Friday, June 13, 2008

Then again. Who was that Masked Man?

What do we do when we don’t know what to do and where do we go when we don’t know where to go? These are good questions but not the primary consideration because something precedes this as a priority and it’s possible that the answer to this is the answer to the other questions that track our footsteps into the unknown. That question is, “Who am I?” Until we know who we are it’s not going to be all that easy to know what we should do and where we should go.

Until we have some idea of who and what we are, our concerns about all the challenges and impulses that happen to us are going to be determined by the whims of personality and the fickle winds of chance. Today you get lucky. Tomorrow you get unlucky. Yesterday is a dream someone had. It might have been you. It might have been someone else. You don’t really know. If you don’t know who you are then you don’t know who it happened to.

Over the entry way to The Oracle of Delphi were the words Gnothi Seauton; “Know thyself”. Ramana Maharshi says that self inquiry is the way and that you must ask, “Who am I?” over and over again. You get some version of this from so many sources over the entire stretch of history. There has to be something to it but... what does it mean? I wonder about that.

We hear these words. We ponder these words but... what do they actually mean? It does seem to imply that there is something we can find out in terms of who we are. It seems to imply that by seeking and inquiring we are going to come upon something that will reveal a secret that- once we have unraveled or comprehended it- will change our lives. I get the impression that it not only changes our life but illuminates it too. That is to say that so many things that may have seemed ordinary and routine are suddenly exposed to be extra-ordinary and that the routine aspect of it is simply the result of our being trapped in a pattern of repeating ignorance of who thought we were.

Paramahansa Yogananada talked about “self-realization”. This is pretty much the same thing as, “Know thyself” and “Who am I?” When you read the Bhagavad-Gita you once again encounter this dichotomy of false self and real self in relation to levels of awareness. You might title them ‘self appearance’ and ‘self’. It looks like most people are operating from a position of not knowing and then reflexively assuming. The purpose of this is to just get by and keep moving and hope you don’t hit anything by staying within certain boundaries of sense perception according to certain disciplines laid down by family, environment, education and temporal law.

Whoever it is that we are when we don’t know who we are seems to have a lot in common with all of the other entities who don’t know who they are. Everybody wants something until they want something else. Most people want to be someone, motivated by the desire to perform in a particular persona for a particular audience, or because the payoff for a certain role is big or... more rarely because they want to render a service. Well... there can be a lot of examples but it all comes down to some inexplicable drive or the forced necessity of one’s environment demanding that we “Don’t just stand there, do something.”

I’ve been thinking about this “Who am I?” thing and it’s caused me to look at other things that seem connected to it. It’s caused me to look at the obstacles that interfere with one’s ability to know who they are or which shy the mind away from that consideration.

The first thing that comes to mind is the force of the world; the pressure to conform, the pressure to engage, the pressure to acquire, the pressure to advance, the pressure that comes in a hundred different ways and appears to be the force that drives the pitchfork into your hindquarters and pushes you forward for whatever the reasons ever are. You can’t be yourself if you are busy being someone else and you can’t be yourself if you don’t know who that is. It stands to reason that you’re going to be more effective in everything that you think and say and do if it is coming from your real self because there is an authenticity to you that can’t be found if you are a copy of one or more of the fashion constructs of the time. There is a huge difference (I believe) between playing yourself in life’s movie as yourself and in playing someone else.

Like other subjects that come up here from time to time this one isn’t easy to talk about. There’s something hidden about this Self question. It could be my problem is that I don’t know who I am either so how can I talk about it?

I have noted in the writings of a great many sages and spokes-entities for mystery schools that no matter what you do and no matter how hard you try you can’t do it on your own. Over and over again I hear, from sources that I consider impeccable, that ‘you’ can’t get there from here. Subsequently they always come around to the concept of surrender; total surrender. Once again, how can you surrender when you don’t know who you are? It’s....

Uh...uh....I don’t know.

What I hear them telling me is that you have to meet someone. That may be the key to the whole thing. Now, arguably, most people; the great majority of people are not concerned about, “Who am I?” They run up against the difficulties and hurdles that are ubiquitous to the human estate but this is not the direction they head in as a result. They accommodate. They forget. They deny and often enough never entertain any deeper consideration of what is going on beneath the surface.

It seems to me that however you approach self-inquiry that, when you do, if you are consistent, it sets up some kind of homing device. You begin to vibrate at a certain frequency and set up an attractive force that is not dissimilar to what happens between bees and flowers, men and women (or what have you) and magnets in the right position to each other.

There must be some organization, some brotherhood, some alliance of some kind whose job it is to move through the schools of human fish swimming in the ocean of the world for the purpose of engaging the willing in a series of tests and trials whose purpose it to lead them to an introduction that leads to ‘the introduction’ by which you are introduced to yourself and off you go with Lao Tzu beyond the Great Wall of China.

The point of this is, it seems to me, that is may be the easiest thing in the world; since you’ve only got to do the one thing. What makes it hard is that you can’t stop doing it until whoever is supposed to show up shows up. It seems that there is a guarantee that if you don’t give up you are assured of success. So, it seems that the question is, “Do I want this?” It also seems that the trials and tests that I mentioned are all the same trials and tests provided by the one you meet; that other self-speaking to self unknowing, self introducer, agent of alliance, organization, brotherhood asking in a variety of ways, “Do you want this?” All the trials and tests are only this question presented in another manner. Apparently the intention and sincerity of the aspirant is paramount.

It is a mystery to me. Here is the possibility of self-realization; conscious immortality, the sine qua non of successful life offered on a silver platter for a certain degree of effort and just about everybody has some kind of excuse for why they don’t want what they actually want more than anything else that there is to want. I’ll leave it to you to ponder the implications and the consequences of that.

Visible sings: Vanity by Les Visible♫ Vanity ♫


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