Lower Self: Imagination
Imagination is one of the greatest obstacles to Being Present. Being Present means being aware of oneself and one's surrounding at the same time. The state of imagination is characterized by fascination with internal thoughts and emotions that endlessly turn round and round. The animals in the images of the Tarot 'Wheel of Fortune' card and the Dutch painting each represent a thought, or an emotion, or a sensation. Each one is mistakenly taken as `I`. We do not see that these thoughts, emotions and sensations happen just like the weather happens. Such continual inner chatter is simply uncontrolled mind activity.
In many esoteric traditions, the lower self is represented by a snake or serpent. Because it has no hands or feet, it cannot raise itself up (to Presence). The snake also symbolizes imagination. Imagination starts with an innocent thought like the head of the snake, and can wind on indefinitely—like the long body of the snake.
The game Snakes and Ladders originated in India and was associated with traditional Hindu philosophy, contrasting karma or destiny, and desire. The game has been interpreted as a tool for teaching children the effects of good deeds versus bad. The ladder represents virtues, while the snake represents vices. The inner meaning of virtues are tools and techniques to reach Divine Presence, while the inner meaning of vices are the lower self`s attempts to prevent presence. (See also Creating a spiritual path, Ladder)