The decision to start actively changing yourself, to embark on what you would call a “path”, or “spiritual teaching”, cannot be a product of a temporary interest or of curiosity, cannot come from some momentary “I”. It is a choice that you make in order to bring about a radical, a thorough change; first in the manner of transforming and later of transcending. The “path” is usually divided into two parts: the path of transformation and the path of transcendence. Both paths require a man in his entirety, they require the whole of him. The goal of every ancient teaching is a wholesome man, and because of this every part of man needs to enter, first into transformation, and then into transcendence. The division of the inner path, i.e. of the “spiritual path” is a problem these days, one which cannot be solved if a man is not forewarned and prepared for the trap that is ahead of him. This trap consists of various minds in a man, and of these minds not much is being said since most people think that they are dealing with a single mind. This mind, which according to them is a whole, they usually divide into three parts, three functions; an intellectual, an emotional and a physical; which in turn have their own sub-functions.
But these are in fact three different minds with each of them having its own will; its own function; its own way of functioning while working with the other two, and with the two sub-minds. In other words, you are not one man with a single mind – you are three different men with three different minds, and each of these “men” require a specific kind of approach in order that a man may become a unitary being, a fully conscious human being. Within spirituality, as we know it, there is a prevailing delusion in which man considers himself to have a single mind, and chooses a “path to himself” with the aid of his dominant mind. This is the reason for the existence of that artificial, and in a way illusionary, division of the path on three different ways which are then separated from one another.
From there we have physical, emotional, and intellectual ways. Although there is in fact no such division, rather, there are three different aspects, three parts which when taken together constitute the whole of the internal evolution – the whole of the work on oneself. Because of the de-evolution of man, and consequently of spiritual paths, (which are not regarded as true) man has divided spirituality in accordance with his own internal division into three different aspects – into three different ways within the path to oneself, within the path toward liberation. These three different aspects constitute a whole of the one and only path, the whole of the work on oneself, the whole of a man whose aim is completeness, not dividedness. Man is not made up of a single mind but of three minds, and because of this his complete development cannot be achieved through one mind only, but must come through all of them simultaneously.
In every man one mind is dominant in relation to the other two. This mind is usually characteristic of him as an individual (in the common sense of the word), its structure is the strongest within him and the other two minds are subordinate to it. For some people the dominant mind may be the physical one, for some it is the emotional mind and for some the intellectual mind. Each of these minds has a specific function, and within man this function is artificially separated, disconnected from the other two, and it is as if the three minds are not communicating with each other. If the emotional mind is dominant a man will reason (draw conclusions) emotionally, he will be emotionally involved in everything that happens, even into those events which require solely his physical or his intellectual engagement. When he finds himself in a particular situation he will be unable to receive it in a proper way, unable to understand it properly because he will be approaching it with a wrong part of himself – through an improper mind. Since the situation calls for a specific mind he will be unable to resolve it successfully.
Owing to the need for the internal unification, we divide man into three different aspects, or three different men, according to the mind that is most developed in him. We have a physical man, an emotional man and an intellectual man, and in the beginning each of them receives the teaching through their dominant mind. I have said that this teaching, this path calls for the whole of man and the first part of his work is to separate himself internally, to stop identifying with the processes within him. For achieving this he needs to separate himself from the man who he used to be, he needs to begin an active observation of the part of himself called “personality”, and of the part called personal life. Through the process of observation he is realizing the manner in which various minds in him work, and realizes that his way of reacting to various situations is wrong. Instead of approaching a discussion on physics with the intellectual mind, he approaches it with, let’s say, an emotional mind, and falls into a heated argument over an idea to which he is personally attached, which he likes.
He realizes that he is unable to resolve the situation he is in because his approach is too emotional, too identified. The next realization, the next discovery about the wrong workings of the minds, comes about when he is required to provide an emotional response, like in a conversation with a romantic partner. Instead of being emotionally engaged in the conversation, instead of having an emotional understanding of what the partner is saying, he approaches the conversation in an intellectual way. And so, he is unable to feel the emotion in the background, he is unable to “get into” emotions for they might be painful, he finds himself at a loss within the emotional movements, he is emotionally stiff, refusing to open up, and so on. He will realize a similar, or the same thing going on with the other two minds, for example when approaching some physical work with the emotional or with the intellectual mind, instead of the physical.
These kinds of realizations enable him to understand that he has been leading his whole life with a wrong mind, and that the wonderful idea of man as being whole has no real basis. Then he starts realizing why he was asked to make a new internal division of himself, one with the aim of future uniting. Into himself he needs to bring something with the power to unify the minds; with the power to re-connect the broken contacts between them, to re-adjust, to transform those processes which are currently governing him – and through this aspiration towards unification as the basis, to initiate a new process, a new teaching, a new man.
That which he is bringing into his internal world, into this confusion existent in him since the day he was born – is the observer, the observing process. In the previous text, “Old man needs to die”, I talked about the two fold division. The starting point of this division is the part which is able to observe the other part from which we separate in those specific moments of Working. By itself, making this internal division is not enough; it is simply the basis on which the internal process of working may begin. In this beginning step of the Work one is required to have separated from that which he was before he had embarked on the path, and to actively observe this part from which he is separating from internally. Observation is a process in which we are actively observing a certain part in ourselves, a part from which we have separated either through an intellectual understanding of the need for separation, or through the process of observation itself. Observation is a process in which we are seeing a certain part in ourselves without identifying; we are seeing it as separate from us who are observing it.
