What is the Self?
I'd say it's the real me, stripped and bared.
We speak of "self-this," and "self-that," but what is this "self" of which we speak? A subject worthy of investigation, wouldn't you say?
The dictionary defines it as: "Individuality: essence; personality." I suppose tumbleweed wasn't too far afield this time. And, I suppose, almost everyone else would have said the same as he, expressed a little differently of course.
Let's see what ancients had to say on the subject.
First on the agenda is this from Hinduism:
"The Self is one. Ever still, the self is swifter than the senses. Though motionless, he outruns all pursuit. Without Self, never could life exist.
"The Self seems to move, but never still. He seems far away, but is ever near. He is within all, and he transcends all.
"The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self, indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent and transcendent. He it is who holds the cosmos together."
And Buddhism has this to say:
"Nothing can ever destroy the Buddha nature. The nature of self is nothing but the undisclosed storehouse of the Tathagata. Such a storehouse can never be broken, put to fire, or plunder. Though it is not possible to destroy or see it, one can know it when one attains the unsurpassed enlightenment." (And)
"Every being has the Buddha nature. This is self."
Another from Hinduism:
"That which is the finest essence -- this whole has that as its soul. That is reality. That is the Self. That art thou."
Confucianism has this to say:
"The superior man reflects in his person the glory of [Heaven's[ virtue."
And from Islam:
"I have breathed into man of My spirit."
This from Judaism:
"Let a man always consider himself as if the Holy One dwelled within him."
And from the Christian Bible:
"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you" .... For God's temple is holy, and that temple are you."
With this shared by Judaism:
"God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'."
And this from Sikhism:
"The living self is the image of the Supreme Being. It is neither old nor a child; Neither it suffers pain, nor in death's snare is it caught; it is neither shattered nor dies."
On the secular side, here is an observation from William James:
"In its widest possible sense, however, a man's Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank account. All these things give him the same emotions. If they wax and prosper, he feels triumphant; if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down."
And with this sobering thought from Walt Whitman, I turn the table over to the Wizards of Selfdom, the men of the Checkerboard:
"I have said that the soul is not more than the body, and I have said that the body is not more than the soul, and nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is, and whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud."