The main aim of every process of learning, the work on oneself, is nothing other than getting to know oneself. In other words, getting to know the self which you live every day. Without observing the internal psychology, which you consider to be yourself, no transformation of any worth is possible. Also, transcendence, to which many aspire, would bring about a number of problems if the foundation of personality – your psychology – had not been transformed to a certain degree. Thinking otherwise is the corner-stone of various misconceptions within pseudo-spirituality.
Observation, as the lowest aspect of consciousness within man, must be directed to that which is within you ordinarily, which you consider as yourself. Although many people say they know themselves, what they “know” are just some superficial parts of themselves, like some basic habits, modes of expression, needs, attitudes they had accepted, a few concepts and beliefs. Saying that a man needs to observe himself in order to get to know himself doesn’t mean that you should collect some kind of knowledge-trophies, but that you should enter into yourself in a deeper way; you need to see the movements or processes of certain psychological states, you need to see your own reactions to the world and to the others around you, your reactions to your internal movements – and most importantly – you need to see it without interpreting, analyzing or forming value judgments about any of these reactions. If you had been able to sort out the mess you call yourself by way of analyzing and forming judgments, you would have done so by now. The ability to analyze comes after many years and only to those who had observed themselves properly, who had familiarized themselves with a number of oscillating processes that are pervading them, without knowing WHY those processes are inside them in the first place.
In order to survive in the environment of your mechanisms, which you have accepted as yourself, the process of observation needs one basic characteristic – and that is CURIOSITY – a strong internal desire to observe everything that appears within you. “To be inquisitive”, with a “desire to inquire”, “to seek knowledge” – a wish to know something. But this isn’t your ordinary, habitual curiosity. This word merely explains the type of interest needed within if you wish to observe yourself. It needs to be as strong as the interest you have for a desirable man / woman that passes you by, or for that brand new thing you want to buy for yourself.
“Inquisitiveness” also points to a characteristic needed for observation. As in the previous case, I don’t mean ordinary inquisitiveness, rather, the deep interest of wanting to know something, eagerness to find out, investigate, inquire into all extremes of a certain process.
Curiosity (inquisitiveness, interest) is a characteristic of the true observer.
Learnto spend some time in observing yourself internally – with curiosity. Make it short in the beginning, say 5-10 minutes, and do this every day – no exceptions – as your basic sadhana. Create an emotional curiosity within yourself, an emotional type of interest, a desire to see what is it that you have within, what are the building blocks of your internal psychology. See it as an unbiased observer, as if you were an objective of a camera, without forming any judgments and without any additional negative emotional-mental reactions.
To those who are able to observe themselves without forming judgments writing a journal might be helpful. Write as if you were creating a map, a scheme of your personality traits. In the beginning things will be all over the place, it will be a mess, but that’s OK. As the observer matures, collecting substance through friction with the traits and with the processes inside you, it will acquire the ability to make the connections – on his own and without any help from the analytical mind. Soon everything that you wrote about “the one you wish to know” will become a valuable asset, one pointing to the psychological structure you are identified with.
When I tell you to learn observing yourself (and If you think you already know it – you are mistaken), I am also telling you that in the process of observation all identification with the processes (that you think are you) must stop. Any analyzing, forming value judgments, judging, feelings of guilt or of personal wrongness appearing in self-observation, all premature conclusions about the observed – all of this comes from the part you are identified with and which you accept as yourself, the self you like in a kind of deviant way.
To the man who had observed himself and familiarized with himself the truth about likes and dislikes is devastating. Even for the things he thought he disliked he found a deviant liking. The process of disliking persists because there is a liking of that which you dislike. In other words; you like your negative emotions, you like your disliking. You are bound to them precisely by liking. The question then arises: how did all of it came to be in you and why, what does it mean and why is it so?
Self-observation means looking within yourself without any expectations, without any disliking of that which you do not like in yourself, or even that which you do like in yourself. If you don’t accept that which you’re observing you will enter into a strong resistance in relation to what you’re seeing, what you’re witnessing. Such resistance is exactly where analysis and interpreting would lead you, and this is one of the reasons why a man in The Work is not allowed to analyze.
In order to analyze something you need to know the complete structure, all the links, all connections of the thing analyzed. And this you do not know, which is why you’re unable to analyze what you’re looking.
Getting to know yourself means getting to know both what you like and what you don’t like. It’s completely irrelevant whether you like something or you dislike it. For in both cases you are mechanical, you don’t exist, you are not permanent in it – you are not there.It is happening to you whether you like it or not. The first sign that the observer took charge over something within you, that something inside was made conscious, that you became a master of something – is that you are able to decide whether you will like or dislike something. This emotion is not mechanical. It is neither an accidental choice nor a fated combination. Fate is an excuse of the impotent. Accident is a justification of a controller. And if you start thinking you want power, that you want to be the master of it, most likely all of it comes from the suppressed controller, or from a cunning controller flattering you into trickery. The wish to be a master, as I hear it exist in some esoteric circles, comes from an idea they don’t understand completely. If it is YOU who wants to be the master, we are dealing with the mechanism of controller. You cannot be the master. For what “you” are is an unconscious psychology, a personality you like in comparison to the one you don’t like, and this one is selling the tale of “mastering”. A master is the witness which does not “want” or “think” or has any view on whether he is or isn’t a master. His nature makes him a natural master, not his wish to be one. So, this idea that has been served to you, and served with a specific purpose, doesn’t mean what you think it means. Being a master of oneself comes about only in those who are Awake. Not in sleepwalkers dreaming of awakeness.
Perhaps you wish to be a controller of yourself so that you could get rid of all that you dislike in relation to yourself, a controller who is linked with what you have accepted as yourself and threatened by what you don’t like. What you need is to be the observer, that ought to be your only goal. When you become the observer, a process which may take some years, then this same Mr. Observer will become the master – not you.
Become acquainted with yourself within all circumstances, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant. Get to know yourself within your love relationship, within the relationships you have with your friends and parents, with people you meet, the ones you’re close to and the ones you dislike. Next, familiarize with yourself when you are on your own, all by yourself, lonely, filled with fear, judgment, and projection. Get to know yourself at work, at home and in the street, at the market, with significant and insignificant people, with animals. And this is the start. Do this without forming value judgments or judging what you see, without attack and aggression toward yourself, without guilt, feelings of personal wrongness, without fear appearing as a reaction. Get to know each and every part of yourself; the hidden and suppressed one and the one that’s out in the open and likes to play the leading role. For, your life depends upon this. That’s why I like to say how this isn’t an esoteric teaching, although it is, but an esoteric-existential one. Leavethe show of spirituality to spiritual people and you become acquainted – in a most existential way – with that which had imprisoned you. What’s holding you in its grasp, what has imprisoned you is both pleasant and unpleasant, you like it and dislike it, it feels both good and bad, is both acceptable and unacceptable mentally, stable and unstable emotionally. The extremes of every process are the whole of that process. Only after you come to know the whole process will you be able to do something about it. The very process of acquiring knowledge will enable it since in the course of that process you will be creating and strengthening the Observer, you will be crystallizing Consciousness.