False Self vs. Real Self? You do not have this problem | Mark Whitwell

By Mark Whitwell Yoga Teacher at Heart of Yoga

Mark Whitwell
5 min readJul 13, 2022
“And It hit me like a ton of bricks that there was nothing to be liberated from.” Life does not come in the form of a problem or a question. We are here to enjoy our lives. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

This article is part of a series in which Mark Whitwell tackles humanity’s dysfunction around intimate relationship and the root cause of sexual abuse in societal patterns of separateness, conflict, fear of commitment, and co-dependency. He explains how the real pleasure of intimacy that Yoga gives is the social solution that vanishes the duplication of limiting beliefs and transforms life into intimate participation in Life as it actually as, for everyOne.

A popular idea is that there is the Divine Self (God/Atman/Consciousness) and the not-Divine self — some sort of shoddy persona that’s not the real you, but a fabricated personality of attachments and desires. Spiritual life is said to be a process of ‘going within’ to find your real Self; or a torturous battle to subdue the false self with the Divine Self. A few amazing heroes like Ramana Maharshi are shown as examples of people who have been successful in that endeavour.

Sensitivity to our own embodiement naturally gives us sensitivity to another. Yoga is body, breath and relationship, in that order. For you cannot love another until you love your legs | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

In his life Ramana went on to popularise a method where you meditate on the question, “Who am I?” in the attempt to go beyond identification with the separate “not-self.” My teacher U.G. Krishnamurti pointed out however, that the method of asking “Who Am I?” only reinforces and adds momentum to the illusion of the separate self. For who is the one asking the question?

Yoga reprograms the nervous system to become receptive to its experience. In the natural state, we are a perfect blend of male-female. Relationship dysfunction and sexual abuse arises in people when they are not given the means to be receptive in life, so they search for the sex from another because they cannot feel the sexual union that arising as their own embodiment. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

In other words, meditation creates the persona of the person who is trying to meditate; the persona of the person who is not yet realized. This becomes a very encrusted imagined identity that has no basis in Reality. The presumption of a separate self is created only by thought. It is only confused and tangled circuitry in the brain core.

“Mind is a myth,” U.G. used to say. “It’s not really there.”

So you don’t have to meditate, or do yoga as a battle to overcome to the separate self, or do anything for within that psychology. For there is no separate self. You do not have this problem. The wisdom traditions of Buddhism and Vedanta have wiped clear this man-made dilemma for all time. Their dharma summarised in the statement: There is no separate object, and there is no separate “self” that is a subject to that object. There is only the Reality of existence (Consciousness Itself) in which everything is happening.

This is not an idle spiritual debate. Dreadful actions in human relationships are playing out right now as a result of the delusion of the separate self. We are seeing the fallout from the social mind of society like never before. From the hostility, blame and hostility expressed in everyday relationship to sexual abuse, war, global warming and the development of mass murder technology. The thought-machine of separation has been put into these innocent bodies and is taking us to the brink of extinction.

“The Self is already attained.” Bhagavan Nityananda. What does this mean? There are no steps to be taken. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

In the traditions, it is stated that where there is an other there is fear. Where there is a separate self presuming a world of separate “objects” there is fear. This is the illness that is patterning the world and pervades all levels of human interaction.

Mother Nature is now demanding that humanity makes an evolutionary step to live and collaborate on an entirely different basis. A new world can be built whose first principle is the recognition that life is arising as a unity in which there is no division. No ‘thing’ in the cosmos has any existence that is independent from the Whole. This recognition of ‘no separation,’ of ‘not two’ need not be realized or attained because it is self-existing. It is already true. Any attempt to realize it only creates more mind, more seeking for a future possibility. Reality is given and Reality is sufficient. It is our universal actual condition no matter what the mirage of dissociated mind is up to. All form is identical to Reality Divine.

Yoga is direct participation in Reality, in the power of the cosmos that is your life. Humanity is presently suffering from a mass dissociation from the Real. To practice Yoga is to break the chain of events that is leading humanity to extinction and causing untold misery in lives everywhere: depression, suicide, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and even war. Yoga is not something you do in your room to make yourself feel better. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

How can humanity make this transition from the trap of thought to the fact of Reality? For some rare individuals like the realizer Nisargatta just hearing the words that there is no separate self is enough. But for the vast majority of us who have been patterned in the presumption of separation we need a practical means to participate in what is actually going on.The Yogas of Participation are available now for everybody as the simple means to live the Unity Life that is always, already the case.

It was Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), the teacher to BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who brought forth the technology of yoga as each person’s direct participation in Reality Itself. The defining feature of his teaching is his utter insistence on the breath as the central feature and very purpose of asana. The source of Life is felt as the breath. Breath is prior to thought, prior to seeking and dissociative patterning of all kinds. In whole body heart breathing from foot to crown, Life is revealed to be what it is: unity, love, bliss, not two, only one.

“It is intimacy that we need, not positive thinking. It is intimacy that we need, not mindfulness. It is intimacy that we need, not God. It is intimacy that we need, not enlightenment.”



Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell has worked as a Yoga teacher around the world for the last 45 years and is the author of 4 books on Yoga. He lives in Fiji with his wife Rosalind.