Lower Self and Superimposed Conscience

Keywords: , ,


One of the most tragically futile inner battles is the fight between what we have called the lower self and the superimposed conscience. So often an expression or a term used without truly understanding its deepest meaning finally loses its impact and one uses it like a parrot repeating a word. This mechanical usage is harmful. It has the very opposite effect to what we seek to attain — independent understanding, creative thinking. Therefore occasionally we need to redefine a term, to bring freshness to it, not only to avoid confusion, but also to give more of an impact to our approach and understanding. So let us briefly determine again what I mean by the lower self.

The lower self is not only that part of human nature where faults and character-defects lie. It also includes something more subtle and less definable. The best way to describe it is as an emotional climate of egocentricity. Regardless of good intentions, unselfish acts, considerate attitudes, this inner world of egocentricity continues to exist. The stronger the good intentions, the more difficult it is to find, acknowledge and accept the existence of the persisting negativity. The more the childish, one-sided egocentricity is hidden in guilt and shame, the less can it grow out of this one-sidedness. You must become acutely aware of its often preposterous self-concern to the exclusion of all else. In this area of your being you wish to rule supreme. You do not want to know another’s interests which you violate at any cost so that a small wish or a small gratification of your vanity overrules more important issues for other people. True, you do not often act by it, but in your half-conscious wishes and aims you do react from this lower self.

The problem is much less the existence of the lower self than the nature of your attitude toward it. Your shame and guilt are a result of one of those misunderstandings I mentioned which prohibit growth and unfoldment. The misunderstanding comes from the idea that you, of all people, really should have already completely overcome the lower self and no such childish, preposterous selfishness and self-concern should have a place in you. Thus you start an elaborate system of self-deception and pretense which brings you into vicious circles and inner conflicts destroying your happiness and self-respect. Very few people are reconciled to the existence of their own lower self. They may do so in theory, but are not reconciled to actually owning up to certain facets of it in themselves. Yet only by doing so can it gradually be outgrown. In denying its existence, you overlook its manifestations; how it is indirectly expressed in vague emotions, which are instantly covered up and pushed out of sight. How can you overcome something if you are not fully aware of its specific manifestation? Certainly not by a general theoretical knowledge of its existence!

Due to your shame and guilt about your lower self and the consequent hiding of it, you do everything to nourish its continuance with dire effects on your personality; you prohibit the very thing you most want: to grow out of it. What is more, due to the self-deception, more confusion sets in. Since all this is an unconscious process into which discrimination and reason cannot enter, along with the actual self-important and destructive impulses you also hide some of your most creative and inherently constructive impulses — out of mere misunderstanding. Impulses and instincts which are potentially productive and life-giving, if they are not allowed to grow in the sunlight of awareness remain thwarted and, in their current form, are actually destructive. They could grow into something beautiful, but are not allowed to unfold because you are unconscious of the fact that their present form is not the ultimate one. You then conclude that they must therefore be ousted by denial.

Now let us recapitulate so as to make this process quite clear. The repression of the lower self falls in three categories: (1) repression of the actual lower-self in its distinct and extreme manifestations and character trends, as well as of the subtle overall climate of egocentricity and self-concern to the exclusion of all other interests; (2) repression of creative and productive aspects and trends; (3) repression of instincts which are as yet unproductive and self-centered in their immature state, but are destined by nature to become creative and constructive if given a chance to grow.

It is important to make the distinction and realize that all three categories of inner negative trends need acceptance and awareness, each for its own reason. Then it will often be found that the most valuable prize a human being has to offer to life is held in check, denied, and hidden. Hence a vast confusion exists in you. You suppose the confusion regarding the actual lower-self trends will disappear when you deny their existence and pretend opposite intentions and wishes. In your confusion you deny the potentially vibrant life-force the opportunity to function in its own beautiful, healthy way. The healthy and unhealthy trends are intertwined and the personality is thrown into despair. All this happens in a vague vacuum, in a no man’s land between awareness and unawareness.

