What is Ego in the Context of Non-Duality?

Ego is a tricky word and it has been used to convey about 3-4 different things… And there has been a confusion because of translations… This post will clarify the confusion that might have arisen.

1. There is a word called ‘Ahamkar’. This word has been used in Yoga, Vedanta and Samkhya. And this ‘ahamkar’ actually disappears completely after enlightenment. But this word is usually translated as ego in English. Let us look at the actual meaning of the word Ahamkar. Its a compound word consisting of ‘Aham’ which means ‘I’ and ‘kara’ which means ‘to do’. The compound word indicates the idea ‘I am the doer’.. This idea can only exist in separation or duality. After enlightenment, you can’t even find a slight scent of Ahamkara, because duality completely disappears.

2.  There is also something called ‘Aham vritti’… This is also translated as ego in English. But ‘Aham vritti’ is actually the root of the self-concept, which too is destroyed completely after enlightenment. Self-concept is the story of ‘you’ that you carry in your head. This story completely loses its focus, importance, significance and power after enlightenment. You only access the self-concept that you have in memory. But there is no active, consistent, solid self-concept which spans from past to future.

3. There is a function in the mind which helps you with social interactions. Its is also referred to as ego. I use the word ‘ego’ to refer to this. This function is totally necessary for social interactions. It is this function which strives to protect and enhance the self-concept. So by its very nature, ego is defensive. But after enlightenment, self-concept disappears while ego as a function persists. This is why you can notice some kind of defensiveness even in enlightened people. But they defend the truth, instead of defending a self-concept.

4. Freud used the word ‘ego’ in a totally different way. If you look up his theory about ego, super-ego and id, you will understand what he is saying in his theory.

Note:  This is very important. If you find one guru saying something about ego which another guru seem to contradict, then always remember that they are probably using the word ‘ego’ to mean different things. The above is the quick checklist that you can refer. I have an entire chapter in my book called ‘Problem with words’ where I discuss certain confusions that tend to happen because of using one word to mean multiple things or using multiple words to mean a single thing. Makes sense? So, when you listen to a spiritual guru, it is very important to inquire what meaning he is actually giving to a particular word by checking the context.



Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth, Consciousness & Bliss) : Advaita Vedanta in 3 Infographics

Here are three infographics which explain the meaning of Sat-Chit-Ananda in detail. It is the image version of the post The Meaning of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss – Satchitananda. Feel free to download and share.




Witnessing Meditation by Osho – A Technique of Everyday Mindfulness

Osho advocated a simple and powerful meditation technique called witnessing. It is nothing but mindfulness in daily activities. It is not only an effective practice for spiritual seekers seeking spiritual enlightenment, but is also a good practice to improve mental peace in general. But the essence of the witnessing meditation has to be understood before one starts to practice it.

The following links will help you to understand some of the basics when it comes to spiritual enlightenment. After reading these links, witnessing meditation will make much sense and will be easier to understand:

What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

Is Spiritual Enlightenment Known or Experienced?

Ramana Maharshi and the Cinema Screen Analogy

The following infographic will give you the steps involved in witnessing. Feel free to download and share the infographic if you want:

Witnessing meditation by Osho - Everyday Mindfulness for Spiritual Enlightenment
Witnessing – Everyday Mindfulness for Spiritual Enlightenment

As it is explained in the infographic, the first step is to learn to discriminate between the awareness and the contents of the awareness. Anything that is observed in the mind, body and the external world is a content of consciousness. When you start witnessing, you may often mistake an object of consciousness for the subject. This is because of the deep-rooted identification people have with the objects of consciousness. You need to rise above each thought, feeling and sensation so that you don’t get identified with the contents.

Here is an excerpt of Osho’s talk from the book ‘From the False to the Truth:

“Just be, and watch. Being is not doing, and watching is also not doing. You sit silently doing nothing, witnessing whatsoever is happening. Thoughts will be moving in your mind; your body may be feeling some tension somewhere, you may have a migraine. Just be a witness. Don’t be identified with it. Watch, be a watcher on the hills, and everything else is happening in the valley. It is a knack, not an art.

Meditation is not a science. It is not an art, it is a knack – just that way. All that you need is a little patience.

