A few posts back, we wondered aloud what this statement had to do with self-realization:
The sense of self, or identity, can expand to include all of humanity, regardless of nationality, beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, or lifestyle.We also asked the moderator of the forum on Sankara's website. Today they got back to us:
Briefly, GWR distinguishes between an expansive sense of self, as described by the quote you gave below, and an infinite self, which is roughly synonymous with self-realization. With so much divisiveness looming in the human world, GWR points out the importance for human beings to emphasize the nurturance of the expansive sense of self. For those interested in realizing an infinite self, GWR points out that it is not possible to do so for those still mired in narrowness, exclusivity, or otherwise divisive ways of thinking.So the practice of expanding a person's sense of self leads to the abandonment of divisive ways of thinking, thereby bringing one closer to realizing the infinite self.
On first impression, we can't really argue with that. It's like a lot of approaches: psychological redefinition with compassion building. But it's unique in how the compassion comes by way of the redefinition.
The question is in the redefining. What does this "expanded" person look like in thought and belief. Are they just trading one set of occluding ideas for another, or does more clarity fill the space created by the expansion.
And then we begin to wonder about this "divisive" thinking. What exactly is the line between it and healthy debate. We can seem pretty divisive ourselves sometimes, right? By defining what is appropriate to think in the context of the practice, you control the content of people's minds. We aren't saying this is the case here, but we wonder how well-defined the ideas are about what is appropriate for the "expansive" self to think.
Perhaps Sankara deserves a closer look. He at least knows the difference between an expanded sense of self and what he's calling the "infinite self." Couple that with his ideas about God without religion, and you've got the kind of guru that we'd like to see more of... maybe.
We'll get back to you after we read his book.