The concept of the higher self has emerged in countless spiritual traditions. Many different meanings are attributed. The customary definition is an eternal, omnipotent, conscious, and intelligent being, who is one’s real self. This sounds pretty grand, but the full nature of each conscious individual is akin to this. Immortal, yes. Eternal, kind of. Conscious, certainly. Intelligent, no question. The intuition is a function of the higher self. Omnipotent, not so much.
It is technically correct to say that the personal world is the personal unconscious. Everything one knows as the world is an attribute of one’s own mind. As above so below. Nonetheless, one is the pilot of the personal world, not the captain.
The new conceptual framework explains the structure of the real self with a startling new clarity. The great psychologist Carl Jung (1969) described the three primary attributes of the mind: the ‘conscious mind’, the ‘personal unconscious’ and the ‘collective unconscious’.
The conscious mind is the immediate awareness of experience, as seems obvious. This is the ‘contents of consciousness’, meaning the awareness of the observation being made at the present moment. This is what is symbolised by the image of the reality inside my head in the pictures in The World Hologram.
The personal unconscious is the memory of experiences. As Jung defines, this is the record of all the observations that could be accessed consciously, but are not in conscious awareness at the moment. In other words the personal unconscious is the world hologram – the integrated synthesis of the record of observations.
The collective unconscious is something quite different. As he describes, this psychic component is not formed in the mind of the individual. It is a feature of the inherited structure of the brain. So in one sense it is not part of the identity of the individual. But of course it is part of what makes you tick, so it is crucial to understand it.
The Operating System
A great deal of the activity of the brain is simply running the body. All of this automated so that the mind can deal with thinking and decision making. Most of it cannot be accessed. Vast amounts of neural activity are overseen by the unconscious processes to which one has no access. This is like the operating system that comes with the body. This includes all the major information processes going on outside of conscious awareness.
One of the major functions of this system is to formulate the observations that are experienced from the data derived from the sensory organs. In other words, the generation of the world hologram.
As stated by von Baeyer, the body may well be considered as part of the world, and outside of the self. This means that the operating system is also outside the self.
The collective unconscious is an attribute of the operating system. This is the intelligence of that system at work. It adapts to circumstances, and records the results. This system includes the ‘id’, the basic urges and requirements of the human system. This too is outside the self as defined here, the mind. Attributes of this unconscious system are observed in various ways, and in this process they become part of the conscious self. I notice my aversion to a certain type of situation, and thus it becomes part of my conscious self.
The Third Phase of Life
The higher self is the mind identified with the world. This is one who lives in accord with as above so below. The discovery and the development of the higher self is a task ideally suited to the third phase of life. According to Wilber et al. (1986), there is a longstanding concept of three great phases in life, youth, adult and elderly. He classifies these ‘pre-personal’, ‘personal’ and ‘transpersonal’. The pre-personal is the stage of development in which the individual gradually develops an ego, differentiates self from others and learns about the world. The personal stage of development is the adult, the householder. This is where the individual formed in the process of differentiation learns to function in society, and become successful in the world. The transpersonal is the stage where the elder individual withdraws from some of the commitments of the adult, and engages with spiritual practice in earnest.
Once the primary householder stage is complete, the individual is free to move on to the implications of life in the future. This is the time to become fully acquainted with the higher self. This is the time to focus on the life to come.
In many traditional cultures the third and final stage of life is devoted to the study and pursuit of enlightenment. This third stage of life is where the great transformation of identity may be naturally discovered and enjoyed, without the distraction of other concerns. But the modern Western culture has no such stage, not generally recognised anyway. We have no formal place for elders. Wrinklys are generally considered just the cast-offs of society.
The lack of the third stage as a natural progression may account for the dire condition of the operational intelligence of the human culture. Despite all the advantages of the modern world, collectively we are acting like idiots. The main aims are mostly chasing immediate gratification with complete disregard for the consequences. With nothing else to do, the more successful the individual becomes, the more likely they are to continue chasing ever further worldly success. Which means we all lose out as wealth is sequestered, while they trash their karma all unaware. The human culture as a whole remains at the teen level.
In the light of immortality, an obvious pursuit in this stage is to visualise exactly where we want to wind up. So this would be getting a clear of what kind of world you would really like to arrive in, next after death. This would be like getting an idea of life in a new city, or even just your new house before you move in. We all like to get familiar with any quite different environment before we make the move. That way the transition is not such a massive leap.
The key point is that the visualisation of the ideal life will of course build expectation. And this makes it increasingly likely it will be this kind of world you will arrive in. Naturally, it is important to live in accordance with being the kind of person who lives in that environment. This all makes it more and more real.
And then death, and the ‘Moravec jump’ to a new life. And one by one we get to test the theory!
As described in The Next Life, you will inevitably find yourself in a new body in an advanced technology culture. Personally I am hoping for a body with nanotech self management. It would mean that you have mental control over your physiology, such as being able to switch off pain at will. This also includes abilities such as gradually changing the structure of the body, facial features, height, biological sex, anything you like. This is fully realistic concept that will inevitably be part of future technology. This is described in the Culture series of science fiction novels by Ian M. Banks. This is ‘hard science fiction‘, meaning stories revolving around scientific and technical consistency. There is no question this is part of the possible future.
The new physics tells us that there is vastly more to us than we imagined. We are the fields of information that define our personal worlds. This is the higher self with all of its extraordinary properties. The body with its operating system is the vehicle in which one resides. It is the best conceivable kind of existence once we understand it. This is the new intelligence.
Immortal and empowered, we are radically different entities than we realised. And karma is a real operational principle. In the light of all this there a clear imperative to live a life of enlightened self-interest. Thus the seeds of a new age of intelligent cooperation, peace and prosperity are sown.
The next main section is The Avant Garde.