In 1963 author Jane Roberts began having what she said were psychic experiences at her home in Elmira, New York. While in a trance state, Roberts dictated messages from a male personality who called himself “Seth.” Gregarious and alternately jovial and stern, Seth claimed to speak from an adjacent plane of existence, having completed his earthly reincarnations. From 1963 to 1984 Seth spoke through Roberts during scheduled sessions while her husband, Robert F. Butts, transcribed. The resulting material has been published in eleven volumes. Roberts also wrote fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction before she died in 1984 at the age of fifty-five. A comprehensive archive of her life and work, including the Seth material, is maintained at the Yale University Library.

Roberts sometimes questioned whether Seth wasn’t the work of her subconscious mind, a suggestion Seth didn’t directly dispute. He advised his readers, “You would be much better off reading this book if you asked yourself who you are, rather than who I am.” The following excerpt is reprinted from the first Seth book, Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul (Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library).


Consciousness is a way of perceiving the various dimensions of reality. Consciousness as you know it is highly specialized. The physical senses allow you to perceive the three-dimensional world, and yet by their very nature they can inhibit the perception of other equally valid dimensions. Most of you identify with your daily, physically oriented self. You would not think of identifying with one portion of your body and ignoring all other parts, and yet you are doing the same thing when you imagine that the egotistical self carries the burden of your identity.

I am telling you that you are not a cosmic bag of bones and flesh, thrown together through some mixture of chemicals and elements. I am telling you that your consciousness is not some fiery product, formed merely accidentally through the interworkings of chemical components.

You are not a forsaken offshoot of physical matter, nor is your consciousness meant to vanish like a puff of smoke. Instead you form the physical body that you know at a deeply unconscious level with great discrimination, miraculous clarity, and intimate unconscious knowledge of each minute cell that composes it. This is not meant symbolically.

Now, because your conscious mind, as you think of it, is not aware of these activities, you do not identify with this inner portion of yourselves. You prefer to identify with the part of you who watches television or cooks or works — the part you think knows what it is doing. But this seemingly unconscious portion of yourself is far more knowledgeable, and upon its smooth functioning your entire physical existence depends.

This portion is conscious, aware, alert. It is you, so focused in physical reality, who do not listen to its voice, who do not understand that it is the great psychological strength from which your physically oriented self springs.

I call this seemingly unconscious the “inner ego,” for it directs inner activities. It correlates information that is perceived not through the physical senses but through other inner channels. It is the inner perceiver of reality that exists beyond the three-dimensional. It carries within it the memory of each of your past existences. It looks into subjective dimensions that are literally infinite, and from these subjective dimensions all objective realities flow.

All necessary information is given to you through these inner channels, and unbelievable inner activities take place before you can so much as lift a finger, flicker an eyelid, or read this sentence upon the page. This portion of your identity is quite natively clairvoyant and telepathic, so that you are warned of disasters before they occur, whether or not you consciously accept the message, and all communication takes place long before a word is spoken.

The “outer ego” and the inner ego operate together, the one to enable you to manipulate in the world that you know, the other to bring you those delicate inner perceptions without which physical existence could not be maintained.

There is, however, a portion of you, the deeper identity who forms both the inner ego and the outer ego, who decided that you would be a physical being in this place and in this time. This is the core of your identity, the psychic seed from which you sprang, the multidimensional personality of which you are part.

For those of you who wonder where I place the subconscious, as psychologists think of it, you can imagine it as a meeting place, so to speak, between the outer and inner egos. You must understand that there are no real divisions to the self, however, so we speak of various portions only to make the basic idea clear.

You cannot understand yourselves, and you cannot accept my independent existence, until you rid yourself of the notion that personality is a “here-and-now” attribute of consciousness. Now, some of the things that I say about physical reality may startle you, but remember that I am viewing it from an entirely different standpoint.

You are presently focused entirely within it, wondering perhaps what else, if anything, there may be outside. I am outside, returning momentarily to a dimension that I know and loved. I am not, in your terms, a “resident,” however. While I have a psychic “passport,” there are still some problems of translation, inconveniences of entry that I must contend with.

Many people, I hear, have lived for years within New York City and never taken a tour through the Empire State Building, while many foreigners are well acquainted with it. And so while you have a physical address, I may still be able to point out some very strange and miraculous psychic and psychological structures within your own system of reality that you have ignored.

The self that you know is but one fragment of your entire identity. These fragment selves are not strung together, however, like beads on a string. They are more like the various skins of an onion, or segments of an orange, all connected through the one vitality and growing out into various realities while springing from the same source.

I am not comparing personality to an orange or an onion, but I want to emphasize that as these things grow from within outward, so does each fragment of the entire self. You observe the outside aspect of objects. Your physical senses permit you to perceive the exterior forms to which you then react, but your physical senses to some extent force you to perceive reality in this manner, and the inside vitality within matter and form is not so apparent.

I can tell you, for example, that there is consciousness even within a nail, but few of my readers will take me seriously enough to stop in midsentence and say good morning or good afternoon to the nearest nail they can find stuck in a piece of wood.

Nevertheless, the atoms and molecules within the nail do possess their own kind of consciousness. The atoms and molecules that make up the pages of this book are also, within their own level, aware. Nothing exists — neither rock, mineral, plant, animal, nor air — that is not filled with consciousness of its own kind. So you stand amid a constant vital commotion, a gestalt of aware energy, and you are yourselves physically composed of conscious cells that carry within themselves the realization of their own identity, that cooperate willingly to form the corporeal structure that is your physical body.

I am saying, of course, that there is no such thing as dead matter. There is no object that was not formed by consciousness, and each consciousness, regardless of its degree, rejoices in sensation and creativity. You cannot understand what you are unless you understand such matters.

For convenience’s sake, you close out the multitudinous inner communications that leap between the tiniest parts of your flesh, yet even as physical creatures, you are to some extent a portion of other consciousness. There are no limitations to the self. There are no limitations to its potentials. (Pause.) You can adopt artificial limitations through your own ignorance, however. You can identify, for example, with your outer ego alone and cut yourself off from abilities that are a part of you. You can deny, but you cannot change, the facts. The personality is multidimensional, even though many people hide their heads, figuratively speaking, in the sand of three-dimensional existence and pretend there is nothing more.

I do not mean to underestimate the outer ego. You have simply overestimated it. Nor has its true nature been recognized.

We will have more to say concerning this point, but for now it is enough to realize that your sense of identity and continuity is not dependent upon the ego.

At times I will be using the term “camouflage,” referring to the physical world to which the outer ego relates, for physical form is one of the camouflages that reality adopts. The camouflage is real, and yet there is a much greater reality within it — the vitality that gave it form. Your physical senses then allow you to perceive this camouflage, for they are attuned to it in a highly specialized manner. But to sense the reality within the form requires a different sort of attention and more-delicate manipulations than the physical senses provide.

The ego is a jealous god, and it wants its interests served. It does not want to admit the reality of any dimensions except those within which it feels comfortable and can understand. It was meant to be an aid, but it has been allowed to become a tyrant. Even so, it is much more resilient and eager to learn than is generally supposed. It is not natively as rigid as it seems. Its curiosity can be of great value.

If you have a limited conception of the nature of reality, then your ego will do its best to keep you in the small, enclosed area of your accepted reality. If, on the other hand, your intuitions and creative instincts are allowed freedom, then they communicate some knowledge of greater dimensions to this most physically oriented portion of your personality.

From the book Seth Speaks, © 1994 by Jane Roberts. Reprinted by permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 6657, San Rafael, CA 94903. All rights reserved.