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What’s the Difference Between Your Higher Self and ‘Big Mind’? (The Doorway)

Dear Integral Meditators,

After last week’s article on Connecting to Your Big Mind I was asked ‘What is the difference between your Higher Self and your Big Mind’. Since it is a good question, I thought I may as well address it in an article, which you will find below!

In the spirit of the doorway,


What’s the Difference Between Your Higher Self and ‘Big Mind’? (The Doorway)

The term ‘Higher Self’ is used in various western and Indian (generally Theistic) spiritualities to denote our soul, or the deeper part of our individual nature. This Higher Self  or ‘Soul Self’ is conceived to be engaged in a process of learning and evolution that spans not just one life but multiple lifetimes, each lifetime hopefully building upon the experience of the last in order to lead to a gradual maturation of the individual. Unless the individual person is quite evolved, generally he or she will not be experientially aware that he or she has a soul or Higher Self that is ‘looking after’ her. However as s/he matures spiritually will generally become aware of this deeper or higher aspect of her own being that is guiding and directing them. Over a period of time a sense of connection and communication will be established between this person and their Higher Self that eventually leads to the person effectively merging with and functioning as the Higher Self on Earth. The Higher Self is still an individual self, with a history and particular individual characteristics, generally located on the higher mental planes; it is not an abstract, formless timeless spirit.
‘Big Mind’ on the other hand is a term used in some Zen traditions to describe the experience of primal, formless timeless awareness. This formless timeless lies at the heart of our experience of each moment, but it is completely open and limitless, beyond any kind of individual self, beyond time, beyond space; it is pure limitless awareness or spirit. So Big Mind really refers to a unified experience of ‘spiritual’ consciousness that lies beyond our individual ego, but also beyond the limitations of our Higher Self or Soul. The Big Mind is all pervasive, ever present, something that you can learn to recognize and relax into at any time through meditation and mindfulness training.

The Doorway
The doorway is an image I find very helpful as an image that helps to connect the above idea to an actual experience. Imagine your Soul or Higher Self as a doorway. If you look in one direction you see yourself in time and space, going about your daily life in the world. If you look in the other direction you find yourself staring into the experience of a formless, timeless infinity, and expanse of open awareness without limitation; the Big Mind. You are the Soul, the Higher Self that links the world of your individuality and daily life with the formless, timeless experience of Big Mind. In meditation you simply turn and face in the direction of Big mind, allowing yourself to be absorbed into it, when you come out of meditation you simply turn around, face your daily life and walk back into it. Your doorway is the gateway you can come back to at any point in your day to reconnect to your Higher Self and to Big Mind.

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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