 pm 5

    This was incredible, thank you for providing such clear and in-depth examples of the model of the self and how it applies in our everyday lives. I could see myself in the examples and hopefully I will incorporate this depth of thinking on a daily basis.

  6. NAGHME May 23, 2018 10:05 pm 6

    It is our responsibility to reflect on our intentions behind our actions and behaviors. For a long time, my drive to understand my behavior was as a personal therapist, but I couldn’t explain my actions and thoughts “Why did I make that choice?” and “What made me do that?” To a certain point, I should be held responsible for my actions. A conscientious person practices self-analysis and recognizes the origin and causes of thoughts and feelings when possible.
    But for me, it feels like every thought and behavior needs to be analyzed. Reflection, rumination, and justification fill my day and keep me up late at night. In order to maintain a discipline, I dissect every emotion I feel and every action I take, all the while building a psychological narrative for my life. One day a friend of mine told me “No one can really understand everything that they say or do. We aren’t supposed to figure everything out, because life is messy and not everything can be analyzed and justified. Some things are just incomprehensible.” I can justify some of my actions, but sometimes I will feel or think certain things that can’t be rationally explained. I realized that I am allowed to understand only a fraction of what it means to be “human”. The truth is, none of us will ever fully grasp the origin and cause of our every thought, feeling, and action. We actually aren’t supposed to know that. We can only infer and predict many of our actions, just as we predict the actions of others based on limited information. Of course, in some situations, it will be necessary to get to the root of a problem, especially when dealing with relationships. It is in the daily tests of life that fighting against the imperious self takes on meaning. I have the right to know, but some feelings and habits can only be understood with time and distance.

    1. adissam Jun 01, 2018 1:05 am 6.1

      As a fellow traveller on this path to self-knowledge, I can hear your plea. I concur with your conclusion that time and distance can be eye-opening after a long period of questioning and wandering.

      The One is All-Powerful, All-Knowing and encompassing all. When I try to understand the meaning of these words, for me it has been through hardship, then I can feel His presence and fear progressively disappears.

      Some additional elements to also consider which I try to remind myself:
      see here: https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/what-other-world-for-my-soul/
      and in this animated presentation – see question 2 and 3:
      https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/the-process-of-spiritual-perfection/

  7. gian May 24, 2018 4:35 am 7

    A recent series of scientific experiments using immersive virtual reality (IVR) describe the effects of embodying — not our inner guide — but Dr. Sigmund Freud.
    In this simulation, participants embody a self-alike virtual body, describing a personal problem to Freud, then embody their counselor and witness a recording of their own lookalike recounting the problem. Within this new place, they then dispense advice from Freud’s perspective.

    “In one condition of the experiment the counselor body was a representation of Dr. Sigmund Freud. In another condition the counselor body was a duplicate lookalike representation of the participant. ” (1)

    The authors commented: “Whilst self-counseling was positively evaluated by participants, mood and happiness improved when the counselor resembled Freud” (2)

    The authors added “seeing one’s own body from a different location only — literal perspective taking – might not be as efficient as originally thought”.

    ———————————–
    If we draw a parallel with the model of the self that includes the soul, when we dive into our inner guide, it may not be sufficient to simply shift perspective. It is necessary to have also a well educated sound reason (the cognitive faculty of the inner guide).

    ———————————–
    Ref:
    (1) Osimo SA, Pizarro R, Spanlang B, Slater M. Conversations between self and self as Sigmund Freud—A virtual body ownership paradigm for self counselling. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2015 Sep 10 [cited 2018 May 24];5. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564809/

    (2) Hamilton-Giachritsis C, Banakou D, Garcia Quiroga M, Giachritsis C, Slater M. Reducing risk and improving maternal perspective-taking and empathy using virtual embodiment. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2018 Feb 14 [cited 2018 May 24];8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813089/

    1. gian May 24, 2018 4:43 am 7.1

      In the science show Radiolab on WYNC, a journalist does the experiment in the VR research lab in Barcelona. He tells what happened when he dived into this “deeper self”, a state which he describes as “more human” –which I find interesting.
      The problem he is having is whether he should leave his mother in a nursing home far away from him or not. This raises an ethical question to him and he doesn’t know how to solve it.
      It starts at minute 41’19 : https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/more-or-less-human

    2. tom May 25, 2018 2:23 pm 7.2

      Super interesting. There is a lot of research now in neuroscience about feedback and how this helps us to have better attention and focus. This is a great example.

