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Many people mistake the true self for an aspect of themselves on the personality (or Persona) level. They want to be more confident, authentic, and express who they truly are but in this session we discuss the True Self from an Eastern Spirituality and Jungian perspective.

  •  What is the true Self?
  •  What does it mean to become the True Self and what are the benefits?
  •  How do you access your True Self?

Join us LIVE for a new Soul Session in the Creative Mind Coaching Group every Friday at 11 AM.

Episode 29: What is the True Self?


INTRO  00:00

Welcome to Creative Mind Soul Sessions with Debra Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado, founders of creative mind, explore personal growth with us through Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality and social neuroscience in a deep, practical way. Let’s begin. 

Debra Maldonado  00:22

Hello, welcome to our soul session today. How are you, Rob?

Robert Maldonado  00:26

Good. I’m doing okay. How about you?

Debra Maldonado  00:30

Good. Little raspy today.

Robert Maldonado  00:34

Lot of smoke. 

Debra Maldonado  00:35

Yeah, we’ve been dealing with these fires out in California. But the sky’s starting to clear and we hope that the cooler weather will bring some relief. So our thoughts are going out to everyone who’s dealing with natural disasters this month. It’s been a crazy month. Today we’re going to talk about what is the True Self.

Robert Maldonado  01:01

A lot of people use the concept. And it’s used in psychology a lot, too. But different models use it in different ways. And, of course, there’s a big difference also, in the concept in the West as what they define as the self. And in the East, what is considered the true self.

Debra Maldonado  01:26

A lot of people that do personal development, they’re asking themselves, “I want to be my true self, I want to live my true purpose.” And so, we’re going to basically tease out the western model versus the eastern model. And I think the eastern model is a little… For me, it’s been a lot less pressure. Because I think in the western model, it seems as though we have to come up with this grandiose ideal self in order to create things that we want in the world or that we have to create it, basically, that we have to do a lot of work on ourselves and get rid of a lot of things and become someone else. But it’s like to build up this super you. And it feels as though it’s just so far away and far removed from your ordinary life. And so, it almost feels that only special people get to have their true self and live their true purpose. And so, when I heard the Eastern version of what the true self is, beyond the persona, beyond the ego, it actually gave me a sense of, Oh, I could do this. And I can have this right now. It’s not somewhere down the line. I earn it through hard work.

Robert Maldonado  02:44

Yeah, you don’t have to wait to die to experience it.

Debra Maldonado  02:47

Yes, or do something grandiose in your life like have a lot of money or find your true love, and all those things that we try to get – the perfect body, the perfect health… Is that our true self is here already.

Robert Maldonado  03:00

Yeah. So, let’s start with how do we approach… Well, no, the definition we’ll get to at the end. 

Debra Maldonado  03:10

Okay. At the end. So hold on!

Robert Maldonado  03:14

Because we need to define how we approach it, like what are we talking about, first of all. Because it is a big concept, and it’s used in so many different ways, and it’s overused in some ways, we need to…

Debra Maldonado  03:28

And underused in others.

Robert Maldonado  03:30

Yeah, or misused, let’s say, in certain contexts, especially in personal development. So, let’s take this approach, because this always works for me. Let’s narrow it down to what we experience ourselves. So, no philosophy, no metaphysics, except towards the end maybe, but just how do we experience this self that we say we have.

Debra Maldonado  04:02

Which is the best way to start.

Robert Maldonado  04:06

Yeah. So, we start with the body. Hopefully you have a body. 

Debra Maldonado  04:10

I have a body. 

Robert Maldonado  04:12

Everyone gets a body.

Debra Maldonado  04:15

We all get one! Yay! When we’re born.

Robert Maldonado  04:18

Yeah. It’s what defines life for us, that we are incarnated and embodied in this incredible world. And our bodies allow us to be in the world.

Debra Maldonado  04:34

It’s like a vessel for life.

Robert Maldonado  04:36

Yeah, to be present, and to experience the world because through our bodies, we interact with the environment.

Debra Maldonado  04:44

We can taste, the five senses, we can see the world, we can enjoy it, we can feel the pain and the joys of the world and the delicious food and…

Robert Maldonado  04:54

That’s right. But I think most people, especially people that have done some kind of personal development understand that we’re not our bodies. We know we definitely want to take care of it and honor it and all that good stuff. But we understand there’s more to us than that. So, even in Western psychology, we know there’s the mind, which we cannot perceive with our senses but we know is there.