It may be a valuable task for my friends to ponder over all this during the summer months in which there are no group activities. It may give you an excellent preparation for our work together next year when we all hope to make further progress on this path. Question yourself, first, not as to the actual nature of your lower self, or what you consider as such. Rather, begin by looking at your attitude toward its existence. Are you shocked about certain of its manifestations? Are you impatient with yourself because of it? Do you feel it should already be gone, thus rejecting your state of being human? Do you also deny something in yourself that could be very constructive if you were to view it afresh and not be influenced by standards you have assumed without ever questioning their validity? Begin to observe the subtle manifestations of the lower self in certain of your reactions and impulses. Observe how you tend to immediately push them away. Now look at the wishes and attitudes in such fleeting reactions. Pull them out into the open and calmly look at them. Determine your harsh, intolerant treatment of yourself in this respect, your rigid, uncompromising, self-destructive severity which is way out of proportion. All this is healthy preliminary work for the phases to come. This is one side of the battle.

Now what is the other? The concept of conscience is vastly misunderstood by humanity. Quite a few years ago, I explained that people have two kinds of conscience: one emanating from the real self, the other being superimposed. It will be useful to review briefly some characteristics of the superimposed conscience.

When religious people speak about conscience, they think of the inner conscience, coming from the divine center of the human spirit. But they usually ignore the vast difference between the inner and the superimposed conscience. In their eagerness to make the human being a better creature, the forces of society coerce the individual to follow and obey moral standards. Because of this pressure from the outside the superimposed conscience is strengthened and the inner, real conscience becomes more covered up.

Yet the superimposed conscience is not necessary to prevent a person from acting out primitive destructive instincts. For those whose inner conscience is not sufficiently developed to restrain them from committing destructive acts, the mere existence of social laws would serve as well, or better, than the superimposed conscience. The latter only does harm. As explained before, in the first phase of this inner struggle the superimposed conscience hides the lower self, instead of bringing it out into the open. Thereby it eliminates the possibility of the lower self’s growing out of the infantile state. But the superimposed conscience hides also the most constructive and creative life-force and the impulses that would free the life-force. It is an unnecessary artificial creation instilling an unrealistically distorted view of oneself as well as of the way one believes one would have to be. It creates self-punishment and imposes shackles which prohibit the manifestation of every divine quality inherent in the soul. It certainly never prevents crime or destructive actions. In fact, it causes the opposite to happen. By repressing and hiding them, the forces that could easily be dealt with on the surface of consciousness germinate and accumulate and create great inner tension and pressure. You are then often driven into acts you cannot help committing if only because you have too long used the superimposed conscience, instead of giving yourself the chance to finally contact the inner conscience which is part of the spiritual center. Last, but not least, whenever a person rebels against laws and all standards of ethics and morals, he or she does so because of the harsh superimposed conscience which knows no mercy; which is inflexible in its demands and is blind in its evaluation. Yet one never rebels against the real, inner conscience.

Understand, my friends, that what stands between you and your inner, real, self is not only your errors and misconceptions, your false images and distortions, your lower self, but also the superimposed conscience. It is the latter that creates so much confusion and often prevents you from reaching freedom and truth. It is the superimposed conscience that induces you to reject yourself as a human being. Between its demands and the demands of the primitive, self-centered child you still harbor within, you are torn apart in the storm raging inside of you. As long as this conflict is not out in the open, you cannot master it. You cannot possibly extricate yourself from both these unrealities. You cling to the superimposed conscience in the false belief that it alone can prevent you from acting upon your lower-self instincts. Therefore you can never come to a healthy, secure trust in yourself, because you do not give yourself the chance. Healthy self-respect can come only from your real self, from which you alienate yourself further by clinging to the superimposed conscience. You find yourself in one of those vicious circles we have so often mentioned. As long as one has not found the real self, one must cling to the superimposed conscience, obeying, conforming, appeasing, and blindly following it. Never developing the independent faculties of thinking and discriminating, one becomes weaker and more dependent, less able to stand on one’s own two feet.

