When clients see me for psychotherapy, they eventually realize that a kind of healing awareness can be attained by attending to the following ten canons.
I. The capacity to delay gives perspective. It provides room to maneuver. Delay — not procrastination — gives time, the fine oil that lubricates human behavior. Often we know nothing of delay, for our consumer culture hustles gratification.
II. Registering. To feel the impact of another person’s words, pain, touch or wounds, in effect, can enlarge our own selves. Like the old cash register, some of us can only register $00.00. The gift of the other is to share the total “I AMness” he or she owns. To register one’s own self is awareness, or as Krishnamurti called it, “the awakening of iintelligence.”
III. To not be asleep in life. The Master, Gurdjieff, argued that we are in a kind of hypnotic trance for most of our lives. And he was — and is — right. Review your day so far, right now, and a goodly share of it is automatic, perfunctory or anxiety simply trying to lower itself by doing, achieving, but rarely by being. Our cultural institutions rarely instruct us as to how to rouse ourselves from an internal narcolepsy. Those who wake us often are those, historically, who are put to death. One significant function of any culture is to lull the masses into the profound sleep of the infant
IV. To know what we feel before we say it or act upon it. Think about yesterday and today. Consider how much of it was spent like loose change leaving a pocket, without awareness, without self-notificatioin — or self-regard. We rarely consciously complete or coalesce a feeling, or sail along its idiosyncratic arc. We rarely act fully and extendedly upon that sensibility.
V. We really don’t know/feel ourselves, and so we live quietly and desperately. Little in our lives is beyond the surface. Even our pain and self-torturing ways are surface slick until we penetrate ourselves emotionally and see into our more profound emptinesses. No wonder, for some, therapy is initially anxiety provoking. Heal me. Fix me. Mend the tear. But, oh, god, don’t make me see.
VI. It takes a fair share of our lives before we can see into our society. Like Krishnamurti, we can say that all societies are essentially corrupt. Think on that for a while. It might move you to see that it is in your own anonymity that self-awareness may be attained. The anonymous soul does not need his or her fifteen minutes of fame. Ask: Can I be free in a corrupt system?
VII. The magisterial consequences of “No,” as it provides limits and boundaries. No, I will not collude with you on defrauding your insurance company. No, I don’t want your car stereo blasting down the street, invading my space. And how can you truly appreciate “Yes,” if you have not experienced the restraint, the “hold,” of “No.” “No” serves as a gravitational pull; the planets are aligned. It is good and rich to hear “No” — and stop! It is good and rich to say “No” –vigorously. It affirms “Yes” as well.
VIII. Self-esteem is the scree, rock and earth at a mountain’s base. It is accumulative and additional and has really nothing to do with the mountain. It is the nap of the dog. Think, rather, of your will, the essence you have, not what others say you are, or what societal lint you garner. Our society — talk shows, to wit — babbles on about self-esteem because it is a safe, lead-free latex to apply. It is a code word for not becoming aware. “I have poor self-esteem,” the TV victim bemoans. Oh, I see, it can be retrieved if one is innoculated. Like our addictive culture, it is a “getting,” not a “being.”
IX. The raw particles of day to day life really tells us what Nietzsche knew, that “knowledge is death.” We prefer to deny, for awareness is acid and alkali at first. We, in no way, especially in our “schools,” deal with individual self, spiritual self. It is safer to geometrize. Our schools are the classic example of denial. Ask yourself: What does this “denial” defend against? Answer: Knowing who you are.
X. Stay within your natural self. Like Adam and Eve, we separate out from our matrix. We disregard the natural world because it remind us of the vitality, mutability, evolutionary effects of struggling to be, the very things we avoid in our existence. What creature, now extant, may someday reach consciousness, as we did? As a species. we fear our own awareness –and destiny. So, we deny and degrade nature. We pollute.