Debra Maldonado  05:25

We can’t see the mind and see our thoughts, basically.

Robert Maldonado  05:29

We can’t see our thoughts but we know they’re there. I think, therefore, I am. Decart summed it up for the rest of Western psychology in that formulation, that if I’m thinking something, I know I’m thinking it. I’m the one that’s thinking it and so, therefore, I know I must be present and observing something. Therefore, I am. You can’t say, I don’t think I exist. because who is the one that’s saying…

Debra Maldonado  06:05

I don’t think I exist.

Robert Maldonado  06:06

Exactly. So, the problem resolves itself there from that Western perspective. Tell us more about the mind.

Debra Maldonado  06:18

Well, the mind is… I think a lot of people misunderstand what the mind is. A lot of people think it’s just our thoughts. But there’s so many things our mind is processing. It’s not just thinking or beliefs. It’s the way we interpret the senses. The senses give us this raw data, and the mind goes in and interprets it. Now, there is the brain part of the body that actually takes in and stores in some way some of those… like, I know what apple tastes like. And I know that I like apples versus I really don’t like fish So I’m not going… I know it from seeing it, I’ve tried it before. It remembers and it has the taste buds and all those things that we experience. But the mind is the interpretation in a way that it makes it good or bad. So, the raw sense, is this taste salty or this taste sweet? And then the mind decides, well, what does that mean? That’s why for some people, someone who’s very assertive and demanding and direct, we can say, Wow, she’s really strong, or our mind can interpret that information as, ooh, I don’t like that. And so, it’s more than just the thinking that you don’t like it but what is the mind, what is the assumption the mind has made about that and the processing. I think, when I was a hypnotherapist, I did a lot of changing your thoughts. And, of course, it’s better to think positive than being negative all the time. But we’re so much more complex than just thinking and just words. It’s a sense of who we are and it’s assumptions of our relationship with that external stimuli and the world. And that’s where philosophy comes from. It’s the mind of that processes, but also is aware of maybe deeper concepts than just basic thinking.

Robert Maldonado  08:28

Yeah. And let’s say, going back to the idea of the self, there are people in certain schools of thought that say, well, we’re just our bodies basically, and that is the self. If you think about the body including the brain, and the brain lighting up and communicating, these neurons are interconnected, and creating this sense of awareness. They say, well, that explains it. That’s the self. It’s simply that the awareness is arising in the brain. And you feel like, yeah, I am this body, including my brain and what else is there to think about?

Debra Maldonado  09:25

I’m experiencing certain situations, and that’s me. I’m single, I’m not, I’m rich, I’m poor. I’m in this position. I have this title. All those things that I have been to… traveled to these places. That’s me having that experience.

Robert Maldonado  09:41

Yeah. And there’s a certain comfort to that, just to think we know what it is. They call it epiphenomena. So, this sense of awareness, they say, it’s just like an extra thing that arises in the body.

Debra Maldonado  10:01

Who’s “they”? 

Robert Maldonado  10:02

These would be materialistic reductionists.

Debra Maldonado  10:06

Okay. Just want to clarify.

Robert Maldonado  10:07

Yeah, it’s a good point. Some of the behaviors also in the early 50s, they wanted to reduce everything to what we can observe.

Debra Maldonado  10:21

And then also when you’re saying behaviorists. So, when we change behavior, we’re doing it very mechanically. We’re doing it like we have a thought, but it’s really more of moving and resisting temptation and working with our emotions and our fears. That’s kind of not even…

Robert Maldonado  10:40

Not even.

Debra Maldonado  10:41

Not even? You’re not even aware that you’re afraid? You’re just doing it?

Robert Maldonado  10:44

Yes, the real hardcore radical behaviorist, they said, even that is kind of an epiphenomena. You’re not really afraid. You’re not really…

Debra Maldonado  10:56

You’re just like an animal responding.

Robert Maldonado  10:58

Yeah, you’re not even really thinking. They thought it was like we were talking to ourselves and moving our tongue very subtly. And that that appeared to us as a thought. But that it was really behavior. Everything was reduced to observable physiological behavior.

Debra Maldonado  11:19

That’s what most people think takes change, it’s, let me change the way what I do versus change who I am.

Robert Maldonado  11:28

Well, we’ll get to that because let’s say… Let’s bring in the Eastern philosophy now, which really when it came in…

Debra Maldonado  11:37

So, we’re on the mind now?

