Think of your daily activities as a linear series of events: make three phone calls, wash the dishes, take Johnny to school, pay bills, commute to work, etc. You might begin to see yourself as a kind of human caterpillar, chomping and crawling through the tasks that make up your days, like a caterpillar chomps through leaves and grass, consuming the necessary fuel to keep consuming, often times to its death. I have heard that many caterpillars never evolve into butterflies. Those of us who found ourselves in “school” are those who ache to become brightly colored beings flying above gardens, feasting on nectar and spreading seeds of beauty. We hope that our lives can spiral and evolve upwards, so that we do not simply traverse the same circle until we die, consuming and repeating the same activities, day after day; maintaining.
According to “school,” if one makes “sufficient efforts,” s/he will cultivate the ability to rise above and see her/his life as though an impartial observer watching a play.
In its initial classes, school introduces the following psychological ideas. Initially, the ideas and the accompanying “help” can feel like keys to evolution and eventual freedom:
Essence, personality and false personality:
Once upon a time, every human began as an essence floating in the starry world. Every essence, though, has a fatal flaw that can only be addressed by descending to earth and manifesting as human. This essence chooses the perfect set of parents to address its “flaw” and journeys to earth to be born as a boy or girl. There’s one major problem with this process: over time this young essence develops a shield called the personality. It is meant to protect this vulnerable essence, but as years pass, essence forgets that personality is merely a shield. It falls asleep to its journey and purpose, its true nature. Personality grows out of control, takes over, and begins to crystallize into “false personality,” that part of ourselves we create for others to see. Essence recedes further into the background. “School” tells its “students” we come here to reclaim that buried essence. We come here to “remember ourselves”.
Multiplicity as opposed to unity:
In the process of developing false personality, we become psychologically splintered –we develop an internal cast of characters who have their own reactive thoughts, emotional responses and physical responses. “School” calls this having “multiple I’s”. The “I’s” who compose the internal cast of characters compete for the wheel. Moreover, these characters compete without any awareness of each other. Each one calls itself “I”, believing itself to be one unified “I”. One “I” says it will wake up early; another “I” presses the snooze button in the morning. One “I” begins a diet; another reaches for dessert. With this constant cycle of changing captains, we have no hope of consistently steering the ship toward our destination unless we get “help.” We are a multiplicity.
Liars as opposed to sincere seekers:
Most people believe themselves to be unified, unaware of their internal and constantly changing cast of characters. We are unaware that, in any given moment, any one of these characters could be making decisions that will only be contradicted by another. Therefore, when we speak as though unified – i.e. any time we begin a sentence with the word “I” (like, “I want a relationship.”) – “school” teaches that we are lying: do we really want a relationship? If so, why do some of the I’s in us push relationships away? See? Without the “help” we don’t even know we are lying. “School” tells us only “truth can unbury and grow essence” and only “school” can tell us what the truth is.
Asleep as opposed to awake:
Since we are unaware of our multiplicity, we do not have the knowledge necessary to understand that we are bumbling bundles of skin and bone and emotional, intellectual and physical reaction and contradiction (or as Joni Mitchell once said in an interview, “ I was all salt and skin.”) We are asleep to our multiplicity and our reactivity; therefore sleep-walking through our days.
“School” claims the ability to AWAKEN us! This based on the belief that we are rarely, if ever, truly awake. The ideas as translated say that humans exist in four states of consciousness:
- Literal sleep (in bed, head on pillow, eyes closed)
- Waking sleep (moving through one’s day without any awareness of our true nature, essence, personality, false personality, multiplicity, etc)
- Consciousness (living and working with awareness of truth and one’s multiplicity)
- Objective consciousness (separate and able to observe our programmed responses, as though floating above, able to choose thoughts, emotions and actions that exist in a higher plane)
“School” taught its devotees that, at best, when out of bed and chomping through the day’s events, most live in the state of “waking sleep”.
Mechanical humans as opposed to autonomous individuals:
As humans embodying waking sleep, “school” teaches that we are merely empty machines, programmed to react to events by those messages and experiences we consumed from birth onwards. Put another way, “Man cannot do,” because man has no real free will to choose action, thought or feeling in any given moment. Man simply reacts. But with “school” man may have access to certain tools/ideas that empower his/her ability to do. “School” promises to reveal lost knowledge that will provide true direction, especially through one idea that will constitutes it own chapter in the near future: AIM.
Imprisoned as opposed to free and autonomous:
In one of my initial classes, Robert recounted the story of Plato’s Cave: prisoners who are chained to the wall of a cave, unable to turn their heads. Behind them, a fire on a raised platform throws shadows on the wall. All they know of life are these shadows; they believe these shadows to be reality. We are, according to “school”, like these prisoners only seeing shadows and believing the shadows real. “School” claims it can show us the difference.