The old habits will continue; the thoughts will go on rushing. And your mind is always in a rush hour, the traffic is always jammed. Your body is not accustomed to sitting silently – you will be tossing and turning. Nothing to be worried about. Just watch that the body is tossing and turning, that the mind is whirling, is full of thoughts – consistent, inconsistent, useless – fantasies, dreams. You remain in the center, just watching.

All the religions of the world have taught people to do something: stop the process of thought, force the body into a still posture. That’s what yoga is – a long practice of forcing the body to be still. But a forced body is not still. And all the prayers, concentrations, contemplations of all the religions do the same with the mind: they force it, they don’t allow the thoughts to move. Yes, you have the capacity to do it. And if you persist you may be able to stop the thought process. But this is not the real thing, it is absolutely fake.

When stillness comes on its own, when silence descends without your effort, when you watch thoughts and a moment comes when thoughts start disappearing and silence starts happening, that is beautiful. The thoughts stop of their own accord if you don’t identify, if you remain a witness and you don’t say, “This is my thought.”

You don’t say, “This is bad, this is good,” “This should be there….” and “This should not be there….” Then you are not a watcher; you have prejudices, you have certain attitudes. A watcher has no prejudice, he has no judgment. He simply sees like a mirror.

When you bring something in front of a mirror it reflects, simply reflects. There is no judgment that the man is ugly, that the man is beautiful, that, “Aha! What a good nose you have got.” The mirror has nothing to say. Its nature is to mirror; it mirrors. This is what I call meditation: you simply mirror everything within or without.

And I guarantee you…. I can guarantee because it has happened to me and to many of my people; just watching patiently – maybe a few days will pass, maybe a few months, maybe a few years. There is no way of saying because each individual has a different collection.

You must have seen people collecting antiques, postal stamps. Everybody has a different collection; the quantity may be different, hence the time it takes will be different – but go on remaining a witness as much as you can. And this meditation needs no special time. You can wash the floor and remain silently watching yourself washing the floor.

I can move my hand unconsciously, without watching, or I can move it with full awareness. And there is a qualitative difference. When you move it unconsciously it is mechanical. When you move it with consciousness there is grace. Even in the hand, which is part of your body, you will feel silence, coolness – what to say about the mind?

With your watching and watching, slowly the rush of thoughts starts getting less and less. Moments of silence start appearing; a thought comes, and then there is silence before another thought appears. These gaps will give you the first glimpse of meditation and the first joy that you are arriving home.

Soon the gaps will be bigger, and finally, the gap is always with you. You may be doing something, the silence is there. You may not be doing anything, the silence is there. Even in sleep, the silence is there.”

Buy my book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta” for more details regarding Witnessing meditation:


5 Insightful Quotes of Ashtavakra on Spiritual Enlightenment and Non-Duality

These five quotes of Astavakra have powerful pointers; For more quotes of Ashtavakra, visit Gems Of Wisdom From Ashtavakra Gita








Ramana Maharshi and the Cinema Screen Analogy

This post is just a demonstration to point out how the awareness is unchanging but the contents of the awareness keep changing…

Ramana Maharshi often used the analogy of a cinema screen. The contents of the screen keep changing but the screen itself doesn’t change. The same way, You, the Self or the pure awareness doesn’t change while the contents of the consciousness keep changing…

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy


Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

The first step in the spiritual path is to understand this difference and understand this pure awareness as you. Abiding as the witness or pure awareness and not getting identified with each thought, emotion, and sensation that arises and passes away is the direct form of meditation which leads to a complete cessation of the sense of a separate and consistent self. This finally leads to a oneness, in which the observer and the observed merge together, with no distinctions. (Please note that this merger is different from the initial identification).

I have explained in detail about this practice in my recent book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta

(Indian readers click here)

Here are some quotes from Ramana Maharshi, using this analogy:

1. Or again, take the instance of the cinema. Scenes are projected on the screen in the cinema-show. But the moving pictures do not affect or alter the screen. The spectator pays attention to them, not to the screen. They cannot exist apart from the screen, yet the screen is ignored. So also, the Self is the screen where the pictures, activities etc. are seen going on. The man is aware of the latter but not aware of the essential former. All the same, the world of pictures is not apart from the Self. Whether he is aware of the screen or unaware, the actions will continue.