Robert Maldonado  11:39

We’re in the mind, still in the mind body. There are certain schools that separate it and say, Okay, we’ll acknowledge that there is a mind but it seems to be separate from the body somehow or a distinct quality. We can see the body, measure the body, including the brain. But the mind we can’t really see it but we know it exists. At least we acknowledge that it exists, and that we’re having these emotions and thoughts and memories somehow.

Debra Maldonado  12:13

And so, we see the mind body is one. In the East.

Robert Maldonado  12:16

When the East came, when some of the Eastern ideas came in, people started thinking about the mind body as one process instead of separating it. Now, there are schools that still separate it, just to be clear. But some of the more progressive schools want to or at least have conceptualized this as the mind body.

Debra Maldonado  12:43

So, they believe your thoughts and feelings and actions create your results? Is that the kind of…

Robert Maldonado  12:49

Not so much that but if you think what causes an ulcer in your body, well, this it’s your thoughts obsessively worrying about something. In other words, creating stress out of simply hypothesizing about outcomes in your life and thinking the worst outcomes.

Debra Maldonado  13:13

And that’s the number one reason why people go to the hospital emergency rooms, for anxiety or for treatment, medical treatment. And that’s the root of almost a lot of illnesses. Because it’s that stress on the body creates the free radicals and creates the more high probability of having an injury and ill health.

Robert Maldonado  13:35

You see exactly that it’s not… They’re not separate processes. What goes on in the mind is going on in the body in a sense.

Debra Maldonado  13:47

And so, the behaviors are right as far as that there is this force that compels you to act, that you might not be conscious of, but their solution is consciously make different choices in your behavior. Like, force yourself to go to the gym every week, even if you don’t want to, ignore your thoughts.

Robert Maldonado  14:06

That’s why the cognitive behaviorism is the most popular school really, because it includes the behavioral principles that we know are operating like conditioning. But it also acknowledges, yeah, there’s a mind behind that and experiencing those things and making decisions about what’s going on here. So, cognitive behaviorism is the peacemaker between those two camps – he pure mind ones that say, Well, everything is happening in our mind, and the radical behaviors that say, No, it’s just happening in behavior, and you’re getting conditioned from the reactions of others, the responses that you get from that behavior.


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Debra Maldonado  15:26

So, back to what is the true self. In those models, those Western models of cognitive behavioral your thoughts create your life, your behavior, your feelings, create your life, which is very… You can use that model. Many self-help models do that. So, the assumption is, I am what I do, or I am my results. So, if I changed my feelings and thoughts, and actions and get a different result, therefore, I am different or I’m acting out of my true self now, that once… that can do these things. So, it’s still tied to the mind body of the true self. It’s like what I do in the world dictates who that self is.

Robert Maldonado  16:07

Yeah, and there’s…

Debra Maldonado  16:10

Or a better self, the self-improvement type of thing.

Robert Maldonado  16:14

Yeah. So what we know, let’s say, we bring in what we know from the Eastern philosophy, and including Jungian psychology and some of the more… they’re called psychodynamic models, which include what’s going on in the individual mind. So, there is this sense of I that arises in the mind. And in Eastern philosophy, they call it the I maker. And this I maker essentially creates a sense of I in the mind, which in some Western schools is called the ego. So, the ego stands in for the I. I am the one that was born in a certain place that went to a certain school, took on a different… job…

Debra Maldonado  17:09

And got this result. I am the one who’s getting married. I am the one who single. I am the one who’s makes… has x amount on my bank account. It’s my money. Or my debt. We attach the I to everything and ourselves. I am… has X amount of pounds. I’m not going to say. I am living here. I am from this place. I mean, we can go on and on.

Robert Maldonado  17:36

Yeah, it’s a very useful way to exist in the world because it helps us survive, because we have to look out for number one, like they say – the I. Take care of yourself, like we tell each other.

Debra Maldonado  17:51

When I was in the corporate world, I worked in New York City. And I would buy myself flowers every week on Mondays to treat myself. It was kind of like this self helpy thing I’d do. And I would have the flowers and they’d be like, Oh, it’s your birthday! I’d say no. I’d go someone who loves me so much got it for me and they like, Who? And I’d say, Myself! 

Robert Maldonado 18:16

Me, myself and I.

Debra Maldonado  18:16

It was like me, myself and I. The three most important people in my life gave me these flowers, me, myself and I. And they just laugh and be like, Okay, Deb. But is that idea that…That’s the first step people go with personal development. You want to build a strong ego. You want to say, I am important. I am, I exist. If you have a fragile ego and you don’t have a sense of a fight for creating change, you will have problems. And so, there’s nothing wrong with having a strong I. It’s just that that’s not the end. That’s just like the entry point. That’s like, basically, the goal of every functional human being and having an ordinary life would be to have a sense of I.

