At the heart of the self-awareness path are several hypotheses which I think only experience can prove or disprove.
- One is that progress from unconsciousness to consciousness is a step up the evolutionary ladder from unconscious awareness to conscious awareness.
- The second is that progress from victimization to responsibility is also a step up.
- And a third is that progress from resistance to acceptance is again a step up.
The self-awareness path sets out to prove these hypotheses to its participants. Conscious awareness, passive awareness is a divine quality. God is conscious or passive awareness. Being, abiding or remaining as conscious or passive awareness invites the experience of bliss, which itself invites the expaerience of natural knowing.
So the first hypothesis is that progress from unconsciousness to consciousness is a step up the evolutionary ladder.
Bestowing one’s awareness on something moves that something from a place in unconsciousness to a place in consciousness. What is awareness? It’s more than simple turning in the direction of something and looking at it. It’s more than simple attention. It’s a reaching out, embracing and experiencing something with all one’s faculties and senses. Not perhaps a physical reaching out, but an opening of the senses to something.
Obviously things which are distant can’t be touched. Some things can’t be smelt. Some things can’t be tasted. But to the extent that they can be sensed and experienced, we offer our open senses to them.
What we quickly learn on the self-awareness path is that bestowing our awareness on something is not a neutral act, as bestowing attention is. Love flows through the open channel of awareness. Love flows through any open channel really, as far as I’m aware. Love seeks an open channel.
When our channels are closed, love falls back on itself and can actually cause us discomfort, inconvenience and complication. Love habitually not expressed can skew our behavior and twist us in knots.
By “open,” I mean non-judgmental, non-exploitative, non-manipulative. Just plain, bare awareness with nothing added. Bare awareness creates a channel for love but that this is so is something that’s only learned through experience. It can’t be adequately conveyed through words.
The menu is not the meal. You can read the menu all you like and even salivate over the pictures but you haven’t had the experience of eating the food. The pill bottle is not the medicine. You can put the pill bottle on your mantle and worship it all you want but you probably won’t cure the disease that way.
One finds early on that plain and bare awareness is not quite as easily attained as one might think. The mind is busy and creates competing attractions to the person who wishes simply to bestow awareness on something. Some quieting of the mind is required.
The second hypothesis is that movement from victimization to responsibility is a step up the evolutionary ladder.
I’m not saying that there are not genuine victims in the world. But their number is fewer than we might believe the deeper we go in spirituality. For instance we hear our sources often say that people we consider victims have agreed in their soul contracts to participate in these events. Here is Matthew Ward on that notion:
“Everyone who was directly affected by all of those [shootings] agreed to participate as they did. This doesn’t mean that prior to birth they all knew exactly what they would encounter and when, but each had chosen to be a ‘perpetrator’ or a ‘victim’ or one within a sorrowing family to fulfill third density karma.
“Soul contracts provide for flexibility in circumstances and timing when the same results will be accomplished, and in all those cases, the participants wanted to exemplify to your world the horrors of war or the tragic effects of racial, ethnic or religious prejudice, or the cruelty of unfair laws.
“Many, many others chose the same kinds of roles in generations long before these recent incidents, but the succession of dark ones in power kept the peoples living and dying in situations born of intimidation and ignorance born of deception.” (1)
Learning this removes a large number of people we think of as victims from that category, although many may not greet this explanation with joy and some might even resist it.
The self-awareness movement invites its participants to move as many events in our lives from the category of victimization to the category of responsibility for causality. Why does it do so? Well, you may have noticed that blaming others ties up a lot of energy in resentment, hatred, etc.
But when we experience ourselves as cause in the matter, we seldom seem to blame ourselves. Immediately upon seeing ourselves as cause in the matter, the tied-up energy is released. What is the benefit of releasing it?
For one thing, energy held or stored in the body causes aches and pains and brings on diseases from simple complaints like backaches to terminal conditions like cancer. The self-awareness movement did extensive research into character armoring (the holding of muscular tension in the body), stress-related conditions, and ways of releasing stored-up stress. Its ways of releasing stress range from rebirthing to bioenergetics, psychodrama to rule reconstruction, encounter to meditation.
Some of its practitioners noticed that we don’t blame ourselves and determined to see how far false causality went and how many things could be moved from victimization to responsibility. It was observed that, when we take responsibility for our lives, awareness increases, diseases fall off, and well-being generally is promoted.
The notion that awareness increases was actually a theorem of mine. Stated more completely, awareness increases inversely to tension in the body. As tension goes down, awareness goes up. As tension goes up, awareness goes down. I think we’ve all heard stories of people facing a fire who could not hear the voices of others or recognize their own name being shouted. Their tension was so high, they had practically no awareness at all.
The self-awareness movement looked at more and more phenomena and observed along with John Enright that “you may not be responsible for an event but you’re responsible for the meaning you give the event.” (2) Practitioners pushed the edge further and further toward accepting responsibility for more and more events in life and discovered that enhanced general well-being resulted from such an effort.
