Wilson tells us he is often oblivious to the scenery because his robot has taken over the task of cutting out irrelevant details so he can get through a day’s work. Yet when his day is over and he wants to relax, he often finds that he can’t. His automatic pilot—the robot—is in gear and won’t let go. Wilson is not alone in this; it is a central human problem, the central human problem. Descartes believed that animals were really robots. Clearly he was wrong. We are the robots. Or rather, we are like people who allow their servants to do everything for them, and subsequently feel they have lost touch with life, but don’t know exactly why. Wilson is fond of quoting T. S. Eliot’s line from Choruses From the Rock: “Where is the life we have lost in living?” It’s with the robot.
Source: Colin Wilson and “The Robot”
“…our first steps towards freedom require us to “remember ourselves” and in doing so “separate ourselves from ourselves”. As I understand it, this means in my psychological language to dis-identify with the reactive places we are caught in. In other words to make an object of the part of that is caught into whatever reaction is happening now. This is also what Robert Keegan’s 1994 “Subject / Object Theory” is all about, making objective, i.e. clear to ourselves, what we are identified with, bringing our unaware ground into consciousness so that we can relate to it, so that we can develop our awareness around it and start to understand it. So that we can start to look after ourselves in a new way.This is what therapy is all about, facilitating this movement of separating ourselves from ourselves in order to develop our awareness and understanding around that part of ourselves. This in the service of healing the unfinished trauma in its widest sense that we hold from our pasts and which unconsciously drives our compulsive reactive identifications. Just making this step into seeing that we are caught and that this is not the whole of ourselves, is such a profound and powerful one. ‘Remembering’ ourselves, i.e. connecting our split self back together again, opens the door to not only self-knowledge and understanding, but also to all the possibilities we have of being.Held trauma inevitably splits the heart and mind and body, and it is re-connecting these aspects of our whole together again that facilitates “self-remembering”. Or is it ‘remembering ourselves’ that enables them to re-connect? I’m not sure which way round it is, maybe both work simultaneously, or maybe we can get there from using either our ‘intention’ or ‘attention’.
Continuing on from my previous blog post Who Am I? All the World’s a Stage and All the Men and Women Merely Players
In the Natural World, we can observe a harmony that is at the same time both simple, and yet sophisticated. We see different insects, plants, trees and creatures evolving into their own sophisticated form of life in order to maximise their chance of survival, and to find their own unique place in the eco-system. Different species rely on each other, and sustain each other.
There are of course conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies.
In the human world, things are no different; we are very sophisticated life forms, with the same conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies. The difference is, above and beyond the natural way of things, we have also created our own very sophisticated conflicts, false hierarchies, and have created a system whereby we cause entire sections of our own species to struggle to survive, in many cases simply to sustain others.
What is the cause of our living increasingly out of harmony with even our own species and out of balance with the rest of the eco-system?
At birth we are unaware of any divisions in life, but as we become more self-aware and aware of our surroundings, we learn our name, who belongs to our family, our group, our town, our country. In many respects, this is the same among other life forms, and can be useful for helping us to fit in with our culture and to become a useful and productive member of our own society. However, to these we can add the particularly human traits that we choose to believe to be part of our identity – “I am a doctor” or even things such as “I read this newspaper” and “I go to see these types of films”, “This is my enemy, this is my friend”, “I need this, I don’t need that”.
As we become adults, we are now fully conditioned by our family, teachers, friends and society, and are keenly aware of the qualities we have which are considered weaknesses by society, and those which are considered strengths. We are judged or praised, rewarded or punished depending on our emotions and actions; we learn to ignore or hide the parts of our self that are not approved of, or do not fit in with our culture or society’s conditioning and programming. This is reinforced by so many people around us, that we come to believe that this is all I can be, and we forget or bury the other aspect of ourselves.
