The lower vehicle needs to be directed by higher intention
So higher intention needs to be assertive and lower functions need be submissive. This submissiveness is needed in order for higher intentions to work through the lower vehicle/functions. Then as these higher intentions are working through, the functions will be active. So even though the lower functions need to be submissive to higher intentions, this does not entail that they will become expressively passive. The lower becomes passively submissive in relation to the higher intention, yet active in relation to the world of expression. For when the lower is in a submissive relation to the higher, it immediately becomes activated by the higher. Thus, our vehicle/functions become passively submissive in relation to higher energies and intentions, yet they will be actively expressive in relation to the world. We don't want to become passive push-overs or merely become submissive to the desires and manipulations of others.
Using the model of the higher/lower self, the higher self is higher consciousness, higher intention and higher love. The term 'higher' is used metaphorically within this model of understanding, yet it is also an empirical description of our energies because there is a real raising of the vibration of energy in self-transformational alchemy. Our higher self is simply our highest quality of being possible at any moment; that is, our highest possible consciousness, intention and love. It is not a fixed and permanent entity, because there is always a [next] higher of the higher, in the spiritual ascent. So really, when we talk about the higher self, this means the same as Divine Being [at some level of realization or activation]. Picture a vertical pole connecting earth with Absolute God-Consciousness, and along this pole are infinite levels of being/consciousness, each level being higher in relation to some levels but lower in relation to others. In other words, there are various levels of self-realizing the One Divine Being. Or various levels of the One Divine Being Self-realizing through us.
Our spiritual practice is to come up to our higher self, by surrendering the lower self, and then experience the world from the higher self and act in the world from this higher self. This may seem a big task, but the whole point is to be the highest spiritual being we can be. There is no need for comparison or judgment. In a sense there is a winning, but the match is only with ourself. No matter where upon the infinite vertical pole we are, there is always a higher potential for being/consciousness. There is always a higher to surrender to. A big part of this alchemical work is allowing the higher self to come into experience and expression. So wherever we are, we can surrender and allow our higher self to come through and be present. And at some point, we need to say 'yes' to this higher self, "yes, this is who I am." This kind of affirmation is like a re-identification. If we do this, with conscious breath, there is a transformation of energies within us. Yet the final transformation occurs when we stand up and live from the higher self. In other words, walk in the world from our highest possible self. And when we are completely being our highest self, there is unity and cooperation in all parts of the personality and in all aspects of the lower vehicle. Then, the higher self is completely expressive.
Raise consciousness into the higher mind of spiritual intuition. Some have called this the upper story of mind. The ordinary level of mind, or ordinary level of thought, is the lower story. Many people stay at this level all of the time and do not even know that there is a higher story. Some people have experienced the higher story, but they seldom return there. But we can go up to the higher story at any time. Here is spiritual intuition, or spiritual mind, where there is universal knowledge. There are also two levels of the heart. In the lower story one experiences personality desires and reactions, while in the upper story one experiences universal love and spiritual appreciation. So again there is a choice; either stay in the lower story or move up into the higher story. Making this choice and making the move is fundamentally our spiritual work. It is possible to be helped by spiritual teachers or guides, but ultimately we should want to become masters of this choice and movement. We should want to the ability to move freely from one story to the other, at will.
lower and higher:
Another metaphysical analogy is the vertical pole. Think of this pole as oneself. At the top of the pole is our spiritual Being. This is our highest soul, or highest self, our highest potential for reflecting the Mind or Being of God. One might think of God as above the pole itself, or one could think of God as the infinite extension of the pole reaching upwards. At the bottom of the pole is our most material existence. It is of possibility that, in any moment, we can know and identify with any place along this pole. The place we are (along the pole) in any moment of identification can be called the I or ego-self (which in this meaning is not necessarily bad or lowly, but only meaning a point of identification or the experience of I). The pole has a huge range of possible identifications, ranging from body to desires to beliefs to aspirations to divine realizations, and the I might be anywhere along this pole. Along the lower regions of the pole one is in lower identifications and attachments, while along the higher regions of the pole one is more free to realize the Qualities and Truths of Divine Being. In the lower regions our self-awareness is engrossed and contracted in smaller self concerns, but in the higher regions our self-awareness is more expansive and universal. We view life and self differently from the higher regions than from the lower. The higher we are, the more we realize the Qualities and Truths of our Divine Being, and the more these Qualities will manifest through us. For example, we will realize more of Divine Love, and this Love will radiate outward through us.
