Mending the Divided Self

This morning on ABC Television, eminent Australian scientist Paul Davies appeared as a guest promoting his new book The Demon in the Machine (Penguin/Allen Lane, 2019). He admitted that science does not understand either Consciousness, or Life itself. To paraphrase one of his observations, Consciousness is the software of the Universe. Science has perhaps focused too much on the hardware (physical workings and the chemistry), at the expense of the software – which we cannot see or touch, but might control the material world.

For humans, Consciousness is inextricably tied to our sense of Self. Knowing the Real Self is important for two reasons: it enables you to know the right direction to take in life; and it is supposed to be the part of us that survives when this life is over.

The term Hard Problem of Consciousness (with words starting in capitals) came into common usage after a talk by David Chalmers about a quarter-century ago. The question is all about how humans are self-aware and subjective. Paul Davies referred to the discussion about Consciousness in his interview as “a really tough one.”

For me, the experience of I Am is key to my spiritual and philosophical pursuits. If my Real Self is like a droplet of water drawn from the ocean of Life, simply to plunge back into that ocean once the eyedropper-like casing of the body decays and passes its use-by date, I need to know if my ‘droplet Self’ is going to retain that sense of ‘I Am.’ If not, then any illumination attained in this life will have been temporary and in vain.

Probably the reason that Consciousness is considered ‘hard’ by academics, is that it is often seen to be merely a function of the physical brain. The same goes for the Self. Obviously, when the body dies, so does the brain, so anybody who thinks they are going to retain a sense of identity after death, must consider Consciousness to be something non-physical and independent of the brain.

The ancient Greek maxim inscribed on the wall of Apollo’s Temple at Delphi was “Man Know Thyself.” Humankind has made lots of progress in the ensuing two and a half thousand years, but most of us still do not know our Selves.

When I read the works of popular writers on the subject, it is sometimes unclear if they are using the word ‘mind’ interchangeably with ‘brain’. For example, Eckhart Tolle wrote, “Don’t seek your Self in the mind.” Gary Zukav wrote, “The logic and understandings of the five-sensory personality originate in the mind. They are products of the intellect.” These sentiments agree with others whose works I follow, including Guy Finley, Michael Roads and the late Gene Savoy, namely that we should not confuse the word intellect with Intelligence. Because it is so easy to get lost in semantics, I also use the words Consciousness and Intelligence (with capital letters in front) in preference to mind and intellect.

Likewise, I refer to the real or authentic Self with a capital letter. It is popular these days to say that we have many selves: higher self, over self, lower self, inner self, shadow self, image self etc. And it is true we undergo the sensation of being different personalities according to the circumstances we are facing and the chemical reactions going on in the body at any given time. I suggest it is easier to think in terms of all these so-called selves as being strings on a harp, with the instrument being the whole Self. The idea then becomes to get all the strings vibrating in harmony – which they rarely in fact do.

The basis of what I am saying here is that most of us feel divided within. And it is not helpful that some teachers tell us we have to get rid of some part of ourselves. If one string of the instrument is discordant, you don’t remove it, you tune it up. It is not uncommon for us to be told that we have to get rid of our ego, or lose the lower personality. Real Self Love involves acknowledging every part of our being, not ignoring or eliminating any part of the Self. Many well-meaning Christians quote the uplifting words, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” while concentrating on the first three words and forgetting the last two: “As yourself.” We need to take into account that the essential theme of the gospels is about redemption – the Celestial descending into a lower world to redeem that part of itself that is trapped below.

The main religious traditions tell us that humankind underwent what is known as The Fall and, if you read the Judeo-Christian texts, it becomes apparent that they are talking about the advent of self-awareness appearing in homo sapiens. Using our analogy of the harp, the physical brain tends to be aware of only one string being plucked at a time, and assigns the word ‘self’ to that experience. You feel like one self early in the morning and another in the evening; you are this person when you get a rush of adrenalin and that person when you are self-medicating.

