A Practical Exercise in Self-Observation
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
One’s higher self (Atma-Buddhi) works largely as an inspiring witness and a wordless counselor.
It is not a battlefield soldier. It makes no noise. It does not play any immediate or visible role in the daily battle between right action and delusion.
In our “practical” lives the spiritual soul is not an outward or “objective” factor. It gives us the general context. The direct challenge and fight between the Higher and the Lower takes place within the lower self, or mortal soul.
There, on one side of the battlefield, we see all the sectors of mental and emotional life which are loyal to the Higher Self. These habits, insights, impulses, views and perceptions are immediately and silently linked to the Highest through the sacred vertical bridge, Antahkarana. A sense of unity of all beings prevails: the upper side of the lower self is the true disciple. Its Master is the Spiritual Soul.
On the other and lower side of our mortal soul we have the impulses, feelings, habits and points of view responding to the animal nature in us. In such a territory a sense of relative separation dwells. However, mutual help is still the law of nature. It is due to the loving cooperation of woman and man, for instance, that a child can be conceived, born, protected and educated.
The upper side of the lower self has a clear-cut agenda. It works in the search of wisdom. It aims at right action and noble goals in every aspect of life. It expresses itself through self-sacrifice.
The lower side of the lower self has its priorities dominated by the search for self-defense and self-preservation. These factors are typical of the animal world. Theosophy, of course, has nothing against animal life. It has much in favor of it. The animal nature in human beings must also be loved and protected. It must be understood and accepted. Once it knows that it is loved and feels safe, it can better cooperate with the upper side of our lower self, which is indeed the Disciple in us.
One’s animal nature ought to be trained and educated with love, firmness and affection. The student’s duty is to put limits to its actions and to nurture it in the right way, just as parents do with a beloved child.
The highest side of the lower self in human beings has a double task. On one hand, it is the disciple or “son” of one’s spiritual soul. On the other hand, it must be the loving, protecting and firm teacher of one’s childlike nature and animal “self”. Thus the battlefield ceases to be a place of conflict and becomes a meeting point for the dialogue and cooperation between the earthly and the celestial energies of our consciousness.
An initial version of the above article was published, with no indication as to the name of the author, in the September 2014 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pp. 4-5. Original title: “The Two Sides of Our Soul”.
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