2. Devotee:  What is sphurana (a kind of indescribable but palpable sensation in the heart centre)?

Ramana Maharishi:  Sphurana is felt on several occasions, such as in fear, excitement, etc. Although it is always and all over, yet it is felt at a particular center and on particular occasions. It is also associated with antecedent causes and confounded with the body. Whereas, it is all alone and pure; it is the Self. If the mind be fixed on the sphurana and one senses it continuously and automatically it is realisation. Again sphurana is the foretaste of Realisation. It is pure. The subject and object proceed from it. If the man mistakes himself for the subject, objects must necessarily appear different from him. They are periodically withdrawn and projected, creating the world and the subject’s enjoyment of the same. If, on the other hand, the man feels himself to be the screen on which the subject and object are projected there can be no confusion, and he can remain watching their appearance and disappearance without any perturbation to the Self.

 3. “Wakefulness passes off, I am; the dream state passes off, I am; the sleep state passes off, I am. They repeat themselves, and yet I am. They are like pictures moving on the screen in a cinema show. They do not affect the screen. Similarly also, I remain unaffected although these states pass off.”

4. “The pictures in a cinema show are only shadows passing over the screen. They make their appearance; move forward and backward; change from one to another; are therefore unreal whereas the screen all along remains unchanged. Similarly with paintings: the images are unreal and the canvas real. So also with us: the world-phenomena, within or without, are only passing phenomena not independent of our Self. Only the habit of looking on them as being real and located outside ourselves is responsible for hiding our true being and showing forth the others. The ever-present only Reality, the Self, being found, all other unreal things will disappear, leaving behind the knowledge that they are no other than the Self.”

5. “There are scenes floating on the screen in a cinema show. Fire appears to burn buildings to ashes. Water seems to wreck vessels. But the screen on which the pictures are projected remains unscorched and dry. Why? Because the pictures are unreal and the screen is rear “

6. “You see pictures moving on the screen in a cinema show. When you are intent on the pictures you are not aware of the screen. But the pictures cannot be seen without the screen behind. The world stands for the pictures and Consciousness stands for the screen. The Consciousness is pure. It is the same as the Self which is eternal and unchanging. Get rid of the subject and object and Pure Consciousness will alone remain.”

 7. “Still another example: Scenes are projected on the screen in a cinema show. But the moving pictures do not affect or alter the screen. The seer pays attention to the pictures and ignores the screen. They cannot remain apart from the screen. Still its existence is ignored. So also the Self is the screen on which the pictures, namely activities, are going on. The man is aware of the latter, ignoring the former. All the same he is not apart from the Self. Whether aware or unaware the actions will continue.”

8. “So many pictures pass over the cinema screen: fire burns away everything; water drenches all; but the screen remains unaffected. The scenes are only phenomena which pass away leaving the screen as it was. Similarly the world phenomena simply pass on before the Jnani (one who knows the truth about himself), leaving him unaffected.”

9. “You do not leave one place for another. You are always stationary. The scenes go past you. Even from the ordinary point of view you sit in your cabin and the ship sails but you do not move. We see a picture of a man running several miles and rushing towards us but the screen does not move. It is the picture that moves on and away? 

 10. “Everyone sees only the Self. The divine forms are only like bubbles in the ocean of Reality, or like pictures moving on a screen.”

11. “Lying down on your bed in a closed room with eyes closed you dream of a City, the crowds there and you among them. A certain body is identified as yourself in the dream. The City and the rest could not have entered into the room and into your brain: however, such wide space and duration of time were all perceptible to you. They must have been projected from the brain. Although the world is so big and the brain so small, is it not a matter of wonder that such a big creation is contained in such small compass as one’s brain? Though the screen is limited, still all the pictures of the cinema pass on it and are visible there. You do not wonder how such a long procession of events could be manifest on such a small screen. Similarly with the objects and the brain? “

 12. “Who is this ‘I’? It cannot be the body nor the mind as we have seen before. This ‘I’ is the one who experiences the waking, dream and sleep states. The three states are changes which do not affect the individual. The experiences are like pictures passing on a screen in the cinema. The appearance and disappearance of the pictures do not affect the screen. So also, the three states alternate with one another leaving the Self unaffected. The waking and the dream states are creations of the mind. So the Self covers all. To know that the Self remains happy in its perfection is Self-Realisation. Its use lies in the realization of Perfection and thus of Happiness.”



