This morning I replied to someone on the LHP who left a social media comment. They were going on about how the LHP seeks to eradicate the “poisonous notion of the Higher Self.” I found this odd and wanted to discuss the idea of self completely.
My response to the individual was as follows:
DoctorNightgaunt while I admire your resolve, I would like to discuss this a bit. Firstly, Buddhism seems to be misread in the LHP groups like ToS… namely Dr. Flowers in Lords of the Lefthand Path seems to have misplaced the nature of Buddhism. Buddhism does not seek “annihilation.” In fact few paths really seek “spiritual suicide” as you call it – some do, yes, but not many. There are two main breakdowns of Buddhism: Theravada and Mahayana. Both ultimately have a goal of being enlightened – which is the state of being a Buddha. Not being “one with the Buddha,” but rather becoming “A” Buddha. A Buddha to reflect back help and assistance to their world. “Their world?” Yes, a world that is theirs, as each being perceives the world differently, so there is a Buddha to assist each world. This is very akin to Aquino’s concept of “the subjective universe,” meaning that each sentient being is it’s own SU. Having been a Buddhist (several times), I have never met or found a teaching about the dissolution of self entirely. This is more akin to perhaps Hinduism, and the goal of union with the Divine or Brahma. However….. The Eastern paths do question “the self.” What is the self? In Don Webb’s LHP work, “Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path,” he talks about four levels of self: surface, medial, core and daemonic. He (and other LHP teachers, like Aquino) do not accept the idea that the body is the totality of self. If all you are, is your body, then you really have no spiritual path. The spiritual path is everything that the body/brain is not. So where is your self? It extends, or is beyond the body/brain meat body concept. Master Shantideva (a Buddhist monk) discussed this at great length… where does your self start and end? When you get a family, doesn’t the sense of self extend to include them? What of nationalists, doesn’t their sense of self include their nation? Some expand to include a race… others expand to include all of humanity. The sense of self really has no bounds. It’s seems it has no boundary. But maybe it does… I don’t know. When you say, “motifying one’s ego?!?! Rubbish…” well what is the ego? Paramhansa Yogananda after hearing the psychological concept of ego, defined it as the “self identified with the body.” Which of course is something we go beyond. The body/brain mechanism is the “sleep” that LHP authors speak of. It is the “I’ll just have a job, procreate and care for myself and those like me,” attitude. You may disagree with the definition, but this is the ego that Hindu and Buddhists go beyond. It’s also what Crowley sought to go beyond… it’s what all spiritualists seek to go beyond. The body brings suffering… thinking your totality of self, is only the body – simply keeps a person stuck at the suffering and NOT learning from it. The LHP seeks to learn from the suffering, the RHP might seek to avoid it altogether. Finally, you said that we should be seeking to eradicate this “poisonous notion of a Higher Self.” The term Higher Self is not Buddhist… it’s rooted from Kabbalah… I suppose it’s derrived from the two ideas of self: Neshama and Nephesh (the higher and lower natures of self.) However, I don’t see any disagreement with “Higher Self” and LHP….. Again, referring back to the ToS and the teachings on Self found in Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide… we have the most expanded sense of self called the DAEMONIC Level of self. I capitalize it only for emphasis. This is your guiding spiritual force that is the totality of all magic in your subjective universe… at least according to the Temple of Set cosmology. What exactly is a Daemon? It’s a spirit, or spiritual matter. It is not “a demon” of course, which is the western bastardization of the Greek word into something nefarious and “evil.” The daemonic level of self really sounds like “The Higher Self.” LHP occultists take much from Crowley (regardless if he was LHP or not), Crowley referred to this as the Holy Guardian Angel. Don Webb calls it the Daemonic Level of self… others call it the “Higher Self.” Why abolish it? Because you think it correlates to a God you don’t like? In all traditions I know of, this concept of Higher self, daemonic self, HGA… they overlap on central points – namely, that it is your TRUE WILL… You can run from it, sure. You can abolish it, but you’re simply abolishing your true will… Who do you follow? “NO one!” you might say. Then you are trying to embrace your HGA/Higher Self, as that is who you really are at it’s totality… You, me, others have a “self” that is our totality, and it certainly isn’t our bodies. If you think it is the body, then why are you LHP at all? Just be an atheist and call it a day… in such a world-view, nothing beyond the corporeal is real… no spirits, no lucifer, no God, no spiritual self. You can’t influence the world around you with magic… such as them say its not real either. For those, magic is nothing more than NLP or other mental therapies. I just don’t think that’s the totality of LHP cosmology.
Nature of Self
Who, and where are you? Right now, where are you?
The atheist will attest they are the brain/body (or meat body) mechanism. They are the organic machine that processes data in the brain and this creates the personality.
Really for such as these (atheists), there is no spirit, no God, no Lucifer, no manifested beings other than what exists in the physical universe. Magic for these types is nothing more than NLP or other mental trickery and therapy.
The spiritualists will say that the “self” is not just a body, but it goes beyond this. Some spiritualists will argue that the totality of existence is everything in your world. While others will argue that the “self” is a spiritual soul that houses your current personality. The latter is more akin to western religions, while the former is the variations of occultism and eastern philosophy.
Master Shantideva asked his fellow Buddhist’s this question… “where is the self?” His treatise on the matter is very profound, as the self is not found. At one moment, it appears to be your body. In the next moment it’s a family. Then it’s your new car, then it’s not. Then it’s your new phone, then it’s not. It can snap to your nation, when it’s attacked, and snap back to the body when your taxes go up. One thing for sure, he concluded, your sense of self is NOT your body.
