„Observarea de sine”
This book is an in-depth examination of the much needed process of “self”-study known as self observation. Only when we “Know Thyself” through self observation practice, says the author, are we capable of being present to life with genuine conscience. The methods presented here are capable of restoring an individual’s ability to pay attention to a fully functional and powerful tool for success in life and relationships. No other book on the market examines this practice in such detail. There are hundreds of books on self-help and meditation, but almost none on self-study via self-observation, and none with the depth of analysis, wealth of explication, and richness of experience which this book offers.
Self Observation—Know Thyself
Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
(Lao Tsu. Tao Te Ching, Sutra 33)
Know Thyself, weary Traveler.
I am lost. I have forgotten who I am and why I came here. Know Thyself is one of the foundational spiritual teachings of humanity. It has been taught by masters as long as there have been humans as we know them, that is with a neo-cortex or human brain. It was written over the gate to Pythagoras’ School. It was above the entrance to the Oracle at Delphi. Socrates taught it to his students, Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Jesus, Rama, they all taught it. On the path of awakening, this teaching is fundamental. And the essential tool to Know Thyself is simple self observation. Buddha calls it watching. Krishna calls it meditation. Jesus calls it witnessing. Mister Gurdjieff calls it self observation. It is a form of prayer without words. It is meditation in action. Unless and until I come to know myself, I am driven by habits which I do not see and over which I have no control; I am a machine, an automaton, a robot moving in circles, constantly repeating myself. I am not aware, but unconscious, habitual, mechanical.* 1 I imagine I am conscious, awake, aware because my eyes are open. But habit is unconscious, automatic-pilot, without volition or intention*; inside I am asleep.
What is more, because I am unconscious, a creature of habit, I do harm to myself, my relationships, and my environment. The human body is mammal; all mammals are creatures of habit. We are herd animals. This is a very powerful force in the body, impossible to ignore; it causes me to lose the thread of who I am = attention* (consciousness*) and identify myself as the body, so powerful is the need to identify with, and be included as, part of the herd. Herd animals do not think for themselves, the herd thinks for them and acts for them. Whatever direction the herd goes in, we go. Even if we are led over a cliff, we will follow to our death rather than go against the herd and think for ourselves. To think for myself, to know myself, risks being expelled from the herd, a death-sentence for a mammal. Security is the herd. An isolated grazer away from the herd is dead meat, easy prey for predators.
Deep in our instinct, all of us know this and fear being isolated from the herd. So to get a mammal to think for herself, to observe herself, to know herself, is very difficult. It is not natural to mammal behavior. It requires conscious effort and intent. It requires courage and will of attention.* As far as I can tell, humans are the only mammals who have the capability of observing themselves. I am not suggesting that if I come to know myself my habits will change. They have a lifetime of momentum and emotional force. They repeat. What can change in me is my relationship to this body of habits. This is called a “shift in context.” As I am now,
I am identified (= “I am that”) with my habits. I identify myself as my habits, they are who I am. Thus, “I” and the habits are one, the same. I am identified. With patient, honest, steady, sincere self observation this identification* can shift. I can begin to view the habit objectively,* that is without identification, as a scientist views a bug under a microscope. This is struggle with habit, not against; observation will show me what to struggle with and how to struggle. P.D. Ouspensky cites the exception to struggling against habit as the struggle against expressing negative emotion*; this does not create unexpected or undesirable consequences (In Search of the Miraculous. New York: Harcourt, 1946. 12). I can begin to study the mammal body and learn its habits. Because it is a creature of habit, it repeats and I can begin to discern its patterns, intellectual, emotional, and physical. I can come to know myself.
The body is a mammal instrument, a creature of habit. Thus, it is predictable. The doe follows the exact same path to the water hole every day. The lion observes this and learns to wait on a lowlying limb for her to come down the path. In the same way, the inner observer can begin to predict the habitual behavior of the mammal instrument, the body, and be prepared for it. It learns the patterns. It knows itself. This is my only hope for becoming more conscious and not at the mercy of habit; if I see the habit often enough, say 10,000 times or more, then I can begin to predict where, when, and how it will manifest exactly as it has so many times before, and I may be prepared before it arises. I may be able to choose another course. Certainly I may be able to view the habit more objectively. In this way, I can cease to be always a victim of my own habits. I can begin to find some stability within, some equilibrium, some moderation of tone, behavior, emotion and thought. I can recover natural sanity and “basic goodness.”*
Self observation is the tool by which this is possible. It is called “the first tool” by some, and by others “the human tool.” It is the tool by which the human is able to operate, repair, and maintain the human body, tame and train its functions. Without it, I am a machine, an automaton, a robot at the mercy of unconscious, habitual, mechanical forces, both internal and external. Self observation is fundamental to the process of the soul’s* awakening from its unconscious dreaming. Thus, even an idiot can learn to operate the instrument* (see human biological instrument) effectively and efficiently by learning to use the tool which comes with the instrument. To become efficient in the use of the tool requires practice.
The practice is self observation. I am a mechanic; I have learned some things about how to use the tool which comes with the instrument. I am no master, but I am a good mechanic because I have developed attention to the instrument. We all know that a good mechanic, one who is honest, efficient, practical, and aware, can be of great service. This is an owner’s manual written by a mechanic.
In the beginning it is good and responsible to note this important word of caution: what is being discussed here is not a way of faith, it is a way of self-study, of self-knowledge, a way to Know Thyself. Therefore, nothing here should be taken on faith; everything here should be, must be verified by your own personal experience. I am no master, merely a good mechanic. Safety lies in no longer taking the word of others for anything. Too long we have followed blindly, like sheep, like herd animals following the leader, even when the leader leads the herd over a cliff or into war.
Everything must be verified by personal experience, otherwise it is merely another form of slavery, one more chain to bind me in my unconscious and mechanical slavery. Verify, verify, verify everything for yourself. Free yourself of the habits of a lifetime, of blind following, of not thinking for yourself. There is no better or safer path to freedom.
I repeat, what we are practicing here is not a way of faith. That is a different way altogether. However, it does not mean there is not room for faith on this path; certainly there is. In fact, what one finds as she engages this “practical work on self” over a long enough period of time is this: if she began with faith, her faith is strengthened by understanding gained from self observation without judgment; if she began with no faith—as I did—then she will find that she has gained faith. So you see the wonderful irony of it? This is not a faith based path, because faith is a gift of grace; it comes from the Creator* to those in need of it. By our own efforts we cannot gain faith. However, by our own efforts we can prepare the soil to receive faith. That is one of the many rewards of the Work.* Here we must accept nothing on faith; we are asked to verify everything, everything, for ourselves as to its merits, its truth or falsity. We do so via patient self observation without judgment and via our personal experience.
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