There are many ways to phrase it. The ‘self’ could be seen as our personal identity or egoic mind etc. While the ‘Self’ is a reference to consciousness itself, the deeper, subtler essence of who we are. Anyway, here are my two cents on this now common way of differentiating between the limited and unlimited dimensions of who we are.
The ‘self’ needs help… just look at the multi-billion dollar industry built around it. He got problems, but it’s ok, that is his job after all. The Self, on the other hand, doesn’t need any help, it just needs to be realised and seen.
One is always becoming, the other is always Being. One needs help, the other is the container within which ‘the help’ takes place.
Both are here now. In you and in me. One inside the other, like a Russian doll.
All the self-help in the world won’t bring us to the Self. There is no distance to travel to meet it. It is always here, the blank canvas on which reality is painted. In comparison to the picture, the canvas seems uninteresting. Even if the picture being painted is a source of pain and suffering, funnily enough.
The catch is, we need a ‘self’ to play the game. While the Self IS the field the game is played upon; the changeless dimension of being itself.
Yes, it’s a bit of a mind-f*ck. How could it not be? The Self cannot be grasped by the mind/self. The mind/self is held in the palm of its hand.
For me, the fundamental essence of spirituality is a gradual migration of identity; from the self to the Self. From the limited to the unlimited. It doesn’t mean we lose our ‘self’. It doesn’t mean we find the ‘Self’. It doesn’t mean anything changes in our external reality. It just means we see the whole picture and therefore become whole.
The bottom line is, to live a fully-fledged life we should strive to realise the deepest nature of ourselves aka ‘the Self’, while simultaneously celebrating, improving and growing the individual aspect of our ‘self’. One without the other is a half-lived life or no life at all.