Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Commanding Self
A Development in Consciousness Dominated by the Animal Element
We can think of the first stage, the commanding self, as corresponding to the animal soul, the last one, the pure and complete self, as corresponding to the angelic soul, and the other five are the various stages of development of the human soul. However, the commanding self is not only the animal soul; it is a development of consciousness dominated by the animal element, which means it is the normal condition of most people: the average self which is the normal sense of ego that is based on conditioning but mostly run by the animal soul. So the animal soul is in command here, which is why it is called the commanding self. It commands you because it drives you; the instincts and drives are what command the soul and her life. The need to satisfy and gratify the appetites and drives is in command here. That is why the Sufis often refer to it as the unregenerate soul.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 522
Others, like the Sufis, see ego as a collection of primitive impulses and conditioned patterns which appear to the “unenlightened” as a cohesive entity with its own consciousness and volition. The ego or self in its ordinary state, before Sufi development, is referred to as the “commanding self.”