- Matthew 6:22
Week 5 Assignments
1. Continue observing and documenting the activity of the NOT-I’s, mechanical reactions, and influence of suggestion.
2. Disidentify and observe all that one claims to possess (e.g., “my” beliefs, “my” opinions, “my” thoughts, “my” feelings, “my” material possessions, “my” spouse, etc.).
Week 5 Transcript
For the past several weeks we have been studying man as he is in his conditioned state that we may be aware of the actual situation as it is within each of us. Not with the idea of condemning it and not with the idea of justifying it, but simply being aware of what is. The whole idea of Schools is for man to be aware of what is, as it is. And the whole idea of the world is to set up ideals and ignore what is and struggle with what is to change it into the ideal of what ought to be, man thinking that he knows better of what ought to be rather than finding out what is. And possibly something would appear that would result in a New Man, not just a patched up one. Somewhere it’s said that one cannot patch an old garment with a new piece of cloth or else the new cloth will rend the old garment and it’ll be worse. Or that one puts new wine in old bottles because the new wine would break the old bottle and all is lost. So we have been studying the old garment and the old bottle so that we will know something about it.
And as a preliminary to begin another level of work, which we will take up next week, we will start this week with understanding and observing for ourselves the function of each aspect of Man. Now, in the Picture of Man we have the PHYSICAL BODY, we have AWARENESS, we have X and we have FUNCTION. Now if we can, we’ll take these four aspects of man and begin to see their function in relationship. Now no one of these aspects ever seems to function alone. It is an interrelation of four aspects or factor of one man.
~ X ~
Now the first thing we will attempt to study a bit is X. So we will try to see how X works. Now here is a guide or road map for observing and you must do the observing. But let’s see if we can observe how X works first:
X always does the proper thing for the information received from Awareness. Now it doesn’t say that it always does the proper thing, but the proper thing for the information received from Awareness.
One time in a mental institution a young lady who had a delusion that the room frequently filled full of poison gas was observed. She would begin to have this illusion from some association that the room was filling full of poison gas. The first thing she did was climb up on the piano stool. That got her head above where she felt the poison gas was. When the gas filled the room up to the level of where she would have to breathe again in her delusion, she climbed up on the cover of the keyboard of the piano. That got her still higher. And when she felt the poison gas was to her nose again she got up on top of the piano with her head almost to the ceiling. And when she felt the gas arrived there – the room continually filled up – to her, nobody else. The rest of the people were sitting around in chairs. This she didn’t take into consideration – she was in a mental hospital with her head almost to the ceiling and she felt the room was filled full, she passed out. In a little while she revived, and then she’d go on about her usual affairs until this particular delusion set in again. Now what she did, what X did for the being (climb up on the piano stool, on the keyboard cover, and on top) was the appropriate thing to do for the information X received from this deluded Awareness.
Now this was an extreme case, possibly. But each of us sees that the way to get along well in the world is to be complaining, or stickin’ up for rights, or pleasing people and we might even see that the whole purpose of living is to be non-disturbed. As long as this information goes to X, it does the appropriate thing for the information received. As we continue to study, we may find that different information would go to X than that which has always gone. And then of course there would be an entirely different state of being.
Further: X receives as truth all information furnished from Awareness of man. Whatever the Awareness says is truth. X operates upon it as truth. When the poor girl reported that the room was fillin’ full of poison gas and she was going to be poisoned or suffocated by this gas, X accepted that as true and did the appropriate action for that truthful information, as it seemed. It accepted it as being true. So if we say the whole purpose of living is to be non-disturbed, X operates upon it. If we say the way to be non-disturbed is to kill someone, X kills ‘em. If we were to say that the appropriate or that the ultimate thing that the truth of the matter was that we should be dead in order to be better off, X pulls the trigger that blows the brains out.
