Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Master Within

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest March 1934]
SO MUCH has been written regarding the duality of man and the division of his consciousness into two fields or modes of expression called the outer self and the inner self, that many earnest seekers for light in regard to this matter are perplexed by the numerous terms that are used by various writers and teachers.
Assuming for the moment that the consciousness of man is dual in its expression or modes of expression and that there is evidence of a deeper and more retired consciousness called the inner self in contradistinction to the materially minded and materially expressive outer self, we find that the inner consciousness is often personalized by various authorities and very generally referred to as the Master Within. However, there are other very popular and descriptive terms given to this consciousness, such as the Still Small Voice, Conscience, the Subliminal Self, the Divine Self, the Christ Consciousness, the Subjective Self, the Ego, the Spiritual Self, the Astral Self, the Cosmic Self, etc. We note by this very terminology that there is a definite attempt to make an entity of this inner mode of consciousness instead of implying that it is but a half phase of the single consciousness in man.
On the other hand, there is also the definite attempt through this terminology to intimate that this special and almost isolated inner consciousness is a divine or spiritual or subliminal form of personality quite distinct in every essential nature from that of the so-called self. By the law of opposites, the outer self would have to be classified as distinctly materialistic, earthly, mundane, and mortal. The emphasis upon the spiritual or divine nature of the inner self implies that the outer self is very much at a disadvantage in those qualities which make for goodness and the higher evolution of the individual. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that this very old belief regarding the duality of man's consciousness and the spiritual nature of one phase of it, or one-half of it, should have found its way into the doctrines and fundamental postulations of various ancient and modern religions. It has been argued by some that the belief in the existence of a soul in man, or a spiritual essence of an intangible nature, preceded the belief in the duality of the consciousness of man, and that it was in explanation of the functioning of the soul in man that the idea was developed of a secondary personality or form of consciousness as an evidence of the existence of a soul in man.
In other words, it has been claimed by some schools of thought that while the idea of a soul in man was acceptable from a purely religious or theological point of view, the general argument against its acceptance as a fact was that this soul did not give any evidence of itself and was therefore a purely theoretical or hypothetical assumption. There being some evidence, however, of a duality of consciousness in man, noted even by the pagans and earliest thinkers along religious or psychological lines, it was easy to argue that the manifestations of the so-called secondary self were manifestations of the soul because, forsooth, this secondary self and the soul were identical.
Opposing this was the school of thought which contended that the secondary self was merely a phase of the human consciousness or human personality which of itself was a purely worldly or mortal attribute of all living earthly things, and that the manifestations of this secondary half of the human consciousness were to be studied from the purely psychological point of view rather than from the religious point of view. There are still other schools of thought that have always argued that there is no evidence of any soul in man and that all of the so-called mysterious and spiritual emotions and phases of consciousness in man were purely the result of the mechanics of human consciousness and that man was after all a conscious being of wholly a material nature with no evidence of any spirituality in him or any evidence of a spiritual power around him.
In many of the earliest religious creeds and doctrines we find the soul of man accepted as an established fact. Some of the most ancient religious or mystical ceremonies attempted to dramatize this idea and to give emphasis to it. Special ceremonies at the time of birth and more especially at the time of so-called death centered about the idea that man was dual and that the great change now called transition was merely a change in the outer self, leaving the soul as a sort of inner self unimpaired and unchanged and free to remanifest itself in a body of some kind either here on earth in the near future or in a spiritual kingdom some time in the distant future. The origin of mummifying bodies, for instance, was a doctrinal attempt to provide a suitable and familiar or congenial material body for the return of the soul that had previously occupied it. In various lands at various times other methods were decreed as to the manner in which to anticipate the return of the soul which was considered to be a very definite and separate part of the human expression on earth.
As these ancient and pagan religions were gradually modified we find that the idea of the soul separating from the body and continuing to live was increasingly emphasized, while the idea that the same physical body would be occupied again by the same soul was slowly abandoned and rejected as unworthy of consideration.
