“Multiple I’s” by Red Hawk

One of the hardest Work ideas to understand is the claim that, as we are, we are not unified beings inside, a single “I”, always and everywhere the same, but a multitude of “i”s inside, a self divided, fragmented into dozens, even hundreds, of fractious, competing, warring “i”s, each with its own agenda, tone, mood and beliefs. It is impossible to understand this right away in any way except intellectually. I believe I am one, whole, undivided and I am constructed in such a way psychologically that the truth of my inner state is impossible for me to see. Psychology has labeled such a state schizophrenia and called it mental illness. Yet it is the state of the entire humanity; everyone I ever met, without exception, suffers from this inner state.

But we cannot admit to such a thing. To do so would place us in jeopardy. They have a place for people like that. And so to avoid being shot, or jailed, or placed in an institution, we have all developed elaborate disguises, masks, acts, games, false personalities to hide our real inner state of fragmentation. And slowly, slowly I come to believe in this pretense as my real self. I will fight to defend it against attack or exposure.

I am a mass of contradictions. I see this in others, often it is quite obvious, and I cannot understand why they do not see it themselves, even when I point the contradiction out to them. Often they may be quite insulted and defensive when I do so, and deny any such thing in their behavior. I do the same. I cannot believe that inside I am in such a shattered, fragmented state.

And the result is that I act as if myself and everyone else were whole, united, a single, stable, unchanging “I” within. Thus, if X says she will do something and the next day she does not do as she has said, I am insulted, angry and believe that X is a liar, not to be trusted. I may even end my friendship with X if the insult is great enough, or even if it is a small thing. We end relationships all the time over petty grievances. Why? Because in the first place we believe the other to be the same “I” always and in every circumstance, and secondly because I myself am governed by many small “i”s, each of which has its own agenda, and one of them, full of self importance and unable to value my friendship with X, decides to end it; it thinks for me, speaks for me, and acts in my name. Having done so, the damage may be irreparable. I may pay for the rest of my life for the momentary impulsive action of a small “i” in me which the next moment or the next hour or the next day no longer is in charge but has disappeared.

And if you ask me the next day why on earth I said and did such things to X, I will tell you quite honestly, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I could have been thinking.” Or else, I will blame X and justify my behavior towards her with the most transparent and obvious falsehoods and excuses. This is my state and it is the state of every single person I have ever met, without exception. This state of fragmentation runs my life. It is why I cannot follow a single line of action to its logical conclusion, especially if such a line of action must be carried out over a long period of time, days, months, or even years. I will begin a certain line, even one which has great importance to me such as marriage, and will begin at once to deviate from this line into a hundred diversions, many of them directly opposed to the original line, until finally I find myself doing the exact opposite of what the original line of action proposed. I end in divorce, or I whore and drink and do terrible damage to my marriage. How can I do such things? It is simple. The “i” which made its vows before God and man to never part, to be ever faithful until death meant these vows with all its heart, so long as it had control of the human biological instrument. But once another “i” gained control, all was forgotten. Or what is worse, the “i” which now holds sway has not forgotten those vows, but it is diametrically, even violently opposed to them and does not want to have anything to do with them. In fact it curses the position it finds itself in and cannot believe it has gotten into such an awful mess in the first place. “What was I thinking when I married her?”” it will ask, having no memory at all of the state of that other “i”. In its world, the only thing which matters is drinking and whoring. Never mind the consequences to self or others. Each of these “i”s wants only what it wants, when it wants it, and how it wants it. “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

This is what is happening in me every moment of every day, for my entire life.

Not just me, every one of us. One small “i” will take control of the instrument momentarily, will choose for me, will speak in my voice, will act in my name, and my whole life and the direction that life takes may hinge on that small and seemingly insignificant moment. And “I” am not even present, “I” don’t know what happened, the implications for me, the importance of the choice, none of that. I am not even present or aware. One of a multitude of “i”s in me has chosen, decided with finality and certitude, a life-changing decision.

This “i” which has chosen has an agenda. All of the “i”s have their own agenda. And their only aim is to fulfill the desire of that agenda, at whatever cost to myself, my life, my relationships. Period. End of story. And because I am not a single, unified, solidified and consistent “I” then I am at the mercy of whichever “i” happens by pure chance to be present at the moment I am faced with choice.

