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Self & identity
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Main article: self actualization

Self-realization may refer to:

  • Self-Realization Fellowship / Yogoda Satsanga Society of India is a worldwide spiritual organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth (reincarnation), called Moksha in Hinduism
  • Atman jnana, the Hindu concept that knowledge that one's self is identical with Brahman
  • God-realization (Meher Baba), a state of self-realization described by Meher Baba
  • In Sahaja Yoga, self-realization occurs when the Kundalini crosses the Sahasrara chakra
  • Psychosynthesis, an original approach to psychology that was developed by Roberto Assagioli


Self realization is a concept that has become widely popular in the Western and that has great influence from some Eastern religions. For instance, for the Hindu or Barath religion self-realization refers to a profound spiritual awakening where there is an awakening from an illusory self identify image (Ego), to the true, divine, perfect condition that the individual is. The branch of Avaita Vedanta is the one that has especially developed this concept.[1]

Furthermore, the method of meditation Sahaja Yoga, created in 1970 by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, defines self realization as a connection with your self or the first encounter with reality.[2]

One of the definitions in the Western can be found in Merriam Webster's dictionary. It defines self-realization as “fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one's character or personality”.[3]

Also, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, American psychologists, developed the concept of self-actualization in Humanistic Psychology. Maslow defined then self-realization as “the impulse to convert oneself into what one is capable of being.” [4]

Based on Maslow, the most common meaning given to self-realization is that of psychological growth and maturation. It represents the awakening and manifestation of latent potentialities of the human being -for example, ethical, esthetic, and religious experiences and activities.[5]

Aajit K. Das, in the International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, compared and contrasted Maslow and Rogers' concept of self actualization with the concept of self-realization in Vedandic Hinduism and the two major schools of Buddhism: Theravada and Mahayana. The author concluded in this paper that the two concepts complement each other.[6]

Qualities of self-realized people

According to Maslow, self realized people share the following qualities:

  • Truth: honest, reality, beauty, pure, clean and unadulterated completeness
  • Goodness: rightness, desirability, oughtness, benevolence, honesty
  • Beauty: rightness, form, aliveness, simplicity, richness, wholeness, perfection, completion,
  • Wholeness: unity, integration, tendency to oneness, interconnectedness, simplicity,

organization, structure, order, not dissociated, synergy

  • Dichotomy-transcendence: acceptance, resolution, integration, polarities, opposites, contradictions
  • Aliveness: process, not-deadness, spontaneity, self-regulation, full-functioning
  • Uniqueness: idiosyncrasy, individuality, non comparability, novelty
  • Perfection: nothing superfluous, nothing lacking, everything in its right place,just-rightness, suitability, justice
  • Necessity: inevitability: it must be just that way, not changed in any slightest way
  • Completion: ending, justice, fulfillment
  • Justice: fairness, suitability, disinterestedness, non partiality,
  • Order: lawfulness, rightness, perfectly arranged
  • Simplicity: nakedness, abstract, essential skeletal, bluntness
  • Richness: differentiation, complexity, intricacy, totality
  • Effortlessness: ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty
  • Playfulness: fun, joy, amusement
  • Self-sufficiency: autonomy, independence, self-determining.[7]

Happiness and self-realization

It is the ultimate goal of a human being to attain permanent happiness and complete independence and freedom from all worldly bondage. True happiness is then the result of self realization.[8]

Awareness in self-realization

Awareness plays a key role to achieve self realization. It is clear that self-realization is not easy to achieve. It is a very demanding goal that requires self-awareness, analytic abilities and the ability to view things objectively. You have to be aware of what you want to accomplish and understand that you are the only one who holds the future in your hands. You are then responsible for your own destiny.[9]

In Yoga

In Yoga, self-realization is knowledge of one's true self, or inner-self. This true self is also referred to as the atma to avoid ambiguity. The term "self-realization" is a translation of the Sanskrit expression atma jnana (knowledge of the self or atma). The reason the term "realization" is used instead of "knowledge" is that jnana refers to knowledge based on experience, not mere intellectual knowledge.

As discussed in the article on yoga, while the goal of self-realization is the same in all yoga paths, the means used to achieve that goal differ. For example, in Sahajayoga or hatha yoga, self-realization is said to be achieved when the serpent force or kundalini rises through the shushumna nadi to the sahasrara chakra.

The following terms are related to self-realization or atma jnana:

  • moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death)
  • samadhi (Supreme or Divine Bliss)

The Rishis (seers of truth) inquire within themselves:

What is the cause of this universe? Is it Brahman (the Supreme Reality)? Whence do we come? Why do we live? Where shall we at last find rest? Under whose command are we bound by the law of happiness and its opposite?

Time, space, law, chance, matter, primal energy, intelligence- none of these, nor a combination of these, can be the final cause of the universe, for they are effects, and exist to serve the soul. Nor can the individual soul be the cause, for being subject to the law of happiness and misery, it is not free.

The Rishis (seers of truth), absorbed in meditation, saw within themselves the ultimate Reality, the self-luminous Being, the one God, who dwells as the self-conscious power in all creatures. He is one without a second. Deep within all beings He dwells, hidden from sight by the coverings of the gunas – Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. He presides over time, space, and all apparent causes.

Self-realization in Sahaja Yoga

According to Sahaja Yoga, self-realization is a process of kundalini awakening.

Self-realization in Reiki Tummo

According to Reiki Tummo, self-realization is a part of the process of kundalini awakening before reaching full enligtenment and Yoga (Union with the Divine).

Self-realization according to Paramhansa Yogananda

“Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”

— from The Essence of Self-Realization by Paramhansa Yogananda

Self-realization in Surat Shabd Yoga

Surat Shabd Yoga cosmology depicts the whole of creation (the macrocosm) as being emanated and arranged in a spiritually differentiated hierarchy, often referred to as eggs, regions, or planes. Typically, eight spiritual levels are described above the physical plane, although names and subdivisions within these levels will vary to some extent by movement and Master. In this arrangement, Self-Realization is attainted in the third heaven level, Daswan Dwar, Spirit-Realization is attained in the fourth heaven level, Bhanwar Gupha, and God-Realization is attained in the fifth heaven level, Sach Kand (Sat Lok). (One version of the creation from a Surat Shabda Yoga perspective is depicted at the Sant Ajaib Singh Ji Memorial Site [1]). All planes below the purely spiritual regions are subject to cycles of creation and dissolution (pralya) or grand dissolution (maha pralya).

This cosmology presents the constitution of the initiate (the microcosm) as an exact replica of the macrocosm. Consequently, the microcosm consists of a number of bodies, each one suited to interact with its corresponding plane or region in the macrocosm. These bodies developed over the yugas through involution (emanating from higher planes to lower planes) and evolution (returning from lower planes to higher planes), including by karma and reincarnation in various states of consciousness. The Path of Light and Sound involves the initiate traveling the microcosm dharmicly in consciousness (soul) with the guidance and protection of the Outer Living Master in the physical world and the Inner Shabd Master in the higher worlds, eventually experiencing Self-Realization and continuing to unfold until the regions of pure spirituality are reached and God-Realization is attained.

See also


  1. Self Realization vrs. Soul Realization. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  2. Kundalini, Vibrations and Self Realization. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  3. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  4. Self Realization. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  5. Self-realization and psychological disturbances. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  6. Beyond self-actualization. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  7. Metaneeds and metapathologies. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  8. Eternal Happiness. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.
  9. Willingness to be Better: Embracing the Road to No Prescription. URL accessed on 2010-04-12.

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