The outer action in question may or may not be the same. But there is a tremendous difference between acting out of bondage and fear — in other words by following the superimposed conscience — and following the voice of your real conscience in a spirit of freedom, derived out of your own inner struggle, your intuition, your reason, even if the result be the same. If you rebel against the superimposed conscience, you are no more free than if you obey it. If you obey the superimposed conscience, and the result of such a decision is not to your liking, the corroding effects will be rebellion, self-pity, and putting the blame on life and the world. If you obey your real conscience, you will take all the responsibility upon yourself and even a negative outcome will not throw you into despair. You will soon see that the pleasant or unpleasant result is not as vital as you may believe it to be, because in either alternative you have equal possibility for growth if your actions and decisions are derived from yourself and your own standards.

The fight between the superimposed conscience and the primitive, self-centered, destructive child is a tragic one — tragic only because of your lack of awareness of it. For it is so superfluous.

Of course, education has a great deal to do with it. When humanity becomes aware of these things and guides young people into the right direction, much harm will be eliminated. It is important to know, however, that not only ignorance and poor guidance are responsible for the struggle within yourself, for you are not enmeshed in this struggle in every aspect of your being. In some areas of your psyche you are quite free and function without clinging to superimposed demands, standards, or rules as they may actually exist or are believed to exist. It is noteworthy that you adhere to the superimposed conscience and do not accept your shortcomings or your lower-self aspects — whether real or imaginary — only in the realms where your personal, specific inner problems hold sway. When you consider these problems in the light of this specific struggle, you will understand how your inner problems and this particular struggle are connected.

Personality problems and deviations come, as you know, from childhood hurts and frustrations — real or imaginary. When you do not feel secure in the affection of and acceptance by one or both of your parents, you elaborately build a defense against this hurt, trying later to correct it. You have found it to be true that this actual childhood hurt need not burden you for life, but your defense against it, which you continue to use, destroys for you the possibility of fulfillment. All of that you know very well by now, not as mere theory, but from personal discovery. The parent one feels uncertain of, in awe or fear of, usually stands for the superimposed conscience, because one so desperately tries to win his or her affection. Not only social rules are incorporated in one’s superimposed conscience, but also particular rules of the superimposed conscience of the parent in question. It may often be the case that you merely believed these standards were expected of you by this parent. In this investigation, the emotional atmosphere and climate is important, not the actuality.

You cannot possibly recognize the superimposed conscience in its full significance unless you view it in relationship to the attitude that you have had toward your parents; the specific emotions, their attitude toward you, as well as the resultant images, behavior patterns, and defense-mechanisms you developed. Only by seeing the whole picture will your struggle between your superimposed conscience and your actual and/or imagined lower self take on a new meaning for you and furnish you with the necessary insight to resolve the struggle. The general knowledge of the existence of this inner condition can never alleviate it, even if you have actually come to observe it. It is essential that you see it in relationship to your personal problems. The fight between your lower self and your superimposed conscience may be completely different from the fight of another person in this respect, even though many of its aspects and manifestations may indeed be the same.

As I have said before, in this struggle you treat yourself with merciless harshness. You inflict iron rules upon yourself as exercised by the cruelest ruler and far beyond the unreasonable standards which may be exerted by society. Your blind, excessive standards make it impossible to reach the inner center from which you could be nourished with constantly renewed vigor. Then there would be realistic hopefulness, as opposed to wishful thinking; foresight; the ability to make mature decisions; self-confidence; the ability to love and be loved; the ability to receive and to give; the ability to relate harmoniously and to create a life which is useful not only in one direction, but in all important areas of living.

