To answer the question: you look and you see what’s there. At first, for most of us, this is not going to seem to be easy. Once you actually do get to it you will realise that it’s the easiest possible thing, because there’s nothing to do, because it’s entirely obvious to you that you and the self you believe yourself to be are not the same thing and never were.
But you don’t know that yet – or do you?
And by ‘know’, I mean to be able to look right now at this very moment (and every other moment, if you want to imagine there are other moments than this one) and immediately see — be — what you are. This is direct perception or direct knowledge, or gnosis. And it’s for you.
The first idea to grab is this — the false self does NOT want you to know that it is not you. It will resist you in every possible way. It will lie, cheat, divert your attention, bring in ‘important’ thoughts, minor or major pains, cause accidents, arguments, problems, tell you you are going mad, or bored, that it’s pointless, that you can’t do it, it will use psychology or philosophy or ‘logic’ or arguments from authority — it will do anything and everything it can to stop you finding out that you are not it; and that it is not you1.
And the closer you get to it the more it will try to throw you off.
Why would it do that? Because the false self is disembodied misery. It’s a completely selfish self, and it is running around having a good and bad time in YOUR body, where its sustenance is YOUR energy.
It does not want to give the body back. It gets the capacity to sense and feel without having to take any responsibility, because if anything goes wrong it pulls right back out and leaves YOU to deal with whatever disaster its selfishness has created.
You may not believe me. That’s very good. Please, don’t believe me, just find out if it is true. Best be prepared for the the tricks I’ve mentioned to occur — if they do.
…never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.John Donne
But in truth – does this description of what can happen inside ring any sort of bell with you? Men — have you ever been left with the cold reality and aftermath of what you have just done in a fit of selfish fury? Women –have you been led into fits of spite or stupid decisions that continue to damage you and tarnish your joy?
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face…Traditional
You are left with the consequences, and the regret, of your self’s actions. You may have thought, ‘Why did I do that!?’
What you are left with is a cold reality because the self has just taken all the heat you created to sustain its — self.
And the thought — ‘Why did I do that!?’ — is its own thought, setting up a contradiction within you so you blame yourself, not your self! 2
Recognise all this, see that the self will block you all the way, and you have made your first important step to knowledge — because the self has no body and no intelligence. It lives in between yours. It’s tricky in its set of tricks. It is not intelligent. Only you are intelligent, because intelligence is at its heart the capacity to look, see, and select – inter legere or ‘discernment’. Everyone has this in their own power. Self has no power, its centre is its self and it forces you to succumb to its designs — by persuading you that they are your own designs, when you did not really have any.
So obviously, the next step is to start to use your intelligence to see the self at work. You have to SEPARATE from the self to see it acting. How, on Earth, can you do this?
Well, you need to speed up your perception. Actually, that’s not quite true. Your perception is already fast enough – it’s actually instantaneous, though you probably won’t know that yet – it’s the self and its thinking getting in the way that slows it all down.
Oh yes, I didn’t mention that: aspects of the self are also responsible for most of ‘your’ thinking, except where the thinking is oriented towards a practical goal.
It thinks that you think you are thinking original thoughts, unique to you, and because you have not yet learned to see the cracks in this argument, you believe it.
To see the self at work you have to see it getting in between your perception and your resulting action. You have to see it wanting to get its own way. Not YOUR own way, its own way. And to see this all you have to do is look, without getting distracted, and see what you see.
- I acknowledge that the truth of this was first demonstrated to me, in similar language, by Barry Long. Living it was down to me.
- Blaming your ‘self’ is not a way of shifting or avoiding responsibility for your actions. YOU are responsible for clearing out your self and mastering your actions, after all. If not you, then who?