There is a point, a real tipping point, where self-remembering becomes the catalyst for permanent transformation.
One can read a lot of fourthway material on Self-remembering from Gurdjieff to Ouspensky to more modern writers like Red Hawk. Each has a certain take on what self-remembering really means. Is it the point at which one wakes up and realizes how long they have not been awake? Is it an effort to remain “conscious” of oneself while doing other things?
The danger of attempting to be conscious of oneself is that it may be a one centered event in which the thinking simply analyzes what one is doing. Most people believe that they are conscious of themselves and become angry and full of disbelief when it’s pointed out that they are asleep and lost in their mental associations.
It is generally believed that if one can articulate what is happening within themselves, then one is awake, but this could not be further from the truth.
One of the most brilliant and illustrative examples of this is Ouspensky’s account of walking through the streets of St. Petersburg in Russia (from his book In Search Of The Miraculous.)
He has set himself the task of remaining “awake”, conscious of himself, and aware of his awareness as we say in the Awareness School. He has fairly good success on quiet streets, but then turns to a busy square where he remembers his tobacco shop, begins thinking of cigarettes, and doesn’t wake up until many hours later.
In this sleep, he has gone to the tobacconist, written two letters, visited his apartment, then went out on another outing. While driving to the printers (because it was too late to walk), he suddenly has a strange feeling as if he had forgotten something, and in his words: “suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten to remember myself.”
This illustration shows that we can go about life perfectly asleep, unconscious of ourselves and our awareness of self.
Self-remembering takes effort of a certain nature and precludes any kind of objective observation one can make of themselves. The whole point of developing awareness and attention is to lead to this practice of self-observation.
If we think we already do it, it is impossible to start this kind of work.
Something begins to wake up in us and build as we realize we have forgotten and thus remember!!!
This is a practice that we must remind ourselves of again and again until something “sticks”.
It is a persistent base level effort to remain present over and over again, even though that may only last a few seconds. It’s absolutely necessary to define what being present is. There is an awareness of self that rests just at the threshold of experience and is held while observing other phenomena.
In Zen practice, the observer and the object are experienced as one. There is a flow of attention on both things at once. It is not a toggle of mental concentration; it is divided attention as a result of the development of one’s own “I”.
To have this presence blossom within is a very big deal.
Duration and frequency of coming awake is a way to measure the strength of this attention. At first, there is an increase in how frequent one wakes up and then a noticeable difference when that attention can be held for longer periods and with less effort. Making efforts such as holding sensation in the body is a good exercise for remembering oneself. Count how many times you remember to do it in an hour.
There comes a tipping point when attention is developed in us, fueled consistently by sensitive energy.
It will feed the development of Being and a permanent structure or “body’ for this consciousness to be held. This is an entirely different level of Self-remembering and a point at which one begins the actual work of repairing the past and preparing for the future with a present moment of actual choice.
It is the place of being awake and it doesn’t leave us because our consciousness is now seated in another place outside of our thought, our feelings, our bodies or the combination of those three. Awareness of all these things and the awareness that we are aware of our awareness and the inner dynamic that is taking place is the seat of Being. No longer influenced by certain mechanical functioning within us, we are free to make choices without being “under the influence” of that conditioning.
With each real choice we are able to make, free of a conditioned response, we remember fully who we are and put ourselves back together bit by bit. We remember ourselves.