Awareness Function of X
Third: Awareness Function – or I – is function, not thing. I is function, not thing. The Awareness is simply a function of X, not a separate identity or thing. It has awareness and therefore can be deluded into believing it is thing. X generates the energy for any act that the Awareness Function, I, says is valuable or good. If one sees something as being true but of no good, no value to one, X doesn’t operate upon it. It is simply we see it as no value. I, Awareness, sees something as being no value, no action is taken on it.
The Awareness Function, being 100% subject to suggestion 100% of the time, accepts ideas that are false as being true, such as the ones we have been observing for the past many weeks.
Identifying with Not-I’s
This establishes what we refer to as bits of conditioning, or as “not-I’s”, personalities that are really not true I, but conditioned to observe things in a false light. All this conditioning has the effect of putting I into a hypnotic sleep in which it identifies with the not-I’s. To identify means “to treat the same as.” In other words, this bits of information and conditioning that goes to X is treated as though it is really Awareness, or I. And the real Awareness identifies with the bits of conditioning and feels it’s all the same. It is though an Intelligence Corps head in a army were to identify with some Fifth Agents and says, “Well, they’re the same as I; they’re in the Intelligence Corps.” And, of course they could all report to the general and the general would act upon everything he received from the Intelligence Corps as being true.
Another little parallel: it is as though there were a bunch of burglars invaded your home and they all used the telephone in your name. They could call up the store and have things sent out, charged to your account, and they could cause you considerable difficulty without you knowing it because they could use the phone in your name.
When this state is in existence of the I being identified with not-I’s, X provides energy to conditioning as though it were I. All human energy comes from X. It is all spiritual energy. The not-I’s, the bits of conditioning, would of course wither away and not have any power, any energy to express, except I identifies with them and treats them the ‘same as’ and they receive energy from X. As a parallel, suppose you had a son or a daughter and that son or daughter fell in with a hypnotist. And the hypnotist would have your son and daughter call up and tell you what the hypnotist wants while he kept the son or the daughter in a state of hypnosis, sleeping, but he only told them by suggestion, “Tell your parents thus and so. Send us money, send you money.” But it would come and the hypnotist would use it. This is much the case of the not-I’s.
Now this conditioning of not-I’s receiving energy from X accounts for the misery and the disintegration of man – the struggle towards the illusion of the ideal, the struggle towards the illusion of self-improvement, of blaming, which results in wars and fights and all the other things – results and accounts for the misery and the disintegration of man. We have been studying it to be acquainted with it.
I, the Real Awareness, Dis-identifies from Self
The way out is for I – I with a line drawn under it, the real Awareness – to dis-identify from all that one possesses, from all that which one calls “my.” Like “my” opinions, “my” thoughts, “my” feelings, “my” attitudes, “my” house, “my” everything – everything that one possesses. Because that which we possess we depend on and we depend on it to give us the ideal and we’re very disappointed when it don’t. And when we’re disappointed, we feel hurt, we look for blame, then we have anger, guilt, fear, insecurity and a host of the subdivisions of those very unpleasant, damaging emotions. So the way out is for I, the Awareness, to dis-identify from all that one claims to possess, everything that one says “my” to.
Now this results in a state of affairs wherein I observe the self – I as though you were a traveler on a spaceship from Mars and you had come in and were observing an earthling named whatever your name is. This observing is without condemning or justifying – but it is totally dis-identifying from this conditioned self. Now you may see why we have been studying the self. It is not really something one wants to identify with. It’s in a state of conflict. It is somewhat missing the mark as to the whole purpose of living. It is using very infantile methods to attempt to gain those and it’s disappointed when this ideal of the purpose of living of being non-disturbed is not achieved. So maybe it makes it a little easier for us to dis-identify from the self. The self is that Picture of Man that we drew, with the basic decision at the bottom and three on one side goin’ one way and three on the other side goin’ the other way. Now I is going to wake up and observe these not-I’s in their work as to how they report to X.