    3. gian Jun 13, 2018 12:34 am 7.3

      In the experiment, the choice of the counselor was made by asking a group of people around the campus “to choose a famous person that they wished they could talk to about a personal problem. Among the choices the most popular ones were Sigmund Freud, Angelina Jolie and Nelson Mandela.”
      I think it shows how easily we can get drawn to a pleasant inner voice. Of course, we can often discern between a reasonable choice and a bad one but there is also a risk that our inner guide will get infiltrated by our own imperious self.
       
      I remember one day when I was about to make an important decision and I had mixed feelings about the choice I was about to make. I was trying to ask my inner guide but I couldn’t get confirmation that it was a good choice. Despite this, I still went ahead. As it turns out, it all was an insidious impulse of my imperious self.

  8. sh. May 25, 2018 4:05 am 8

    As mentioned in another comment, a correct education of our sound reason is crucial here.
    I remember blindly following my desires despite inner warnings from my moral conscience. In this state, we find all the justifications to carry on. The imperious drive is just too strong. And worst of all, it uses arguments and third parties (e.g. legal advice) to justify our actions.

    1. lne May 26, 2018 1:52 am 8.1

      It raises the question of how to develop a correct education of our sound reason.

    2. lila May 26, 2018 7:09 pm 8.2

      Isn’t it more a matter of strengthening or developing your sound reason? I’m a bit confused by the idea of “educating” one’s sound reason. From what I understand, sound reason is a faculty we can (or rather should) develop to understand the spiritual aspects of things.

      As for the example you give, if I were you I would try to analyse it more in depth : why did I not listen to my moral conscience? why did I let me imperious self take over in this situation? what should I learn from this? what weakness or weaknesses lead to this?

      1. sh. May 27, 2018 1:02 am 8.2.1

        Thank you for your comment. These are excellent questions and we don’t usually take the time to reflect back on our past actions.
        What lead to this ? In my case, my sound reason was probably immature even though I knew the theoretical principles of ethics.

        I also realize that it’s difficult to seek guidance from a source that might contradict your opinion. So we tend to go for someone we know will acknowledge our choice.

        Perhaps “educate” and “develop” are not that different. I don’t know.
        Can you expand on how you would develop your sound reason ?

      2. lila May 28, 2018 12:09 am 8.2.2

        There is a link in the article above to a video in which Professor Elahi explains what sound reason is and how we can develop it: https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/sound-reason-excerpt-no-3-of-a-lecture-by-b-elahi-md/

        I think what the author of this article did is actually a very good example of what we can do to develop our sound reason. On the other hand, merely saying that our sound reason wasn’t mature enough to explain why we acted unethically seems a bit insufficient to me. If we want to remedy the situation or prevent it from happening again, we have to understand more precisely why it happened… what forces were at play within us and where they came from.

  9. tom May 25, 2018 2:32 pm 9

    This article is extremely useful and practical. For me, it helps me to understand the importance of in vitro practice and how the model of the self instructs plans for in vivo practice.

  10. ari Jun 09, 2018 12:11 am 10

    I’m often asked by family members to solve issues related to IT. In the past, I used to quickly get irritated and my tone of voice would not be that friendly sometimes. After a while, I started preparing myself for such interactions in order to keep a cool head. I haven’t yet thought about the process it in a structured way like the author of the article did but the method laid out is most probably useful (e.g. “picture myself immersed in my ego, try to adjust my perception; try to gradually go down to my deep conscious self”). Looking for divine satisfaction is still a bit abstract for me, but as I am thinking about it and writing this down, I realize that I wouldn’t like it if someone behaved in such a manner with me. Perhaps this is a way to look for His satisfaction?

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