True spiritual evolution progresses through a closer and closer alignment with the Higher Self. A quantum leap is achieved through fusion between the focus personality and the Higher Self. The larger person now communicates with a Higher Self on a higher level than before.
The previous evolution of consciousness has taken humans from the conditions of the group soul — comparable to animals, fish, or even insects — toward individuation. The next phase of evolution can take our species as a whole to a new plane of consciousness and being. We are invited to participate in the emergence of a new species.
The invitation may come in ways that are terrifying to the little self, which clings to its little things.
One of my favorite teaching stories about this was popular with the gentle, ascetic philosophers of Vedanta, precisely because its way, primal quality is calculated to shock the hearer out of conventional pieties. It is a story about you and me: about the relationship between the little self and the big Self.
The Parable of the Wannabe Goat
The she-tiger is prowling the woods. She is hungry. She is pregnant and has two lives to feed. At the edge of the forest, she discovers a herd of goats, grazing on the plain. She advances toward them cautiously, keeping downwind. But her big belly makes her clumsy. When she makes her spring, she dashes her head against a protruding boulder and is killed. Her cub is born posthumously. When the goats come back, they find a blind, mewling, helpless newborn. They take pity on it and decide to raise it as one of their own. They teach it to eat grass and to bleat like the herd. The cub is always the odd one out in the herd, the butt of many jeers. But is does its best to fit in.
Until one day the Bengal man-eater comes stalking through the woods. He has just eaten a gazelle for breakfast, but he is always hungry. His spring is impeccable. The goats all flee — except for the wanna-be goat. The tiger inspects the cub in astonishment. “What are you doing here?”
“Maaaaah,” bleats the wanna-be goat.
“We don’t bleat,” growls the man-eater.
Confused, the cub nibbles grass.
“And we do not eat grass!” roars the man-eater. “We are not vegetarians!”
The tiger seizes the cub by the scruff of the neck and carries him to a reflecting pool, to show him his true face.
When the wanna-be goat sees his true face, he squeals in terror.
Enraged and disgusted, the man-eater grabs the cub and drags him back to his lair, where he is hoarding the remains of the gazelle he had for breakfast. He pries open the cub’s jaw and forces down some of the raw meat. As the blood trickles down the wanna-be goat’s gullet, he opens his jaws. And he roars.
Whereupon the tiger says, “Now that you know who you are, we can begin to discuss how you ought to behave.”
The message is savagely clear. The reason we can hope to succeed in our hunt for the Higher Self is that, while we fancy we are the hunters, the big Self — the tiger in the soul — is hunting us.
Adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.