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Having only just come out of Christianity for the second time, I am still trying to make sense of things. I have been thinking about the notion of a Higher Self - is this New Age? I suppose it appeals because it might be akin to being in touch with your true self - a wiser self.

 

Does anyone else believe in this?

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I think it is a New Age phrase. It may derive from Hinduism with the idea of the Atman or the God within everyone.

 

Also, in Buddhism we have the concept of a  "Buddha nature" which we all have, and might also be close to what could be thought of as a higher self.  It is a person's inborn capacity for wisdom and enlightenment.  Because it is there, we all have the potential to do and achieve what the Buddha did.  I do subscribe to this idea.  This is the opposite of Christianity, which teaches we are born with a sinful nature.

 

I think often times the New Age has taken concepts from eastern religions and given them its own peculiar twist. So, I am not entirely sure what the New Age types actually mean by it. I think Deepak Chopra has a book on it. I know I just did an internet search and his name came right up.

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I think it is a New Age phrase. It may derive from Hinduism with the idea of the Atman or the God within everyone.

 

Also, in Buddhism we have the concept of a  "Buddha nature" which we all have, and might also be close to what could be thought of as a higher self.  It is a person's inborn capacity for wisdom and enlightenment.  Because it is there, we all have the potential to do and achieve what the Buddha did.  I do subscribe to this idea.  This is the opposite of Christianity, which teaches we are born with a sinful nature.

 

I think often times the New Age has taken concepts from eastern religions and given them its own peculiar twist. So, I am not entirely sure what the New Age types actually mean by it. I think Deepak Chopra has a book on it. I know I just did an internet search and his name came right up.

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that in Buddhism everyone had a 'Buddha nature' and that it was an inborn capacity. I kind of thought it was something outside of yourself that you had to attain to, if that makes sense. It sounds a lot more positive than being born with a sinful nature.

 

I did try a Buddhist meditation class once, but unfortunately I felt uncomfortable sitting in the cross-legged position (!) and also I find concentrating on the breath makes me feel uneasy ... so I'm not sure that its something I could embrace. But I will read up on it a little more.

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I think it is a New Age phrase. It may derive from Hinduism with the idea of the Atman or the God within everyone.

 

Also, in Buddhism we have the concept of a  "Buddha nature" which we all have, and might also be close to what could be thought of as a higher self.  It is a person's inborn capacity for wisdom and enlightenment.  Because it is there, we all have the potential to do and achieve what the Buddha did.  I do subscribe to this idea.  This is the opposite of Christianity, which teaches we are born with a sinful nature.

 

I think often times the New Age has taken concepts from eastern religions and given them its own peculiar twist. So, I am not entirely sure what the New Age types actually mean by it. I think Deepak Chopra has a book on it. I know I just did an internet search and his name came right up.

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that in Buddhism everyone had a 'Buddha nature' and that it was an inborn capacity. I kind of thought it was something outside of yourself that you had to attain to, if that makes sense. It sounds a lot more positive than being born with a sinful nature.

 

I did try a Buddhist meditation class once, but unfortunately I felt uncomfortable sitting in the cross-legged position (!) and also I find concentrating on the breath makes me feel uneasy ... so I'm not sure that its something I could embrace. But I will read up on it a little more.

 

There are many types of meditation.  If you are not feeling comfortable in one, there are others.  Even though I am Buddhist, I don't feel like I do meditation very well - it isn't a requirement. The cross legged position isn't going to work for me either. I am almost 55 and I can't do it anymore -but it doesn't matter.

 

I can tell you one thing for sure, there is a lot of wiggle room in Buddhism. It is not like Christianity where you must believe something. I can't really speak to other types of Buddhism, I have only studied Tibetan for the last 5 years. And the Lamas do teach that everyone has a Buddha nature. I think that won me over.

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Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that in Buddhism everyone had a 'Buddha nature' and that it was an inborn capacity. I kind of thought it was something outside of yourself that you had to attain to, if that makes sense. It sounds a lot more positive than being born with a sinful nature.

That really is all that is meant by ones higher self. It's our true nature that we all have always had, but simply don't see. The false self is how we see ourselves as separate from one another and from the world. Another way to put it is that everyone is already fully enlightened, we just don't realize that yet.

 

And yes, it's a lot more positive than believing we are born to sin.

 

I did try a Buddhist meditation class once, but unfortunately I felt uncomfortable sitting in the cross-legged position (!) and also I find concentrating on the breath makes me feel uneasy ... so I'm not sure that its something I could embrace. But I will read up on it a little more.