Can I even begin to see what this means for myself? Can I even begin to understand the situation which this places me in as a human being? Seeing this is what Mister Gurdjieff calls, “the terror of the situation”. This is the situation of every single human being on Earth. How can the president of the United States say one thing, directly contradict it, spout what appear to be blatantly obvious lies, and appear to believe them himself, and then do another contradictory thing? Because, he is exactly as you and I – a multitude of “i”s, each with its own agenda, and he is ruled by these “i”s, exactly as you and I are.

And these “i”s are of three types:

1) one type knows very well that such a thing as the Work exists, and it is vehemently, even violently opposed to the aims of the Work; it resists self observation strongly because it understands in some way that to do so would expose its agendas, contradictions and beliefs for what they are;
2) a second type does not even know of the existence of the Work, what it is, or what its aims are; it has no memory at all of the Work, or of any aims other than its own; it is unconscious to everything but itself;
3) a third type knows of the existence of the Work, it is influenced by the Work, it agrees to practice the aims of the Work, and is willing to cooperate with those “i”s which feel otherwise.

The president of the United States operates almost exclusively with “i” number 2, and all the world’s leaders, those who control the destinies of nations, are doing likewise. A disciplined mind is the rarest thing on this Earth. It is one in a million. You watch the rich and famous and powerful (including all heads of state for all nations) on TV and what you see very quickly is this: these people are fools at best; worse, they are crazy; and at their worst, they are dangerously crazy and do real harm. Some of them kill millions. They destroy the Earth. They are us with the handcuffs of social control and peer pressure removed. They are corrupted by power.

This represents another meaning of “the terror of the situation”. But the true “terror of the situation” arises in me when I have observed myself honestly, without judgement or trying to change what is observed, for a very long time and I see that all wars are one war, all terrorists exist in one place only: the war is within me, the terrorists live in hiding in me – and they depend for their lives, their very existence, upon remaining hidden from my attention: when I begin to see them clearly, their cover is blown; seeing them is profound change (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle).

Nothing can remain the same in me once I have seen the fact of my “many i’s” and see how that works in me.

Now real suffering – voluntary suffering – begins in earnest within me: “voluntary” because no human being can make me observe myself, no one. There must develop within me what the Work calls “observing-I” which wishes to see. And as it is remembered and utilized by the inner being more, it begins to strengthen and fuse with the inner being; it becomes more and more active through the power of suffering – pain is the great motivator. More and more “i’s” join forces with this “observing-I”, they begin to coalesce and crystallize around it the way particles gather around a charge. And thus, through years of practice, forgetting for hours or days to observe, resisting meditating for fifteen or thirty minutes in the morning, only now and then remembering my Work, this “observing-I” grows stronger and more active.

Slowly, slowly its aim – to see myself as I am – becomes more active, begins to have real strength and force in me. The suffering produced by the practice actually builds and develops something in me which the Work calls conscience. We are all born with a tiny, microscopic “mustard seed” of conscience within us. But this mustard seed remains in embryo, undeveloped in the ordinary person. I may go to my grave ruled by various “i”s, even perhaps religious “i”s but such religious “i”s have no conscience, all they have is an inherited “belief system”, which cannot think, but only condemn and follow rigidly unproven dogma, borrowed ideas. Such people do not understand, they are often rigid, even very violent and war-like in pursuit of these borrowed unproven misunderstood dogma inherited from their fathers. They are often very judgemental and capable of great harm. They will act in the name of an imaginary, illusory, self-created god and do unspeakable things in the name of this god. History is filled with the acts of such beings.

But from “voluntary suffering”, the seed of real conscience may spring. And this is the result of very patient and slow and careful observation over many years. Once that mustard seed is activated, once real conscience is fed and begins to develop, only then will I learn what true voluntary suffering is. Because the “i”s which I love and identify with ( = I am that) will not go away. Just so long as I choose to believe in them and identify with them, they will have power over me. The mature practitioner simply does not give these “i”s the authority, to speak for me, to choose for me, to act for me. I give my power to aim instead. I choose to live from aim, not from the agenda of small “i”s. And I suffer because I see over and over and over just how easily I refuse to stop whoring and drinking (an example, not a fact) never mind the cost to myself, my relationships, or my life: I refuse. And because there is now in me a mustard seed of conscience – not belief systems borrowed from others, but something which is all my own because I have paid for it – now I suffer most intensely, now I suffer in a whole new way and on a whole new level. And this suffering feeds conscience. This is what the ordinary man can never understand.

