The Higher and Lower Selves

Our inner experience often feels like a tug of war as various streams of thought battle for attention. Some thoughts come from the needs of the body and emotions. They make up the part of the mind referred to as the ego or ‘Lower Self’.

In contrast, we also have thoughts which come from the part of the mind referred to as the ‘Higher Self’, when we’re thinking, speaking and acting from a consciousness of pure love.

Living from the Higher Self is living to our highest potential. We approach life in a positive way and our loving energy spreads out like ripples in a pond, influencing the people around us and making our contribution to a better world.

We are individual expressions of the whole

The first step in living from the Higher Self is to remember that we all have the same life spirit dwelling in us. However, although we are part of the one organising intelligence, through the ego we can fall into the illusion of seeing ourselves as separate.

We are individualised expressions of the whole, like musical notes contributing to a perfect composition. Just as a single note does not embody the whole piece, the piece is incomplete without every note. The universe would not be the same without you. It would be incomplete.

When you act from love you’re coming from your Higher Self

You’re coming from your Higher Self when you’re thinking, feeling, speaking and acting from the pure love and peace that lies within you. Make a conscious choice to love. Put the ego to one side and fear dissolves. You discover inner resources you didn’t know you had. You become a channel for the good that flows throughout the universe.

The Lower Self (or ego)

The term ‘ego,’ is used in many ways:

  • In psychoanalytic theory it is the part of the mind that controls the pleasure-seeking ‘Id’ and is restrained by the conscience (the ‘Superego’).
  • We also hear people described as having ‘a big ego,’ meaning they think too much of themselves.
  • I can also mean the image of ourselves we like to present to the world – our idea of who we would like others to think we are.

The ego is a product of past programming and greatly susceptible to fear and self-doubt. It is a tiny part of who we are, but it behaves as if it is the only part. Even thinking of ourselves as spiritual can be an ego trap if we think this makes us better than anyone else.

Recognising the ego

To dismantle the ego, we must recognise its false ideas and beliefs, dispute them and let them go. It is not an instant process: years of conditioning take more than a few weeks to work through. Only a handful of spiritual masters have ever rid themselves of it completely.

Working diligently on yourself allows the Higher Self to play a greater role in your life. Do you recognise any of these ego-based thinking patterns in yourself?

  • Believing that you are a physical being separate from everyone and everything else.
  • Seeing others as a threat.
  • Believing you have to compete for status and attention.
  • Making comparisons.
  • Jealously safeguarding your reputation because you think this is who you are.
  • Needing to be right and taking pleasure in proving others wrong.
  • Constantly seeking approval from others, since you cannot find it within.
  • Living in the past and fretting about the future, overlooking the present.
  • Seeking to cushion yourself against anything that could threaten your security.
  • Being controlled by the emotions, hence prone to jealousy, judgement, boastfulness, meanness and hatred.

You are connected

Start by dropping the idea that you are separate from the rest of existence. You’re not. Nor are you any better or worse than anyone or anything else. Spiritual energy is part of everyone and belongs to all. As John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’


©David Lawrence Preston, 6.11.2016

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Consciousness and Healing (1)

There’s an old Eastern story about a group of scientists who set out to climb the Mountain of Truth, where all knowledge is revealed. They scramble to the top of a steep slope, only to see another peak beyond that. They climb the next, only to see yet another even higher. They climb that and… guess what? There’s yet another. Finally, exhausted, they reach the summit of the mountain, only to be greeted by the great spiritual masters and meta-physicians who had been sitting there for centuries!

This is no truer than in the field of healing. Humans have long known how to heal themselves and stay healthy, long before medical science became involved. At some time in the far and distant past, humankind became aware that they could usually do something to help speed their recovery when they became injured or ill (previously, like the animals, a sick or wounded person would simply lie low and wait for recovery to take place). Quite when that was no-one knows, except it was a very long, long time ago. We know from archaeological evidence that purposeful healing activity was taking place at least 50,000 years ago.

This discovery – that we could heal ourselves – was a great step forward in human evolution, and began a process which continues today. It’s an ongoing process a bit like the ratchet effect – two steps forward, one step back.

The determining factor is consciousness. The healing methods used at each stage of our evolution were – indeed could only be – a direct result of the consciousness in which they were administered at the time. The capacity to heal and maintain health and wholeness are always limited by the level of consciousness applied to them.  If you think you have an incurable disease, you are probably right. If you think your problem is curable, then you are also probably right. Take tuberculosis (TB) as an example. A few decades ago, mass consciousness dictated that TB was incurable; consequently anyone contracting it died. Today, our healing consciousness has moved on and most TB sufferers make a full recovery. That’s consciousness at work – an ever unfolding process.

What is consciousness?

The word ‘consciousness’ is frequently used but difficult to define. In common usage, the closest equivalent is probably ‘awareness.’ When we are ‘conscious’ of something, we are ‘aware’ of it.

But there’s another definition too – the only thing we know for sure, according to philosopher Peter Russell, it that we have experiences, hence he defines consciousness as ‘the capacity to experience’. This is what Descartes was driving at when he made his famous statement, ‘I think, therefore I am.’

Beyond this we can’t really say, because we can’t measure it, observe it, measure or predict it. Science, baffled by its subjective nature, has tended to ignore it.  And yet we can’t deny that it exists, because we all experience things, and we all have awareness. Consciousness has the potential to become any experience we could ever have, even beyond what we are currently capable of imagining. So how do we experience healing? How do we experience illness?