Robert Maldonado  19:00

Yeah, in this sense we need both the East and the West in our modern times in our current times, because science does give us a way of understanding our mind body that we can all agree on, or most of us agree on. We embrace science. It is a very useful tool but it was never meant to supplant the larger worldview and say, we’re going to interpret everything from the scientific perspective. That’s not what it was designed for. And when we do that, we do a great disservice to ourselves and the world because we sterilize it. We essentially say everything is just biological matter, or minerals and these atoms, and there’s nothing else to it.

Debra Maldonado  19:58

And Einstein said Imagination is everything. 

Robert Maldonado  20:02

That’s right. 

Debra Maldonado  20:03

It’s that deeper part of ourselves.

Robert Maldonado  20:06

Yes. So when we consider what the East teaches us, and we include what the West knows about the ego and the biology of the brain, then we start to get a better picture because now we see the body gives us a way of interacting in the world. But we know that’s not really the complete story. Like Jung says, That’s not the self. The self is the totality of everything you know, but also everything you’re not conscious of.

Debra Maldonado  20:39

So it’s like this surface, tiny little bubble of who we are. We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg, basically, and not the totality of who we are. And I think most of us… Jung talks about the dark night of the soul, and I think it happens for us. We think, Oh, this is a terrible thing that happened to us. I lost my job. I remember I always talk about my jobless, manless and homeless days, I was not really homeless, but I had to give up my comfortable house to live with someone else while I was trying to get a new job. And that kind of place where everything’s taken away from you, and you can’t really… I remember thinking, none of this can really give me comfort anymore. It’s pulled away. And I had to go inward. And I think when people do that, when you realize you’re going through a transition in your life, most people hit it midlife. If you don’t consciously seek the true self, you will be forced to it. There’ll be a reckoning. You’ll know. I think the world is going through a look at what we’ve done kind of thing that’s happening right now. It’s a collective shift of, We need to look inward, we need to stop putting so much energy into the external and ignoring the spirit, right?

Robert Maldonado  21:56

That’s right. And so, then a lot of people say, Okay, then we must be the mind. If we’re not, we know we’re not the body, we must be that mind with that sense of I in it.

Debra Maldonado  22:08

The philosopher.

Robert Maldonado  22:09

Yes, and that’s really where Western psychology stops. And they’re trying to figure out, and they call it the hard problem of consciousness because they can’t figure out still how does that awareness come into play here. Because if you just think biologically, psychologically, real awareness, real, that kind of awareness that we have about ourselves in the world, it’s impossible. It’s an impossibility. So he says, there’s one more, one more step. You need to back up one more step. We’re not our body. We’re not our mind. We’re not the ego. We’re not the thoughts that we think. And this is very strange for us in the West. Because we’re so conditioned to think that I, that ego, that’s me. I’m the one that’s thinking and making decisions and then acting upon those decisions. So, if that’s not me, who we know what else is there?

Debra Maldonado  23:15

And that’s a very scary concept. We are frightened of that concept of Who am I. If I’m not all the…  There’s a comfort in knowing that continuity of the identity of the persona of I’m Debra Berndt from Florence New Jersey, and I did this and I went to this college and I did these things, I have these friends… People know me, I have a husband… Yeah, all those things that we accumulate in our life and it’s like, well, if I’m not really any of those things, it’s a scary proposition. Then we think, ask ourselves, well, what are we working for? Like, why even bother? I think that when we’re going deeper into this true Self, I think a lot of people mistake spiritual work as abandoning the physical and renouncing the world. But we’re not really cancelling out the world. We’re saying this is just a part of our experience. This is a part of us. So, it’s not that we aren’t… We’re not not the ego, but we’re not just the ego. The ego’s a concept that’s actually… We have an experience of it so we can’t deny that there’s an ego there. But it’s not as real as we think it is. And that’s where I think the next step…

Robert Maldonado  24:39

Well yeah, if we examine the ego, what is it made out of? It’s essentially a collection of memories. It has a story to it, and the narrative of your past experiences. And it puts it all together. And it’s a mental construct of this I. In Eastern philosophy, they call it the I maker. It is making that sense I very… appear to us very solid. And that solidness is… We get attached to it because part of the function of ego is to help us survive. And so, all those automatic reactions that we experienced as anger, frustration, of desire and ambition, they’re the ego helping us survive. So, there’s nothing wrong with those things.