Higher and lower are of course relative along this pole. No matter where one is, there will be a [relative] higher and lower. There will also be an orientation to both higher and lower. Our orientation to the higher should be an attitude of submission, consent, dependence, and receptivity. One should realize that the higher feeds and nurtures the lower, and thus we need to be in a dependent and receptive attitude in relation to the higher. Ultimately, we are as children to God, and God is like the Great Mother providing milk to her children. God is always providing spiritual nourishment, food for our spiritual being, but it is up to us to open to this and receive it. Receive all you can of the nourishment, the Light and Love everflowing from God-Being.
Our orientation to the lower should be an attitude of compassion, a loving caringness, givingness, and also forgiveness. The Higher looks down on what is below it and radiates the Light of Knowing and Compassion which proceeds from on High. This is how the Higher effuses the lower. The Higher must also be responsible for managing the lower. Like a manager of a business, one needs to insure that the resources are used efficiently and without waste, and that behavior is in line with the higher goals and ideals. Since the greater purpose of the Divine includes the fulfillment of love, enjoyment and beauty in existence; the individual reflection of the Divine also includes such fulfillments, and so we can be good to ourselves in this way. Yet it would not be consistent with Higher Purpose if we got into a habit of over self-indulgence, especially if this is at the expense of others, or if such indulgences become blocks to our greater Self-Fulfillment.
The Greater Aim is both Self-realization and Self-fulfillment. The lower self is in need of a higher Self-realization, in need of knowing its higher/truer Self. The Higher provides the Knowing-Light for this realization, and the lower receives this Light if it is sufficiently open and receptive. The lower self (lower mind) then realizes or understands the Light-of-Knowing according to its place on the vertical pole and according to its prepared disposition. That is, it understands the Light (or Qualities of Light) of Divine Being in the particular way in which it is prepared - colored and patterned by the concepts and understandings already in mind. Thus, any understanding is dependent on both the radiant Light and the disposition (or history) of the receptive agent.
The lower self is also in need of higher fulfillment, which is provided by the Higher Self, and again this fulfillment is dependent on the prepared state of the receptive agent. The lower parts of self have particular desires wanting to be fulfilled. If these are in harmony with higher aims, then the Higher provides a manifesting power to help fulfill these desires or needs. But if those desires are not consistent with higher aims, then the Higher will work to manage those desires and bring them in harmony with its higher aims. Thus, the Higher works in two fundamental ways in relation to the lower: it is compassionately fulfilling to the lower desires and needs, but also managing and restrictive to the desires not in harmony with higher aims. The right attitude of the lower is to be submissive and receptive to the highest conceivable aims.
The Light Above has been an important idea/symbol in religious and esoteric systems. The Light Within is its compliment, but let us first consider the Light Above. First, we should recognize an obvious point, that there is light above us, light from the sun and light from the sky. So there is obviously something natural in this. If we see that we are standing on a round earth with a huge universe above and around us, then we might realize that above our head is a vast universe and all of that energy from above us is potentially coursing down through us. We can allow through us finer energies from above, from the universe above. And as this comes through us, consciously, we become as channels for such energies, channels to humanity and earth. This itself is one of the esoteric functions of a spiritual disciple. Second, metaphysically, higher-finer energies work down to the lower, and this Cosmic Law is represented in the human world by higher energies descending from above the head and down through the subtle-etheric centres (more commonly known as chakras). And third to consider is that the ultimate Divine Source is, in one sense, above us; though it is true that, in another sense, the Divine Source is right within us. The purest and highest energy of Divine Light can be contacted above us, and then channeled through us into the world or for use in healing. Jesus often worked in this way, channeling the Light of Heaven Above, to heal and transform people.
