Lower Self: Animal Nature

Demon beast creeping up on a Saint.

The lower self has an animal-like nature. It is selfish, and primarily concerned with comfort, security, food, money, and sex. It is basically responsible for keeping one alive, and when one is ill, it is active in the process of recovery. However, it is not interested in awakening, but rather opposed to awakening, which means loss of control to the Higher Self.

The bull is a symbol for the instinctive, animal-like characteristics of the lower self. If we are not controlling the bull, we are being controlled by it.

Gurdjieff: From an outward point of view man is an animal. But he is an animal of a different order from all other animals.

Egyptian Pyramid Text: Back, you, lowing ox. Your head is in the hand of Horus; your tail is in the hand of Isis.

Christian tradition -- Theodorus the Great Ascetic, Philokalia: So long as the soul is in a state contrary to nature, running wild with the weeds and thorns of sensual pleasure, it is a dwelling-place of grotesque beasts.

I Ching, Hexagram #11, Peace/Tranquility: When the spirit of heaven rules in man, his animal nature takes its appropriate place.

Sufi tradition -- Al-Jilani (12th c. Sufi): When the believer has mastered his lower self, so that it serves as a riding mount beneath him, the deeds of his heart will shine forth upon his face.

Liu Yiming, the Taoist I Ching, hexagram #38, Disharmony: If you want to restore the mind of Tao, it is necessary to first understand the human mind. But to understand it, it is important to see it: Seeing it as a pig, as devilish, is truly seeing the human mentality and how injurious it is.

Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet): Jesus on the lean donkey, this is an emblem of how the rational intellect should control the animal-soul. Let your spirit be strong like Jesus. If that part becomes weak, then the worn-out donkey grows to a dragon.

William Shakespeare, Othello: I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.

Kabbalah, Zohar: Man was composed of two natures, the animal or lower self and the spiritual or higher self, and this because the former is necessary to the development of the latter.

A man following a bull.
(1280 BC. the burial chamber of Seti I, Western Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Egypt)

Persian painting depicting a winged figure restraining a bull.

Heavenly Guardian standing on a bull. A stone carving from Wang Chu Zhi's tomb, 924 AD, National Museum of China

Christ on a donkey

Angel seated on a lion, Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, Florence, Italy