There are lots of different techniques for meditation. Try different things to find what works for you, but I will say this that the benefit of meditation is very clear. A book I'd recommend that's quite accessible and useful to get you going in meditation is this book: http://www.amazon.com/Meditation-Love-It-Enjoying-Experience/dp/1604070811/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373246037&sr=8-1&keywords=meditation+for+the+love+of+it
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It's a cool idea.  I've heard references to it over the years, but rarely, and I don't remember a theism associated with it.  I remember the subconscious referred to this way, but I have not found subconscious self to be any higher self, only more layers of self.  

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Just wanted to say thanks for your replies. I will look at the book you've mentioned Antlerman. To be honest I was very wary of Buddhism in the past, because around the time I became interested in Christianity I had a strange and scary daydream about Buddhists which I think was triggered by my past visit to the meditation class. I think it was because of the bible condemning people to hell those who don't believe in God/Jesus. Ugh, that book!

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You should also check out Universal Unitarian churches not my cup  of tea but for those deconverts that still want some religion it is pretty use full in that regard as anything goes ;)

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Deva is very right. New Age is mostly just eastern religions but individualized. That is, they take the ideas of Buddha nature, for example, and then call it a "Self" so americans can buy their toys. 

 

Self is the very opposite of the point of a "higher" existence.

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What is expectation?  Expectation of ourselves?  Our expectations of ourselves often exceed who we are or can be.  

 

What is ego?  We need a chart for the multiple and various definitions of ego.  Seriously.  With an ego definitions chart we might be able to draw a map of a higher self.  Of a higher self, not to it.  A map to a higher self is not an ego chart.  Many definitions of ego describe it as a part of self equal to other parts of self.

 

It was the self-hypnosos how-to books from the late '70's that wrote of the subconscious as a higher self.  In fact, the subconscious is just parts of the living organism that we don't think about or are even aware of.  No exploration I've done of the subconscious (and I've done a lot) has come to a higher self.  It's not like that.  According to my data set, such a definition of subconscious is in error.

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Here is the wikipedia on "higher self":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_self

 

My personal definition is to imagine that this reality is a story or game and outside there is a higher reality with my higher self that is reading or playing the game and is so engrossed that it has forgotten this is just a story.  As a result, the higher self is suffering instead of enjoying the story.  Probably that isn't the standard definition.

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I guess I believe in some concept of a higher self. At least, I believe that I have the capacity to grow and change and improve. I believe that the starting blocks that I need to do so are things already inside of me that I need to focus on and nurture, so it's not like I have to become something other than what I am.

 

For example, I'd like to be nicer to people. Christianity says I'm a terrible person and have to fight my urge to be mean. But Buddhism says I'm supposed to look inside of me, find the love I already have for myself, and the love I have for people I like, and pay attention to that love, feed it, so that it grows. Eventually that love can continue to include me and the people I care about, make me love myself and my loved ones more, and extend to include people I don't have much of an opinion on, then even people I don't like, and extend to loving all sentient beings. Instead of fighting with myself over my actions, I can choose to identify with the better parts of my nature so that being a moral/kind/loving person comes naturally. The christian idea that you have to be forever at war with yourself becomes counterproductive, because obsessing over the bad parts of you feeds the bad stuff. The biggest thing I've gotten from meditation is being able to look honestly at things I dislike about myself, realize that the not wanting the bad stuff is also a part of me, and that many times "becoming a better person" and "getting what I really want" aren't at odds.

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I guess I believe in some concept of a higher self. At least, I believe that I have the capacity to grow and change and improve. I believe that the starting blocks that I need to do so are things already inside of me that I need to focus on and nurture, so it's not like I have to become something other than what I am.

 

For example, I'd like to be nicer to people. Christianity says I'm a terrible person and have to fight my urge to be mean. But Buddhism says I'm supposed to look inside of me, find the love I already have for myself, and the love I have for people I like, and pay attention to that love, feed it, so that it grows. Eventually that love can continue to include me and the people I care about, make me love myself and my loved ones more, and extend to include people I don't have much of an opinion on, then even people I don't like, and extend to loving all sentient beings. Instead of fighting with myself over my actions, I can choose to identify with the better parts of my nature so that being a moral/kind/loving person comes naturally. The christian idea that you have to be forever at war with yourself becomes counterproductive, because obsessing over the bad parts of you feeds the bad stuff. The biggest thing I've gotten from meditation is being able to look honestly at things I dislike about myself, realize that the not wanting the bad stuff is also a part of me, and that many times "becoming a better person" and "getting what I really want" aren't at odds.

