Getting to know yourself, in accordance with the idea “know thyself”, begins with acknowledgement that man doesn’t know himself, that he has by far more unconscious fragments and thoughts (fantasies) of knowing himself, that these fragments are scattered and without clear and readable structure or wholeness of the structure of that which he calls “himself”. If someone asks him whether he knows himself, he will say he does, but on closer examination he will become confused, powerless to say anything about himself, to integrate it in a certain way as the “body of himself”. In the end he will realize that he never knew himself and that a thought of knowing himself is just a buffer serving him to never get to know himself. Here is another buffer – he thinks that the idea “know thyself” is about imaginary self as his true and authentic nature. There is no such self, it is an imagination, for it is based on the fact that he imagines some mystical, authentic self, some emptiness or fullness, or divinity, or atma, but he himself has no knowledge of that, no real apprehension, nor will he ever get to know it. That which he gets to know as a “real self” will have no similarity with projection or imagination he had before.
The idea “know thyself”, for a man with stratified layers (of personality), means that a part to which he is identified, which he is getting to know or which he knows is a part of him that he doesn’t like – in other words, a persona that he is (that he is identified with) is getting to know a shadow that he is not. But even then he knows only fragments and not the whole. In such fragmented knowing of himself, he doesn’t have a possibility to change, because he thinks that the parts within him are separated from himself or separated from each other. He doesn’t see the whole that works behind it – sustains, destroys and creates each part that it encounters.
First of all, man doesn’t think nor has an attitude or a belief that the layers of his personality are stratified, that he is split apart, that he is fragmented. He thinks of himself as a whole because he unconsciously puts the pronoun “I” behind every thought, emotion, process, etc. But he has no idea of this “I”, how did it arise, why is it there, for what is it for, what manifests it, etc. He takes it for granted. When he directs himself towards this “I”, when he starts to observe it, to watch this structure that calls itself “I”, he realizes there is no “I”. There is a feeling of existence, a feeling of aliveness, but a feeling of “I” is not there. When he is aware of himself as the feeling of existence and when he maintains it, soon he cannot identify with any process inside of him, with the mind, with the person, with the personality traits, with the body, with the world around him. And this is the questioning of the reality of “I”. In the beginning he understands that “I” is an illusion without a foundation, without reality and that it occurs when he forgets this feeling of being conscious, this feeling of existence and when he identifies it with the process of the body and mind. Then he gives a name to something inside of him that he cannot get to know, that he cannot know and he names it with the pronoun “I”. The difficulty arises when he must maintain this feeling of being conscious inside of him. Then he realizes that he has no control over anything, that he cannot even do such a simple act of maintaining self-awareness and soon he finds himself in a vertigo of an old program or an old self, in a vertigo of a man with the body and mind, of a mechanical or unconscious man and then dissatisfaction, fear and powerlessness arise. And then, again, he gets new ideas, new impulses of getting to know this mystical “I” which represent an escape from powerlessness, fear, suffering, confrontations and internal conflicts. He repeats this until it comes across his mind that he might be doing something wrong.
Then he begins to understand the idea “know thyself” in a different manner. He begins to realize that he doesn’t know himself and that this ignorance has a price, it demands that he invests effort in order to get to know the whole of what he is NOW, at this moment, as such man, as such body and mind. The process of the conscious evolution, the process of the Work, begins at this point.
Knowing fragments of oneself and thinking that they are the whole of oneself is not “know thyself”. Anyone who has set out to this kind of evolution must discard all the knowledge he’s got from others, from books and gurus; all the knowledge about some mystical or spiritual self, about purport, about higher levels of existence, about enlightened self. Such knowledge is an obstacle.
Also, he must discard all that he knows about himself. Of course, in the beginning he doesn’t realize why, it is unclear to him why he cannot know himself as he used to until that moment. First of all, he didn’t know himself. He knew some fragments of himself, he had an opinion about himself, a self-image he presented to himself. He didn’t love, he didn’t like anything. He doesn’t know why he loves or likes something or why he doesn’t love or doesn’t like something. All that he knows about himself is lie and illusion. Behind the idea “know thyself” there is a hidden fact – “you don’t know yourselves”. That is why the idea of “knowing thyself” exists. This saying or a proverb has been interpreted by those who don’t know themselves and that is why such an explanation exists among spiritual circles. Another problem is that they didn’t give or interpreted the other two ideas that were also carved at Delphi’s temple. The other two ideas rely on the first one, they define it, but only if the first one is properly understood, which is not the case. That is why they don’t mention the other two ideas, and even less can they interpret them.
If you understand the first idea properly, then the gates for the interpretation of the other two will open: “nothing to excess“ and “a pledge comes from madness“ (this third one has several versions of translation).
