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faqs :: PB - Other
1. Overself
a. Does the Overself have feelings? Does this contradict other PB quotes where he says that the Overself is impersonal?
"The Overself, like a woman, wants to be loved ardently and exclusively. The door upon which you may have been knocking a long time in vain will open to your frequent loving remembrances."
(Notebooks of Paul Brunton, vol.23, chapter 6, number 160)
Somewhere along the line the word 'impersonal' has come to mean 'unfeeling' or 'remote.' This is certainly sometimes true of ANY impersonal content, including the Overself.
But before we reach that far, let us consider other impersonal moments. The beauty and awe radiated into human consciousness from a great mountain like Arunachala or Mont Blanc; the power and terror generated by a hurricane; the simple peace accompanying a sunny day. To assert that such emotional responses to the environment are anthropomorphic can only be made by an unfeeling person. We have already agreed (or so we say) that the world is mental. Is that mental world limited to sterile absolutes and inert sensations? Is not the world presented through our senses filled with purpose, meaning, & laws? Why then refuse it emotions and feelings? Is there then someone who feels these world-feelings? Yes and no: the yes is the individual mind, the no is why such feelings can be designated im-personal - i.e. without-person, or better still, without ego.
Turning to our favorite subject, our own self, it is often when we're least self-involved that our feelings are most potent - the joy of a birth, the grief of a death (of another); the emotions felt about a collective triumph or tragedy; the feelings elicited in a concert or before a magnificent painting. There are surely feelings here, and, oddly enough, little of ourselves at the same time. hmmm...there may be a connection...
and that connection is, I suggest, the Overself. To presume that we as we know and feel ourselves are the greatest locale of ANY subjective condition - freedom, wisdom, love - is as habitual as it is wrong. What we feel, are capable of feeling, is only a little of what the ego-less, instinct-free Overself feels, knows, and does. Our Soul is not some sterile impotent stalactite dangling eternally from heaven's roof; it is the heart of our heart, the fire of the instincts, the steel within our will, and the light within our mind. Therefore to establish a relationship to it, we must do so in kind - to seek the Overself not with our mind, but with such light as may be present therein, to love the Overself with the innermost intimacy of our heart, to desire the Overself more passionately than anybody, to attend to the Overself with a Will made more of steel than of intention.
But all this is impossible. We can only sustain such attitudes for moments and snatches of time before nature and habit close over our quest once more. Nonetheless, each time we get a little closer, we find that the light, wisdom, love, and will of the Overself is entirely adequate to the task of presencing itself to us in many, many ways throughout our experience. Then the task becomes rather one of receiving its great Love, and trusting to it for the rest.
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