In many disciplines, this self is considered the false self. What can make it even more difficult, is if we are also aware that this self we are presenting to the world IS false. In the outside world, we may think we need this false self to fit in with the system, trying to go about our business within society just as others do but inside, privately we have remained in touch with some aspect of our true self underneath the false self. We may have lived as this false self for so long that we may also not approve of what we percieve to be our true self, due to the conditioning. We even begin to think we are some kind of freak. We have learned not to trust, even doubting those who want the best for us, as we have been betrayed by others when we have confided our feelings or shown aspects of our true self to them. Is there a way back to the You that you already knew before you got so tied up in the physical world, in the expectations of society and the belief that it was the only way to exist or survive?
Yes, this conditioning and programming can be undone; it is a mistake to believe that it can’t.
We can start by unravelling our thoughts, each time we find ourselves thinking “I am this” or “I’m no good at that” “I can only do this in such a way”. Ask yourself, do you REALLY believe that? And if so, why? Who told you that? or when did you decide that? Our thoughts are made up of stories; our mind contains so many stories from the past that shape our thinking and assumed beliefs – some from events that actually happened, and others that we made up ourselves at various points in our life, for protection or to boost our self-esteem. Because our mind has turned these thoughts into stories, we use this inner library to reference the way we act or approach the present, however much we might wish to behave differently.
By turning an inner light on these thoughts and stories, we can shed awareness on past conditioning, we can expand our consciousness and begin to rediscover and recover our true identity. We can then begin to rediscover the harmony that can be found with members of our own species, to rely on one another, to sustain one another, and even further, find our place within the eco-system. We have a choice.
All the World’s a Stage and All the Men and Women merely Players – Which part are you playing? – by Jaq White
One of the questions many of us ask ourselves at some point in our lives is, “Who am I?”
Throughout life, we take on many roles, each one relating to whichever situation we find ourselves in at any moment ; son/daughter, student, teacher, wife, husband, mother, father, financial advisor, scientist, fitness instructor, footballer – of course the list is endless. These roles may not even be “official”; how often do you hear people commenting on their home life with expressions of how they feel like a nurse, or a hotel owner (if you have teenagers!) or a dustman, odd-job man, cleaner, cook, taxi driver etc? If we look closely, we are each playing many roles throughout our day. If we could imagine ourselves in the relevant outfit, or uniform or costume for each character and role we play throughout the day, imagine how many costume changes you have to go through in 24 hours.
Add to this how often we also adopt roles for ourselves in order to “give a good impression”. This has also been referred to as “putting on a mask”. We may want to be seen as generous, kind, caring, strong, charitable, fun-loving etc. yet at times feel quite the opposite, though will go out of our way to give the impression of what we believe we should be. We put on the masks.
At the end of each day, you may have put on quite a few costumes and masks, but have you remembered to take them off? If we don’t take them off, we start to convince ourselves that this is who we really are. “I am a banker” “I am a policeman” “I am a mother”. We start to identify with a particular role, and pile the costumes and masks on top of each other, until we forget who is underneath all of the disguises. Even when we try to unmask ourselves, to try and remember who we are, we have become so attached to some of the masks and outfits that we are convinced they are really “me”. What we are forgetting, is why we put them on in the first place. When did we put on that “brave face”? What about the warrior mask? The little girl lost mask? Why do we think we have to play the Fool? We each have our own, and some are more difficult to recognise than others.
We can start by developing an awareness of our reactions – how we react to certain people in a different way to others, what pushes my angry button, my rude button, my generous button, my patient button or impatient button, my panic button, my flirt button, my protective button, my Fool button… and so on. We are actors, playing a role, and our actions and reactions are part of the role.
When we can identify the actions with the role, and question why we acted in such a way, why we put on that mask or invisible costume, we start to become more aware of ourselves, and to recognise our true nature. It isn’t always a pleasant discovery, and you won’t always like what you discover about yourself as you strip away all the layers, but there are many ways of addressing that and of learning to embrace the parts you thought you needed to hide or to ignore.
In ancient teachings, this was referred to as removing your garments without being ashamed – think of the old story of Adam and Eve, naked in the garden until they became ashamed and tried to cover themselves. Like many wise teachings, this story became twisted until it was unrecogniseable and its deeper meaning was all but forgotten.
“Auditions are being held for you to be yourself. Apply within.”