Debra Maldonado  25:35

If we didn’t have an ego we’d be like some people that have severe mental illness. They sometimes don’t have a concept of themselves. They’re really delusional. So, you see a disorder. Well, you’ve worked in a mental hospital. You know that a disorganized ego is… You can’t function. Yeah, so we need it.

Robert Maldonado  25:55

That’s right. And so, it’s not about getting rid of the ego. A lot of people interpret the Eastern philosophy that way, that they wanted to obliterate the ego. They say, let’s get rid of it! But it’s simply that understanding that it’s functioning just like our heart functions…

Debra Maldonado  26:15

Or digestion.

Robert Maldonado  26:16

… to create circulation in the body. It’s doing its job. That’s all. 

Debra Maldonado  26:21

I love that it’s the heart that creates circulation. 

Robert Maldonado  26:25

It’s simply that we’re over identifying with it. That’s all. We’re not understanding its nature and over identifying with that ego process.

Debra Maldonado  26:36

It’s almost like a covering. The ego covers everything. And then we only see ourselves in a very limited way. And that’s not… And we think that if we shine it up enough, we can be the true self and have more things in life. But what we’re really… The goal really, on a spiritual level, and a more free level instead of being so attached to defining ourselves by what we have, do and what other people think of us, we start to see, well, there’s something else. So what would you say? Let’s get to the true self.

Robert Maldonado  27:07

Let’s get to it! But let’s leave out the spiritual stuff. That way the rationalists that are joining us can follow us. So, we’re not talking metaphysics. We’re simply asking, if we’re not the body, and there’s pretty good evidence that there’s more to us than that, but we’re not the mind, we’re not the collection of memories and perceptions and experiences that we think that we are. If we back up one more step, or go deeper, there is this pure awareness, this thing we call consciousness, that in the East is considered the absolute reality. And it’s considered absolute because it doesn’t change, whereas the mind, if you noticed and you can verify this, is always changing. You’re always collecting new experiences, learning new things, forgetting things. And so, it is never static. There is never your mind because it’s always changing and morphing.

Debra Maldonado  28:19

Even your body changes and you’re aging and your situations change. Friendships change, the tribe you’re in changes.

Robert Maldonado  28:26

What doesn’t change is that pure awareness in you. So, if you ask, then can I experience myself, the true self in me? Absolutely. It’s right there. It is that what you’ve been defining as you. That’s the self but not the ego. It’s not. 

Debra Maldonado  28:54

The ego’s taking credit. 

Robert Maldonado  28:55

The ego has been a stand in for the self, like a false self in essence that we need in order to survive. In order to get to a certain stage of life, we need that strong ego. like you said, we need to develop it. But then at that second stage of life, then we need to let go of that. and that’s the process that is missing in a lot of people’s lives. There are no rituals…

Debra Maldonado  29:24

Not let go of the ego but let go of the attachment to the ego.

Robert Maldonado  29:27

Let go the over identification to the ego.

Debra Maldonado  29:29

Yes,  because the ego is always going to be there because we need it to survive.

Robert Maldonado  29:33

That’s right.

Debra Maldonado  29:34

So, that… I just want to correct because other people think it’s obliterate the ego. Again, we got to let it go. We got to clear it out.

Robert Maldonado  29:40

No… Yeah… Well, it’s like the body. If I over identify with my body and I think I’m just my body, I’m going to be very scared and in trouble.

Debra Maldonado  29:53

And fear of… afraid of death basically, yeah.

Robert Maldonado  29:54

As he starts to get old and sick and all that stuff.

Debra Maldonado  29:59

Just models, we saw this documentary about these models that were… They were gorgeous, perfect, being 15 years old, super thin. And then as they aged, they were so identified with that beauty, that they had to really do deep psychological work to break free of that identity of them as that beautiful face. And so, we all feel that way. We all want to hang on to our youth, memories and be… Even breaking away from the tribe. I know for me, when I moved from New Jersey to Colorado, people were like, Why are you leaving, going out there. It’s like this, me becoming something else away from that comfort zone. So, the ego is always trying to pull us back. And then the true self is really the expansive that carries us through all those changes. And that’s the true constant versus this transitionary ego persona type of thing. People love you. You see a lot of celebrities suffer from that. The people love you when you’re famous and you’re on the A list. You lose the fans and all of a sudden you’re nobody.

