The Theosophical Forum – May 1946

WHO AM I? — H. T. Edge

Enquirers seeking light on their problems, and attending Theosophical meetings, may sometimes be deterred by the use of technical language and set forms of speaking; whereas it may be possible to convey the same ideas in simple ordinary terms and by an appeal to common experience.

Take the case of higher self and lower self for instance. This is merely the expression, in technical Theosophical language, of a fact of common experience. We all know, to our own anxious concern, of the existence of these two contrasted elements in our own make-up. We have to deal with this mysterious human machine in whose workings we find ourselves involved; but we need somebody to explain the mechanism, the wiring, the switches, etc., so as to be able to make sense of it and handle it to some useful purpose. Perhaps we have tried religion, or science, or psycho-analysis, or what not, and failed to find satisfaction; and we have hoped to find it in Theosophy. We have been scared off perhaps by technical language.

But the essential point is quite simple. Religion offers a God who is outside of man and outside of the universe; science and psychology are too materialistic: they study the machine but not the power that runs it. Theosophy tells us that man is essentially divine; that he is a spark of divinity encased in a fleshly tabernacle.

Theosophy teaches a belief in man's eternal immortal nature.
Our first duty is to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions.
Let once man's immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, and his own divine humanity will redeem him.
Our Higher Self is a poor pilgrim on his way to regain that which he has lost.

There in a few words from H. P. Blavatsky, you have it in a nutshell. Our nature is dual, twofold, compact of warring elements. Religion tells us that man was created in the image of God, but the doctrine has been allowed to degenerate into a mere form of words and its sublime truth has been lost sight of.

But, leaving religion and science and psychology alone, let us appeal to actual experience. You want to make sense of your own life: try this idea that man is essentially, first and foremost and all the time, a divine being, and see how this works. The Theosophical doctrine of Evolution shows that man began as a spiritual being, and descended into material earthly life, and is now on the way up again towards the place of his origin. In fact, what we have to do is to realize our divine nature.

It is because of this divine spark that man can never never find satisfaction in the gratification of personal desires. His lower nature pulls him one way, his higher nature another. Here is your problem in a nutshell.

But who am I? you will ask. These two natures, the higher and the lower self, cannot be two separate beings. Well, again we appeal to experience: you are a self-conscious mind, endowed with freewill, the power of choice. If I should try to formulate this in words, I should fail, and mix you up as well as myself; so I will not try; I will just leave you to feel it and know it as a truth that cannot be denied or explained away. So the practical point is that you are to get busy and set this mysterious power of freewill to work at unifying yourself. This contest between the higher and lower nature is to be resolved by teaching the lower to recognise the higher as its master.

Your personal will is continually frustrated — but by what? God, Fate, Chance? No, but by your spiritual Will; by your spiritual intuition, which knows better than you do what is good for you. What religion calls the will of God is actually so; but not the will of an outside God. It is your own will, your Spiritual Will, the voice of your own better self, of your own divine nature.

Try this as a working hypothesis, and if you find it makes sense of your problems, then look into other Theosophical teachings for additional light.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition