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The I and the it vs. the It and the i: A Thought Experiment

Updated on September 29, 2012
Figure A.
Figure A.

Figure A. Here is a stick drawing of the image of the rollers that flashed in my mind as we were installing the drawer rollers yesterday.

Figure B.
Figure B.

Figure B. Here is how the handyman was struggling to install it, this after he had previously taken out the drawer.

Eventually, we were able to install the drawer into the cabinet (Figure A).

The amazing thing is that I’ve never worked with these high-tech carpenter thingies (e.g. rollers) before. When we first started to build my house, the drawers were of the traditional pullout types, working on the wood-on-wood sliding principle.


The Experiment

Hypothesis: Depending on the perspective, one gets a perceived experience different from the actual event.

Variables: Contextual uses of the words ‘I’, ‘it’, ‘It’ and ‘i’


1. Determine the differences and similarities between the given words.

2. Use a sample (e.g. personal context) to record varying impressions of the given words to come up with a generalization.

3. Use the experiment to illustrate the idea that latching on to certain contexts can actually limit one’s personal experience.

4. Infer how relationships are limited based on limiting beliefs or contexts.

The I and the it

If we use the word ‘I’ to represent our Higher Self, we can then use the word ‘it’ to represent our ego-based self.

There are sages who teach that everything ‘it’ experiences can and should be considered as being only a part of environment. This includes one’s thoughts and feelings. With this line of thought, the individual is being taught detachment from worldly concerns. (More on this in succeeding paragraphs.)

Although we can call the it ego-based, coming from the perspective of the I, we need to feel compassion for the pain and sorrow that the it goes through with its experiences on its earthly existence.

A question that comes to mind is that whether this it ceases to exist after death as the I moves on to its next plane of existence, that is, in Christian perspective, Heaven.

The It and the i

If we understand that we do not really know what our Higher Self is, although we ascribe traits of a person to it, it may be more appropriate to use the word ‘It’ and include the context that it may not have a gender like a person on earth does.

If we recall how much affection we are capable of having for our mere pets and can extend that love and respect to the tiniest of creatures, an ant for example, I could imagine that compared to the i in magnitude, our Higher Self---the It which is at the least like the size of a human being compared to an ant, can extend a proportionate affection towards the i.

The only setback I see in using the It and the i perspective is that we still use ‘i’, which reinforces our identification with the ego-based self, instead of facilitating our connection with our Higher Self. For example:

“i feel happy”

“i feel sad”

“i won”

“i am eating, playing, writing, etc.”

We, our true selves, are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings. We are not our physical bodies. We are not any of the roles (e.g. parent, friend, doctor, business owner, teacher, etc.) we have or material possessions that our ego-based i identifies itself with.

The I and the i

Personally, I lean toward the perspective of viewing our relationship with our Higher Self as ‘the I and the it’ for the reason that one sagely teaching also offers the idea that:

To live in equanimity, whenever we experience something (environment), we can seek to withhold judgment and simply observe the event, with understanding for the it---our ego-based self, as illustrated in the following examples:

“it is experiencing joy”

“it is experiencing fear”

“it is experiencing victory”

“it is eating, playing, writing, etc.”

The I and the i that I thought is also an important perspective is based on the understanding that Jesus treats us as his equals (Greater things than these ye shall do. –John 14:12). We should put our individual person in high regard as much as we respect the rights of other living creatures, animals and plants, and understand the fact that we are the highest among his earthly creations.

The setback with using the I and the i perspective is the order of magnitude that is being assigned to the I versus the i, as if the i pales in comparison to the I.

On the contrary, as much as we can understand that the least of creatures are, in God’s eyes, as significant as we are, we will understand that our spirit is as significant as the noblest of spirits in God’s masterful creation.

An Additional Word About the it

If we follow the tracks of the sages, we will understand also that the it or our ego-based self is an invention that has been well-ingrained into our minds, obtained from limiting beliefs unconsciously or consciously accumulated from experiences in a world governed by a scarcity mentality.

In subscribing to the i’s vision of the world, we are controlled by a myopic vision of ourselves, governed by the needs I have described in a previous article, Ultimate Power from the Inexhaustible . We now know better than be controlled by that limiting belief.

The I in Relationships: Using the I and the it Paradigm

If we could detach from the it perspective, moving into the I, we can liberate our minds from emotionally-tainted ways of relating with family, friends and acquaintances.

The handyman and customer situation we started the article with illustrates our example. Using the it perspective as customer, we may think that the handyman would know best and our idea does not matter, just a figment of our imagination, flashing from out of the blue.

Using the I perspective, by gently getting our ego-based self to step back, we can suggest to the handyman, in an assuming way, to try the solution that just flashed in our mind. Presto. Drawer fixed. Job done.

In Conclusion

This seemingly simple thought experiment has created more questions instead of addressing its original aim of proving or disproving the hypothesis:

Is it in our allowing our Higher Self to step in that we are able to navigate effortlessly and with ease in this world?

How do we get more and more in touch with our Higher Selves? Citing prayer and meditation among the tools … Soul Work and Magic: Living the Wizard’s Way, a previous article, represents an attempt at answering this question.

Should we ascribe pre-destined emotions (The Power of Feeling Good Now) to the it and chosen ones, being an act of will, to the I? Is man’s will an aspect of the I? What about his imagination?


Article Backdrop

1. Praying The Intimacy Prayer yesterday

2. A 30-Minute Silent Sitting Meditation before writing this article

As to whether I should ascribe the ideas to my Higher Self … I just think I should:

Be exalted above the Heavens O God, over all the Earth, your glory.” – Psalm 108:5


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    • Quirinus profile image

      Queirdkus Ω Ibidem 5 years ago from Sitting on the Rug

      I am so amazed to hear that you have been practicing this point of view, i.e. detached observer of yourself, all your life. I'm still learning the ropes while you're already there.

      Would like to share Steiner's book: It has a lot to say about experiences on the spiritual journey.

      You're most welcome!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I feel You on this one.

      I guess I have just been weird all my life ... it helps(ed), as I often talk about myself in the third person. That way, I see the body as one may see the car they get to in the morning to go to work in.

      Mr. Happy enjoyed this piece of writing! Many thanks. : )