Healing consciousness is about our awareness of the healing process, and what healing could be. But it’s also much more. Because the healing methods used in any society at any point of history tell us a great deal about that society’s view of what a human being actually is and what it means to be human, as we shall see.

In this and the next two blogs I discuss seven levels of consciousness in healing. I’ve chosen seven simply to illustrate my point.


Level one: the mechanic

Even in this, the 21st Century, there are those who think of the human being as a kind of sophisticated robot, a machine with a brain – intelligent perhaps, but a machine nonetheless. So if a part goes wrong, patch it up or take it out and replace it. These are the plumbers, carpenters and mechanics of the medical world.

Now don’t get me wrong: there are times this approach is entirely justified. If a tooth is completely rotten, it needs to come out, because teeth don’t regenerate like, say, a broken bone or damaged liver. It can be replaced with a false tooth or implant which more or less has the saem function as the original.

Cutting, burning, stitching, manipulation, bandages and splints etc. all play a part in healing. But we should always remember, it is not the scalpel, laser, plaster etc. that heal. They only enable whatever does the healing (of which I’ll say more later) to do its work.

Furthermore, techniques based on the body as a mechanical object (such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and so on) have often been very effective in relieving pain and curing a variety of conditions, and not necessarily just the physcial. A century ago, an Australian orator, F.W. Alexander, developed a technique mainly based on breathing, correct posture and movement which is widely taught today. I know from experience that it can be very effective as it helped me relieve a painful foot condition.

Incidentally – that daddy of all medical advances – the heart transplant – has thrown up some interesting issues recently. It is far from a simple physical replacement – there is evidence that some recipients take on the personality of their heart donor. If the heart is merely a physical object, a pump, how can this be?

The fact is, if you experience yourself only as a physical being and your body as nothing more than a mechanical object, your range of healing methods is severely restricted. If anyone tries to tell you that your thoughts and emotions, lifestyle and relationships have anything to do with your health you won’t believe them, and you’ll be very unlikely to consult a practitioner who uses holistic healing methods.

Thankfully not many doctors still think like this, but until the past couple of decades many did. Even so, most haven’t risen much above this level, as we’ll see.

Level two: the naturalist

At some point in history as the growth of healing consciousness proceeded, humans began to notice that ingesting various natural substances or applying them to the skin could have a healing effect. Initially these came from plants, animal parts and minerals found in the natural world. Water, too, was found to have healing properties.

At first, the discovery process was somewhat hit and miss. It was trial and error (mostly error) as humans found that certain natural substances helped with particular health problems. However, they couldn’t cure everything this way because of the limitations of their knowledge.

In recent years, scientific evidence has supported many ‘old wives tales’, and interestingly, today’s hi-tech pharmaceutical companies have progressed little beyond trial and error in much of their research. If you doubt me – find out how Viagra was discovered!

As Western society became more urbanised and industrialised, people were cut off from nature and adopted lifestyles almost guaranteed to produce ill health. But few made the connection.

Cell 2

Level Three: the microbe carrier

Level three/microbe consciousness is a feeling of powerlessness in the face of a potent but invisible enemy.

Not so long ago invisible forces were at work that brought plague and pestilence on a massive scale, and no-one at that time knew why. Then microbes were discovered, and before long were blamed for virtually all illness and disease. Indeed, many still believe that the human being a walking zoo, a repository for the billions of microbes who make their home on and beneath the skin. And to some extent they’re right.

Hence the cosmetic, household chemical and pharmaceutical companies love to frighten us with nightmare vision of deadly microbes, and aren’t we taken in by it? Why else would they constantly regale us with assurances that their brand ‘kills all known germs’ and the like.

The problem is, if we killed all microbes, we’d be dead! There’s no doubt that some germs can cause acute illness, but the fact is most of the microbes that swim around in the human body are harmless, and the vast majority are beneficial. Probiotic yoghurts are big business precisely for this reason.

Allopaths have two main weapons in their armoury for dealing with them – vaccinations and antibiotics.  Vaccinations are designed to strengthen the body’s immunity against microbes. Although there is evidence of their use in the Orient two thousand years ago, their rediscovery by Edward Jenner in the 18th century bore all the hallmarks of the scientific method – observation, deduction, testing, verification and so on.

Antibiotics are intended to kill their targeted bacteria stone dead, and can be very effective. But overreliance on them causes more problems than it solves. Firstly, there’s a great deal of evidence that they weaken the natural immune system in the long term (vaccinations do too); secondly, they destroy not only the harmful  bacteria, but the beneficial ones too; thirdly (and more scarily) overuse of antibiotics indirectly creates germs that are even more deadly than those they eliminate. Microbes aren’t stupid. When threatened by an antibiotic, they mutate.

So this consciousness that we are merely microbe carriers has a number of problems:

  • Most microbes are actually good for us and should not be feared.
  • A reasonable standard of hygiene coupled with a healthy immune system deals with most ‘threats’.
  • Microbes mutate.
  • Commercial interests use them to scare people.

Our current view of microbes will one day be seen as regressive, but meanwhile it suits the purposes of the medical establishment rather well. Consider the swine flu scare of 2008. Fuelled by a consciousness of fear and panic that the world was about to be overrun by killer bugs, governments spent huge sums on anti-flu vaccines. The pharmaceutical companies reaped huge profits, and then it became clear that it was all a storm in a teacup. Many health experts now believe the whole episode to be nothing short of a scandal, and voices in the European Community and elsewhere have even suggested a conspiracy between pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organisation.

I’ll discuss the next three levels in the next post.

©David Lawrence Preston, 9.5.2016

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