Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
If you have wondered about the source of humanity’s many problems and why we cannot get along with each, consider this point of view. This is taken from my article, Sufism, Ilam & Lower Self: http://www.stewartbitkoff.com/sutra-journal-article-sufism-islam-and-the-lower-self/
The Lower Self
The Sufis have long held that the source of mankind’s problems, both individually and collectively, has been an exaggerated reliance on the lower self and over concern (selfish) for one’s own need. According to mystical tradition, each of us has both a higher and lower nature and the spiritual journey, in part, is to quiet and still the lower self so that the higher self might emerge and become a pronounced part of the seeker’s life.
In many ways, the lower self is necessary to living in the day-to-day world; it tells us when to eat, when to protect ourselves and when to be concerned for our own best interest. From a mystical view, a little bit is good but too much can be limiting and dangerous to self and others.
Within each of us there is an empty place that we usually seek to fill with all manner of things, habits, obsessions, and addictions; this empty place or inner longing was created and hard wired in us so that it might one day be filled by the Light of Eternity.
While self-interest is essential to ordinary living, most people due to their fears, become overly greedy and mostly think of them self. They are not flexible enough to balance their own need with the need of others. The aim of Sufi teaching is to push aside the lower self, for a time, so the Higher Self might emerge. There is a big difference between pushing aside an aspect of consciousness necessary for survival, and trying to destroy it. One of my teachers used to say, sometimes like a dog the ego needs a bone and it does no harm to give it one. Because then it is quiet and you can do your work.
Here are 2 quotes about the devious nature of our lower self and how difficult it can be to recognize its influence upon consciousness.
The lower self does not want anyone to receive anything from anybody else, and if it is aware of someone receiving a special boon, it seeks to destroy it. –Rumi
However much the lower self makes a show of virtue and attempts to conceal vice, the later will be hidden only from the shortsighted and the naïve, never from those with insight. It is like a hideous old hag who bedecks herself in fancy, dazzling clothes. –Kashani
From a Sufi perspective, the first order of business is to work on oneself. Try to become a better version of yourself. That is the aim of most spiritual teachings and the goal of the Sufi Path. By making better, more complete people, the world is made better one person at a time. Each spiritual traveler must recognize who they are; both their weakness and strength so they might at times transcend themselves and help others.
See my new book, Songs Against The Darkness. To purchase your copy go to Amazon, Paperback $14.99, Kindle $5.95): https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Against-Darkness-Stewart-Bitkoff/dp/099157754X
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