Is Spiritual Enlightenment Known or Experienced?

This is a very important question! Because, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding spiritual enlightenment, and an answer to this question will clarify this…

Disclaimer: Everything written here is based on my own experience…

Is Spiritual Enlightenment Known or Experienced_.png

Is spiritual enlightenment known or experienced?

First, let me give you a short answer: It is both!

But I have to clarify what I mean by ‘knowledge’ and what I mean by ‘experience’ in this context…

Knowledge in general sense means anything that you know using your five senses. You know there is a tree by seeing it; you know there is a dog near you by hearing its barking and so on…

Knowledge also means conceptual and factual knowledge. You may know the capital of Japan, you may know what photosynthesis is; you may know the descriptions of 7 chakras; you may know the life history of Buddha and ideology of Buddhism.

But what you know after enlightenment cannot be really classified under the above categories. Spiritual enlightenment is a realization of something very significant.

Once you wake up from a nightmare, you know that it was just a dream… Can this knowledge really be called as a factual knowledge or some knowledge gathered through five senses? There is actually a profound realization that happens when you wake up from the dream. Now you know that after all, it is just a dream.


A typical human being is identified with his body and his mind… He is deeply identified with his thoughts, emotions, concepts, ideas, beliefs etc. He is also identified with everything that he calls as ‘his’: His family, his clothes, his house, his nation, his community, his values etc…All this is centered around the idea or notion of a ‘personal self’… When someone asks you who you are, whatever your answer may be, your typical reply usually describes everything you are identified with.

After enlightenment, a person realizes once and for all, that none of this is ‘me’ or ‘mine’.. He realizes that the whole idea of a separate personal self is an illusion. He realizes that he is never ever separate from the existence…He realizes that there is no ‘me’ and there is no ‘other’… He realizes that the whole idea of ‘me’ is a dream! This realization also removes the idea that he is the doer of the actions.. If there is no personal self, who is there to do anything? Actions happen, and they still happen out of conscious choice, but not with a sense of doer-ship…

But this is not an intellectual understanding; this is not a verbal assertion; this is not a temporary glimpse; this is a permanent and irreversible knowledge.

There is a word called ‘self-knowledge’ or ‘atma-jnana’.. But this word can be easily misunderstood.. For knowing anything, there has to be a knower, knowing and the object of knowledge.. But this self-knowledge is not an object of knowledge; it is not something that you gain. It is actually a merger of the knower, known and knowledge…It is the dissolution of all the psychological distinctions including the idea that ‘I am the knower and I am separate from this object of knowledge’’…

In other words, you don’t know the real Self, You are that! You just realize this without a doubt.. This ‘real self’ is not something to be pointed out as this or that… It in itself doesn’t have such attributes..

Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisargadatta Maharaj

An excerpt from” I am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj:

“Q: What am I?

M: It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as except as total negation. All you can say is: ‘I am not this, I am not that’. You cannot meaningfully say ‘this is what I am’. It just makes no sense. What you can point out as ‘this’ or ‘that’ cannot be yourself. Surely, you cannot be ‘something’ else.

You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you, there can be neither perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. Can there be perception, experience without you? An experience must ‘belong’. Somebody must come and declare it as his own. Without an experiencer, the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. An experience which you cannot have, of what value is it to you?”

Please note:

But don’t over-complicate it, don’t over-intellectualize it.. That is the main pitfall.. You can’t really think about it or imagine how it feels like to not have a sense of a ‘separate personal self’… When people speculate about it, they start to speak or write about it without knowing what they are talking about and cause misunderstanding to themselves and others…

All you can do is to inquire your every thought, every emotion and every sensation and see if there is really a ‘me’ in it. This inquiry is done only by witnessing your moment to moment experience including thoughts, emotions, and sensations as a passive non-judgmental observer… As you step back from your mental process and witness it, there is a recognition that you are not what you witness or observe as every thought passes by..

What is the Relationship between Experience and Spiritual Enlightenment?