Healing work is another topic altogether, but there are some important things to say about spiritual work in general in regards to the Light Above. First, one can practice seeing the Light Above with spiritual perception. This spiritual perception of Light is an ability that can be developed with practice. Once it is seen, we can raise our consciousness into this Light. We then hold our consciousness in this Light until there is an absolute sense of purity and absorbtion in the Light. We then bring this Light down through the head centre, pausing there for a breath, and then allow the Light to fill our heart. At this point we have a few choices. One is to simply enjoy the Light in the heart. Another is to send the light from the heart to all the other centres of our being and even throughout our whole body. The other possibility is channel the Light out to the world, or to those in need, or specifically to someone for healing. We can even store this Light in our heart and use it at a later time. Thus, the Light Above is used for good works in this world, or it is accumulated for future use. Now, some people will feel that they are sending or radiating the Light, while others will feel that they are channeling the Light. These differences do not actually matter. What is important is that there is contact with the Light, and then a directed or allowed use of the Light.
Conscious breath is also an important component. There are many good practices involving breath and Light; the following is one example. Rise up to the Light on the in-breath, pause there for a few moments to be absorbed, then bring the Light down into the heart on the out-breath, pausing for a few moments to feel the light settle in the heart, then breathe-in to store the Light in the heart, pause to see where one intends for the Light to now go, then breathe-out this Light into the place or direction intended. Before doing this, it is obviously helpful to previously decide how one is intending to use the Light.
This described practice is simplified into just a few breaths, but the beginning student can spend some amount of time (and some amount of breaths) to accomplish each of the stages. But eventually, and with lots of practice, the student can accomplish the practice in just two full cycles of breath. A nice version of this practice, worth mentioning, is (on the first out-breath) to bring down the Light through all the centres, all the way past the base of the spine and right into the earth, in order to clear those lower centres, and then raise the Light back up to the heart on the next in-breath, and then proceed as already described in the former practice. This latter version especially helps in clearing the lower centres, which makes it well worthwhile. This brings up one quick point worth mentioning, which is that healing and transformative work is as much about clearing and balancing, as it is about energizing. The student of healing should consider the significance of these triadic aspects: clearing, energizing, and balancing (or say harmonizing).
In the deepest of meditative experience, our own breath is God breathing through us. One is conscious of being the living breath of God.
Also remember that breath is an essential function in how energies are transformed through us. For most people the transformation of energies through breath is unconscious. Because of this there is only a small degree of transformation possible, if any at all. Yet the moment we are conscious of breath, higher energies become available for assimilation. As well, the moment we are conscious of breath, lower energies can be transmuted into higher energies.
Conscious breath has five esoteric alchemical functions. One is the release of old or un-useful energies within the lower vehicle [the physical, emotional, and mental bodies]. Second is the receiving and assimilation of useful, higher energies. Third is the transmutation of lower energies within oneself. Forth is the harmonization of higher energies within oneself. And fifth is the sending out of transmuted and higher harmonized energies to the world. All of these functional uses are positive and helpful in the overall spiritual evolution of the world.
We can release those energies and distresses we do not need. These are released to the earth, particularly trees and plants, but this acts like compost and does not harm the earth. We can recieve higher qualities of energy from the universal storehouse. These received energies are of three kinds: consciousness/mental energies, love/emotional energies, and vital/physical energies. Each of these kinds of energy will energize that particular body of the lower vehicle. So conscious breath can be used as energizing (on these three levels). On the highest level, conscious breath can catalyse and open up the Spirit within. This is the awakening of our conscious Spirit. Conscious breath also awakens and energizes our inner will, and it is a key in our use of intention. Conscious breath can also transmute and harmonize our inner energies. And finally, we can use conscious breath to transmit our higher consciousness and love to the world.