Paramhansa Yogandanda came to America and listened to psychiatry. As they talked about the ego, he noted that it correlated to an idea in Hinduism as a limited sense of self… so he said, the “ego is the self identified with the body.” This doesn’t mean that Yogananda thought there was no identity outside the body … consider the pantheon of gods/goddesses… but that the ego (limited self) was lost along the way. The limited self wants only to sleep in the world – to enjoy, have fun, relax and sleep.
Aleister Crowley’s View
Crowley speaks to an all encompassing sense of self. Read Liber LXV, Chapter II… The opening is very powerful:
I passed into the mountain of lapis-lazuli, even as a green hawk between the pillars of turquoise that is seated upon the throne of the East.
So came I to Duant, the starry abode, and I heard voices crying aloud.
O Thou that sittest upon the Earth! (so spake a certain Veiled One to me) thou art not greater than thy mother! Thou speck of dust infinitesimal!
Thou art the Lord of Glory, and the unclean dog.
Stooping down, dipping my wings, I came unto the darkly-splendid abodes. There in that formless abyss was I made a partaker of the Mysteries Averse.
I suffered the deadly embrace of the Snake and of the Goat; I paid the infernal homage to the shame of Khem.
Therein was this virtue, that the One became the all.
Focus your attention on verse 3. “Thou speck of dust infinitesimal! Thou art the Lord of Glory, and the unclean dog.” This prose gives the sense of perspective. Crowley is at both times, the Highest sense of self and the lowest.
Look again above and read verse 5 and 6, “I suffered the deadly embrace of the Snake and of the Goat; I paid the infernal homage to the shame of Khem. Therein was this virtue, that the One became the all.” If the One becomes the all, so too is the all capable of being the One.
Again we have this shifting nature of self described.
Kabbalah’s Nepesh and Neshama
The Hebrew of Nepesh and Neshama describe two states of self… the Higher and the Lower… in totality the “self” is ALL, it encompasses the whole thing. The lower self, are the base instincts that keep us asleep. The Higher Self are those inspirations that motivate us to wake up.
Don Webb and the Self
I’ve talked about Don Webb’s concept of self quite a bit. He writes about it in “Uncle Setnakts Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path.” Don Webb describes four levels of self: surface, medial, core and daemonic.
The Daemonic is the most expanded form of self, and this is the self that is the totality of magic in the individuals subjective universe. It is the guiding force that brings people together, books land in your hand, or situations seemingly spring from nowhere.
For me the self is a gradual state of awareness, along a linear path back towards Source. At one end of the spectrum, the self is so infinitesimal that it resembles a smallish creature, caring only for its own needs. At the other end of the spectrum, the self is almost the totality of all existence (physical universe, spiritual realities, etc.)
As we now consider more individuals, each having this same linear path towards an expanded sense of self – we also have overlap… UNION.
From what I’ve read, the LHP folks seem to object at the notion of Union. But in time that is the direction all expanded forms of self seem to go. The proof is in the work. The Depth of meditation – such as mindfulness or awareness meditation, brings a feeling of connectedness. Our minds feel without boundary…. they reach out and seem to touch and embrace the landscape – trees, animals, people.
Perhaps this is why Crowley wrote the passage, “For I am divided for love’s sake, for perchance of union.” We are divided and yet unified.
The real question is what becomes of us, if we go too far? Do we loose our identity in some final burst of expanded union?
My hypothesis is that we do not… as we are already at this moment every embodiment along our expanded self. You are already ONE with Source, as well as the most infinitesimal. Each of us is the ENTIRE track. At every moment, you and I are ONE with ALL and individual.
It is our awareness that sets our state of life. I am aware of being a human writing this post right now…. perhaps my ego is involved, or maybe it’s my need for attention, or perhaps I have some altruism to reach out and express my views… In an instant, I could realize myself as something quite different – “higher or lower.” I could become more small and less spiritual, or more expanded and magical.
The path to wake up, is the path of shifting our awareness.
Regarding the Higher Self, we have to understand that the Higher Self construct is a retelling of other phrases, like Nephesh and Neshama, or the Holy Guardian Angel, or the Daemonic Level of Self.
The Higher Self, is what wakes a person up, and the lower self is what puts a person back to sleep.
For some LHP folks hey may get the feeling that “Higher” means more goody goody. Forget all that. Forget the Christian and Satanic mythos… this is your life, your universe… what puts you back to sleep?
You already know the answer. Read it again, what puts you back to sleep?
It could be greed… when I turned to focus on money, I lost my spiritual path and became asleep once again. It took a year of that to wake me up again.
It could be sex. Procreation wrapped inside the allure of pleasure is a constant pull to our sleeping chamber.
Maybe it’s power. The need to be greater than others, might overshadow one’s true will… and bring us back to slumber.
What wakes you up?
These are the real questions. Too many people are caught up in words and terminology. They want to shake a fist at a metal concert and scream, “hail Satan,” in defiance to some authority… but does that really help?
Ultimately this is your world… do something with it. Wake UP!
UPDATE: Interestingly enough, I was reading Don Webb’s “Uncle Setnakts Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path,” and I came across a reference to the Higher Self – under the Sigil Magic section. I’ve quoted it below:
When it [the Sigil] has done its Work, offer it up as a sacrifice to your Higher Self…”“Uncle Setnakts Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path,” by Don Webb
There, right there, from the LHP perspective we have a direct connection to the Higher Self.