Pathwork lectures depth search:

About pathwork:

You and www.pathworklectures.com:

Site about pathwork in Dutch:

Padwerk: Psychologie en Spiritualiteit


To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

Topical keyword click-search:

fear truth experience feelings love God consciousness reality negativity spirituality soul pain spiritual_paths mind attitudes emotions power destructiveness movement ego energy pleasure awareness personality development lower_self divine desires change guilt childhood create conscious spirits thoughts spiritual_laws fulfillment spirit_world death happiness unconscious problems positivity earth give growth images pathwork spirit understand pride evil body life_force higher_self exercises cause_and_effect needs parents time creation prayer center duality reactions New_Age freedom sex life contact beliefs universe individuality control relationships expression meditation discipline values motives doubt reincarnation Jesus_Christ women inner_child wish faults will confusion spheres strength men illusion struggle activity shame faith maturity demands idealized_self self-image self-will authority acceptance hurt selfishness real_self frustration resistance meaning connections soul_substance receive knowledge responsibility conclusions bliss life_task Christ mass_images free_will trust observe lectures know denial intellect pretense decisions conscience perception birth Lucifer salvation religion reason marriage light identification courage laws rebellion words union humanity long receptiveness surrender misconceptions mask let_go vicious_circles communication instinct concentration no-current tension commitment fantasy involuntary_processes opinions secrets contraction expansion difficulties punishment space divine_substance obedience emptiness male female passivity darkness self-responsibility grace inner_will conflicts self-confidence anger suffer groups nature cruelty pulse_of_life unity energy_centers chakras openness negative_intentionality order spiral exposure self-respect universal_self affirmations visualization laziness background_thoughts foreground_thoughts daydreams wishful_thinking superstition appearance_values being_values inferiority assumptions obligations danger defensiveness superimposed_conscience divine_conscience compulsive_conscience universal_spirit divine_spark vacuum evolution self-awareness dimensions rigidity tradition Christianity Judaism automatism reflexes education mediums masculine feminine purification fall subtle_body God_image self-love spirit_language approval unhappiness outer_will fight forcing_current success isolation think self-discipline self-preservation criticism peace relinquish defenses sin self-alienation sadness psyche crisis yes-current intelligence effort chain_reactions perfection opposites error envy existence organism life_substance impress avoidance channel now blame fusion abundance psychic_nuclear_points Christmas leadership eternal_life admit Dottie Titus harm self-knowledge lightforces daily_review immaturity tendencies egoism ideas dependence karma Eastern_Spirituality Western_Spirituality atheism transcendence centeredness attention constructiveness world_weariness war ambition positive_thinking forms ecstasy sacrifice psychology life_plan dignity shock eros guardian_angels inner_wall blindness Eva_Pierrakos homosexuality bondage cosmic_principles static_principle restriction self-importance rulership utopia sickness betrayal weakness rejection progress prove rituals intuition subconscious transition motivations impatience exaggeration myth cooperation serenity defeat safety pseudo_solutions universal_life self-pity Tower_of_Babel false_religion true_religion rules gratification repression compassion inner_split alternatives neurosis unfulfillment imperfection perfectionism joy self-rejection masochism sloth lust gluttony depression blessings restitution hope habits security determination displacement substitution respect unknown moralize intensity self-realization universal_power childishness inner_self numbness relaxation inner_control outer_control closeness vulnerability negative_desires magnetic_fields destruction character transformation false_feelings human_nature unpleasure blocks cosmic_pull self-liking regulate flow spontaneity impulses anxiety universal_consciousness guidance health unselfishness forgive abandonment aliveness self-esteem traits dislike disunity unification interaction fate mutuality stagnation negation terror tricks cosmic_feeling force_fields disorder exchange moods devil greatness richness distortions divine_voice service group_consciousness hate self-forgiveness balance imbalance distrust omnipotence immortality pessimism manifestation self-hate boundaries abuse government political_systems lose inertia acts christians jews injustice justice deficit heal privacy win inner_space autonomy positive_aggression community
This website is not created by, affiliated with, or endorsed by the Pathwork Foundation, Gerard van de Lustgraaf is solely responsible for this website and its content. The Pathwork Lectures are used and displayed on this website with support from the Pathwork Foundation. Pathwork ® is a registered service mark of the International Pathwork Foundation.