Beyond all these minor nuances of the subjective consciousness, the major issue is that we humans have split our selves in two. I am referring neither to the left & right brain, nor the objective consciousness & subconsciousness – although these are both reflections of the effects of the division. spirit twin

The Division of Consciousness

This is the title of a book written by Peter Novak (The Division of Consciousness, Hampton Roads, 1997) that goes into great details of how human Consciousness originally became divided and how it might be mended. He maintains that the spirit and soul will split apart at death. Even though some scholars have demonstrated that the founders of Christianity probably understood the laws of reincarnation, I think it has been omitted from their books for a reason, i.e. that the whole idea is to break the cycle and stop returning.

I do not accept that it is inevitable for the two parts of the Self to keep dividing; furthermore, I believe the practical work needs to be done while incarnated here in this world. Those who are content to think along the lines of, “I have lived as good a life as I know how, so I will face death with my fingers crossed and hope that the keepers at the Pearly Gates will give me an invitation to Paradise” will probably have to face the ultimate disappointment.

In a chapter titled Making the Two One, Novak gives his ideas on how we might go about doing just that. In the process, he relies heavily on Christian gospels, although he likes to add a sprinkling of insights from the Chinese Tao Te Ching (which I also enjoy reading). However, since none of the mainstream religions teach us what he calls Division Theory, it is equally valid to contemplate this topic using secular language.

If we look at a split in the material sense, for example, a rock being sawn in half, it then becomes two distinct objects with scant prospect of being re-joined. The Conscious Self, as a non-material phenomenon, is much more ethereal than liquid or gas, but to assist picturing it in the mind’s eye we might compare it to, say, a body of water divided by a weir, or a tank of nitrogen divided into two compartments. In such cases we see a unit that continues to exist as a whole while becoming a binary system – there is a clearly defined barrier that produces a dichotomy.

Your Spirit Twin

Some mystical teachers talk about meeting their higher self (read: inner self, over self) as a separate entity. Others talk about a mystical marriage that must take place within us. One order tells us we have a “master within.” A teacher I admire very much talked about first meeting his inner, authentic self as a Golden Angel appearing before him. And it is interesting to contemplate that the well-known poems of Rumi might have been written about his “twin self.”

In a recent article in New Dawn Magazine (Vol.13 No.2), we are told about the experience of Olga Kharitidi who was taken into apprenticeship by a female Siberian shaman called Umai, high in the Altai Mountains. It says: Later she (Umai) tells Olga the “greatest secret.” We have the task of constructing two things while we are in our physical lives – the physical reality in which we live and the creation of ourselves. Keeping the balance between the two is a very sacred and demanding art. Every human has a Spirit Twin, or Spirit Guide, who inhabits their inner space. There are seven kinds of these Spirit Twins: Healer, Magus Teacher, Messenger, Protector, Warrior, and Executor – one who makes things happen.[1]

My understanding is that for as long as our twin spiritual counterpart may appear as being separate from us, our goal is to reunite with this part of our Self and become one. When the two become one, we are complete and at peace. Hence the need to love ourselves  – all parts of our Self – unconditionally. You may consider that, if you haven’t met this Twin yet, “it” is right beside you, within the electro-magnetic sphere of your being, and your Spirit Twin also has the goal of integrating with you.

Says Umai, “One of our most important tasks is to learn the identity of our Spirit Twin and then to integrate ourselves fully with it.”[2]

These two parts, to quote Peter Novak, “interact in a dynamic partnership, together forming a whole far greater than the sum of their parts.”

The great author and spiritual teacher Paul Brunton recommended that a good place to start is by deeply meditating on the question, “Who am I?”

“If one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness.” (The Gospel of Thomas 61:5)


[1] Shambhala & the Shamans of Altai: Opening the Gate to Belovodia, by Jason Jeffrey, New Dawn Special Issue Vol.13 No.2

[2] Ibid.

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Published by australianesoteric

Paul V Young is a freelance writer and published author. He is a certified practitioner of Reiki, NLP and LOA, and a certified TEFL English Teacher. After working and travelling in SE Asia for many years, he has now settled down at the Gold Coast, Australia.

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