The inability to perceive a self within, either of the psychological or spiritual sort, is pathology, a severe limitation to understanding ourselves and the world around us.
Those who hold there is no separate self, or worse, No-Self at all, are caught in an ideology that extols the experience of emptiness or of total fieldness, unicity, over human emotionality, morality, and empathy. Without access to a total range of emotions, especially of loss, attached love, anger, jealousy, and fear, also miss the ability to feel complete, whole, actualized, and deeply empathic contact with other peoples' problems and pain.
The two most powerful men I have ever met, most influential on me, were Robert Adams and Carl Rogers. Robert held that self was Consciousness. He did not identify with anything human as self. Robert was mostly beyond the world, apparently untouched by it, and thus dwelling in the peacefulness of no-identification with it.
I only met Carl Rogers once while taking a workshop on person-centered psychotherapy in 1981 or 1982. He was 80 years old at the time and had just lost his wife a half year before.
When he entered the room, it went instantly silent. His presence was heavy, like a body/mind weighted down by 10,000 years of emotional experiences. I felt that I was in the presence of the most powerful human being I had ever met.
His words were slow, measured, and each carried immense ‘weight’. I can’t really explain what mean by that except his presence was so powerful that is forced our attention to his every movement and word.
His words were always about the practicality of functioning as a human and psychotherapist within a context of human limitation.
When he spoke of losing his wife, he very gently cried a few tears, and the entire room cried with him. His groundedness in being human was so powerful that empathically he involved everyone in the room; he dragged us all into the feeling of loss and perhaps a bit of despair at losing the love of his life. There was a feel of sacredness in being in the presence of his depth.
While Robert was a giant in his own way of being a being that was no longer of this world, Rogers was equally a giant by being completely embedded in the world and centered in the fragility of humanity. What courage to be so deeply vulnerable some thought, but we knew he was not being courageous at all; this was his natural state.
This is what is needed for this period in Western human development: the ability to be emotionally vulnerable, completely open to what the heart is speaking to us from moment to moment in the languages of emotional subtlety and complete empathy to the other.
If you follow those who claim there is no self, either of the human sort, or the divine sentience within, you will largely be lost without a compassionate compass, adrift in a world you cannot comprehend because you cannot feel the totality of truth being offered to you by emotions, intuition, love and empathy.
This is why I say the neo-Advaitins have entirely missed the point by claiming no Self of any kind, human or transcendental. I strongly feel they never have felt a true sense of self, and find the no-self philosophies much agree with their experience which attracts multitudes of others who also do not feel a self within.
They really don’t feel the symphony of emotions playing so elegantly moment to moment that inform us about ourselves and the world, and establish an empathic bond with others so necessary to create a world (or family, or neighborhood) of peaceful cooperation.
Many complain to me how I have abandoned Advaita, have become myself broken, neurotic, or a cult leader who has lost his way by abandoning the goal of identification with the Absolute. But I have been there. From 1995 onward Robert acknowledged his type of awakening in me when I perceived that Consciousness itself was an illusion, and I, as the ultimate witness was entirely beyond Consciousness, experience, the phenomenal.
But years passed until I found myself to be human again in a most wonderous experience of Self-Realization, both as a human being, but also as the divinity within me of basic sentience aligned with the Life Force, Shakti. This is what I teach now.
Don’t try to sublimate, process, or change emotions within, no matter how painful they are. Emotions are the heart’s way of perceiving the world along with the development of a non-verbal intelligence that directly perceives the world and our own depths within: God, Love, Joy, bliss, as well as sorrow, and loss.