BECK index


Higher Self
Natural Self
Conscious Self

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      In discussing the psychology of the human individual, it is necessary to analyze various components and aspects of the whole psyche. This can tend to give fragmented impressions of complex and interrelated experiences. I will attempt to integrate the analysis by discussing the various relations between different characteristics so that together we can try to achieve synthesis. I acknowledge that these conceptual divisions are artificial because all aspects of the psyche are operating simultaneously. Yet concepts help the mind to understand, as we shall see.


      The soul is a spark of divine fire, being the essence of God and expressing all of the divine attributes, qualities, and principles that were described in the first chapter. The soul is eternal, infinite, perfect, etc. Individual souls are formed out of the divine essence, are one with God, and can return and merge again with God by dissolving their individuality. The soul can express itself in an infinite number of ways. I will try to conceptualize and describe in ways that we can relate to our experience some of the vehicles and faculties of consciousness that the soul uses when it incarnates in the human form on Earth.
      Perhaps one of the greatest exercises of its free will is when the soul decides to enter a physical body for the first time. The soul knows that to be born in an earthly body can be the beginning of a cycle of karma and reincarnation that may involve it for eons of time. Yet this involution offers the opportunity for the evolution of consciousness through the gaining of diverse experience.
      The soul is assisted in selecting a suitable body by heavenly counselors who are masters of consciousness in charge of facilitating the entry of souls into human forms, their departure at death, and their education in between death and birth as well as between birth and death. They could be thought of as angels of God, divine administration, or a karmic board.

Higher Self

      Each soul is assigned a master consciousness that is always higher or more spiritually aware than the self-consciousness of the physical person. Some might refer to this higher self as a guardian angel. With the assistance of the higher self, the soul consults with the karmic board about planning the life experience. In most cases the soul is reincarnating and has karmic patterns to be taken into consideration. Many factors come together in choosing a fertilized egg within the mother.
      Causality is not simple nor linear but rather multiple and holistic. The soul’s past experience determines the karma that it needs to work out, but the soul has many choices in deciding how to resolve that karma and forever to do it. The soul also chooses new experiences and situations to face. In choosing the body, some of the important considerations are the hereditary pattern in the genes, the probable environment of nurturing and upbringing, and the likely relationships with other souls. Since all spirits in the universe are free, most of these factors can only be calculated in probabilities. Nevertheless the omniscient intelligence of Spirit that guides the heavenly counselors can know so much more than our feeble little conscious minds. While recognizing the freedom of all souls, they still can focus probabilities more precisely. Also the soul itself can freely influence the situation. For example, the genetic pattern of the mother's monthly ovum can be known by Spirit. Although there are millions of sperm competing to fertilize the ovum, Spirit could influence one to be successful. Or, once fertilization has occurred, at least Spirit would know the exact genetic pattern of the embryo. Thus the heavenly counselors and the higher self could consider the genetic pattern along with the time pattern of the birth reflected in the cosmic environment studied by astrology, and karmic patterns of the parents and all other persons, institutions, and circumstances likely to influence this child. These karmic relationships extend all the way to national destinies and the world situation. Suppose, for example, Spirit knew that in a certain number of years a flood was going to destroy the home of the family and that it was the karma of the parents that the father would die but that the mother and the child would survive. This circumstance would be part of the life plan of the soul born into that family.
      The higher self is aware of the life plan that has been chosen by the soul, the karma that needs to be released, and all the latent abilities and tendencies based on the past experience of the soul. During a lifetime, millions of conscious choices are made which alter and define the person's life. Thus the life plan allows for many contingencies and branches of expression within an overall spiritual scope.
      During life on Earth the function of the higher self is to guide the consciousness of the individual toward the fulfilling of the spiritual destiny chosen before birth. The higher self may protect the person from any untoward events that are not part of its karmic destiny by subtly influencing the behavior. However, the higher self does not command, direct, or even choose for the individual; that is the role of the conscious self. Yet the conscious self can seek the guidance of the higher self by spiritual attunement, introspection, contemplation, striving for ideals, etc. The higher self is not concerned with trivial day-to-day concerns. Because it always must be higher than the conscious awareness, as the person’s consciousness develops and evolves, the higher self may be replaced by another master consciousness that is more evolved. I have heard that some of these masters are able to assist many individuals at the same time.

