To clear up some confusion over the different ‘levels’, or better, ‘spheres’ of the Psyche, consider the following helpful distinctions. (Incidentally, psyche is Greek for ‘soul’, so the two are indeed synonymous.) These are all aspects of the Psyche, though difficult to describe, because in greater terms there is no actual separation between ‘levels’ – unity reigns – but similar to the Astral Plane, they are instead like differing ‘frequencies’ which interpenetrate and inter-relate. So far as words are able to describe, here goes.
The ‘Unconscious‘ does not exist, as such. It is a contradiction in terms. Consciousness is always focussed somewhere. The so-called ‘collective unconscious’ is quite conscious. However popular the term, it was first used as a description from a strictly physical perspective, but in such a case, ‘Not-conscious-here’ would be more accurate! Perhaps it’s most appropriate use is a description of those hypnotized by a particular plane to the exclusion of all else (whether waking or dreaming!) but it is still quite a misnomer.
“The true ‘unconscious’ is not unconscious. Instead, it is so profoundly and unutteringly conscious that it bubbles over.”
– Seth, Seth Speaks p.225
The Body Consciousness is the combined awareness of your cells, including the atoms and molecules of which it is composed. There is far greater activity on the part of the physical body level than is generally supposed. When you consider how many integrated systems we need to live and function, it’s almost unimaginable. Yet our body consciousness takes care of it all for us. Your breathing, heartbeat, the coordination of your muscles and all other bodily processes are automatic. For example, you don’t have to think about the processes of speech to be able to speak. This subject is really too vast to deal with here.
The Intellect is the outwardly focussed portion of your mind, dealing directly with all the necessary tasks of physical existence. If you like, it is similar to a computer interface in that it is the interface between you and the world around you. Great confusion results when this is taken to be the extent of the identity, for the intellect is only the ‘residence’ of the Outer Ego, the ‘tip of the iceberg’ that surfaces into physical life. (It is really a coincidence we use only 10% of our brain and that 10% of an iceberg is above water?)The greater portions of identity always lie beneath any outward façade and provide the infinite potential and reservoir from which the temporal ego draws as its source.
“Man’s ego causes him to interpret everything else in light of himself. He loses much in this manner. The ego can be compared to the bark of a tree. The bark is flexible, vibrant, and grows with the growth beneath. It is a tree’s contact with the outer world, the tree’s interpreter, and to some degree, the tree’s companion. So man’s ego should be. …The ego’s purpose is protective. The ego is also a device to enable the inner self to inhabit the physical plane.”
– Seth,Seth, Dreams and Projections in Consciousness p.114
The Conscious Mind is back of the intellect and links it to even deeper portions of Psyche. This is the greater You that you identify with when you know you are not ‘just a body’, a Central Ego, of all the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of which you are conscious. It interfaces with the ‘inner you’ and the ‘outer you’ and in that sense deals with both translating the inner inspirations and impulses into outwardly actions, and interpreting the outwardly events as understandings for the benefit of the inner you and thus ultimately for the benefit of All.
The Subconscious deals directly with the automation of mind and body and serves to link the two. If you like, it is similar to a computer processor, but with far greater capacity and memory. It also puts into motion your beliefs. Repeated belief patterns can form ‘grooves’ of experience in the subconscious that take root and need to be ‘weeded out’ when they are no longer desirable. Left unattended these behavioural and perceptive ‘addictions’ deter the free flow of new experience by a kind of tunnel vision that prevents the acceptance of new information. On the other hand, being able to harness the power of the subconscious is a very valuable skill.
The Superconscious Mind is that portion of your individuality which goes far beyond what you consciously know. You might say this is truly your Soul, or Inner Ego. It is hard to describe such expansiveness in words, though many have tried. In certain terms you could say it is the combination of all you ever knew and have been, with all you ever will know and will be, throughout all your lifetimes – past, present, future, and parallel. If you can begin to grasp that, then you’re doing well, because it may take a long time to truly realize it in full!
The Universal Soul or Spirit or Godhead is the universal gestalt consciousness that both contains and unifies all Psyches of all levels everywhere and at every time. In one of those classic theological and philosophical paradoxes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as it is both the driving force and the ‘stuff that is driven’ in a constantly expanding and growing universe. This God-Consciousness or Supreme Awareness pervades all existence. As another paradox, it is not possible to live without its presence, but it is possible to experience life as though it is not present.
As we can see, having some better distinctions available will enable us to much more effectively use practical methods when it comes to Astral Projection and Lucid Dreaming. These are all ‘spheres’ of the Psyche in the sense that they interpenetrate, one inside the other. However, depending on our perspective, we could look at either polarity as having the smallest or largest ‘sphere’.
If we are looking at it from the perspective of focus or identity, the Intellect would be the central narrowest sphere gradually increasing to the Godhead as the most expansive Consciousness. On the other hand if we look at it from the perspective of form or externality, Godhead would be the central internal sphere as the United Source, gradually diversifying out into the infinite number of points on the most outward sphere.
There we leave the analogy, it’s use having been served, for in larger terms no such ‘divisions’ exist! In other words, and to finish with a previous analogy too, it is still one iceberg! To summarize, we can see that our surface consciousness deepens and widens the further inward we proceed, and if we remember this, then we are will perchance be better equipped to explore those exciting and welcoming depths.