Thanks for this - I find the way you've explained about Buddhism's view of paying attention to that love so that it grows, compared with Christianity's view of being at war with yourself really helpful. I think for me some of the teachings of Christianity have been really toxic.

 

I want to ask you a bit more about the bad stuff - if you've got something bad that you've done on your conscience then do you know what Buddhism teaches about that? Do you know if its possible to somehow make up for it?

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Here is the wikipedia on "higher self":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_self

 

My personal definition is to imagine that this reality is a story or game and outside there is a higher reality with my higher self that is reading or playing the game and is so engrossed that it has forgotten this is just a story.  As a result, the higher self is suffering instead of enjoying the story.  Probably that isn't the standard definition.

Thanks for posting the link - I had completely overlooked looking it up on wiki.

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I want to ask you a bit more about the bad stuff - if you've got something bad that you've done on your conscience then do you know what Buddhism teaches about that? Do you know if its possible to somehow make up for it?

 

 

Others here are probably more informed than I am about what Buddhism teaches. So don't take any of the following as the official stance of any form of Buddhism.

 

In my personal experience, I've learned that step one is to have compassion on yourself for screwing up. Don't say to yourself "I am bad" - that's an identity thing. Then you're clinging to in inaccurate view of reality. Think of it as "I did something bad" - you admit that it happened, but do you don't let mistakes define you.

 

Next you have to have compassion for the people you hurt by your action. Sometimes... that means admitting that you really can't do anything, can't make it up to them, no matter much you want to. If your attempt to make yourself feel better isn't going to be the most compassionate thing to do for the person you hurt, then sometimes you can't fix it. Yes, if there is a way to apologise, to make amends, by all means do it. But don't "do something" just to erase your own suffering from your own guilt (this is part of why it's so important not to get attached to your negative ideas about yourself). Anything more specific about how to make up for your mistakes is going to be very situation dependent. Personally, I have an anxiety disorder and get hung up on the past a lot; many times I just have to let it go, to accept that I'm human and imperfect, and just determine to do better in the future. Or maybe, if it's a perfectionism thing and not a "being a jerk" thing, I have to be ok with messing up again in the future, to let go of my idealized, unrealistic idea of what I wish I could be. If it is a being a jerk thing, then I have to see what's inside of me that makes me act that way - am I afraid or something? do I feel nervous is I can't control the people around me? Then I have to fix the root of my own issues that made me act that way, to be more ok with myself so that I don't take my shortcomings out on other people. So you make up for it by becoming a better person, not by punishing yourself.

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Thanks, your reply makes me want to find out and know more about what Buddhism teaches.  Although, its early days since I de-converted so I think I need to be a bit careful that I don't get in a muddle and have some recovery time.   

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Thanks, your reply makes me want to find out and know more about what Buddhism teaches.  Although, its early days since I de-converted so I think I need to be a bit careful that I don't get in a muddle and have some recovery time.   

Yes, please take your time.  Look around, explore. 

 

I will say this about Buddhism - it is what Christians would call a "works" religion, although they totally misunderstand it.  It is what I would call a do-it-yourself kind of thing for sure.

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Certainly there's a "higher self". We progress towards it every day, and getting out of the old religious superstitions was a huge first step. I first saw my "higher self" in action a few years ago when I reconciled with a friend instead of holding a huge grudge.

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I read a book once and cannot remember the name of it for the life of me. It was several years ago but it claimed we had like several selves. Inner child, higher, etc. And that we should conversate and get to know our "other selves." I don't know, it really did make sense in the book but I always felt like I must be crazy because you try telling people that and they think you're crazy (which is why I NEVER talked about it to anyone). Supposedly it was part of psyche. I don't know, I mean, it made sense but I don't know. It was interesting. 

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I read a book once and cannot remember the name of it for the life of me. It was several years ago but it claimed we had like several selves. Inner child, higher, etc. And that we should conversate and get to know our "other selves." I don't know, it really did make sense in the book but I always felt like I must be crazy because you try telling people that and they think you're crazy (which is why I NEVER talked about it to anyone). Supposedly it was part of psyche. I don't know, I mean, it made sense but I don't know. It was interesting. 

 

My internal dialog is often plural. When I'm feeling flustered and disorganized, I form a committee meeting and sit back and watch them argue. It's not really that much different from writing out all your conflicting throughts and making pro/con lists. By giving the thoughts voices and watching them fight, I give myself a little bit of emotional distance from the whole thing so that I can feel more confident about making a choice. But no matter how often my interal thoughts are plural, every time I talk to someone else about me it comes out singular. So yeah, I have a lot of voices in my head, but they're all mine. I also agree that it's important to let them all have their say, because repressed emotions will come back to bite you later.