Only desperate people, who have suffered “the terror of the situation” for years and years, would be driven to such lengths that they surrendered all that they had to the Creator, in return for this mustard seed, this “pearl of great price”. Do you understand? Do I dare to see how every moment I am making a decision to be ruled by small, selfish, unconscious “i”s and am a slave to their wishes? Do I dare to see how my life is being stolen from me for chump-change, for drinking and whoring (which means any and all of the small “i”s agendas)?

Can I see in myself the true “terror of my situation”? Try to observe in yourself the entire cycle of a single “i” – not only the acting out of its agenda, but the resulting judgement about that action, and the feelings about self which resulted as well; that is, the entire “cycle-of-the-i” not just one half, which is the action, but the other half too, which is the reaction and judgement and feeling about myself. Verify for yourself what is true about your inner state. Try to observe yourself without judgement or changing what is observed. When I am able to be aware of an “i” in me and what it is doing, greed and the “i” which is greedy, this is a moment of real self remembering and self observation.

The effort to change what is observed is the result of identification with what is observed, believing in it, giving it power, feeling “helpless” to do otherwise because “I am that”. Thus, one part of me, one small “i” in me judges another small “i” and says that this “i” must be stopped and “i” will stop it. The result? Civil war, a self divided, and the effort to change what is observed merely serves to further empower that which is observed and which “I” am making effort to change. Result? No change, habitual repetition of act – judgement of act – effort to change act – resulting guilt and condemnation when it does not change – further repression of act. It is a cycle. It repeats. It can be predicted, because it is habitual. All habits are “i”s.

Here is a good example. Yesterday I spent about three hours working out this chapter, writing and rewriting it. I felt that I had a reasonably good first draft. Here I was at home with this borrowed laptop making a few last minute changes when, with a single key stroke, I lost the whole chapter. I tried frantically to find and retrieve it. Nothing.

I sat there in a state, stunned disbelief and despair. Certain well-known “i”s arose in me very forcefully then. One was rage. But who or what to rage against? The laptop? Quickly it morphed to my default position: self-hatred, the blind spot. Then another “i” arose, one which urged me to abandon the whole book project. It went on for several minutes, until I remembered myself, found myself, and managed the body.

I made a conscious decision not to dramatize the event or speak of it right away with my wife. Instead, I shut down the laptop, went to the backyard where my wife was sitting, and joined her in a glass of wine. When she asked me how it went, I said it had been a good day and that I was satisfied. Later that evening at a friend’s house after dinner, I mentioned what had happened, got the appropriate sympathy, we laughed about it, and I let it go. The next day several “i”s with no trust, fear-based and self hating were eager to exploit the available energy. But I was willing to hold to my aim, so I sat down and began. The result is this chapter, better than the first draft by a lot. Perhaps not great, but better. So you see how it goes with me. Sometimes I eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats me. It goes on.

– Self-Observation by Red Hawk, chapter Multiple I’s

Analysis of the short film IN-SHADOW [Part 1]

“Embark on a visionary journey through the fragmented unconscious of the west, and with courage face the Shadow. From Shadow into Light.”, that is the description of IN-SHADOW on YouTube.

The power of this short film developed by Lubomir Arsov lies in its symbolism as well as in the brutal honesty with which it illustrates the pathologies of our world. Not only that, but it somehow manages to bypass the intellect and speak to you at a deeper level, where language is perhaps comprised of dream symbols. In a dream you experience things whose emotional impact you may not be able to explain rationally and all you are left with are the feelings they evoke. The intellect is limited in this as it sometimes acts as a barrier to certain revelations. A great achievement of this film is that it goes beyond that barrier and allows you to have the dream experience in a waking state. So let’s try to interpret the symbols in this dream sequence.

The first thing we see is darkness. Nothing. Emptiness.
Out of this void, one sphere emerges along with the light that shines upon it.

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The sphere splits into three smaller luminous orbs. This is the beginning of creation. When nothing turns into something – represented by the sphere – all is one. Then, this unity splits in what can be interpreted as the Holy Trinity (God, Son and the Holy Spirit). This is also suggested through the way the three orbs are disposed, one at the top, the other two below it.

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Then everything is created while the three orbs overlook all creation.

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The story takes us across the universe at a critical point, the birth of self-awareness, represented by the eye.

