This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The Self and Atma

The Self is the transcendent principle of the human being. The Self must always be understood as eternal and immutable, since it belongs to the realm of pure Being, and so it can never be anything other than itself, not being susceptible to any modifications. Rather, it merely develops the indefinite possibilities contained within itself, allowing these possibilities, in a relative way, to pass from potency to act throughout the various degrees of Existence. Although not all of these states are individual, some are, and one of these is the human state, which represents as we have said one particularly determination out of many. In short, the Self is the principle by which all states of being exist.

The Self is a primordial and non-particularized determination, and in Sanskrit is called Atma or Paramatma (‘Supreme Self’). Atma can be conceived as the ‘Universal Spirit,’ understood in the same way that theologians mean when they say that ‘God is pure spirit.’ Atma permeates all things and all things are its accidental modifications, acting in a way as vehicles of Atma, whether those things be intelligent or not. We should also say that ‘spirit’ for the traditional doctrines is not a correlative of ‘matter.’ There is no ‘spirit-matter’ dichotomy, and Atma permeates what moderns calls spirit as much as it does what they call matter.

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