Let's continue our exploration of the relationship between the incarnate self (the ego) and the higher self. We begin by taking a step back to look at the overall picture of human mentality.
First, there is the conscious ego of the incarnate personality. Then there is the subliminal self (as F.W.H. Myers called it), which includes both the subconscious and the superconscious.
The subconscious – dubbed "George" by Arthur Ellison, who compared it to the autopilot of an airplane – is a programmable faculty that can access information and provide creative breakthroughs when properly instructed. It functions largely as an information retrieval service and as a way of organizing information.
The superconscious is the total intelligence of which the earthly incarnation is only a small part. It is typically difficult to access while we are incarnate. Perhaps because the brain serves as a kind of filter, most of the knowledge and wisdom of our higher self or super-consciousness is denied to us during our earthly journey. On rare occasions, some individuals do enjoy brief, tantalizing, life-changing direct access to the superconscious. Such episodes are known as instances of "cosmic consciousness," as described by Maurice Bucke. For the most part, our exposure to the superconscious is limited to bits and pieces that manage to bleed through whatever barrier ordinarily blocks them; it seems that the subconscious serves as a backdoor access route to the superconscious in these cases, and the material often reaches us in dreams or reveries.
The superconscious is what I've called the diamond (an image that's not original with me, having been used by the channeled entity Silver Birch, among others). Our incarnate ego-consciousness is one facet of the diamond. The diamond has many facets, each representing a distinct incarnate personality, which collectively can be described, somewhat inaccurately, as a series of "reincarnations." Together these various personalities and their experiences make up the total self.
But – and here is where it starts to get interesting – the total self is also interacting with other selves, other diamonds. We see evidence of this interaction in the work of hypnotic regression therapists such as Michael Newton who bring patients to a "between lives" state. In this condition, the patient appears to identify not with the incarnate ego but with the higher self. She typically remembers multiple incarnations while understanding her true self to be distinct from any of them. She also remembers the process of learning from each incarnation and choosing the conditions of her next incarnation. And the patient invariably describes herself – i.e., her higher self – as one member of a group of colleagues who are all engaged in the same kind of exploration. In fact, intense emotional bonds form among these various higher selves; hypnotically regressed patients would frequently break down in tears when reunited with their "between lives" friends.
So the diamond is not an isolated thing. Unlike Simon and Garfunkel, it would not sing, "I am a rock, I am an island ..." Instead it is part of a community of souls all striving for advancement and needing to advance together.
To extend the diamond imagery, we can imagine these various diamonds as parts of a continuous chain – a diamond bracelet or necklace, so to speak. The total string of diamonds, which may be unimaginably vast, presumably equals the totality of consciousness in existence and is therefore equivalent to "God."
Now here's the tricky part. The diamonds exist outside of our space-time cosmos. They are not bound by temporal linearity. So what they will do, they have already done, and what they will become, they already are. The journeys undertaken by the component psyches have all been accomplished, and the stringing-together of the diamonds into an unbroken strand has already been done.
But the journeys were and are necessary to inform the diamonds. And the journeys were and are bound by linear time.
In other words, we can look at the situation from two very different perspectives – the perspective of linear time, with which we are personally familiar, and the perspective of existence outside of time, about which we can only speculate. Our own perspective, as incarnate beings here on earth, is limited, while the perspective of the total self is unlimited or at least radically less limited. And each perspective is correct in its own terms.
Previously in this blog, we've talked about the brilliant 19th century satire Flatland, by Edwin Abbott, which compares the limited perspective of a two-dimensional being to the more advanced perspective of a three-dimensional being. Flatland is directly relevant to the issue we're facing here.
From a Flatland perspective we are engaged in a long ongoing journey, but from a higher perspective we have already completed the journey. And yet the journey was necessary in order to make the perfection of the diamond possible. What we're talking about is a strange loop, a tangled hierarchy, a hand drawing itself, a snake swallowing its own tail, a Mobius strip. The end is implicit in the beginning; the beginning contains the end. Like the time traveler who saves his ancestor's life and thus ensures that he will be born, the perfected diamond directs the journeys that will make possible its own perfection.
I admit that there is no way to fully grasp this, inasmuch as it would require a higher dimensional level of understanding, which we as incarnate beings simply don't have. That doesn't mean it's not true, any more than the third dimension (height) is untrue just because Flatlanders can't perceive it. I suppose this is where faith comes in – faith in the original sense of "trust" (the ancient Greek word is pistis). We have to trust that there are not only quantitatively but qualitatively different levels of reality and of consciousness, and that at higher levels the paradoxes and mysteries that presently bedevil us will dissolve.
We can say, then, that the higher self both is and is not God. And the incarnate self both is and is not God. From a timeless perspective, in which everything has been accomplished, the incarnate self is part of the higher self which in turn is part of God, and therefore the incarnate self partakes of God. But from a space-time perspective, the incarnate self is still busy informing and perfecting the diamond – the facets have not yet been polished to a high shine – and the diamond has not yet linked up with the other diamonds, because it is not yet ready.
So from a Flatland vantage point, the incarnate self is on a journey to become a polished facet of the diamond, and the diamond in turn is on the journey to become one facet of God. But from a more elevated perspective, these journeys have already been completed and the incarnate self already is – and always has been – a polished facet of the diamond, which already is (and always has been) a facet of God.
Since we cannot really grasp a non-Flatland perspective except as intellectual abstraction, we cannot quite "see" the diamond chain as a completed fact. To us, if we intuit its reality at all, it is a work in progress. But this is a feature of our limited perspective. If we were able to grasp higher perspectives of consciousness, we would see the whole matter quite simply – just as the hero of Abbott's Flatland, the redoubtable Mr. A. Square, saw everything with startling new clarity when he was lifted up, quite against his will, into Spaceland and observed his two-dimensional home from a height for the first time.