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Through the eye we see the Earth, which gradually contracts, from a sphere of great energy to a cube-shaped rock floating among debris.

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This is a representation of how human perception can make even the most outstanding things seem devoid of meaning and magic. The cube symbolizes conformity, safety, rigidity, imposition. It is not a shape that is indigenous to nature, it is a human creation, an artificial construct. It even looks like a prison. The metaphor is clear, humans have mutilated Earth and human experience so that they could fit it inside the box of ideology. And so, the light went dimmer and dimmer, until it could barely be seen. It didn’t disappear, it was just blocked out of our perception. The debris that surrounds our planet are remnants of that destruction.

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The next thing we see is an amalgamation of buildings of modern architecture stranded on an island in the middle of what appears to be a sea or an ocean. Above this metropolis there is a large and menacing dark cloud that suggests an imminent danger as well as industrial pollution. The debris is floating around but not sufficiently close to the concrete island so that it can be easily noticed. The feeling I get is that the level of the water that surrounds the island is a side effect of global warming. This image also suggests a feeling of isolation and disconnection from nature.

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At a closer look, we can see these big buildings are floating above the the rest. They are standing in front of the sun, which makes them look like they’re floating on a pillow of light, suggesting that they represent some kind of ideal of the modern world, that place towards which humans aspire. Climbing the hierarchy. This is also hinted to by the triangular shape of their arrangement. The buildings on the sides are smaller, while the ones in the middle are the highest. By contrast, the world below these buildings seems small and insignificant, orderly disposed and unimposing in any way. In fact it looks like arable land, which is something that is exploitable. The fact that these large constructions block the light of the sun suggests that they are what is preventing the rest of the world from becoming, well…enlightened. They hold the knowledge that those below are obstructed from receiving.

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We are then presented with what appears to be the largest building of all. The dark cloud seems to emanate from it. At this point you feel like a higher intelligence is dissecting the world so that you may be guided towards the truth. It feels like you are taken on a journey that shows you what hides beneath appearances.
The building has the darkest color of all, suggesting the malicious orientation of those residing there. When it is sectioned, light comes out, which indicates that those at the top, the elites, hold great knowledge and that that knowledge is restricted to those within that group. The red shade at the top implies that the knowledge they hold is used for negative purposes. That’s why the light is tainted in the color of blood.

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We are then taken inside the top of the building where we see a number of hooded figures which seem to conjure up a red cube. The hooded figures seem to worship this cube. Their creation does not seem to have solidy, which suggests it’s an ideology, a belief and a restrictive one (shape) at that as well as destructive (color). They have come up with a new frame. And in the next scene we see why.

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The cube traverses a sea of people who seem distracted and reaches a man whose eyes are closed, who literally has a whole in his chest where a darkness swarms and who assumes a straight position, with his arms by his side glued to his body. Then we see the red cube enclose his head. The cube seems to single him out from the crowd. What I think this means is that the new ideology – which is a distortion of truth – reaches those who do not use their critical thinking (eyes closed), who hold resentment within (hole in his chest) and who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and to claim agency (arms by his side). The position he assumes is that of a lower rank officer in the military, someone who bows to authority and renounces free will in exchange of not having to take responsibility for his actions. Therefore he represents the enforcer of the ideology that is imposed from above.

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We then see the effects of this ideology. It makes mere servants out of people. It creates societies where people don’t care about each other, everyone minding their own business, it crams people into narrow places and forces them into boring jobs where they step over each other to reach the top in a hierarchy that does not honor virtue but compliance. It burdens people with debt and makes them enamored with material possessions.

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The next scene shows people whose head is disjoint from the body. This is a powerful metaphor for one of the most pervasive problems we have: a head-centric approach to everything that surrounds us. This prevents us from plugging into reality and having a full experience of life. We glorify the intellect and we dismiss the intelligence of the body. We treat ourselves like walking heads as if the body’s only real function is merely logistical.

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This is a quote from Philip Shepherd that I found via Bernhard Guenther which captures the intent of this scene:

“As long as you continue to live in your head, the self will not even exist as an unbroken whole: when conscious thinking is independent of being, the male element is deliberately fracturing self and world. It is only when the pelvic center of your being is sensitized and fully participant in your consciousness—massively connecting and communicating— that the various and divergent aspects of the self will be able to reconcile into a whole.

