Lower guilt is the guilt conditioned into us in our infancy and childhood by parents, teachers, church, Boy Scouts, etc. The principle of application is to withdraw love from the child at any point where he or she behaves out of line with the current interests of society. By age seven or eight, this application has been internalized; children have learned to withdraw love from themselves, even for the thought of doing “wrong.” This internalized negative socialization we call conscience. Its effect is to keep society stable, to keep people cautious and hyper-alert to the consequences of any impulsive or spontaneous behavior. Lower guilt is what makes for good citizens, like Pharisees. Those who are finally contained by it learn to say to themselves, “Don’t even dare think it!” before they’ve even crystalized the thought they don’t dare think.
Higher guilt is a consequence of lower guilt. It is a reaction to the bondage of our social conditioning, and, in my mind, emanates from a deeper and infinitely more profound consciousness. It is that voice Thoreau calls our genius, which is a delicate and soft-spoken voice, commonly drowned out by the din of society, but unmistakable in those rare moments of personal quietude. It is referred to in the New Testament as the Holy Spirit, breaking through our socially conditioned fears of individuality, warning us not to lose our souls, not to exchange our individual essences for a mess of potash (conformity), but to live the most exciting, abundant, and free lives that we can imagine for ourselves.
When higher guilt can no longer break through the bondage of lower guilt, then we have lost contact with our impulse to the life of joy and abandonment that represents our higher human form. If that contact is lost for long enough, if the higher guilt is ultimately smothered by the lower, we have committed the sin of blasphemy, and the life force moves along without us, and we are left behind to catch another birth.