Robert Maldonado  31:18

Yeah. And so, we might ask, Well how do we experience it more clearly so that we can be sure that I am that pure awareness in me? So, in the Upanishads, which are really the texts that we follow from Eastern philosophy, that are very, very much more sophisticated than even the best neuroscience in the West as far as consciousness goes. They just have a better understanding and a better grasp of it. So, they say, if you want to experience the self, you are the self. So, it’s not a big problem. But you have to learn how to approach your mind so you can transcend the mind, in essence.

Debra Maldonado  32:08

So, it’s basically I think the ego is like that outer shell. And then what we’re doing is going inward to see what’s underneath all that surface. What’s in the shell?

Robert Maldonado  32:17

Yeah, what is really at the core of it. So it says, you cannot get at it through logic and reason. So, logic and reason will get you to the edge of the shore there but you’re going to have to abandon it and go beyond that.

Debra Maldonado  32:34

Because it’s so hard to describe. It’s irrational. It can’t be spoken in words or explained.

Robert Maldonado  32:40

Yeah, precisely. Because it’s part of the mind. Any object, anything we define logically and with reason and cognition, it’s part of the mind. But this is beyond the mind.

Debra Maldonado  32:55

I know. So, it’s like how do you get out? You can’t get outside your mind to actually see it because you’re… It’s like a fish in water. It can’t go outside of the water. How does it know anything else? So, is it like that saying the Dow that can be named is not the Dow?

Robert Maldonado  33:13

Precisely. Lao-Tze, probably my favorite philosopher, such humor, such great balance and understanding, a unnaturalness of of course you’re the self. There’s no reason to doubt it. All you have to do is look within, but you have to let go of that insistence on, prove it to me. Like prove it to where I can measure it and see it. Well, you can’t do that because it’s like… Pure awareness is like saying, you’re standing in the middle of the room and somebody asks you take a step closer towards yourself. You can’t. You’re already standing in the center the room and you cannot go any closer to it. That’s the difficulty from the western perspective. It’s that we’re always trying to figure it out and prove it to ourselves or to others. And that pure self, it can only be experienced. It can only be experienced because it doesn’t have any qualities. That’s one thing, another thing the Upanishads explain.

Debra Maldonado  34:28


Robert Maldonado  :34:29

If you think of the way we experience the world, through our mind, we break it up into objects, name and form.

Debra Maldonado  34:38

And space and solid.

Robert Maldonado  34:40

Yeah, we give everything a name. And once we give it a name and a form, the mind kind of stores it as, Oh, that’s a glass, and automatically, every time it sees it, it doesn’t have to reinterpret it. It just kind of labels it. There it is again.

Debra Maldonado  34:58

So, would it be a good example, a metaphor for that would be… If you’re sitting like we’re sitting in a room right now, and when we look around, we see all the objects and they have names to it. But the space the objects are in, there’s no name for it. It’s not like, Oh, it’s air in the room, or you can’t see it. So, it’s kind of that none… It’s empty almost. We think it’s empty but it’s really what’s contained. If it there wasn’t that space, there would be no place for these objects to appear. That’s how you have to, for example, that something like that is… You can’t logically get to it, but you kind of can get to the edge a little bit. 

Robert Maldonado  35:37


Debra Maldonado  35:39

Intuitively, you get in. It’s almost like a knowing. It’s like, Oh, I get it, but I don’t know how to explain it. And I remember the first time I’ve had that awareness of that I’m more than just my ego. It was like I couldn’t put it into words. I didn’t know how to explain it even to myself. You just have… You just know it. That space.

Robert Maldonado  35:58

Yeah. So, things have qualities in the world for us. And even thoughts and memories have certain qualities that we can grab onto them mentally. Like they have a handle, a name and a form. The self, it says in the Upanishads, has no qualities. It is empty of qualities. Therefore…

Debra Maldonado  36:24

It’s almost like the space in the room, there’s nothing in it.

Robert Maldonado  36:27

Yeah, therefore, we can… the mind, logically, cannot hold on to it. And that’s what frustrates a lot of people, is that they think it’s something to figure out, something to hold on to.

Debra Maldonado  36:41

Well, when you put name and form on something, it makes it real. So, we have to try to put name and form on it. That’s why philosophers and scientists are all trying to find out the God Particle or consciousness, what is happening, and quarks. Even if you read books on quantum physics, these guys are… We were watching a show yesterday on quantum physics. That’s what we do in our spare time. And a guy was saying that the scientists don’t even… They know something’s there. And they kind of know how to work with it. But they really don’t know the real true essence of it. And that’s kind of what they were describing is that true self. We know there’s something out there. We know there’s an awareness there, but we can’t really get to it logically.

