The self is apparently inside your body, where you apparently are. But it’s not in the same place you are. In fact, it’s remarkably hard to put the finger on it. It’s almost as if it does not want to be examined.
Right at the ‘back’ of your perceptual reality is you, where you are looking from now. ‘Behind’ you there is nothing. That might be better expressed as No Thing. There’s nothing at the back of you. But this No Thing is not empty, it’s where every Thing comes from. In particular it’s where all your ideas, insights and seeing comes from.
These do not arrive as thoughts. They arrive as pure perception, in the form that fits the nature of the incoming information. That is, there might be an image or a sound or an insight – but there’s never a thought.
THEN what happens is that the self rushes over to stand in line and re-presents that which has just arrived as a “thought”, obscuring the moment of perception. This re-presentation takes time. Because you are so used to this process, it’s hard to spot the initial pure perception, the perception of the thought usually overrides and disguises the original insight. It’s a sort of sleight-of-hand.
If you are any sort of performance artist or musician or athlete or an artist or carpenter or craftsman or driver — any sort of skillful expression — you might well recognise some of what I am saying here. The thoughts of the thinker or the self are what get in the way of the smooth flow of improvisation. If you are not any of these things then you can still recognise what I am describing, because it’s happening in you all the time.
Here’s an exact description or depiction of what happens:
- There’s a situation
- You look for the next thing to do
- It comes to you instantly as an understanding or insight or indication
- You start to do that but almost immediately after…
- The commentary, the thought about this insight starts
- Usually the thought re-presents the insight you have already had as a bit of internal dialogue
- This is a trick to persuade you that the thought was the source of the insight
- Sometimes (perhaps often?) that slower thought or commentary damages the flow of what came, trips you up.
This also happens a lot in making love — at least speaking as a man. The self just loves to get involved there, because there’s a great deal of energy involved in lovers making love, and the self wants some of it. It interjects an awkwardness, a thought of ‘self’ and what ‘I’ (self) WANT, that breaks the flow, and causes much unhappiness and lo – it gets its feed.
But please don’t believe me. Look and see if this is truth or not.
True sacrifice is sacrificing the self
There’s another thing you can do to get to see the self at work.
Do you love? Well, do you? If you are reading this far, then I trust that you do love; if not you’d have got bored many paragraphs ago.
Well, use that love to diminish your self. When you and your beloved want different things, sacrifice your self to your beloved1. If you are a man, you may be able to watch the screaming fury rise up in you – that’s your self. It does not want to be sacrificed. It will tell you that you are being stupid, that your beloved is a selfish person who doesn’t deserve to get their way. This is a clever trick, because it will (at first) often be true. But it doesn’t matter if its true or not, because it’s not the truth.
Sacrifice your self and see what happens. Watch the self in action. See it scream and shout within you – but don’t let it out in your actions.
You’ll fail. Try it again. You’ll probably have plenty of opportunities to try this.
And when you fail — and this especially for men — learn to apologise. Don’t apologise for your failure, apologise for not being love, for not putting your self to one side. Oh your self will HATE you for this. Apologise every time you are wrong. Watch the resistance in you to apologising and see where it is coming from. Apologise when you are wrong and when you do something wrong even when you are in the right, and watch the self kick and scream.
By now you may well have seen that you and the self are not the same. How so? Well, who is it that is apologising, exactly? And what are you apologising for? Your self? Hmmm.
You might ask, how does the speaker know this? Well, you can probably answer that by examining your self.