But one intercepts here. One says – we’ll use the name John for all men and Mary for all women – so if you’re a woman, Mary is doing so-and-so but I then is reporting to X and X doesn’t operate on not give the energy to the not-I. “I observe that Mary is mad.” Period. “I” observe that Mary is jealous. I am observing that Mary is trying to have her way by complaining; she’s puttin’ on the tears. I observe that Mary is trying to have her way by sticking up for her rights. She is rather belligerent. I see that Mary is blaming John because she feels rough. I see that Mary is blaming John for not having gotten home at 4:05 and, therefore, she is disappointed and feels hurt.” One begins to observe from a separate position all the things that this conditioning is doing.
Now we have been observing it and making some notes somewhat. Now we will dis-identify, no longer as “I” am doing this, but I am observing John or Mary doing this. And as we observe this, we begin to sense an entirely different sense of I. It is the beginning and only the beginning of a permanent state called I. “I” has been jumpin’ from the one that wants to complain to the one that wants to please, to the improver, to the blamer, back to the believe in authorities and there has been no permanent I. It jumped all over. Now this little thing of dis-identifying and beginning to observe the self will not be possible to do it 100% of the time, but it can be done considerable. And every moment that is spent on it is accumulated and it weakens all the not-I’s.
So we will start now on the first of the way out of the state of being conditioned and controlled, being mechanical, having burdens, being loaded down with all the things from the past by starting to dis-identify from the self. And therefore, the self owns things; but I do not own anything. The self has a dress or a suit, the self has a house, the self has opinions. John has the opinion and he is defending that opinion. Mary has feelings and her feelings are hurt and I am reporting to X. I have taken up my rightful position – the prodigal son has arisen from the hog pen in Egypt, which all the conditioning represents, and has started home. He is still a long way off, but he has started back to be a servant in the Father’s house.
So, this is the beginning of I being real and observing the not-I’s in all their little carrying on. And we will call it self or a name. I observe self as doing so-and-so. Or I observe John as doing so-and-so.
Now this results in I (with a line drawn under it) being simply an observer and a reporter without any condemnation or justification. This I is just takin’ up its chore of observing and seeing what is going on, seeing what is, and it is not ready yet to start applying values. That will come a little later.
Further, what I observes is self or John or Mary or the conditioning or the not-I’s – there’s a legion of ‘em and they’re in two parties and they fight with each other also. So I is observing all the “not-I’s”, or I is observing John, or I is observing self. These are interchangeable terms and they may be used in various discussions as we go along – interchangeably. As I, with a line drawn under it, observes the legion of not-I’s without condemnation or justification, X renders the not-I’s inoperative, one by one, as observed. In other words, you may have wondered what can be done about it.
“What can I do about it?” – many have been asking when they observe these various conflicts and various bits of conditioning. All one can do is observe it and report it. X does the work of rendering them inoperative. How does it do it? I don’t know. What does it do with them after it’s rendered ‘em inoperative? I don’t know. We just know they cease to be conditioning and they cease to take on and operate the body and the being.
It is impossible for I, with a line drawn under it, that has been asleep, dead or blind – as so many parables and stories uses it – so long to suddenly be 100% capable. So I will frequently go to sleep. But when it wakes up again, I merely says, “I’m back on the job and reporting to X.” Now there will be a host of accusing not-I’s, the self-improving “I’s”, that says you ought to believe and do as you’re told by authority and that’s a very large family of ‘em ‘cause there’s been many authorities. The one says you ought to be different. They will all accuse I for having gone to sleep from time to time. But I does not identify with ‘em, does not accept their accusations or their condemning and does not talk back to them. He merely reports there is accusing “not-I’s” saying that the observer should never have gone to sleep. And X renders them inoperative. One does not contend with these “not-I’s”. I is an observer and a reporter to X and nothing else. It does not argue or play the lawsuit part with the not-I’s – it only observes and reports. Now we will talk on these many times. So but do observe that a not-I will jump up and try to give I a hard way to go because suddenly I wakes up and realized it has not been observing self for several hours – or maybe even days, who knows?