Robert Maldonado  37:28

Yeah, in that sense, I think science has the potential to get us there as well. But we need the direct experience of the East to be complete.

Debra Maldonado  37:41

And so, how would someone get a direct experience before we end the talk today?

Robert Maldonado  37:48

Well, there are four ways described in Eastern philosophy to get there. But the Upanishads say there’s actually many ways. The truth is one, meaning the absolute truth is always there. But there are many ways to get to it.

Debra Maldonado  38:04

So, that’s why there’s all these different techniques and spiritual concepts and religions. And then people are… It’s like the self is calling us. And then our individual patterns lead us through the path to get there. So, like you were saying, Krishna said, Don’t worry about Arjuna in the Gita. He said, Don’t worry about what path people are on, because all paths lead to the self.

Robert Maldonado  38:30

If they follow persistently along the track, they will reach the same conclusion because there is nothing else. And that’s what is at the base of reality, this pure awareness. And so, if you follow any real system, any real discipline, that is, let’s say, designed to get you to your spiritual truth, will reach the same conclusion – this true self.

Debra Maldonado  39:01

So, I remember my first direct experience. And this might… will be an exercise you can think about doing, especially now. It’s a perfect time to think about what we fear. A lot of people have a lot of fear and anxiety right now. Everything’s kind of uncertain. And so, we have to deal with the fear. We can’t… We’re trying… Our mind is… Our ego’s trying to find a way to smooth it out, like everything’s going to happen for a reason. And it’s going to, try to visualize it being better. And so, it’s trying to get you away from that fear. And in essence, you have to really look at it and be real with it and say, What am I really afraid of? If I am this true self, which is unlimited and one with everything, if I am the universal self, that’s who I really am, why am I afraid? Why would I be afraid? And then you have to contemplate that. And I had a direct experience of this when I first moved to New York, and I had left my hypnotherapy practice. And I was booked all the time, I had been on TV and moved to New York. No one knew me. And it’s basically I had to start over. And it was really scared. Am I going to be able to build this up again? And I remember thinking, getting really afraid of finances, and I thought, I started sitting with the fear. And I started thinking the worst case scenario. So I started thinking, well, what if I lose my business? I have to go work for someone else. Okay, well, that’s not so bad. Well, what if I couldn’t do that? What if I had to live and you left me? I didn’t have you to help me financially. And I didn’t have a home. And then I was like, Well, if I didn’t have a home, what if I was naked in the streets? That would be the worst thing and it’s cold. And then I thought, well, what if then I die? And then there’d still be this other part of me I’m connected to because I had this kind of sense of there’s something else besides just my body. And I remember just falling back, almost like having a visualization of leaving my body and falling into this beautiful light of void, of pure light, basically. And I realized that no matter what happens in my life, no matter what happens to this ego and this body, that there’s really nowhere to fall because this self that’s really the source of everything is going to catch me. There’s nowhere to… It’s who I am, is truly that. And, I say that a lot, there’s nowhere to fall. And it’s a nice Hallmark card, but you have to really have a direct experience to understand what that means. And for me, if you lose the fear, or you can understand its nature and not buy into it, anything is possible. You’ll really enjoy life more, you’ll take more risks, you’ll live more fully. And the true self wants to be fully expressed. So, let it be creative through you. And I think that’s our purpose. If we think about what is our purpose in life, our purpose is to create. And the ego is creating survival. And the true self is creating whatever. Think about the Big Bang and everything’s growing in nature. That’s who we really are. If you look at nature, it’s always trying to regenerate and grow and expand. Right?

Robert Maldonado  42:28

Yeah. So, we broke our promise. We went into the metaphysics of it.

Debra Maldonado  42:34

Well, you know what I’m saying.

Robert Maldonado  42:36

Oh, yeah. Because now we have to go into the metaphysics. And if we ask what is the true self, I like the way the Daoists explain it. That it is the way of things. It is the way things unfold. It is that intelligence that creates the mountains, the clouds, the cycles of nature, including our own mind. We’re part of it, although we think we’re not because of our over identification with the ego. Once we get into that pure awareness, and we start to identify with that, and understand that that’s who we are, then we start to see that intelligence working through us and in us and everything we’re perceiving in the world.

