Most of us are familiar with the ancient mystical concept of the Higher and the Lower Selves and the grand, nearly impossible divide that lies between. In some mystical circles the Higher and the Lower Selves are also known respectively as the Permanent and the Present Day personalities—the perfect and the corrupt. This makes sense, of course, because by all accounts, we were created in God’s perfect image. That perfect image is called the Higher Self. It is our epic task to construct a bridge across the grand divide of human consciousness (and unconsciousness) to reach it—and to reclaim it. Some of us are closer than others. When our bridge is complete, we will know. The reward is nothing less than divine integration, in other words, Enlightenment.
Understanding this, it makes sense to get to know our Higher Selves sooner than later. But how to get acquainted? And after getting acquainted, how to forge a relationship? We can pray, meditate, and receive sacraments, and many of us do. These tools certainly help. But considering the fact that we’re seeking a permanent relationship with this familiar stranger, it makes sense to go about it in familiar ways. So, as with any relationship, we must first introduce ourselves.
Lower Rea, meet Higher Rea.
I can recognize my higher aspect by that Self’s ability to Witness without attachment. Theoretically, the more in touch I am with my Higher Self, the more interested I am in observing a situation instead of becoming emotionally entangled in it. The more integrated I am with my Higher Self, the more able I am to grasp the underlying purpose in an unfolding scenario, positive or negative. Grasping the underlying purpose, I learn to be more objective—to take things, especially negative things—less personally.
Now that I’m introduced to my Higher Self and can recognize it on the street, (land, air and sea!), it’s time for the next step in the relationship. Something casual, not too intense or demanding—a walk!
This may sound preposterous, but I literally try to take a walk with my Higher Self (and my dog) every day. We stroll into the world together, down the River Walk, where we can encounter both friends and strangers—into situations in which I can be taught. Situations with the potential to strengthen our bond, allowing me to forge a relationship, and thus a bridge, built with steel instead of twigs. During this walk, I don’t hide behind my thoughts, meditations, or iPod. I consciously observe people, places, things, and situations, but most importantly, I Witness myself in relationship to all of it, and to any arising stimulus. In doing this, I allow my Higher Self to teach me the ways of the Divine. If necessary, to convict myself gently for irritable behavior (people, traffic, weather) or quietly observe that I have been able to handle a difficult situation evenhandedly. Or maybe, my Witness simply shows me the unbounded joys of a day off! The unbounded joys of true freedom, the freedom we will know when we are thoroughly rejoined with each other and with the Divine.
The more we take the conscious walk with our Higher Selves—our Witnesses—the better companions we become. The more integrated the Witness is in our lives, the less anxious, fearful, and reactionary our thoughts, words, and behavior become. It can take a lifetime, it’s true, but we’ve all been given one. Best to use it. As Lao-Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
A short walk is a great place to start!