The tricks of the not-I’s are many and very cunning, even seeming to be helping with the work of trying to straighten I out. Merely observe the many, many not-I’s and totally dis-identify from the self. “I am observing John and John is doing so and so. John is getting angry. John is dreamin’ up a story he’s going to tell to put himself in a good light. John is blaming Mary for making him mad.” And I observes all of this going on within self, in the self, as something entirely separate. And it really is something separate. It has been something that’s added on. It’s not the real person at all; it is conditioning. It is a group of Pinocchio’s and I is reporting the Pinocchio’s to X.
What is the Function of Awareness?
Now, what is the Function of Awareness? It is to be an observer first and report what is. It reports what is true without any condemning or justifying. It merely reports. And the other thing it will do later is begin to place relative value. It never judges. Only the self, or conditioning, judges. The judges says it’s good or it’s bad, accordin’ to whether it made me comfortable or not, or whether it produced pain. It says it’s true or false accordin’ to how close it agrees with a given opinion of a not-I. The I, the real observer, I with a line drawn under it, the Function of X, reports what is and later it will report its relative value. But right now it’s merely reporting what is.
What is the Function of the Physical Body?
The function of the physical body is an instrument of the expression of X. The body is a Function of X like Awareness is a Function of X. And its function is to express into physical activity that which Awareness said was true and valuable. And the body is the instrument of X like the Awareness is. Its first function is to maintain the instrument in existence; X keeps it in a state of repair. It prepares it for whatever Awareness said was the actual circumstance. If Awareness reports there’s great danger because someone disagreed with it, X prepares it to fight or run. And as we have seen, it must adapt to that. And if that adaptation is seen as a danger and not as the work of X, then again it is prepared to fight or run. And this gradually goes on into a deterioration and the body falls apart.
But if I is awake and aware and reports, “The body is functioning, it is adapting to your adaptation. It is burning up the mobilized and unreleased energy that one time when I was asleep, one of the not-I’s reported to You it was in danger.” Then you see all the physical symptoms are over with very quickly. And very shortly the body is being completely renewed. If correct information goes to X from I and the conditioning is dis-identified from, the body undergoes a rejuvenation the same as the Awareness is a “new man” because it’s no longer being used for purposes which does not exist, but which was reported by a not-I in the name of I to X. Now as we observe this, we’ll see how the body completely changes – as I observe self and does not identify with self.
Self owns houses, cars, opinions, bank accounts, viewpoints, rights, and I only observes. I am a Function of X that observes the self and X renders inoperative those various bits of conditioning one by one as they are observed and reported to X. One does not have to judge, condemn or justify the not-I’s. X knows what to do, the same as it knows what to do if the house is afire and one reports it – X gets the being out. If one hears from the body that water is needed, one only reports to X water is needed. It doesn’t say it’s good or bad. And X gets the drink – gets up, walks to the tap or to the refrigerator, pours out a drink, swallows it, all of which are miraculous happenings if one ever observes.
Do you know how to walk? Or are you only aware you want to go to the door and all of it just takes place and you experience the walking, you are aware of the walking. But if it was left up to one of us to figure out which muscles to move in sequence first, second, third, fourth, fifth in order to bring about the act of walking, there would be no walking.
Function is to bring about the play of X in Awareness, bringing about the ever-changing series of events that continually gives man all the values and the joys of living when he can report accurately. When he has been taken over by usurpers and they’re talking in his name, that Function demonstrates very clearly that error is being reported to X. But X only accepts as fact everything that the Awareness reports to it, whether it be from a not-I or I. So we see very excellent reasons for observing the not-I’s. They’re speaking in your turn, in your name… to the source of all energy.