Any spiritual unfoldment in this world, any transformation of consciousness from lower to higher, will involve three basic forces. One of these forces is the effort or work that the present self make for the purpose of spiritual unfoldment or consciousness/being transformation. We can call this the force of active-will. It will involve intention and effort by the present self. The other force that is needed can be called the allowing force, whereby the present self needs to allow unfoldment and transformation to occur, rather than merely trying to make it happen by self-will alone. Intention and effort of the active will is important to fuel this process of upliftment (or spiritual unfoldment, depending on which way we view it); but the present self cannot uplift itself by itself alone. It can give needed energy and effort to the process, but it cannot make it all succeed. So besides the self active will, there needs to be a self-sacrificing will, a willingness to sacrifice or surrender oneself to the overall process, or an attitude state of allowing higher energies and finer qualities to work through oneself. So we can call this other needed force the allowing force; though it is really a combined state of receptivity, openness and allowing. In effect, one is allowing a higher force to do its work.
This higher force is the third force. It could also be called spiritual Grace, or divine Compassion, or higher Consciousness. And this force is ever-ready to enter into the world, into our self; yet it cannot without the complimenting forces of active-will and allowing-willingness. The force of active-will provides the initial impulse and sustaining energy to open up to higher wisdom and transformation, and it is the will to somehow get out of the present circle of self-absorption. While the allowing force is necessary to bring oneself into a receptive and open state, whereby the divine descent can take place, such that God becomes more awake in this vehicle (this place of embodiment).
The spiritual transformative process is represented in seven stages of an octave: do – intention and decision, re – active practice or effort, mi – sustaining consciousness, fa – allowing, so – dissolving of the lower veil, la – assimilation of the lower into the greater, ti – reintegration or re-identification of self at the next higher level.
principles and stages of alchemy….
Often alchemy has been described in seven stages or notes. Yet of first importance is to understand the law of three in alchemy. These are the three essential forces needed in alchemy; which are active, receptive, and divine. The active and receptive aspects are our responsibility. And once these are in good balance, the divine transformational power comes in. The active aspect is threefold, and represented in the first three notes of a seven note scale. These essential notes are sincere intention, active effort, and sustained consciousness (or awareness). These are described as sequential notes, though really they must all play simultaneously in the alchemy. They all have to do with our necessary work to come into resonance with the Greater Life, Greater Being. The fourth note, which is middle in the scale, is the essential aspect of receptivity to the Divine, or allowing the Divine Power of Love and Light into being. The final three notes are steps of transformation involving the Divine emerging through the actively receptive, allowing individual.
Once we come into the state of pure consciousness, the next step is an unreserved opening of consciousness, to include all of existence, all of reality, until there is no more sense of being a separate consciousness. This is the path from self-consciousness to Self-Consciousness, which has been called the Greater Work in esoteric alchemy, and really there is no final end to this path. It involves a gradual (though sometimes sudden) disolving of individualized consciousness into the Greater Universal Consciousness. But again, this path is really endless, and so it is marked by levels or degrees; such that at each expanded level, or at each step in this expansionist transformation, the respective consciousness (or here we call it 'soul') is still individualized, though now at a more expansive level. The same general scheme can be explained in regards to the spiritual heart, remembering that consciousness and heart are two complimenting aspects of the soul.
So, once we come into the state of pure heart, pure love or pure being; the next step is an unreserved opening of the heart, to include all of existence, all Being, until there is no more sense of being a separate heart-being. In other words, 'I-love' opens itself to 'The Love', and gradually becomes absorbed in that Universal Love. Yet this journey of love's expansion happens in gradual degrees. Each sincere act of the individual opening to the Greater Love involves a disolving and absorbtion into the Greater, but expansive step settles into some level of Being-Love - which is the next level of Love's individualization.
We could now go on to explain, in the same manner, the expansional transformation of the individual will into the Greater Universal Will; but the reader should do this on their own and re-study again what was said above. These explanations are meant to help a student actually experience such transformations, rather than merely review them intellectually.
Key words have been used: such as opening, expansion, dissolving, absorbtion. The path here is when the "I of the soul" (or the I of consciousness, or the I of the heart, or the I of will) opens into the Greater. I open, and thus expand; and through this opening I allow 'myself' to disolve and be absorbed into the Greater. This is very deep spiritual practice. It is also an alchemical tranformation - of the substance of being.