This being the self-awareness path, many workshop leaders weaned us from speaking of a“we” that we usually knew nothing about and speaking only for “I.” In this case we were pretending to be responsible for more than we could realistically be responsible for. Here is John Enright on the matter:
“Switching from ‘we’ to ‘I’ involves taking more authority.” (3)
“’We’ means ‘I for sure and I fantasize maybe you as well.’” (4)
Indeed we could feel within our bodies and personal energy field that switching from “we” to “I’ did result in an increase in personal authority. And we also saw that John was right in that we seldom knew if a “we” actually existed or applied.
A third hypothesis is that progress from resistance to acceptance is again a step up.
Very early on, practitioners like Werner Erhard discovered that “what we resist persists.” If we wanted an unwanted condition to disappear, we needed to let it be. Here is Werner on the subject:
“It is a law of the Mind, that you become what you resist. … Having resisted my mother, and lost my mother, I became my mother.” (5)
This was not uniformly good news to people. Some would groan when they heard it. But when we tested it out in our own lives, we saw that observations like these were usually true. And so each one became a tool in our toolbox of living a life that worked.
Here is Communication Workshop leader Jed Naylor on the same matter:
“Whatever you resist, persists. Create what is and it disappears. Follow the rules and they disappear. Acknowledge people’s resistance and they disappear. Follow another’s preferences and the person will suspend them.” (6)
A corollary of this which always impressed me and became one of my self-awareness tools was to always accept a person’s “no.” Once a person saw that their “no” was accepted, they often let it go and their “no” became a “yes.” But this could not be done as a manipulation. I had to genuinely allow and accept their “no.”
To illustrate how an hypothesis like this was usually “mined” for value and resulted in many different corrollaries, extensions and applications, let’s look at two of the observations that arose from this basic one.
“The ‘bad stuff’ is there because you resist it; the ‘good stuff’ disappears because you accept it. When you get off the bad stuff everyone else gets off it.” (7)
“The ‘bad stuff’ is not out-of-alignment. It’s just where you’re at. The ‘good stuff’ is what you’d prefer.” (8)
Werner Erhard detailed the whole chain of causation started by resistance and ending with losing our personal power and independence. What we resist ended up owning and controlling us.
“Resistance and the need to dominate and be right destroy your ability to allow things to be. When you have no ability to allow things to be, you have no ability to be responsible for them as they are. When you cannot be responsible for the way things are, you have no space. When you have no space, you have no ability to create. It is in creating that you establish true independence.” (9)
Let things be and they let you be. Let things be and you create space. Said Werner:
“Life is a ripoff when you expect to get what you want.
“Life works when you choose what you’ve got.
“Happiness is a function of accepting what is.” (10)
The answer to causing unwanted conditions to disappear was to allow them to be the way they are. Said Angelo d’Amelio:
“However you are, be so reactivated. Create yourself the way you are. Be the way you are. Experience how you are. Go in the direction you’re going. What you are is what you are. Be what you are. What you get is what you get. Get what you get.” (11)
Love itself was said to be a function of acceptance. One of the maxims of the self-awareness movement that impressed me, and many did, was: “Love is the willingness to allow the [other] person to be, exactly the way they are and exactly the way they’re not.” (12)
Arising out of that was the advisability of creating space for others to be: “Create space for people in your lives to be just the way they are.” (13)
I cannot say I live up to these maxims. Many remain targets for me. But I think you can see what a rich and empowering exploration it all was.
We constantly had hypotheses to test out. Unlike accepting religious beliefs, these were testable hypotheses and the testing out of them brought experiences like satisfaction, full self-expression, and joy.
I often found that I hit a critical mass in those days considering the wisdom of much that was taught in the self-awareness movement. I miss it a lot. I believe that society hit a high-point in this time of the Sixties and Seventies, one that will not be matched until we reach a time perhaps much later in this magical year of 2012.
(1) Matthew’s Message, April 1, 2012, at http://www.matthewbooks.com/mattsmessage.htm
(2) John Enright, Awareness, Responsibility and Awareness Course, Vancouver, January 20, 1979.
(3) Loc. cit.
(4) Loc. cit.
(5) Werner Erhard in W.W. Bartley, III. Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man; the Founding of est. New York: Potter, 1978, 44. [Hereafter WE]
(6) est Communications Workshop Leader Jed Naylor, Oct. 1980.
(7) est 6-Day Trainer Hal Isen, 16 Nov. 1980.
(8) Loc. cit.
(9) Werner Erhard in WE, 24.
(10) Werner Erhard, If God Had Meant Man to Fly, He Would Have Given Him Wings; or Up to Your Ass in Aphorisms. Werner Erhard, 1973.
(11) est Trainer Angelo d’Amelio, 1 June 1980.
(12) est Trainer Jerry Joiner, 19 Oct. 1980.
(13) Loc. cit.