If you want to evolve then the first thing you must realize is the tendency to run away from yourselves. As the world of senses and matter serves you to run away from yourselves, so does the world of spirituality and religion – the world made by those who created material world too. True spirituality was NEVER given publicly. You have been given a modified version of it, a deformed version and you have even been told when and where it happened. You have been also told how it happened, how it came to this idea of spirituality that is wrong and deformed. But man, although he read and heard about it, doesn’t understand this properly. He understands it as a beautiful story, just as he understands himself as a beautiful story, more or less – as a persona and a shadow; as a self-image and a projection about the world.
Knowing oneself doesn’t mean knowing a small habit or some habitual reaction of a body-mind organism (mind this, not mind-body, but body-mind). It takes one or two decades for a man to get to know himself and even then he will not know himself completely. In the process of getting to know oneself, the majority often overlooks the important facts and ideas of the teaching which safe-guard this process from harmful consequences. Undeveloped interior of what we call personality has a good reason for self-protection. Personality serves as the walnut shell around its core, around the walnut itself as a fruit. It serves to protect the inner. But since the inner is not developed enough, it doesn’t take its proper role and, in time, it forgets itself and binds to the walnut shell (body-mind; personality), it crystallizes it further and thereby looses a possibility for self-awareness. The worst thing that can happen to you in this process, the process of setting out to the Unknown (which happened to you already or is happening to you), are the deformed ideas that you have received from religion and spirituality (I note that there are also right directions in religion and spirituality, but they are rare). Both spirituality and religion are not the whole. You have fragments of them which you interpret as the whole and by this your evolution ends. And you will know this – you will find it out at the moment of death when the false layer around the essence falls, but then you will not be able to do anything.
The way some schools have hidden themselves is precisely by hiding behind the fragments of religion and spirituality. If someone has a predisposition (a destiny) to embark on this path, he will uncover all that he needs in order to find the path. If he doesn’t have such destiny, or, as you would say spiritual karma, he will be affected by degraded teachings, i.e. by deformed fragments of those teachings.
Proper idea of “getting to know oneself” will not come to those who are affected by the force of illusion, who still cast amorous glances at projections of spirituality, i.e. mystical parts which serve to “cover your eyes”. But even the idea of having the “eyes” to see the truth is already “an eye that is covered”. That’s why you are told that your “third eye” is asleep, i.e. closed and that’s why you have a nebulous idea about opening a third eye, although you have no clue what that means. You have overlooked what is important in the explanation of “opening this mystical eye”. Interpretations of the “third eye” symbol are incorrect. Despite all additional symbols which serve the purpose of proper explanation of images and icons, there is no or almost no accurate interpretation of the “third eye” symbol. But if you would have understood the idea “know thyself” correctly, you would soon come to this knowledge too.
To know oneself means to see the whole of yourself – this small human “I”, “self” that you are, your body, your mind, processes, mechanisms, automatisms, habits, emotions, intellect, sexuality, etc. You should get to know this to the extent that you discard that “self” through this process of knowing . This is the meaning of the idea of “dying before death”. Through the process of getting to know yourself, you develop unattached awareness, you develop awakeness. In this process the rest of the ideas of the teaching serve as guides, as a structure that is being built around this part which is getting to know itself. And you can’t get to know yourself if you are not aware, if you don’t observe, but not in a fashion in which spiritual teachings speak about awareness and observing. The ideas that are given to you must be investigated just as everything else in the process of getting to know yourself.
The first step is KNOWING that you don’t know yourself. And how do you approach to something you don’t know? This is the basis. You approach it with the goal of getting to know it, but without known “facts” about yourself or that which you must get to know. None of us knows ourselves.
Second step is that which enables getting to know yourself and that is awareness and its aspect of observing or attention towards that which you are getting to know. This step cannot be done as long as you are mechanically divided into the self which you like and the self which you don’t like. At this step you must divide yourself in two parts – the self which is the observer and the other self which you observe (both of its ends). Or, in other words, you must split yourself into the self which observes and that (self) which you observe, which was “you” until today. You must stratify your already stratified self in a new way, i.e. you must get down a few steps below or you must become like “a child” again and get to know yourself. There are several traps here too and they can be revealed to you only by someone who has already walked through this path.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. It must be so fundamental that you never cease to observe yourself again in your future life. The majority thinks that they will observe themselves for a few months and that’s it. No, this is wrong. A man asleep doesn’t realize the importance of observing, nor the evolution of observer towards witness and awakeness.