Debra Maldonado  43:29

It’s like an actor who takes on different roles. And if people that see him identify with him as that role or her as that role versus who she is, is this conform to different things. In a way, that’s kind of the way that itself is. It can take on many forms. And so, don’t confuse the actor for who you really are. But the actor is an extension of that because without the self there could be no acting and characters. And it’s really a great play. And so, let’s end with this idea. So, if we’re the true self, that’s who we truly are ,we’re not the ego, what would be the purpose of us creating just ordinary things in life back to… let’s bring it back to something that we can relate to. So, someone who wants love, somebody who wants to create a business, someone who wants to become a coach, or grow their coaching business, get clients, someone who wants to lose weight or be healthier, or dealing with an illness. How does this knowledge help them in a practical way in five seconds or less?

Robert Maldonado  44:40

Yeah. Well, if you think of the implications, first of all, if you are the self. Now, the self is immortal, because that part, that pure awareness, because it has no qualities it cannot be hurt in any way by the experiences of life. So, you cannot be damaged, you cannot be hurt, you cannot be injured. You cannot be wounded, as a lot of people in our field talk about. There are no wounds. The mind might feel wounded. The mind might feel hurt.

Debra Maldonado  45:18

But there’s an aspect that has never been harmed.

Robert Maldonado  45:21

The true self. That’s why getting to that realization is really the objective of life.

Debra Maldonado  45:29

And we can use those things, those troubles we’ve had in life, the challenges or the wounds. The ego creates this concept of woundedness or brokenness. And we can use those as a way to find ourself. I think if we all had a perfect life, if we all had the perfect parents and got everything we wanted all the time, we would never seek the self. We’d get so attached to the world, that we would forget about who we really are. And so, in a way it’s not that we need suffering to find it. But in a way, that’s really how most of us find ourselves. It’s through our… When the world out there doesn’t match up to what we want and we appear to be suffering, is when we really start to look in and to find the truth to free ourselves from it. And in that process, we free ourselves and are able to be more of a force of life and enjoy our life. There’s people that are blissfully ignorant. And they have this kind of, I have everything set up in my life, so I’m good. And then what happens is, if you don’t ask the question, the world will start to… You’ll get so attached that the opposite has to show up. So, it’s something that everyone needs to do. No one has a perfect life. So, if you had a rough life early, you’re ahead of the game than someone who’s never had any problems until their 30s or 40s. All of a sudden they turn 40 and they’re saying, Well, I haven’t done anything with my life. And everything was great until this happened. They will have to come to terms with that.

Robert Maldonado  47:13

Yeah, it is very much like sleepwalking. If you don’t understand who you are, and you go throughout life believing that you are the ego, the personal narrative that the mind creates around your life, you miss the opportunity to experience the deeper aspect of human life. Because the objective of human life is that realization that you are the self, that you are the consciousness of the universe in a sense..

Debra Maldonado  47:50

And if you are the consciousness of the universe, why would you be afraid

Robert Maldonado  47:54

What is there to fear? 

Debra Maldonado  47:55

I know. And then imagine that if you didn’t have fear, what would move out of the way for you? What would open up for you? If you weren’t afraid to get your heart broken, if you weren’t afraid to get into much debt or not make it, or what people think, or putting yourself out there, or being rejected in business deals, or being hurt by friends. If you didn’t have those fears, I think you’d be more… you’d have better relationships. You’d be less guarded. You’d be closer and more open. And you’d be… you’d love deeper. And you’d really find things that you love to do versus living in fear of, I need that paycheck. I need that paycheck.

Robert Maldonado  48:39

Yeah. Yeah, that’s it. Lao-Tze says that there is the Dao of nature that we can observe in nature, but that there is a Dao of human culture as well. The way we do things can reflect those deeper principles of the self, the way it unfolds the way of things.

Debra Maldonado  49:00

l learned a lot today. It’s always good to have these conversations with you anyway.

Robert Maldonado  48:04

Same here. 

Debra Maldonado  48:05

Alright. So thank you, everyone for joining us. We’ll see you next Friday for another soul session. Do we have a little dance for that?

Robert Maldonado  49:14

Stay well!

Debra Maldonado  49:15

Stay well!

Robert Maldonado  49:17

And we’ll see you next time. 

Debra Maldonado  49:18

Yes. Take care everyone! Bye bye. 

OUTRO  49:21

Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget to subscribe to Creative Mind Soul Sessions. And join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with creative mind soul session. See you next time.