Self-Observations and Three “Centers” or Three Brains:
“School” tells its seekers to approach this work with a “healthy skepticism” and to question these ideas until we have developed our own understanding. Those of us who entered the cave in Billerica heard our “teachers” say, “Verify these ideas for yourself.” One of the ways to verify this idea of our own mechanical-ity is through a tool called self-observations.
“School” teaches that humans have at least three brains or “centers”: intellectual, emotional and moving/instinctive. Each center has its own intelligence and set of reactions to external events. In attempts to verify the ideas above, each student gets a little notebook and begins to record his/her observations throughout the day, in the very specific format below:
“I observe the thought [FILL IN THOUGHT] as a function of the intellectual center, when [FILL IN EVENT].”
“I observe the feeling [FILL IN EMOTION] as a function of the emotional center when [FILL IN EVENT]”
“I observe the sensation [FILL IN SENSATION] as a function of the moving/instinctive center when [FILL IN EVENT”]
In my initial experiences with self-observations I saw my “multiple Is”, my mechanical-ity, and my automated responses to events. I even began to name and categorize my characters. For example, if any of my classmates was presenting as a perfect student, the cast of the film, Clueless, would appear on my internal stage and think things like, “Well, it must be nice to be so perfect.” (insert snotty-teenage girl voice). I began to see that I could separate myself from those petty and jealous girls. If I was having a shitty day and feeling sorry for myself, I could see the self-pity as a “function of the emotional center”. I could say to myself, “This self-pity is not ‘I’.” Self-observations stripped judgment away from any number of things, depersonalizing emotions, thoughts, reactions, allowing one to watch oneself and learn how this “human machine” operates. On occasion, I could separate enough to choose different and new responses. Imagine the wonderful possibilities with this idea!
The Bait and Switch
At the same time, some part of me could see the set-up in accepting that which “school” preached in its hallowed halls: “I do not know myself; I am mechanical; I cannot do; I am not I, just a bumbling cast of characters reacting to external events; I am asleep, blah, blah, blah.” Self observations, i.e. my constant verification of “This woman as mechanical being”, started becoming its own neurosis-induced prison that reinforced the question, “How do I live?” It fed and grew my lifelong self-doubts and lack of confidence and fears. Instead of “remembering myself”, I felt myself slipping farther and farther away. I clearly recall the repetitive thought, “My life is no longer mine” that would plague me every morning during my commute to the job I hated. But instead of listening to my truth and seeing this thought as a siren screaming, “Step away from the cult, ma’am.” I believed that I wasn’t trying hard enough. “If I try a little harder,” I thought, “I will “remember myself.” That’s what they told me.
Thus began the reliance on “teachers” for guidance on how to live. “Thank God,” I thought, “I have access to ‘teachers’ who are more evolved, have been working on themselves, have more wisdom, a higher perspective, more understanding of human psychology than I do. They see me more clearly than I do. They understand and hold the keys to my freedom, my connection to that which is beyond my understanding, perhaps the path to the life for which I’d always longed.” I grew to trust those who had been “working on themselves” longer; I assigned them all of those attributes, as they dangled those keys to freedom before me, but beyond my reach. And this is where the trouble really begins. Over time, I abdicated responsibility to them, not trusting my own instinctive responses to life events and therefore turning more and more to teachers for “help” on how to respond.
After leaving, I recognized how “school” co-opts powerful and real ideas and – instead of empowering its “students” to learn how to trust the truth that lies beneath their mechanical-ity – it programs “students” to constantly turn to the “more enlightened” for “help”. After a while the “help” becomes pat and mechanical responses that “teachers” have been programmed to provide. (Or as Robert is so fond of saying “out of the empty into the void.”) Soon, the “help” falls flat, or worse, backfires, often causing terrible trouble in the “student’s” personal or professional life. At that point, the “maybe you’re not trying hard enough” brand of “help” comes into play. We feel more vulnerable, more lost, more dependent on outside guidance from empty and mechanical beings, who are turning to other empty mechanical beings for guidance – with Sharon at the top of the food chain instructing her minions who to marry, when to divorce and when to have children, or worse, when to give up their children.
With everyone involved turning to empty vessels for “help”, the truth of the matter – that evolution is an inside job – is washed away. If one cannot learn to reach into and trust and live from the truth in oneself, and is always seeking enlightenment from external sources (i.e. “teachers”), one will eventually need to constantly seek approval from others. This leads to emptiness and fear. After leaving “school”, one of my co-horts called “school’s” recruitment process a “vast bait and switch operation.” “School” plants the bait-and-switch seed and nurtures it patiently throughout the indoctrination – it bakes that seed into each student and it grows and expands into all aspects of their lives. So insidious and destructive, yet so simple.
A Poem for My “Teachers”
Out of the empty into the void
Irony upon irony
Deception upon deception
Out of the empty into the void
Irony upon irony
Deception upon deception
When the curtain falls
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Potential disappears on the wind
Your legacy: irony, deception, lives stolen