Natural Self

       Within twenty-four hours of conception according to John-Roger a basic self or what I call the natural self enters the fertilized egg within the womb of the mother. The natural self is responsible for developing the embryo and for maintaining bodily functions. The natural self comes out of a repository of natural selves and returns there at death. Natural selves are also in a process of evolution, and it may be that the consciousness of an animal is an evolving natural self. Higher mammals and especially pets who have contact with humans are approaching the state where the consciousness may be assigned as a natural self for a person. The natural self is often referred to as the lower self, but in many ways its awareness is very advanced and complex.
      A little self-observation tells us that we are not conscious of most of our bodily processes and natural instincts; it seems as though they are automatic, and in fact many of them are called autonomic. Nevertheless these processes are not simply mechanical but alive and organic. The natural self is essentially programmed by the genetic pattern of heredity, and it can also be conditioned or trained through experience as well. Thus in many respects the natural self is like a child, for it is also responsible for the expression of emotion. The natural self has feelings and can be extremely sensitive. In relation to our conscious self most of the awareness of the natural self is subconscious, although the expanding awareness of the conscious self can develop better and better communication with the natural self. In the unconscious mind the natural self merges with the higher self because they work together in the releasing of karma. We must also keep in mind that as souls in human form we are the higher self and the natural self as well as the conscious self, that any separation is artificial, and that we are completely responsible for all these levels of consciousness. To say, “That was my natural self, not me,” may be a joke, but if meant seriously it is irresponsible.
      In a way a person could live without a higher self by completely ignoring it, although it would still be there. A person without a natural self would soon die. Not only does the natural self operate the bodily functions, but it urges us to eat, exercise, avoid danger, procreate, etc. Since the natural self is easily trained by conditioning with rewards and punishments, it easily forms habits that can only be changed by re-training. The natural self has much wisdom, but it is not intellectual and must be appealed to in ways that are appropriate to its consciousness.

Conscious Self

      In most cases the soul enters the human body at birth with the first breath. Prior to that time the soul of the mother is the life force sustaining the fetus growing in her body. The natural self of the child developing in the womb thus has a very special relationship with the consciousness of the mother. The analogy of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny indicates that the embryo goes through many of the evolutionary stages of the species. I believe this analogy can be extended to include that major step when souls began actually incarnating in the human form as correlating with birth.
      The conscious self is a direct extension of the soul and enters the child with the soul at birth. Natural selves are evolving to become conscious selves which evolve to become higher selves. Yet experience shows that the conscious self, unlike the natural and higher selves, begins life as a blank slate, tabula rasa. By observing babies we intuit that there is something wonderful, majestic, intelligent, and joyful there, but it does not yet know how to operate the body or speak. For several years the natural self is the dominant consciousness in the child, although the conscious self is continually growing and maturing. Learning to master language is a major undertaking of the conscious self, and gradually it also learns how to operate the various muscles and control bodily functions that are not autonomic. As the conscious self gains greater mastery and develops its ability to pursue conscious purposes, it eventually becomes dominant over its natural self by the age of seven.
      The responsibility of the conscious self is to make decisions and be the ruler or master of all the person’s affairs. Yet good cooperation and communication with the natural and higher selves is essential to optimal functioning. The conscious self can accomplish little or nothing without the support of the natural self. Obviously since it is the part that is conscious, the conscious self is the easiest for us to understand. The natural and higher selves, being mostly subconscious, are more difficult to handle.
      The conscious self is similar to the ego but not identical. The ego is our sense of I, and some of that may be unconscious in the natural self. The conscious self can choose to focus its awareness on anything and thus can at times be egoless while at other times egotistical. The tendency to become egotistical comes from the insecurity and pride that have been programmed into the natural self.
      The conscious self directs itself by means of the will, or in more psychological terms, by the use of attention. The conscious self coming out of soul is essentially free, although it has many forces, attractions, and repulsions attempting to impinge themselves on it to gain its attention. The conscious self generally identifies with the sex of its physical body, although the natural self may feel itself to be male or female or androgynous, which is both male and female. A person can have more than one natural self.
      What Freud called the id and the libido clearly come out of the natural self as part of its instinctive functions. The superego is more problematic because it is formed through experience. Much of this programming from parents and father or mother figures becomes part of the natural self, while some of it is conscious. The conscious self may accept some of this conditioning as a kind of false higher self, though much of the ego ideal and conscience can be from the higher self.

Copyright © 1987, 2016 by Sanderson Beck

LIFE AS A WHOLE has been published as a book .
For ordering information, please click here.

BECK index

Principles of Education Based on a Spiritual Philosophy of Love

I. The Universe
Divine Principles
Nature and Evolution

II. The Individual
Physical Body

III. Society
Social Relationships
Politics and Law
Art and Communication