Spiritual Enlightenment vs Spiritual Experience

Now I am going to address the other aspect, which has also caused a lot of misconceptions…

When I talk about the experiential aspect of enlightenment, I am not talking about distinct experiences that come and go… I am not talking about a special experience or an altered state of consciousness..

Most importantly, spiritual enlightenment is not spiritual experience..Both are different.. You may go through tons of spiritual experiences and just return to the duality..

I am talking about experiencing the reality without the distinctions of a ‘me’ and the ‘other’…

Every person experiences life or ‘the feeling of being alive’ each and every moment. But this experience is not pure. It is clouded by duality. You see and experience everything through a filter called a ‘separate personal self’.. This is the reason why you feel a difference between being alone and being with a person.

Just imagine how it feels like to be in a room alone and how it feels like to be in a room where there is already another person. It may be someone you know or a stranger. That doesn’t matter. There is a difference. Apart from the fact that you are mentally aware that there is another person there, you also have a distinct feeling that someone is there with you… But you absolutely won’t have such a feeling when the experience of reality is pure and devoid of any duality.

Also, the absence of duality removes all the conflicts, suffering and craving associated with a limited personal self. The reality is felt in its purity without any distortions. Your life then becomes free-flowing, conflict-less, guilt-free, fearless, peaceful and fulfilled.

Enlightenment also changes the way you sense the psychological time. Your existence doesn’t feel like it is time-bound. It almost feels like there is no dimension called ‘time’..

For more, about Spiritual enlightenment, read: What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

You can also get this book for more clarity: The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Shanmugam P: 9781973364542: Amazon.com: Books

(originally posted as an answer to a question in Quora)


What Is Spiritual Enlightenment?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote in Quora)

The word ‘Enlightenment’ can be defined in many different ways. We have so many words in different traditions which are synonymous with the word ‘enlightenment’.

The list of words are endless and the definitions are endless too. Some people exaggerate it, some people understate it, some people say that there is no such thing called enlightenment while the majority of the world’s population haven’t even heard of it.

First, let me describe enlightenment in terms of what disappears. Deep down in people’s minds, there is an underlying dissatisfaction with the way things are. People want many things to be different from the way they actually are. There is a craving for becoming something that one is not and there is a resistance to the way things are. Everyone is moving towards a goal, a destination that is in the future. The hopes of arriving at that destination seem to give some solace and if those hopes and dreams are threatened, we tend to suffer. This burning uneasiness and dissatisfaction can be likened to a fire that is burning. The extinction of this fire is enlightenment. The word ‘Nirvana’ means extinction.

There are also two other words ‘moksha’ and ‘mukthi’, which literally mean ‘liberation’. These words refer to how enlightenment feels like.

A typical human being is bound by various things. He is bound by his own past intentions. He is bound by his beliefs. He is bound by the opinions of other people.

But deep inside the heart of every human being, there is a longing to become boundless and expansive. We try to accomplish this by accumulation; we accumulate knowledge, possession, and experiences hoping that these accumulations will make us boundless.

But these very accumulations cause further bondage. Now you have to protect them because losing them will essentially mean losing yourself; because you derive a sense of identity from these accumulations. A typical human being is actually in a self-made prison. But the saddest part is that majority of the population don’t realize that they are in such a prison.


I have heard a quote by some anonymous person which goes like this:

“One of the greatest mental freedoms is truly not caring what anyone else thinks of you”..

Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about what other people think about you. And, also imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you are no longer afraid of losing anything. Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about future and past! What is usually called as enlightenment is the greatest freedom ever. It is not only a combination of all kinds of freedoms that I just talked about but it is also a freedom from the sense of a separate self. It is a permanent freedom from the story you have about you. Once a person is enlightened, he feels like a huge load has been taken off of his shoulders. There is a sense of an immense freedom which is priceless. It literally feels like escaping from a prison.

Once J. Krishnamurti asked his audience if they wanted to know what his secret was. Then he revealed his secret in just one sentence. He said, “I don’t care what happens”…


Simply put, this is enlightenment. Nothing ultimately matters and the whole life becomes a play or a game.