Briefly, I will outline some of the steps in the alchemical work. In the esoteric teachings of alchemy there are seven essential steps (or different qualities of movement). These can be noted as do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti. At the interval between mi and fa the work requires a special catalyse or higher energy, which cannot merely be gained by the original substance, and after this interval the work becomes oriented in different way. The whole study of this could take many pages, but I will keep it brief and to the point of what we have been discussing. The first half of the seven-step transformation, known as the lower interlude, involves three notes - do, re, mi. I'll briefly discuss these in reverse order. The mi note is the unification of our individual self. It is experiencing the 'I of the soul', whereby I and soul are one. It can also be explained as self-consciousness - but without preoccupied content. In other words, self-consciousness has been purified of its usual mental and emotional and sensual content. So the mi note can be called 'purified individual consciousness'.
How did it get purified? We must look at the previous notes or steps. The note re is the work of dividing or separating, or we might say deconstructing. In literal alchemical terms, it is the procedural step of separating the essence of a substance from its 'accidental properties' (such terms come from Aristotle), or separating out the gross material in which the essence is hidden. This was also sometimes called analysis. An easy way to understand this process is in the example of how oil essences are separated and distilled from the grosser plant material.
But what does all this mean in our own practical spiritual work? In our ordinary human condition there is a certain problem. Our mental, emotional, and physical-movement functions have the tendency to organize and stabilize into a unified pattern. Now at first, this does not sound too bad; afterall, one usually thinks of unity and organization as a good thing. But the trouble is that these three functions (which we have termed elsewhere as personality) have become too fixed in their pattern, such that the whole working of it has mostly become sub-conscious as well as mechanical. Freedom has been lost in the fixed mechanicalness of this, and the whole enterprise has become routine and simply accepted for what it is. It's like, "well, this is me." What also becomes lacking is a sufficient degree of self-awareness (and analysis of the situation), since this has mostly gone subconscious. Thus, the need to analyse, divide, separate, and basically disentangle the three on-going functions. And what one is attempting to accomplish here is to reach the note of mi, a purified self-awareness, and becoming the essence of consciousness itself. Backing up even further, the note 'do' is the step of intention, the intention to proceed in this alchemical work; for without the beginning note of intention, nothing would ever change and the alchemical work would never get off the ground.
Now, to remember again the interval of mi-fa; this is the opening from self-consciousness to Universal Consciousness, or from self-being to Being Itself. The difference between mi and fa is the difference between the individual self-consciousness (or self-awareness without content) and Universal Self-Consciousness. This distinction is important; the state of Self-Consciousness (which means the same as Self-Realization) is a far greater and expansive experience than individual self-consciousness. The individual self-consciousness is somewhat closed and concentrative, while Self-Consciousness is open and expansive. But as already said, there are levels in this greater journey to Universal Consciousness, so when we speak about experiencing Universal-Consciousness it should be noted that this is to some degree rather than being Absolute. What mostly makes the fa experience different from the mi experience is that the 'fa consciousness' is much more embracing and inclusive and expansive than the state of individual self-consciousness; though a purified self-consciousness is itself not easy to attain. So within the mi-fa interval, there is a shift in orientation towards the Greater Consciousness or Greater Beingness. The experience is quite new and different, almost as though one dies and wakes up in a greater Consciousness.
We will not go into any depth about the last three notes of the alchemical work, except for a few hints and comments. The first part of the alchemical process involved breaking apart, separating, distilling, and purifying the spiritual essence, and freeing the self-essence of consciousness from its entrapment in the mechanical patterns of lower self. We might also mention the freeing of the spiritual heart and freeing the spiritual will from their entrapments as well. So the first half of the whole process is getting free of the stuckness. Pure consciousness gets entrapped in thinking and beliefs, the pure heart gets entrapped in emotional patterns and reactions, and the pure decisive will gets entrapped in ordinary desires and compulsions. So a work is needed to break apart the way everything has somehow coalesced to form the way we happen to be, or the usual patterns of ourself. And this first part of the work brings us ever-closer to a purity of essence, or the experience of pure Conscious Being.
