… because we’ve been brought up to believe that there are two sides to ourselves. One, the animal side, and the other, the human and civilized side. And these are expressed in what Freud calls the Pleasure Principle, which he classifies with the animal side – with the Id – and the other the Reality Principle, which he puts on the side of Society and the super-ego.
And man is so split, that he is in a constant fight between these two. Theosophists sometimes speak of our having two selves: the higher Self, which is spiritual, and the lower Self, which is merely psychic; the Ego. And therefore, the problem of life is to make the ‘oneself,’ the ‘higher one,’ take charge of the lower, as a rider takes charge of a horse.
But the problem that constantly arises is: how do you know that what you think is your higher self isn’t really your lower self in disguise? When a thief is robbing a house and the police enter on the ground floor, the thief goes up to the second floor, and when the police follow up the stairs he goes higher and higher until, at last, he gets out to the rooftop.
And in the same way, when one really feels oneself to be the lower Self, that is to say, to be a separate Ego, and then the moralists come along – they are, of course, the police – and say, You ought not to be selfish! then the Ego dissembles and tries to pretend that he’s a good person after all. And therefore, one of the ways of doing this is for the Ego to say, I believe I have a higher self.
And I would say, Why do you believe that? Do you know the higher self?
No. If I knew it I would behave differently. But I’m trying to get there.
Well, why are you trying to get there? Well, then the police wouldn’t come around. Then the moralists wouldn’t preach at me. Then I could feel that I was doing my duty, behaving as a proper member of Society.
But all this is a great phony front. If you don’t know that there is a higher Self and you believe that there is one, on whose authority do you believe this? You say, Oh, such and such a teacher – Buddha, Jesus, Śaṅkara, the Upanishads – said that we have a higher Self, and I believe it.
Catholics sometimes say they believe their religion because hey’re told to, and they have to be obedient. The catechism starts out – I mean the Baltimore catechism – it starts out, We are bound to believe that there is but one God, the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth, et cetera.
And they make jokes about Protestants and say, They don’t have real authority in Protestant church because everybody interprets the Bible according to his own opinion. But we have an authoritative interpretation of the Bible. But this always screens out the fact that it is fundamentally a matter of your own opinion, that you accept the authority of the Church to interpret the Bible.
You cannot escape, in all matters of belief, from opinion. In other words, it must become clear to you that you, yourself, create all the authorities you accept. And if you create them in order to dissimilate, in order to pretend that your motivations and your character are different, that you would like them to be different – this is the same old principle of the separate Self trying to improve itself so that it will live longer, or survive in the spiritual world, or attain the riches and the progress of enlightenment. And the whole thing is phony.