Once upon a time, a new student of the work listened to week five’s lesson and was utterly confused by Dr. Bob’s statements about “disidentifying” from the self. To many new to spiritual work, ‘disidentification’ is a completely alien idea. Since our earliest days in the crib, most of us have identified with every thought, emotion, opinion, and other mental activity emerging in awareness. Identification is Conditioned Man’s default and unquestioned state of awareness. All that “me” and “my” stuff.
If it is useful, following are some extracts from writings and talks by others also discussing the subject of disidentified observation of the self. Each person’s words are unique, yet all refer to an identical state of inclusive attention and objective observation of egoic conditioning.
Dis-Identifying from the Thinking Mind
The single most important step in your journey toward enlightenment is to learn to dis-identify from your thinking mind.
The thinking mind is a very busy component of our consciousness. It is constantly labeling, judging, defining, conceptualizing, covering the world up with words rather than allowing you to experience the world directly through presence. The thinking mind is a chatterbox that is constantly making commentary on every little detail of our experience, robbing us of a still and receptive state of being that experiences life with an open curiosity that makes the world a living reality that is miraculous and magnificent.
When we are identified with our thinking mind, our experience of life is constricted and limited to an opaque screen of words, images, concepts and labels – second-hand representations of life that might as well be a movie on a screen.
When you create even a momentary gap in the incessant thinking and chatter taking place in your mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. The world around you becomes more vibrant and real. Your experience of life is direct and alive, you are present in your experience, and thus you are able to touch life directly. This is called direct experience. Experience without words or labels.
Make a practice to create these momentary gaps in thinking as many times a day as you can. It doesn’t matter of your gap is long. One minute is good enough. It’s the number of times you cease the chatter and noise of the thinking mind that matters. The more you do this, the more you dis-identify.
One day you may even find yourself smiling at this voice in your head as though it were a child misbehaving. This is good, it means you are taking the content of your mind less seriously. And you are recognizing that the content of your mind is not you. You do not depend on it for your sense of self. You are beginning to identify with something else within your consciousness, with your source and essence, with the presence of your being.
This is the state we wish to cultivate.
To the extent that you actually realize that you are not, for example, your anxieties, then your anxieties no longer threaten you. Even if anxiety is present, it no longer overwhelms you because you are no longer exclusively tied to it. You are no longer courting it, fighting it, resisting it, or running from it. In the most radical fashion, anxiety is thoroughly accepted as it is and allowed to move as it will. You have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, by its presence or absence, for you are simply watching it pass by.
Thus, any emotion, sensation, thought, memory, or experience that disturbs you is simply one with which you have exclusively identified yourself, and the ultimate resolution of the disturbance is simply to dis-identify with it. You cleanly let all of them drop away by realizing that they are not you–since you can see them, they cannot be the true Seer and Subject. Since they are not your real self, there is no reason whatsoever for you to identify with them, hold on to them, or allow yourself to be bound by them.
Slowly, gently, as you pursue this dis-identification “therapy,” you may find that your entire individual self, which heretofore you have fought to defend and protect, begins to go transparent and drop away. Not that it literally falls off and you find yourself floating, disembodied, through space. Rather, you begin to feel that what happens to your personal self—your wishes, hopes, desires, hurts—is not a matter of life-or-death seriousness, because there is within you a deeper and more basic self which is not touched by these peripheral fluctuations, these surface waves of grand commotion but feeble substance.
Thus, your personal mind-and-body may be in pain, or humiliation, or fear, but as long as you abide as the witness of these affairs, as if from on high, they no longer threaten you, and thus you are no longer moved to manipulate them, wrestle with them, or subdue them. Because you are willing to witness them, to look at them impartially, you are able to transcend them. As St. Thomas put it, “Whatever knows certain things cannot have any of them in its own nature.” Thus, if the eye were colored red, it wouldn’t be able to perceive red objects. It can see red because it is clear, or “redless.” Likewise, if we can but watch or witness our distresses, we prove ourselves thereby to be “distress-less,” free of the witnessed turmoil. That within which feels pain is itself pain-less; that which feels fear is fear-less; that which perceives tension is tensionless. To witness these states is to transcend them. They no longer seize you from behind because you look at them up front.
