The ancient Indian notion
of the ‘self’ as navigation system
The self (i.e. atman), “that thread by which this world and the other world* and all things are tied together” (Brahadaranyaka Upanishad) – is the timeless controller (or navigation system) within. That self (or atman) is the actual agent (to wit: autopilot, my insertion!) of every sense and thinking process, the organs** merely serving as instruments.
Svetasvatara Upanishad: “That sole existing ruler is the self (atman) in the interior*** of all transitory creatures: he makes manifold his one form.”****
*… For ‘the other world’ read: the ground of this world.
**… i.e. names and forms (i.e. name-rupa)
***… This is late Brahmin inspired (actually very modern Bio-Nav) divide and rule politics. In the light of (unconditional) tattvamasi (or ‘I am Brahman’) understanding/experience neither interior nor exterior exist. There is no notion of transcendence (i.e. of ‘not this’) in tattvamasi pantheism.
****… Why the self (as autopilot) ‘makes manifold his one form” (now understood as ‘set of (formless) creation rules’) was never clearly stated by the inventors of the Upanishads nor by their numberless verbose Brahmin commentators such as Badarayana and Shankara. And the (pantheistic) reason is obvious (but unacceptable to ancient Indian belief) because observable in/as everyday life, the latter happening as actual elaboration of the virtual creation drive (recall: ‘as above so below’ and vice versa). The ancient Indians could not accept that the atman/brahman/prajapati (rules set) suffers need because is incomplete. Atman/brahman/prajapati (as virtual creation algorithm) must continually (i.e. step-by-step, quantum by quantum) create the manifold world (i.e. self-elaborate at infinitum) in order to self-experience as actually real/true, conscious and experiencing either happiness or unhappiness (i.e. sat-cit-ananda) and so as wholly complete and perfect too.