Immanence and Embeddedness

Alchemical conjunction, 1500s US Public Domain via wikimedia
Alchemical conjunction, 1500s US Public Domain via wikimedia

There are two basic views of the divine. The first perspective sees the divine as transcendent to life; the other sees the divine as immanent to life. The word transcendence is from the Latin transcendens meaning  “surmounting, rising above.” The word immanence is from the Latin immanere meaning “to dwell in, remain within.” Transcendence views the divine beyond; Immanence views the divine within. Self-realization is the simultaneity of both of these perspectives. Immanence and transcendence form a core dialectic of the Self.

We see such a realization in Vedanta, where the self is the self of every being, and yet is beyond any individual being– as the supreme Self.

Without Self-awareness, there is only ego awareness. Ego awareness without Self awareness is devoid of the sacred. Being devoid of the sacred, the ego struggles for recognition. For the ego, not knowing its own nature as sacred, seeks assurance and recognition of its value.

In our struggle for self-recognition we turn outside our self. The inherent potential for self-realization shifts into a struggle for recognition. We seek recognition from others: “Tell me I am special;” “Tell me I have value.”

Self-recognition seeks to determine the self in terms of value. The ego, in the struggle for recognition, experiences the world in terms of measurement, and particularly the measurement of space, time, and value. All things are seen as objects to be measured in terms of value. A flower is valuable; a weed is not. This person is valuable; that person is not.

Objects are recognized by the ego insofar as a value measurement are assigned to them. That which cannot be recognized as an object is unassimilable, and thus inarticulable in terms that the ego can understand.

For instance, it is difficult to know the nature of time. Most know time only in so far as it is measured in the likeness of space: past, present, and future are spatial dimensions. For others, time is only known as a measure of value: time is money.

Like time, the Self cannot be measured. It is not quantifiable. And so we assign it value as an object, we recognize the self in relation to material value: “I am valuable because of my job” or “I feel valuable in this sports car.”

Without material value, the Self is often unrecognized and unhonored by ego awareness.

The more that one struggles to value the Self as an object, or to get recognition as an object, the more that one becomes embedded in the object world.

On the other hand, the less one struggles for recognition, the more one is able realize the true nature of Self– as Self-knowledge that does not require recognition.

With this Self-knowledge we see the world around us with fresh awareness. Time is now realized as a potential of the Self, and as a movement towards the Self. Others are now seen as emanations of the Self. All beings are seen as forms of the sacred, of intrinsic value: worthy of love and care for the self.


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