The 13th century Persian mystic, Rumi expresses this distinction between the two selves within us in the poem “Two Kinds of Intelligence”:
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out.
To go beyond our ordinary minds and access this second knowing is to realize our limitations, distractions of desire, and consequences of fear. Many prophets proclaimed the same idea about the existence of a universal consciousness.
But why is it that the rest of us tend to divide, discriminate, and disagree?
Our minds’ purpose is to maintain identity by the act of discrimination. Our mind-created identities preserve our forms. Our minds organize information by grouping like ideas and polarizing opposites. To divide, segregate, and discriminate is our minds’ very purpose. To ensure a unique identity, we must separate ourselves from the pack and consider ourselves and our groups different from the rest. But in being aware of our minds’ goal to accomplish this polarization, we can see the greater connectedness behind the mask of division. Now, we can clearly acknowledge that we are merely one particular life form embarking on a specific experience—the human experience.
Our bodies are the quanta and our minds are the qualia—together they form a physical entity capable of interaction with many forms in the universe. The mind follows form, appearing with its creation and disappearing with its demise. Behind this changing quanta and qualia is the unchanging background, the Dao, Spirit, Atman—all refer to the same unifying force.