When we play a game with our friends, we play it without any seriousness. Even though we make sure that the rules of the games are followed and that we do what we are supposed to do in the game, we don’t lose our sleep over it (unless we are playing in a tournament). Playing your role in life as if you are just playing a game is the greatest sense of freedom. Enlightenment naturally makes you to not to care about the end result of whatever you are doing. At the end of the day, nothing ever matters. That doesn’t mean you will be irresponsible. You will just enjoy what you are doing rather than being focused on results. Your actions will be driven by intrinsic motivation.

Whatever I have said so far, sounds quite logical. But I haven’t touched the core yet. The core and the essence of enlightenment is realizing that you as a separate person or entity is an illusion. You create a solid sense of self inside your mind and you define the boundaries of that self physically by your body and mentally by your story.


But science and spirituality tell us that there is no such solid, consistent self. This doesn’t mean that your body and your mind doesn’t exist. But a sense of self that you derive from your body and mind is just a deep-rooted belief. Since you have this belief for such a long time, you don’t even recognize that it is a belief. This may even sound absurd or unacceptable to you simply because you have lived with this belief so long. We have built layer upon layer on this belief which makes us very difficult to see through this belief.

Someone asked a question in Quora before. The question was “Can an atheist believe in spiritual enlightenment? “. The word ‘believe’ here is a bit odd.But this question comes from an assumption that spiritual enlightenment is somehow related or tied to religious beliefs. But in reality, an enlightened person is an upgraded atheist.

Let me elaborate. The only thing that an atheist doesn’t believe in is the existence of a personal deity, a creator God who answers your prayers. But an atheist may still believe that his next door neighbor is a jerk and his boss is an a**h**e.

An enlightened person, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in anything. He doesn’t even believe that he is separate from the existence. Once the sense of a separate-self dissolves, you realize that you are existence itself. All the boundaries between you and the world simply disappear. You cease to exist as a person but you continue to exist as the existence.Realizing that you are not an entity separate from existence is enlightenment. It is not just realizing this as a fact but realizing it in your actual moment to moment experience.

This is not to say that enlightenment is a special experience or an altered state of consciousness. When you are living a life as a liberated person, you simply experience the reality without any duality. The reality is felt in its purity without any distortions. Your life then becomes free-flowing, conflict-less, guilt-free, fearless, peaceful and fulfilled. Nothing is lacking anymore at the absolute level. There is a sense of innocence and genuineness in your moment to moment experience. It is quite ordinary then how enlightenment is described or thought of.

So, what causes this illusion of separate self or duality? Left-brain interpreter is the culprit.

The left brain interpreter refers to the construction of explanations by the left brain in order to make sense of the world by reconciling new information with what was known before. The left brain interpreter attempts to rationalize, reason and generalize new information it receives in order to relate the past to the present. The concept was first introduced by Michael Gazzaniga while he performed research on split-brain patients during the early 1970s with Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology.] Sperry eventually received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to split-brain research


If you just look at the above picture, one thing is clear. You left brain engages in things which require categorization. Your right brain specializes in helping you to see everything as a whole.

Dr. Chris Niebauer, a neuroscientist writes in his book ‘The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment: How the Left-brain Plays Unending Games of Self-improvement’ about the left brain interpreter.

Let me quote a few lines from his book:

“The left-brain interpreter is categorical, it creates division outwardly and inwardly, so let it do its job, let it do its thing. “

“Again, there is the interpreter created category of “me as I am” vs. “me as I want to be” which are both just thoughts bouncing around in the skull. So, ironically, if you are trying to improve yourself, you can’t. The notion that your self needs improving is an interpretation and we are going around interpretations. There is an irony in most bookstores called the “self help” section. I might suggest renaming this as “Books that reinforce the illusion that the left-brain interpreter can be what it isn’t free of itself.”

“The interpreter also creates and sustains our collection of categorical thoughts called our beliefs.”

It is this left brain interpreter which also creates the duality. It categories your body and your story as a ‘me’ that is separate from the existence.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Is spiritual awakening a myth?

Spiritual enlightenment is going beyond all the dualities. It leads one to resolve all the internal conflicts and to feel one with everything. It removes the idea that there is a separate entity inside which has to enhance itself for fulfillment. The left brain may still continue to categorize things, but they are not solidified in our consciousness and we are not urged to protect those solidified entities.