Unquestionably man's sentiments and emotions were a governing factor in the evolution of these doctrines, and as man came to look upon his aged, worn, and unpleasant appearing body as undesirable for continuous life, the idea that the soul would reoccupy it again instead of taking on itself the cloak of a new, virile, magnetic and more attractive body, became an unpleasant idea. The emotional weakness in man--sometimes called vanity--that causes a human being to desire to appear at his best and to be admired for his human countenance and to be superior to others in human expression undoubtedly led also to the development of the idea that after transition the soul would take on the cloak or form of a spiritualized body that would be magnificent in its glory, angelic in its appearance, and divinely superior to any earthly form. This idea appealed strongly to the human emotions, and was responsible for the rapid abandonment of the idea that the soul would return again to occupy and animate the old, wrinkled, worn and diseased body from which it had but recently freed itself.
Then came the idea, long cherished by the ancient philosophers and thinkers, that man might live again on earth and complete his earthly activities, increase his worldly fame, and still enjoy the fruits of his worldly prowess. The idea of the soul's incarnation on earth had always appealed as a fascinating possibility to those who reasoned that one short earthly span of existence was insufficient for man to accomplish the desires of his heart or to attain the unfoldment that was necessary to fulfill the divine purpose in giving him life on earth. But until man's thoughts and beliefs regarding the future state of the soul's existence passed through the many changes referred to above, the doctrine of reincarnation did not become as acceptable and as logically probable as it did when men finally abandoned the idea that the soul would return to the same old worn-out body, but would take upon itself a newer and more serviceable and superior body.
At this point of man's reasoning he found that there were two probabilities from which he might choose his doctrinal belief: The soul of man either garbed itself in a spiritual body to live eternally in a spiritual kingdom or it clothed itself with a new material body and began as a child or infant again and once more lived an earthly life. Two schools of thought were thus established and, fundamentally, these two divisions of belief regarding the future state of man, represent the religious creeds of most of the world's population today.
Christianity has adopted the belief that man's future state is entirely in a spiritual kingdom and a number of other religions have a very similar idea. The mystics of the original schools of religion, however, adhere to the belief of reincarnation on earth, and while the details of this doctrine are varied in different oriental religions, the idea of earthly reincarnation is perhaps more universally accepted than that of a future life in a purely unknowable and transcendent spiritual kingdom.
In the Christian religion and some others the soul of man is seldom referred to by the mystical terms referred to in the first paragraphs of this discourse. The terms Inner Self, Subliminal Self, Secondary Self, or Master Within, are not used in the Christian or some other religions, and the soul is looked upon as a form of Divine Consciousness wholly unassociated with any form of worldly consciousness and in nowise a secondary or subjective phase of human consciousness. In other words, man is considered by these religions as dual, but only in the sense that he has body and soul, and not dual in consciousness with the body as a mere transitory, unimportant and unessential part of his real being. Christianity in the past few centuries has very carefully avoided giving any consideration to the possibility of the soul in man being conscious after transition or being possessed of a form of immortal consciousness that is as active in the future state as it is while in the human body. Spiritism in foreign countries or spiritualism as it is called in North America and parts of Europe attempts to supply this deficiency in the Christian doctrines by not only claiming that the soul is always conscious and is a conscious entity at all times, but that this divine consciousness can make itself manifest through intelligent communication after its separation from the human body just as it does while in the human body.
But there are other religious doctrines not essentially Christian, but, on the other hand, not inimical to the fundamentals of Christianity, which do look upon the inner consciousness of man as a mystical consciousness serving to direct the mind of man and illuminate his intelligence in a subliminal sense.
Of all the Christian religious movements in the world, the one known as the Quakers, or more correctly the Society of Friends, comes the nearest to having the truly mystical understanding of the inner self and its functioning in our lives. The very strong and essential belief of the Quakers in the possibility of immediate and almost continuous communion between God and man is highly significant from a mystical point of view. They hold that there is an attunement between the outer self and the inner self, and between the inner self and God that constitutes a condition almost beyond expression in words or mundane thoughts. They look upon the functioning of the inner consciousness as a sort of Inner Light by which the lives of men and women may be guided in a very definite manner. They avoid all of the precise definitions and creedal doctrines of other Christian denominations because to them as to every mystic the tendency might be to look upon the letter of the matter rather than its spirit. Naturally, therefore, they hold that divine experiences are more important than mere intellectual comprehension of theological doctrines.