 

Most of the time I don't give names to the voices, but the ones that are recurring may have a label, like "obsessive organization/pattern matching", "fuzzy feelings that are very important and insightful but don't know how to use words", "will", and "sexuality". Each of those has a particular set of strengths and weaknesses, so when I can label which part of me a thought it coming from, I have a better idea of what to do with it. It's also good to get to know them so you can tell when something's going wrong, like when I'm starting to go hypomanic.

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I read a book once and cannot remember the name of it for the life of me. It was several years ago but it claimed we had like several selves. Inner child, higher, etc. And that we should conversate and get to know our "other selves." I don't know, it really did make sense in the book but I always felt like I must be crazy because you try telling people that and they think you're crazy (which is why I NEVER talked about it to anyone). Supposedly it was part of psyche. I don't know, I mean, it made sense but I don't know. It was interesting. 

 

My internal dialog is often plural. When I'm feeling flustered and disorganized, I form a committee meeting and sit back and watch them argue. It's not really that much different from writing out all your conflicting throughts and making pro/con lists. By giving the thoughts voices and watching them fight, I give myself a little bit of emotional distance from the whole thing so that I can feel more confident about making a choice. But no matter how often my interal thoughts are plural, every time I talk to someone else about me it comes out singular. So yeah, I have a lot of voices in my head, but they're all mine. I also agree that it's important to let them all have their say, because repressed emotions will come back to bite you later.

 

Most of the time I don't give names to the voices, but the ones that are recurring may have a label, like "obsessive organization/pattern matching", "fuzzy feelings that are very important and insightful but don't know how to use words", "will", and "sexuality". Each of those has a particular set of strengths and weaknesses, so when I can label which part of me a thought it coming from, I have a better idea of what to do with it. It's also good to get to know them so you can tell when something's going wrong, like when I'm starting to go hypomanic.

 

 

That makes a lot of sense. I guess I could say I have voices in my head, too (well, more like one, which according to that book wasn't that great of a thing, I guess-- I forgot why, though, something about one personality trait or something taking full command)  Since I now live alone again, sometimes I actually just talk aloud in response to the voice. But I'm aware others would think that's crazy so I never do that in front of others (my therapists said sometimes I'm too aware and I spend too much time obsessing over whether I'm being rude or not). 

 

Actually, after I'd read and actually studied the book, I swear I had a weird conversation ("interview") with one of my subselves in a dream or something; it was probably one of the most bizarre experiences of my life and felt more real than prayer did. It kind of freaked me out, though, and I was depressed at the time and wasn't sure if I could put forth the effort or energy to do that several more times.  It was a weird feeling, I felt confident for awhile and like I better knew myself, but I don't know. I also felt weirded out by the whole experience; maybe because it was so new?  I also couldn't tell if it's just because I had read the book and had it on my mind before bed (I did it right before bed and fell asleep afterwards). It's always been this thing niggling at the back of my head that I should do it again, but it was really hard and not something I was just able to force. It just felt so weird, like I was talking to myself but I wasn't at the same time. Wendyshrug.gif

 

I feel like it had to be something like this book : http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0095176050/default.aspx   but I don't remember it being such a creepy cover and I know I read it before 2011.  It almost was like some old, used psych book I'd picked up or something. From the looks of it, it looks similar. This site, as well: http://sfhelp.org/site/intro.htm       And DEFINITELY this bit, I remember this very well from the book with the "false" guardians and inner family and all http://sfhelp.org/gwc/pop/personality.htm     

 

 

Maybe the true self IS the higher self?   Just thinking aloud and rambling. 

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Maybe the true self IS the higher self?   Just thinking aloud and rambling. 

 

I think of it more as the higher self is a capacity within all of us. The true self is the totality of what we are right now - not just the conscious mind bits. By reorganizing and reweighting the existing bits (which you do by discovering your true self), we can align ourself more with our concept of our higher self. So the higher self is the goal we're aiming for, and those mystical experiences (or is it numinous? not sure on definitions) where we experience our "higher self" is... an act of creation more than an act of discovery. Becoming whole is a skill we can develop.

 

By whole, I mean not that we don't have conflicting thoughts, but that once all the voices have had their say and a course of action is decided on, everything works together for that goal. I often visualize that as the amorphous "other" made of blue light (that one seems to have a lot to do with physical coordination and wordless thoughts) taking on a humanoid shape and aligning itself with my physical body so that they can act in concert. Sometimes there's a brief tingling feeling in my skin when that happens. Lately I've also been experiencing the (also wordless) force of will as an imposing black shape standing just behind me. When I'm afraid, I can pull it up and it'll protect me. When I can't focus on anything, I pull it up and it steps forward and absorbs into me and I can get stuff done for a bit (then its name is "Action" instead of "Will"). I guess another analogy is choral singing - all the voices are working together wonderfully, but they're not necessarily all singing the same thing.