The body holds the deepest currents of our being, and is our bridge to the life of the world around us – the being of the world. By separating the center of our thinking from all that, we enter a kind of alienation that makes us feel like spectators on the events that surround us.

Furthermore, we start managing from on high what we cannot experience, because head-centric thinking is keen to create structures of control, systemization, judgment and acquisition. But being out of touch and off balance ourselves, we can only seed more imbalance with every willful, managerial impulse – even when our impulses spring from an agenda that seeks to improve things.

The desire to behave ethically, if coming from a place of disconnected reason, will necessarily focus on fixing how our behavior affects the material world; because disconnected reason tacitly expresses a contempt for the body, it will overlook the problem of how our relationship with the body affects our behavior.

This is our blind spot – and it is a towering liability, because our relationship with the world can only mirror and express the relationship we have with our own bodies. Having estranged ourselves from the body and its wisdom, we find ourselves also estranged from the world and its wisdom.”

– Philip Shepherd, New Self New World

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This is further reinforced by the next scene where the head seems to erode into debris. This is a metaphor for dissociation. The fact that electronic devices are present in these images is not accidental, they contribute greatly to our state of inner division. There was even an experiment that showed that the attention span of a person has significantly decreased recently. When you are disconnected from the body and the society you live in is so alien to your true nature, you tend to dissociate and fall into depression, which is not a mental illness that needs to be fixed, it’s most often a symptom of the kind of society we live in, the kind that would produce such reactions in the people that live in it. It’s like Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

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We are shown how everything is upside down and how, as time passes, we all start to feel empty and how a dark cloud lurks over our heads that we feel is becoming unbearable. We suspect that something is wrong, but we assume that it’s us, that we are not adaptable, that we need to try harder to fit in. Which produces monsters in our minds and creates what Carl Jung called the shadow, which is that aspect of ourselves that we have denied expression of and suppressed in order to comply with the definitions of normality that this world imposed on us. This shadow always lurks within us triggering reactive behaviors in us, causing conflict, because it wants to be integrated, it wants to be seen, it wants to be expressed.

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But we don’t integrate it because everybody puts on the mask of happiness, which fortifies the belief that the problem resides in you, which it does, but not in the way you think. The problem isn’t that you have dark things inside that need to be eradicated, they have their reasons for existing there. They are manifestations of those parts of yourself that you have chosen to ignore or that you have mutilated just so that the world would accept you. What the problem really is is that you see the shadow aspects of yourself and instead of trying to get to the bottom of how they came to be, you try to mask them. You feel ashamed about having them and you identify with this negative side of yourself, you really believe you are just angry and bitter and envious. So why is it not apparent that there’s something more beyond these emotions? Because you are presented with another layer of deception, which is your “identity”, your persona. The persona is where all the shoulds are. You should be kind, you should be generous, you should be strong, you should be calm, etc. You should be all the good things. And whenever you fail, it is an indication that you are a bad person or that you are not good enough or that you’re not meant to do something. If you display anger, instead of looking deeper into it and find where it leads you, you start to feel bad about yourself for having shown anger and you will try to force yourself into never displaying anger again so that you may believe yourself to be that perfect person, that persona. That’s why the mask is always smiling. Because that’s what people aspire towards, believing that they can ‘fake it till they make it’. And that’s also why it’s promoted on TV. Because assumed identity wants to advance itself. And that can be easily exploited by intelligent marketing campaigns.

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Here’s a quote by Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

You are encouraged to add value to yourself. And what is value in this sick society? The appearance of success in the form of material possessions, status, popularity and power.

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The story progresses to a scene of remarkable emotional power. Two masked figures embracing each other in bed, empty alcohol bottles surrounding them. While their masks have wide smiles, you can tell by the way they are holding each other that they are not as happy as they seem. The strong grasp of each other suggests that they are seeking refuge in one another, they are looking for a way to escape the cruel reality they are living in. This idea is consolidated by the empty alcohol bottles that are by their sides which is another way to evade reality. This scene is particularly sad because it suggests that even intimate relationships are formed at a superficial level as long as we relate to one another from our false sense of identity. We fear that if we put our masks down we will be exposed and vulnerable. But there is no true connection without vulnerability. And what this breeds is co-dependence, not love. And we are in desperate need for connection and affection and love.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

Originally posted on Steemit:
https://steemit.com/art/@astrayingline/analysis-of-the-short-film-in-shadow-part-1