Welcome to Week 3 of our class. Here is a short video message from me. Once again, disregard the reference to a Zoom call—we’ll connect on Facebook instead. And as always, if you’re feeling like you need a quick phone check-in with me at any point, just let me know!
Encountering the Multi-Layered Self
Here are our questions for this week:
- What do I find when I go inward?
- What are the different voices or parts of the self?
- How do they relate to each other?
- How do I navigate those different parts?
Our focus will be on noticing and distinguishing between the different parts of the self, accepting and embracing them all with compassion, and at the same time stepping back and observing the lower self from the vantage point of the Higher Self or the witnessing self.
You can read everything here online, or download the readings and activities as a PDF and read/work through them on paper. To download and print, just click this link: Week3lesson, PDF
This week, I’ve included two different meditation options. Feel free to do either or both.
Afterward, take a moment to reflect.
- What was your experience like during the meditation(s)? Is it getting easier to feel your own energy?
- How do you feel after the meditation—energetically, emotionally, mentally, and/or physically? What state did the meditation put you in?
II. MIND MAP EXERCISE: TRACKING INNER VOICES
Here is an easy and fun way to explore and witness the different parts of ourselves as they express themselves through everyday challenges. You will need a piece of blank paper and a pen.
- Choose an issue you’re struggling with or that’s unresolved, one that “lights up” for you intuitively as the one to address today. It can be a big issue or a small one—it doesn’t matter. As an example, I chose the struggle over my son’s use of technology.
- Write the issue in a circle in the middle of the page. Then use the rest of the page to freely jot down whatever comes up when you think about this issue. As you’ll see, you don’t need to write sentences, or make sense, and your mind map might look pretty messy. That’s OK!
- Just collect your fears, worries, painful feelings, and questions. Include areas of concern, struggles you’re having internally, the voice of self-criticism, judgment, whatever comes up. Include all the hard stuff. A mind map looks something like this (yours might have more or less writing on it):
- Now take a moment to look over what you’ve written. How do you feel? Do you notice any judgment or self-criticism as you look at this struggle you’re having within yourself?
- Now hold the mind map on your lap, put your hands on it, and close your eyes. Send the “you” that is struggling with all of this as much love and compassion as you can from your Higher Self, or the part of you that can step back and be forgiving/loving to yourself. How does that feel?
III. OPENING TO HIGHER WISDOM (part 2 of Mind Map exercise)
Now that you’ve explored the issue from your “lower” self, it’s time to practice opening up to your Higher knowing. What might your Higher Self or Guides have to say to you regarding this situation?
- Holding the mind map in your lap still, get very quiet and ask to be given a message or a feeling from your Higher Self or your Guides on this issue. You may sit in silence for a while.
- In your journal, write down whatever your Higher Self seems to be communicating to you. (If you don’t get anything, ask yourself: if you were your own loving parent, what would you tell yourself? What is the Truth of the situation?) This might seem difficult, and it might only be a few words, and you might only get a feeling or a silence, but just give it a try!
- Here is what I got about the screen time question:
The goal is not to obliterate or silence the voices of the ego or the lower self, but to make room for them, treat them with compassion, accept them, release the emotions, and ultimately change our relationship to them. To go from identifying with them completely to seeing them as one aspect of reality on the human plane but not what is ultimately Real.
WEEK THREE READING
MINI-LECTURE: The Layers of the Self
When we go inward, we can find SO many “voices” or aspects of the self. Sometimes it can seem they are all in conflict with each other. This is complex stuff, which has been addressed over time and in many different ways by many different psychological and spiritual schools of thought. Just a few that come to mind are:
Freudian psychology: Id, ego, superego
Transactional analysis: the inner parent, inner (rational) adult, inner child
Body, mind, spirit
Martha Beck: the social self/mask and the true self
There is a branch of Zen Buddhism which views the different part of the self as “subpersonalities,” each of which has an inner voice. ( If you are interested in this, check out Cheri Huber’s excellent book, That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek )
Throughout our lives, we hear very different advice: “Use your head.” “Listen to your heart.” Some of us are by nature more logical, some more emotional, and we tend to prioritize different parts of the self.