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That all makes a lot of sense. That site differentiates between the true self and higher self as well. According to that site/book, I'm pretty sure my "true self" wouldn't even be considered as in control, but a "false subself" and who knows how long it would take me to get to my "higher self." Apparently, I need to start meditating, like--- a lot.  But, I don't know, I read some of that stuff and it goes right over my head and I have trouble focusing. So I have to reread it about three or four times and I'm still not sure I totally understand it. 

 

Everything you have said pretty much agrees with that psychologists and it sounds like you've even DONE it and have had massive success even in learning names. 

 

All that being said, I guess the belief in a higher self is actually pretty realistic. It's something created by each individual human, so it's not as if we're out looking for god inside us or something. 

 

You know, meditation is starting to make a lot more sense in my mind now.  I'm guessing a lot of meditation is required for me to even reorganize and rewrite my existing bits into control so my true self is in control (but apparently your true self has no form because it's you, but all the other "inner family" subselves do).  

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You know, meditation is starting to make a lot more sense in my mind now.  I'm guessing a lot of meditation is required for me to even reorganize and rewrite my existing bits into control so my true self is in control (but apparently your true self has no form because it's you, but all the other "inner family" subselves do).  

 

It's hard for the observer to see itself :)

 

My "I" is usually an obsessive spaz that uses a lot of words. It keeps lists, ranks items, runs the filing cabinet. It's the organizer. It's a very important part of me. When it freaks out, I start having to write down lists because I can't keep track of them all in my head. Having a list to refer to will calm it down, will assure it that it's not forgetting anything. I keep a text file open on my computer just for that. Sometimes something that I need to get done will pop into my head and I'm afraid to get back to whatever I was working on in case I forget that thing. Having somewhere to write it down assures me that it's been taken care of, so I can let go.

 

But the organizer sucks at doing anything other than organizing, like... actually doing. What the organizer is supposed to do is pass control off to other bits of me. When it doesn't do that, I procrastinate and get paralized. The parts of me that "do" have less of a sense of self, of "I". They are doers, not thinkers. Even when I'm writing code, which is a very brainy and not very physical activity, it's so absorbed in the "doing" that it doesn't think about "being".

 

Meditating is about accessing an observer that's not the book-keeping spaz. It's about turning that part off, saying "thank you for what you do; it's time for you to take a break". And for a while, you're not correlating, not passing control around, just being. And you watch all the thoughts running around trying to go about the normal business of doing, but you don't give them control, you just stay back and watch. Sometimes they'll have something important to say to you that you need to hear. Sometimes the quieter voices, the ones you don't normally listen to, or are afraid of, will come out into that quietness and tell you something. Sometimes the voices just don't know how to Be and keep trying to Do and just chase their tails. You watch them for a bit and tell them "it's not time for you right now", just gently inform them they don't need to be accomplishing anything right now, and they'll often disolve (though if you're really stressed, they may keep coming back and not believe you that it's ok to just Be for a while). You watch your thoughts, and your body, and see how all the thoughts that won't fit into your conscious mind manifest in your body instead. Or maybe your body is unhappy about something, and instead of feeling your body's pain you've been experiencing it as an emotion. I quite often find myself meditating and thinking "oh, wow, I'm in a lot of pain! No wonder I wasn't able to focus on stuff".

 

That meditation state is where you have a better view of your true self (selves?) with everything laid out in front of you, with no particular Doer running the show and blocking your ability to Be. If anything needs fixed, you probably already know about it but have been too busy to let the change happen. Kinda like how your body needs sleep in order to heal, your brain needs a rest time where it can run cleanup while not adding new things to the to-do list.

 

 

All that being said, I guess the belief in a higher self is actually pretty realistic. It's something created by each individual human, so it's not as if we're out looking for god inside us or something.

 

Once while mediating, I had the thought that this is "I AM". I'd always been fascinated by that name of god as a christian but never quite got what it was trying to communicate. Something about ground of being and timelessness. But while meditating, long after deconverting, I finally experienced what "I AM" is all about. And... that knowledge of being is complete and sufficient without the doers. It's a very stable, powerful feeling. And then the doers can grow out of that experience of being, in a way that makes them feel part of a larger whole and less likely to run out of control or get lost. That sense of Being is probably what I'd consider to be my higher self.

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