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The conflict or struggle within oneself of which “self” shall rule—the Inner or the Outer--is as old as time for wayfarers on the higher spiritual path, and the attributes of the opposing sides are recognizable to us all. In the content of classic treatises and scriptures of the ancient wisdom tradition, the natures and character of the two selves have been treated at great length, and the importance of the resolution of their inner conflict emphasized, no person being at peace with himself or herself until an understanding has been reached as to which self shall rule.

At some later point in an individual’s spiritual journey, but before its conclusion, this constant striving effectively results in a momentous choice that involves which of the two selves shall predominate in one’s current incarnate existence–a choice that may need to be repeated in one’s remaining incarnations.

The Outer Self

The Outer Self consists of our lower principles and our physical bodies and their animal propensities, and exhibits corresponding tendencies of human behavior. Where the Outer Self predominates and dictates the behavior of the individual, he or she often indulges in basic somatic distractions or profligacy, such as consistent indolence, poor diet and/or habitual overeating, sexual misconduct, and use of intoxicants like alcohol and opiate-based drugs. One could also add here a list of all related addictions or addictive behaviors that affect the body in a deleterious way.

The lower emotional and mental proclivities of a predominant Outer Self can be even worse, often exhibiting the psychic impurities of avarice, dishonesty, vanity, egotism, mendacity, envy, and a lust for power or for recognition or fame, among others. All of these lower attributes are wholly incompatible with ascending the higher spiritual path, and directly antithetical to the inclinations of the Inner Self.

Accordingly, the obverse of these lower Outer-Self behaviors and attitudes inheres in the spiritual or Inner Self, consisting of one’s higher principles and the corresponding behaviors and attitudes they reflect.

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Ancient Wisdom Tradition and the Inner Self

Within the immemorial or ancient wisdom tradition, whose most recent restatement is referred to as theosophy, it is accepted that the human being is comprised of seven separate principles or bodies—also variously called “vehicles” or “envelopes”—of which the three highest are the spirit, the intuition, and the mind. The Sanskrit terms for these higher principles are ātmā (unconditioned Spirit), buddhi (intuition), and manas (mind) – mind being further subdivided into the lower (ordinary) and higher (abstract) mind.

Among those whose seminal, spiritual inner conflicts have resulted in the predominance of the Inner Self over the Outer, one will find the inherent and interrelated attributes of humility, selflessness, purity, courage, truthfulness, loving-kindness, compassion, and charity, to name a few.

The process of transitioning from a predominant Outer Self to a predominant Inner Self can be effectively described as the final stages of spiritual development, even though it is a process that typically takes several lifetimes once the reincarnating ātmā-buddhi-manas of the individual fully awakens to its necessity.

Mendacity vs. Truthfulness

At this point we may recall from the foregoing paragraphs that among the listed lower proclivities of the Outer Self, one was “mendacity,” while among the listed virtues of the Inner Self, one was “truthfulness.” These words describe opposing principles. It is not by accident that H.P. Blavatsky, in devising a motto for the Theosophical Society she co-founded in 1875, borrowed one from the Sanskrit: satyan nasti paro dharmah, translated as “There is no religion higher than truth.”

All the foregoing, and more, supports the fact that truth and truthfulness, in relation to one’s Inner Self, are not unlike the circulatory system’s life-giving blood that courses through the veins in our physical bodies, without which we cannot survive. In the absence of unyielding adherence to truth, our Inner Selves come to be assailed by the mendacious tendencies of the Outer Self, and thus wither and withdraw from active participation in our conscious lives resulting in a sort of spiritual paralysis.

As we survey our planet and its societies today, we witness another and larger moral struggle that bears a strong correspondence to that individual struggle of choosing which of the two selves—the Inner Self or the Outer Self--shall predominate in one’s current incarnate existence. That wider planetary struggle is whether, as citizens and nations of the world, truth or falsehood shall prevail in discourse between us, and the inevitable effects that choice will have—correspondingly good and bad—upon our futures.

Current State of Truth in the Modern World

All of what has so far been discussed forms a backdrop or context to an examination of the current state of truth in the modern world. In places everywhere across the planet, protestors of all sorts are jailed en masse for speaking truth. Judicial witnesses or political dissidents are often threatened or even killed for speaking truth, and journalists are suppressed from writing and speaking truth. All this has been happening with increasing frequency and in greater numbers.

