The Concept of the Higher and Lower Self
There is a popular idea that we all have a higher and lower self. The general premise here is that the former is to be aspired to, whilst the latter is to be overcome.. But this concept has a few pitfalls that are important to be aware of if you are on a serious spiritual path...
1 - Value judgement
There is an inherent judgement contained within this concept. The 'higher self' is perceived as good, something to be desired and worked towards. Whilst the 'lower self' suffers from a different fate; it is usually regarded as something which is inadequate, less than, or which needs to be improved.
Think for a moment about what this means when it is applied to your daily life. Since the term 'lower self' is generally applied to who we are as people, it is, by association, implied that we are inherently flawed. This is a similar concept to that found in some religions where we are considered to be 'sinners'. In other words, our very existence is assumed to be wrong on some level.
This presumption that you are inherently flawed is a belief. But is it true? Or it it simply something which you have been programmed to believe? Ask yourself, what would your life be like if you did not have this belief?
Imagine if you lived life with complete acceptance of who you are. Real acceptance does not mean that you would never change, or be inspired to do things differently. You would still have the drive and passion to explore life, but you could let go of the unnecessary guilt and shame which is attached to this belief.
Imagine how much more energy you would have for doing something more productive? For helping others and making a real difference in the world? It's something to consider...
2 - Personal experience
The term 'higher and lower self' is commonly used to imply that there are actually two separate parts of the self - one which is divinely aligned, or soul-based, and the other which is physical. There is an interaction between the two, with the physical aspect of who we are needing to learn lessons from the soul.
But when we look closely at our own experience, we do not actually find a clear and distinct division between two parts of ourselves. There is only one viewpoint which we associate as being our self, and in which everything else arises. So, the concept of a higher self is just that - a thought or idea in the mind. It is not a separate entity.
What is your personal experience? Do you really feel that you have two completely separate parts of yourself? Or do you experience yourself as a whole person?
3 - Limited perspective
When we observe ourselves deeply, we realise that there is only one continuous experience which we refer to as our self. The division of two parts of us is simply a thought which arises in our own experience.
The term 'higher self' refers to the underlying unified field of existence. The term is helpful from a language point of view, and for describing something which lies outside the realm of physical existence. But it is used in the context of being a concept, rather than an independently existing entity.
This is because the unified field of existence is where the self arises from. However, because it is the source of consciousness, the self does not exist as a separate entity here, so any reference of a 'self' must be used with caution.
Generally speaking, the term 'higher and lower self' refers to the intuitive striving for self-improvement, and a spiritually-driven desire to align our actions with the best interests of our self and others. In order to do this successfully, it's important to differentiate our own sub-conscious thoughts from a deeper calling.