Alphabetical keyword click-search:

abandonment abundance abuse acceptance activity acts admit affirmations aliveness alternatives ambition anger anxiety appearance_values approval assumptions atheism attention attitudes authority automatism autonomy avoidance awareness background_thoughts balance being_values beliefs betrayal birth blame blessings blindness bliss blocks body bondage boundaries cause_and_effect center centeredness chain_reactions chakras change channel character childhood childishness Christ Christianity christians Christmas closeness commitment communication community compassion compulsive_conscience concentration conclusions conflicts confusion connections conscience conscious consciousness constructiveness contact contraction control cooperation cosmic_feeling cosmic_principles cosmic_pull courage create creation crisis criticism cruelty daily_review danger darkness daydreams death decisions defeat defenses defensiveness deficit demands denial dependence depression desires destruction destructiveness determination development devil difficulties dignity dimensions discipline dislike disorder displacement distortions distrust disunity divine divine_conscience divine_spark divine_substance divine_voice Dottie Titus doubt duality earth Eastern_Spirituality ecstasy education effort ego egoism emotions emptiness energy energy_centers envy eros error eternal_life Eva_Pierrakos evil evolution exaggeration exchange exercises existence expansion experience exposure expression faith fall false_feelings false_religion fantasy fate faults fear feelings female feminine fight flow force_fields forcing_current foreground_thoughts forgive forms freedom free_will frustration fulfillment fusion give gluttony God God_image government grace gratification greatness groups group_consciousness growth guardian_angels guidance guilt habits happiness harm hate heal health higher_self homosexuality hope humanity human_nature hurt idealized_self ideas identification illusion images imbalance immaturity immortality impatience imperfection impress impulses individuality inertia inferiority injustice inner_child inner_control inner_self inner_space inner_split inner_wall inner_will instinct intellect intelligence intensity interaction intuition involuntary_processes isolation Jesus_Christ jews joy Judaism justice karma know knowledge laws laziness leadership lectures let_go life life_force life_plan life_substance life_task light lightforces long lose love lower_self Lucifer lust magnetic_fields male manifestation marriage masculine mask masochism mass_images maturity meaning meditation mediums men mind misconceptions moods moralize motivations motives movement mutuality myth nature needs negation negative_desires negative_intentionality negativity neurosis New_Age no-current now numbness obedience obligations observe omnipotence openness opinions opposites order organism outer_control outer_will pain parents passivity pathwork peace perception perfection perfectionism personality pessimism pleasure political_systems positive_aggression positive_thinking positivity power prayer pretense pride privacy problems progress prove pseudo_solutions psyche psychic_nuclear_points psychology pulse_of_life punishment purification reactions reality real_self reason rebellion receive receptiveness reflexes regulate reincarnation rejection relationships relaxation religion relinquish repression resistance respect responsibility restitution restriction richness rigidity rituals rulership rules sacrifice sadness safety salvation secrets security self-alienation self-awareness self-confidence self-discipline self-esteem self-forgiveness self-hate self-image self-importance self-knowledge self-liking self-love self-pity self-preservation self-realization self-rejection self-respect self-responsibility self-will selfishness serenity service sex shame shock sickness sin sloth soul soul_substance space spheres spiral spirit spirits spirituality spiritual_laws spiritual_paths spirit_language spirit_world spontaneity stagnation static_principle strength struggle subconscious substitution subtle_body success suffer superimposed_conscience superstition surrender tendencies tension terror think thoughts time Tower_of_Babel tradition traits transcendence transformation transition tricks true_religion trust truth unconscious understand unfulfillment unhappiness unification union unity universal_consciousness universal_life universal_power universal_self universal_spirit universe unknown unpleasure unselfishness utopia vacuum values vicious_circles visualization vulnerability war weakness Western_Spirituality will win wish wishful_thinking women words world_weariness yes-current