The following is a transcript of a talk by Krishnamurti which discusses the topic of disidentification and self-observation.
Without knowing yourself, do what you will, there cannot possibly be the state of meditation. I mean by “self-knowing,” knowing every thought, every mood, every word, every feeling; knowing the activity of your mind—not knowing the Supreme Self, the big Self; there is no such thing; the Higher Self, the Atman, is still within the field of thought. Thought is the result of your conditioning, thought is the response of your memory—ancestral or immediate. And merely to try to meditate without first establishing deeply, irrevocably, that virtue which comes about through self-knowing, is utterly deceptive and absolutely useless.
“Please, it is very important for those who are serious, to understand this. Because if you cannot do that, your meditation and actual living are divorced, are apart—so wide apart that though you may meditate, taking postures indefinitely, for the rest of your life, you will not see beyond your nose; any posture you take, anything that you do, will have no meaning whatsoever.
… It is important to understand what this self-knowing is, just to be aware, without any choice, of the “me” which has its source in a bundle of memories—just to be conscious of it without interpretation, merely to observe the movement of the mind. But that observation is prevented when you are merely accumulating through observation—what to do, what not to do, what to achieve, what not to achieve; if you do that, you put an end to the living process of the movement of the mind as the self. That is, I have to observe and see the fact, the actual, the ‘what is’. If I approach it with an idea, with an opinion — such as “I must not,” or “I must,” which are the responses of memory—then the movement of ‘what is’ is hindered, is blocked; and therefore, there is no learning.
Self-Remembering & Disidentification
In traditional Gurdjieff schools, the term self-remembering has varying depths of meaning. At its most basic level, self-remembering is a disidentified state of divided attention essential for objective self-observation without judgement.
When I observe something, my attention is directed towards what I observe–a line with one arrowhead. When at the same time, I try to remember myself, my attention is directed both towards the object observed and towards myself. A second arrowhead appears on the line. Having defined this I saw that the problem consisted in directing attention on oneself without weakening or obliterating the attention directed on something else. Moreover, this “something else” could as well be within one as outside me.
– P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous (New York: Harcourt, 2001), p. 119.
Being present in the moment is the beginning of ‘waking up’ which makes it possible to observe what we’re doing, feeling and thinking now; so it is obvious that any exercise of free will must start here. What happens then, of course, is that we immediately become identified with whatever we’re observing, the present moment slips away and we’re back in the usual automatic state without even noticing that it’s happened. Everyone has an individual and habitual ‘set of impressions’ arising either from the body, the emotions or the mind, that cause us imperceptibly to lose the state of self-awareness. The way to avoid this trap is to become determined merely to witness what’s going on, inside and outside of ourselves, whatever it is, with complete and uncaring impartiality. As soon as we like or dislike what we see, have any opinion about it or make any judgmental response at all, identification is instantly up and running again.
– Gerald de Symons Beckwith, Ouspensky’s Fourth Way (Oxford: Starnine Media and Publishing, 2015), pp. 164-165.
First comes a new feeling of ‘self-consciousness,’ the hallmark of which is a sudden, unmistakable sensation of ‘waking up,’ very similar to waking out of regular sleep. Perceptions and impressions become instantly much more vivid, and a strong feeling of my own presence, here, now, is aroused and imbued with an entirely new and positive emotion about myself and everything in my sphere of perception. Everything is new and vital. The Self now experienced is the ‘real self,’ still, silent and glorious, not the constantly changing sense of a separate ego that is tied and conditioned by some object in the physical and subtle worlds.
– Gerald de Symon Beckwith, Ouspensky’s Fourth Way (Oxford: Starnine Media and Publishing, 2015), p. 141.