Gandhi described his ultimate goal in a way that may sound strange to many of us:
"What I want to achieve - what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years - is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha (Liberation). I live and move and have my being in pursuit of that goal. All that I do by way of speaking and writing, and all my ventures in political field, are directed to this end."
This sound individualistic to the Western mind. But the self Gandhi had in mind was not the ego or the "narrow" self (jiva) of egocentric interests. For him it is the supreme or universal Self - the atman - that is to be realized.

In his essey SelfRealization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World, the norwegian ecophilosopher Arne Næss summarizes his view in six points:
  1. We underestimate ourselves. We tend to confuse self with the narrow ego.
  2. Human nature is such that with sufficient all-sided maturity we cannot avoid "identifying" ourselves with all living beings.
  3. Traditionalle the maturity if the self developes through three stages - from ego to social self, and from social self to metaphysical self. In this concept of the process, nature is largely ignored. Society and human relations are important, but our self is richer in its constructive relations, and we have relations also with the larger community of all living beings. Næss therefore introduce the concept of an ecological self.
  4. The joy and meaning of life is enhanced through increased self-realization, through the fullfillment of each beings potential. Whatever the differences between beings, increased self-realization implies broadening and deepening of the self.
  5. Because of the process of identification with others, with growing maturity, the self is widened and deepened. We "see ourselves in others". Self-realization is hindered if the self-realization of others - with whom we identify - is hindered. Love of ourselves will labor to overcome this obstacle by assisting in the self-realization of others according to the formula "live and let live".
  6. The challenge of today is to save the planet from further devastation which violates both the self-interest of humans and nonhumans, and decreases the potential joyful existence for all.
Thus in the deepecological perspective, Self-realization is a way of actually saving the planet. Ralization of your "individuel" self is depending on the realization of the self of other beings, that is to realize your ecological self. In Gandhis view your ego is a neutral force that can either support the development of a narrow egcentric self, or the development of the widened ecological self. Implified in this view is the perspective that to a certain extent you can choose for yourself in which direction you want your ego to work.

Here is a test you can do to find whether you self is the narrow kind, or more widened towards an ecological self: Answer the question; who am I? If you feel your answer is fullfilled just by pointing a finger to your body, you may have a way to go. If you feel pointing at your body is far from enough to discribe who you are, you may have come far in your Self-realization.

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