Gurdjieff said the biggest obstacle to self-observation is the assumption that I already am observing myself. But this is not self-observation, it is being involved in what you are doing.
Awareness is the quality of struggling with that which you observe in yourself, with the negativity and separating from it.
We already know a lot of things. Like we shouldn’t worry about the future, it is stupid to feel fear. I am trying to stop smoking but I can’t. You also know you need to be doing something else. Yet, you can’t do anything about it.
The speed of the energy of anger is far too fast for you to catch. You know it after, not before – and that is not awareness. You don’t know how you got to that point, why things happened the way they did. You learn to console yourself by saying ‘It’s God’s will…’
Self-observation is to know, every moment, what impulses are happening within my system. Impulses that have not yet become thoughts, emotions and actions. Till the time I do not know about these impulses in my system, I cannot be said to be concretely on a journey of self-observation. Many a spiritual seeker is able to know himself psychologically – they know what they think, feel, they try to be better. Their intentions are sincere yet there is something that stops them from piercing their selves, from going forward.
All the knowledge is already there in the world, laid out by spiritual masters. But what we are trying to do here is move beyond whatever is known in the world. Because that which is known is not helping.
This struggle is what I’m talking about. It’s not a passive state of seeing what one is doing. Everybody already know what one is doing. But nobody transcends… and by transcend, I mean transcend both the negativity and positivity.
So, what should we do? Struggle against the small things everyday – against all the things that we get identified with, how we lie.
You may say – I’m always on time. But you don’t even know what time is!
There is always an internal considering. Saying to your boss that you were late because you had to catch the next train. That’s an external lie. The internal lie would be saying to yourself that it would have been impossible to get to work on time because you needed to sleep. How do you know how much sleep you need? You will say if i don’t sleep, I will be tired. That too is a lie. All you are doing is leaking energy by lying and fantasizing.
We keep doing internal accounting. Trying to set right what we think is wrong based on an image we have. Eg. I am always punctual – try to understand why you say that. Struggle with all forms of identification.
But we try to balance accounts, tally everything. If he insulted me twice, I should do it too. But the man on the path doesn’t tally or keep score. His debt is huge. All he wants to do is get back to Zero by forgiving others and himself.
Each human lives by simple awareness which takes the path of least resistance. His sole aim in life is pursuit of happiness which is based entirely upon external things – people, situations, things. ‘I like my job’ ‘What more can a woman ask for’ ‘I feel happy to be here’… The cause of things is not known nor does anyone want to. We have an entire system of dialogues to accommodate good and bad both, live life as well as we can to the extent that we can control things and then pass away. And when things don’t go our way, we complain or say, take our gadget to the service centre. We think we are hungry, so we eat food. We don’t think – why do i need to eat food? How do i transcend hunger?
Basic questions have to be asked, the most basic being – Who Am I? With this begins our journey of awareness.
So what should we do? Practical things…
a) Admit powerlessness: That as much as you know, you still don’t know a lot. By not putting in action to change anybody else or their perception of what you are – do not argue, do not justify or provide counter-reasoning.
b) Catch yourself every moment you are trying to concretize an image of yourself. Change the way you walk, change the way you talk. These habits have been acquired in your childhood but by changing them, you will break the long association with your self. Change your voice. You might think you can’t do it but you can. In your talk, you have certain words, certain actions, certain feelings and certain states which you have associated with certain people, places and events. Eg. You say you smoke before talking to someone because it makes you less nervous and more confident. Just because everyone universally accepts these patterns, doesn’t mean it’s valid. Everyone accepts death too.
c) Consciously, in some situations, move from one extreme to another