Yet without an abiding adherence to truth, justice can never be achieved. The perpetrators of such injustices are invariably those corrupt political or corporate or military autocrats who peddle in dishonesty and disinformation while stifling the truth, no doubt as overt manifestations of being controlled by the worst tendencies of the Outer Self.

Today the greatest weapons for effecting this are not only servient traditional radio and television subsidiaries of partisan networks co-opted by autocrats or their wealthy supporters, but all the “social media” platforms that collectively too often trade in bogus conspiracy theories and intentional disinformation, using pernicious and addictive algorithms to capture their audiences.

The Problem: Inversion of the Principles of Truth & Compassion

The current state of the modern world is fundamentally a symptom of an on-going global inversion of principles and values, such as truth and compassion. In this demonstrable and ever greater mass inversion of principles and values, too often good now yields to evil, truth yields to disinformation and falsehood, justice yields to injustice, and sustainable stewardship yields to exploitation, and so on. These lamentable inversions come with a heavy price, which we pay in global chaos and environmental pollution, in the rise of repressive autocrats, and in pandemic diseases, among other such costs.

In the United States alone, the costs of the societal inversion of truth can be seen in their negative effects on critical and core democratic institutions including the presidency, the Congress, and the judiciary. Among real-time examples is the false narrative that President Biden lost the 2020 national election, which led believers of this falsehood to violently storm the Capitol in an insurrection to obvert democracy.

Another is the 2020 election to the United State Congress of a notorious habitual liar and grifter, consequently expelled from that body, whose election campaign was based on a disinformational if not fictional biography in which truth was virtually nonexistent. Yet another such example was an attorney who filed a court pleading that was written entirely by his “artificial intelligence” software that literally fabricated nonexistent judicial authorities in its written product, and where truth was apparently not part of the root code used in this software.

What Is Needed: Restoration of Wholeness and Sacred Principles and Values

Such are the odious practical costs of surrendering truth to falsehood. Wayfarers on the higher spiritual path should recognize the immediate need to minimize, if not exclude altogether, such startling phenomena of falsehood and untruthfulness creeping into our governing institutions. This they can do by assisting in a full restoration of wholesome and sacred principles and values, recognizing also that they are duty-bound to help remedy this malignant and inversive trend.

While this may be an admittedly grim and ostensibly hopeless picture of our presently devolving reality, there is in fact hope for a better or evolving outcome, both for the planet and for individuals. The dark forces that now perpetrate the inversion of principles and values like truth and justice and compassion, can be neutralized, but only by resolutely upholding the truth and by radiating universal and unconditional love. And this task must fall to those of good will and good conscience who adhere without fail to the truth in all instances, these including the resolute spiritual wayfarers in whose lives the Inner Self predominates over the Outer Self.

The Path: Projecting and Broadcasting Truth

But until a mass reversal of the effects of inverted principles and values occurs, a sustained effort, by the wayfarer on the path of light, consciously to radiate and project loving kindness and to speak the truth, uphold the truth, and defend the truth will be necessary to offset the pall of global angst, fear and suffering. It should become part of the spiritual wayfarer’s duty always to project and broadcast truth through all available media, thus manifesting the hope and consolation that inheres in the path of love and light.

By example, he or she should be a constant reminder to others that the reality of love is seen, and felt, in the breathtaking beauty of prismatic emanations radiating from the ātmā and buddhi of the Inner Self. This radiance includes the calm and spiritually luminous brilliance that “embraces all in oneness,” the welcome solace of warmth that simulates the rays of the sun which nurture and bless everything they touch, unconditionally and indiscriminately.

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About the Author

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William Wilson Quinn is the author of three books as well as more than 60 articles published throughout his careers on comparative religion, spirituality, and metaphysics, as well as articles on American Indian history, culture, and law published in a wide assortment of national academic journals and law reviews.

He has been both a lecturer for the Theosophical Society and a guest lecturer at several universities, and has appeared on the faculty of numerous seminars and workshops in all these subject areas. Upon his retirement in 2012, Mr. Quinn has continued to be active in writing and lecturing on various aspects of the philosophia perennis, both nationally and internationally.