Some parts of us are judged “bad,” some are judged “good.” We’re told we “should” listen to this part and not that part. We may think it’s right to shut down certain voices in ourselves, even in the name of spirituality. It can get very confusing.
For the purposes of this class, we’re going to try and keep it simple, and focus on two parts of the self, the lower self and the Higher Self. That’s how the Guides tend to talk about it, so I will follow their lead.
lower self: self, small self, ego, human personality, mind, lower vibration, who we think we are
Higher Self: Self, soul, Divine Self, Godself, Being, Presence, high vibration, Who We Really Are
The Guides tell us that our goal, ultimately, over the course of our life or even lifetimes, is to move from the lower to the Higher Self. To recognize ourselves as Divine beings and to gradually change our default setting to the soul perspective or a state of unity.
Last week’s reading talked about “the inner journey from the self to the Self” as the goal of human life. However, that is a long process of growth, and along the way we must embrace, accept, and learn from the human emotions that we have on this plane. It is important never to make ourselves “wrong.”
From the Guides: “Love for the self is accepting the self for all it is.”
The self is who we think we are. It is the small self, the place where we struggle. The personality. The lower emotions. That part of us that lives in scarcity and lack. The part that wants or craves control. The part that is afraid. The part of us that we think of as ourselves, the everyday self. That self is not “all bad,” but neither is it Who We Really Are or why we are Here.
The Self, on the other hand, is Who We Are. It is our Godself. It is the part of us that Knows. It is the Observer, the Infinite Presence, the I in I Am. The Self is always there but we do not see it. Or better said, we do not see that we Are it.
And that is our journey, in this lifetime and in every lifetime, ultimately—the journey from the small self to the Higher Self. From who we think we are—or who we fear we are—to Who We Really Are. From separation to Oneness within ourselves. It is a gain of an identity that only seems to involve to the loss of one, when actually it does not. Not at all.
Love for the self is accepting the self for all it is. Accepting the pain, the suffering, the uncertainty, the yearnings, and yes, the inner greatness that can be uncovered when the work of the lower self is done. In other words, loving the self is loving ourselves as we are, and as a mother loves, ideally anyway. With tenderness and acceptance and curiosity and patience. Warts and all. Pain and all. Longings and all. Greatness and all.
You have felt that upsweep of Love, that quiet and subtle warmth that emanates from within you, that tells you everything is going to be OK, that it is OK, in a very profound sense. That you are OK, that you are Divine. You have felt that. It is the vibration of Love as experienced through the Self. And that is true love. Or should we say, True Love.
And yet it is difficult for the human being to linger in that state, to withstand that sense. It tends to be fleeting. There are fears that arise, doubts and questions, a need to dismiss or devalue what has been experienced, for a variety of reasons. Guilt. Discomfort. Shame. Fear. The human being has become accustomed to the energies of conflict, of doubt and struggle, and so ironically, the energy of union is perceived as threat.
That is the ego talking. The ego wants to pull the human person back to duality, where it can be assured of its survival.
Because unity, in the end, means the death of the ego, or at least its dethroning as the head of the self. The ego is about separation. The Self resides in union. And those moments of union, those moments of deep OK-ness in the silence, those moments of Divine Love within the Self—what we know as Oneness—they do not involve the ego at all.
“Why do we avoid that feeling of Oneness? There is almost a fear of losing oneself in it.”
Here is the fear that you have—that if you surrender the Ego, if you “give in” to Spirit, to who you really are, you will cease to exist. You will be “boring.” There will be nothing left of you, because who you really are—you think—is all your personality, the “spice” of you, the fun, the uniqueness, the “you” of you. So you believe. You fear there is a blandness, a sameness, to Oneness. This is not true.
This is one of those paradoxes that is hard to explain but essential to understand, if you are to move forward.
That when you lose yourself to your Self—when you surrender the Ego, bit by bit, to the greater truth of Who You Are, you actually don’t lose a thing. Nothing is lost that matters in the end. And what remains is a Self no less unique, no less who you are than who you were, only with much less effort, much more joy, much more ease. You become a part of All That Is without losing—and this is key—the essence of who you are, your unique self. You do not disappear or “merge” so completely into the whole that you cease to be the unique and special being that you are. No. That is your fear. That is the fear of the Ego, that of the Self as obliterating, boundaryless space that sucks up all individuality, leaves only “the Borg” of Oneness, an indistinct blur or blob where no separate self can exist.