Third step, for now, is “nothing in excess”, i.e. you must not stand on either side within yourself, but on the side of the observer. As soon as you stand on either side within yourself you are making “a pledge”. And what do you pledge yourself to? You pledge yourself to your personality, to your unconsciousness, to your dream, to a person and a body that you are. You have bound yourself with something and made a pledge with a dream and not with waking up and awakeness. By the way, these are the three maxims from Delphi. If you understood them now, then you understand, based on the previous understanding that you borrowed from “spiritual authorities”, why no one mentions the other two sayings or ideas. Since they wrongly understood the first one, they cannot realize where to place the other two and therefore they rejected them or they only mention them by the way.
I mentioned something that I called the “evolution of an observer”. To those who know what that is, when I say “observer” or “witness”, this can be a bit strange, although I wrote about this few years ago. On the other hand, an observer is an observer and there is no idea of evolution within him. But you don’t have a contact with pure and whole observer, for if you did, you would be awakened. In the beginning of the practice, the observer with whom we come in contact is a manifestation of that Observer with the big “O” or Witness with the big “W”. He is like a newborn child. He must evolve. In esoteric schools this term was not completely defined nor explained. By “esoteric schools” I mean authentic spiritual schools, not the imitations that we most often meet nowadays.
We can also define the observer by time. Because the quantity of the observer being the crystallization of the observer is proportional to the time of observing. An ordinary man has self-awareness up to 44 seconds at the most. Everything beyond that is a product of the teaching and the school, i.e. Work upon oneself or a shock. But we don’t consider shock as self-observing. Shock comes from vital-bodily or bodily-vital threat and therefore we don’t consider it as observing or witnessing. If you could be aware of yourself, in the right sense of the word, for five minutes, you would see the shock that your body would experience. Therefore we say that if someone awakened you at this moment, you would most likely die or end up in an asylum. As the time of observing prolongs, the shock is getting stronger. But if the time is prolonged by observing, by Work, by teaching, then this shock is compensated. As consciousness descends into the body, and consciousness is the Active Force or Shaktii, it takes over, cleans and transforms the mind, the person and the body and therefore the harmfulness of awakening becomes lesser. Since you are asleep, i.e. you are the consciousness that is asleep, we say that your Kundalinii Shaktii is asleep (that is why I always say that what is being said about Kundalinii Shaktii has no sense and it is simply a lie and a fantasy). On the other hand, consciousness is time and its source is space. Or, in another words – Shaktii and Shiva, Prakrti and Purusha. As the observer gets crystallized so does the witness and so the time of observing gets prolonged. And by crystallization of the witness or consciousness, the time of witnessing and self-awareness gets prolonged. As the time gets prolonged you reach the state of being awake which is, mind this, certain conscious time, certain quantity and quality of time. For example, an animal has about 4 seconds of self-awareness and is therefore an animal. A man asleep has about 44 seconds and is therefore asleep, mechanical, unconscious man. If his consciousness is longer than 44 seconds then he is no longer a man in everyday interpretation of that word, i.e. he is no longer a man in the rank of people or types of people and he crosses to a new rank; and there are 7 types of people according to Gurdjieff. Type 1, 2 and 3 are the everyday people. A man who starts to observe himself, who starts to acquire the force of observing or witnessing, who starts to crystallize this conscious self as himself is already a man number 4, and so forth.
All this is NOT possible, in this way, without getting to know yourself. That’s the first step. And that’s why it must be understood seriously. (Here I speak about the way of the journey, of the Work, in accordance with previous texts).
Getting to know yourself is creating a new body of knowledge, i.e. through this process you must create a body out of that which you are getting to know. I don’t mean anything mystical by this. What I mean is that the process of getting to know yourself must be as clear as the way you see your body clearly. You must get to know yourself to this extent. You must know what you are as human, as person, as body, as mind, as processes, etc. Because then you will know what you should fight AGAINST, how to fight it, etc.
Getting to know yourself must have bones, flesh, skin, veins, circulation of the blood, lymph and cells, all that you will see clearly, all that you will know. Then you will know how this “self” acts upon you (consciousness), which tricks it knows, how it manipulates you, how it puts you to sleep. I told you that the evolution is not cheap and now you know why. I told you that this Work can be done only by chosen ones (exceptional) and now you know why I said it. I told you that this path is not for the majority and now you know why. I said that spirituality and religion are cheap and now you know why I said it. I said that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Yogis and Tantrics are cheap and now you know why and to whom these terms refer. I said that all the disciplines (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Tantra, Yoga, Mantra, etc.) must serve to one who aims to awaken, to wake up, to become conscious, to know himself and not the other way around – he must not serve them, nor identify with them (except in specific cases that I will write about later) and now you know why I said that.
In front of us (consciousness) there is a dreadful, a very intelligent machinery. And in this way you must approach the “enemy”, as Sun Tzu would say. And once you learn to keep watch over yourself, as Jesus says in the Bible, you will never throw this “habit” away and you will know why.