This, of course, is the whole basic principle of purely mystical religion, and from the Rosicrucian point of view the Quakers are more correct in their conception of the Divinity of man, and the place of the Divine part of man in the scheme of things, than any of the other religions of the occidental world. In fact, credit must be given the Quakers, and especially to George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, and his immediate successors for bringing to the Western World a modern interpretation and understanding of the truly mystical nature of man's life on earth. These inspired founders of the new religion insisted on the importance of an "inward spiritual experience" and today we find this unusual religious body definitely advocating the principle that the inward light of each man is the only true guide for his conduct. This in itself would make this school of religion attractive to Rosicrucians, and it is not surprising that Rosicrucians who advanced to the higher degrees sooner or later seek the association of the Quakers and find joy and inspiration in their very mystical ceremonies, or periods of meditation and worship.
It will be noted, however, that this belief that there is an Inner Light in each man which truly guides him substantiates the mystical idea of a Master Within, or of a secondary personality that is Divine in its essence, omnipotent in its wisdom, and immortal. This inner self in its functioning as a guiding voice or inspiration may be called "conscience" by some other religions, but it never becomes to these others what it becomes to the mystic, or more specifically the Rosicrucian.
The purpose of Rosicrucian instruction and the practice of Rosicrucian principles is to give greater freedom to the expression of this self within and to train the outer self to give greater credence to what the inner self inspires while at the same time break down the general superiority complex which the outer self has gradually made for itself in its false beliefs in the integrity and dependability of worldly impressions and worldly reasoning.
There is a common mistake made by new students on the path of mysticism to the effect that the idea of mystical study and mystical practice is to awaken the Still Small Voice of conscience, or to enliven the activities of the Master Within to such a degree that the functionings of this inner self will dominate over the outer self by its superior power and superior methods. This reasoning leads to the false conception of a constant contest between the inner self and the outer self for control of our conduct in life. Proceeding in this manner to be victorious in the attainment of real mastership, the misinformed student struggles vainly to maintain the outer, objective, worldly power of his objective, worldly consciousness, while hoping and praying for an increasing power in the inner self that will overrule the outer self on occasions when the inner self believes it necessary to seize hold of the individual's conduct and thinking. Little or no success in the attainment of mastership is gained by this method. It is not until the outer self begins to humble its arbitrary position in life and voluntarily submits itself to complete guidance on the part of the inner self that real progress is made toward mastership.
It is not true that the perfect attitude to take is the one of enslaving the outer self to the inner self, or to look upon the two forms of consciousness as that of master and slave. Perhaps the term "Master Within" is responsible for this idea. The outer self is not to be enslaved at any time by any power within or without. It should, however, be forced to assume its proper relative position in respect to the duality of man's consciousness and being. In childhood and in all normal phases of psychological functioning of life the inner self is the guiding factor and guiding power, and the indisputable autocrat of the human personality. In fact, it is the very seat of personality and individuality, and while the outer self should not be a slave to the inner self it should be in the position of being a willing and happy servant to the dictates of the inner self.
It is through the guidance of this inner self and through its dependable messages, its inspiring impulses, and its whisperings of warning that we are able to guide our lives correctly, meeting the problems of life with a superior power of understanding, overcoming the obstacles with a never-failing solution, and attaining the goal of our desires through a correct leadership. And in addition to this the mystic finds that through the humble and friendly attunement of the outer self with the self within, the immediate communion with God, the close companionship with the Father of all beings and the comprehension of all Divine principles are made possible. To the mystic, therefore, the triangle is truly the symbol of the Great Trinity; namely, God, the soul, and the outer man. When these three are in perfect attunement, and living in cooperation and in perfect understanding, the human being is possessed of a power, a guidance, and a source of information and instruction, a leadership, and a companionship that is superior to all of the worldly methods of attaining happiness, contentment, and Peace Profound.

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