But ah-la, this is not the end. The second half of the whole process is re-creating from the Essence, re-creating the lower self - which is the vehicle for divine-essence expression. We might even say, re-creating the world. It is the work of re-integrating and re-building; and the consequence of this is an ongoing transformation of ourself and the world. The whole alchemical process is a distilation and return to Essence, and then a re-creation of the patterns of life - re-inspiried by a greater level of Self-realization.
One of the great spiritual purposes in life is reconciliation, or bringing about harmony from conflict. We can see this as a goal on the world scale, and we can work to reconcile conflict in the world. But this work of reconciliation is also significant in the world of our own individual psyche. So it is both an outer and an inner work. Let us consider what this purpose is and what it involves. First, we need to recognize and acknowledge that there is conflict in the world and very often in ourselves. In both the outer and inner worlds, there are conflicts of interest, conflicts of desire and conflicts of belief. Conflict is a major factor of life. So first we must acknowledge and accept this. Next, realize that there is nothing inherently wrong about conflict. It is just an aspect of life. However, the spiritual will seeks to resolve conflict. Something deep inside us, our essential will, seeks to resolve conflict. This is really the Spiritual Will (of God, or Divine Being, or Love) which seeks unity, reconciliation and harmony. Love seeks unity and harmony for all life and for each being. So our own role in this is to continually seek unity, reconciliation of conflict, and harmony. Again, the first practical step is to be aware of conflict. Then the next step is to heal it. But how?
The secret is in seeing a higher goal which the differing sides can at least agree. Conflict arises when two or more sides fight to get what they desire or what they think is in their best interest. They fight because each thinks that they cannot get what they seek without the other losing. But if we can find the common higher goal of each side, then both can unify to work towards this common goal. This is a synthesis of interest, which reconciles conflict. If opposing sides find a synthesis of interest, then their combined work becomes synergy – which multiplies the effectiveness towards their common goal. So if we can see common goals, we can work with multiplying synergy to achieve them. This is the ideal. But if this is not presently achievable, then conflict must be reconciled with balanced compromise. Compromise is a fact of life, for sometimes it is the only way to achieve reconciliation and harmony. So sometimes we just have to accept compromise. However, we can still seek a more equal justice, and still seek the greater ideal of synthesis and synergy. At any rate, this overall problem of conflict is an important work in front of us, and we will need to forge through it with determination and spiritual will. Even this will involve a reconciling balance between determination and surrender
In the tradition of Cabbala, the One Being divides into two primary Aspects, Qualities, or Powers. These then become the two main branches of the Tree of Life, called Chokmah and Binah. Everything which is, including physical events and mental experience, comes from these polarities and ultimately from the One Being. We can understand these polarities in a number of ways, all of which are related. We can see the polarities as masculine and feminine, or as active and receptive, or as mind and heart, or in other ways as well. Each has equal value, each complement one another, and each is needed in the greater purpose; much like the relation between positive and negative poles of a magnet, or the relation between day and night. At any one moment or in any one person, one of these two polarities may be dominant and the other recessive. But the greater ideal is for both to be in balance or in harmony.
The One Being divided into Heart and Mind, though these remain related. The Heart is compassionate, loving, embracing and unifying. The Mind is discerning, judging, and differentiating. The Heart embraces and includes all in love. It is the Mother Quality of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. The Mind distinguishes differences and judges in polarities of right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. It is the Father Quality of discerning truth and rightness. The Mother Quality of Heart is unifying and mending. The Father Quality of Mind is cutting and judging. Both Heart and Mind are the primal polarities of Divine Being. They are also the primal polarities of our own being. So our balanced work is to accept and develop both, and not neglect or favor one over the other. This is our path, to be strong in both heart and mind, and learn how both can function together in a balanced way.
God is the Life, Mind, and Love we live in.