So, you wanna find yourself? I find my self sitting in front of a computer in Colorado.
What is a Self?
Where to start? Since I suspect anyone reading this will have at least practical experience if not a working mental model of duality, let's start there. Self is the opposite of Other. So then, what separates a Self from an Other?
Let's start that by finding the boundaries of Self. My self presently holds the belief that the boundaries of Self are defined by awareness, information flow, and perception. If perception results in a flow of information to our awareness, the perceiving object is considered Self.
What part of my Self would I lose without an internet connection?
What interests me here is when I slide the scale down a bit, leaving the familiarity of the existence I know and scaling way down to what I've been told about what goes on in this body my Self seems to inhabit. Don't cells have to have a sense of self? Particularly considering white blood cells, which I've been told sacrifice their Selves in the act of killing an Other. Surely, on some level the cell must be aware of the Other.
Let's scale a couple of meta levels up. Is the Earth a Self? If we take what we know of Self and cells, could it be that the planet is a Self, and what lives on its surface constitute its organs? How would we go about establishing the existence of awareness on meta layers other than our own? Can an argument be made that the solar system is a Self?
What is an Awareness?
Its easy to start by saying consciousness is an awareness. What is an awareness aware of? Perhaps an awareness must first be aware of the passage of time - at least for us to relate. The awareness experiences changes over time.
Looking at our own awareness, I can't go much further without emotions coming into play. Not only are we aware of changes, but our perception of those changes can alter how we perceive things by influencing our emotional state. Does all awareness come with emotion? Are the white cells afraid?
What purpose do emotions serve?
Motivation, for the most part. The pursuit of happiness... why would we pursue it? Because it feels awesome. How do cells feel? Does a cell shooting a pleasure message to the brain feel better than one shooting pain information? Does happiness indicate optimum functioning/health? Do the magnetic field or brain wave emissions from our happiness communicate something to the planet?
Self is self-defined.
Consider your Self. Do you consider yourself part of a family, part of a political party, or part of a nation? Ultimately, self is a concept - a mental model we use to facilitate interactions between the meat sacks we seem to sit in and the environment in which they exist. Ultimately your self is what you make of it, because what you choose to believe about your Self will influence the perceptions that define you.