Not the case, and another paradox. In Oneness, individual Selves are still individual, and still separate selves. Only now they don’t need to compete with each other, don’t need to vie for attention or supremacy, don’t need to worry about who has less and more, who has what, who is on top. All of that recedes. Those are concerns of the ego, which concerns itself with the survival of itself in a “harsh world.” In Oneness, there is no need to “fight” for “survival.” There is no harshness. There is only Love, enough for everybody, each individual Self which happens to be part of the greater, unified whole where nothing is missing or lacking, and nothing is (really) wrong.
How do you know when you are on track to lose your ego? Your ego starts kicking up a fuss. It starts telling you how important it is, starts needing a whole bunch of stuff it didn’t need before.
“What about me?” it is saying.
What does this look like?
Clamoring for recognition.
Competition. Anger. Inadequacy.
A certain, sudden sense of not-OK-ness. Wanting, wanting, wanting.
A flood of negative emotion, potentially. A need for tending to those emotions. Not just the grief of letting go but all kinds of upset. The alarm bells ringing. Unsure what else to do, the ego sounds the alarm. “Over here, over here!” It cries. “Don’t you see, there’s a problem!” The Ego loves to make problems, to create conflict within the self, as a way to draw you in, as a way to ensure its own survival.
The real question is this:
What happens to the Ego when the Self transcends the self? When the person transcends into Oneness? The naïve belief (of the Ego) is that it dies completely, that it ceases to exist, and that is why it fights so hard to keep you out of the Oneness. To keep you embattled on the plane of duality. To keep you “upset” and “unsatisfied,” so that it—the Ego—may continue to exist.
There is some logic here, on the part of the ego, however misguided. It is true that the Ego cannot continue on in the form it has. It cannot continue to run the show, to grab the steering wheel any time it wants, throwing you into crisis. It cannot continue with all its protestations: how it is not loved, how you are not enough, how it must be validated, must be satisfied by outer events. That may not continue, for it is in direct opposition to your path into Oneness in yourself. The path into Oneness means dropping those erroneous beliefs of the ego and accepting that We are One, that All is Well, that nothing is “wrong,” that there is nowhere to Be but Here. Not an easy place to get to, but harder still when a crazy little Ego is pulling at your sleeve, yelling at you that your house is on fire.
It is not. All is indeed well.
That crazy little Ego needs to be brought into your arms, into the arms of your Higher Self, and stroked and petted like a distraught child. There, there, you can say. Everything is OK. You are OK. The sky is not falling, the house is not on fire, and you, little ego, are no longer allowed to convince me that it is so. I am in charge now. And I will take care of you. You are all right. We are all right. There is no danger. None at all. Everything we need is right Here.
And in that way you transform your Ego, bit by bit, into something else, a docile part of you that continues to exist but does not disrupt the larger process of your transformation into Light. The Ego itself becomes part of that Light, a shiny little speck that does not diminish from the whole.
But no longer is the Ego a tyrant or a master or a source of suffering. You may hear its rants occasionally, muffled now and hardly as convincing as they once were, more like background noise you have learned to both acknowledge and tune out, knowing it is there but that it bears no relationship to your day or who you are or where you are going.
So bless your ego, bless its sufferings, bless its rantings and ravings, its fears and its discomfort with everything that’s happening that it doesn’t understand. Tell it to breathe.
Then tuck it into your arms like you would an unruly child—beloved, but unruly—and take it with you, regardless of its cried, regardless of its flailings. We are Ascending now, you can say to it, with a smile on your face as it kicks and screams. I’ve got you. It’s OK. Everything is going to be all right.
Finally, I leave you with a poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez entitled “I Am Not I:”
I am not I.
I am this one
Walking beside me whom I do not see,
Whom at times I manage to visit,
And whom at other times I forget;
The one who remains silent when I talk,
The one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
The one who takes a walk where I am not,
The one who will remain standing when I die.
Next week’s topic: Discernment and Intuition