The separating process itself may be “intellectual”, in which we are separating from some emotion, thought or from the physical in a clear-cut manner – by mentally repeating “this is not me”. In that moment, we are the one who is observing the process from which we had separated. Repeating “This is not me”, or to give a more specific example: “this hand is not me”, brings us to a position of observer. In the first days of this practice you are usually more focused on the external than on the internal. You are learning how to observe. Observation is not concentration; it is a relaxed yet an interested way of looking, of watching, of listening a certain external phenomenon, or a situation, a person, an object etc. In a clear intellectual separation you are mentally repeating the “mantra”, or a reminder that what you are seeing, listening, touching, smelling or tasting – is not you. “I am not that which I see, hear, think, feel, touch, smell etc.” “I am observing it”. “I am the observer of this phenomenon”.
If you think that you know how to observe, this can easily be (dis)proven, for the most important piece of evidence is the one which proves to you that you can’t, that you have no control over observation. Just start observing anything which is external to you and maintain the process of observation without involving, without identifying with any aspect of yourself which stirs up; an association, a thought, an emotion, a physical sensation etc- for at least three minutes. A thought, an association, any internal process may appear but you should not “go along” with it. You must remain the observer of this phenomenon, not by concentrating but by observing with such interest as if you had NEVER SEEN it before – and you must maintain this observation for the next three minutes. Pretty soon you will realize a certain fact, one showing you the real truth of the “abilities” and “capabilities” you thought were yours since birth.
You don’t need to start the process of observing by mentally repeating “I am not this”, you might simply start observing. In that moment your mind will divide itself in two parts; the part that observes and the part that is being observed. In order to “get to-know thyself” you must first be separated from the part you are “getting to know”, and in order to be separated – you need to observe. Observing is an impartial form of watching, it is seeing the processes in yourself without any judgment, attack, aggression, anger or any other additional process arising from the very act of observing. Although, this won’t be the case in the beginning but is something you will need to achieve with practice, by working, by sadhana.
As I have said; the best way to start is by observing something external, some external phenomena, things, objects, etc. Because we are naturally separated from external things it’s easier for us to remain impartial, to remain unidentified. When we had managed to observe in this manner for some 10 minutes, then we can begin with the internal observation, with the observation of our internal processes. Even though you will feel as if you can start with the internal observation right away, it will not be so. Firstly, because you lack the habit of observing impartially, because you become identified with the process rather quickly, because the “habit” of observing has not been formed, because your observer is not strong, he barely even exists; lacking in both permanence and strength necessary. Yet, I am sure you will try it anyway. Don’t let yourself be disappointed, but go back to basics and practice observing the external.
The easiest way to establish the observer within yourself, apart from mentally repeating that “you’re not that which you observe”, is to observe in an interested manner, like a CURIOUS child – first observe an immovable object, later any part that is outside of you – as if you HAD NEVER SEEN IT before. Like you are silently wondering – although you may, sometimes, use the sentence “what is this” – while observing that which is in front of you, as if you had never seen it in your life, as if you wanted to know “what will it do next?” and as if your life depends on it. In this way you are learning how to observe, and at the same time you are establishing an active observer within your life. You are establishing a part with the ability of transformation, the part which will be the focal point of a new reality, of a new man, of a new structure. We call it the agent of change, the catalyst – the part that enables transformation, the part with the ability to change you, to turn you into that which you are aiming for.
Only when the observer has been established can we dive deeper into the Work. As you will see later, it is much more difficult to observe the movements of the three minds in yourself, but without the observer you are unable to separate from any of the minds within, unable to observe it, unable to make an effort to unite them, to connect them with one another in specific ways, to master your mind etc. In some later practices you will observe the internal within various situations; when different minds are working, when one mind is taking over the work of another. But all of this has its own process of learning, some practice that needs to be done before you are able to do anything in relation to yourself.
Once the observer is established we can then gradually include the other two minds, for in the beginning the observer comes solely from the intellectual mind. You will then understand and comprehend the ideas of the teaching which talk of the emotional and physical minds; ideas of devotion – the so called “faith” and an emotional orientation, – ideas of karma yoga i.e. of acting without expecting result, and so on. Without this as your basis, you’re unable to walk the whole way, the whole of the path on which you had embarked on. Responsibility that is from now on required of you will come in many ways, ways that would have been impossible in the past. This is why I have said in the beginning – this path calls for the whole of man, calls for a man who doesn’t bargain with his life, who had realized that it is his life that is at stake, that it is his evolution that is at stake – a man who had realized that this is not some new kind of amusement, a game to play, or “spiritual image”. This path is a complete, a thorough transformation of the one who had embarked on it, of the one who has the ability to carry it through the end. It demands everything from the one who had embarked on it. It is not “spiritual”, it is an evolution to be lived. It requires that a man matures, that he becomes an adult human being, not a child inside of a grown up. A childish man can be spiritual but he can’t approach this path in any serious manner. He first needs to grow up, needs to discard his childish ideas of spirituality, his fantasy, imagination, vanity. This is the way to embark on this path.