I’d like to make some general comments on vasanas and the constructed self. Why is the subject so important for us?
Well, vasanas represent all the reactions we’ve had and decisions we’ve made that remove us from the flow of life. Frequently they’re the result of what we resolved when matters became too much for us to handle and they collectively represent our desire to withdraw from life as a happening thing, dig in, and ensure our own protection from life as a potentially hurtful enterprise.
The way we often become then is that we hurt others before they hurt us and avoid being hurt ourselves. Life becomes a jungle red in tooth and claw.
Life becomes a performance and being an “actor” in life comes to mean an entirely different thing.
Our constructed self is what shakes out as the permanent product from that vasana-born resolve. Some of the precipitate from our vasana is our self-image – how we choose to see ourselves – as brave, sexy, smart, capable, etc. Except that that self-image so often is not an actuality but an impression we’re trying to sell others. It often is not a genuine way we feel about ourselves but a cover or blind behind which hides a scared child.
Another precipitate is our acts, scripts, routines, etc. These represent the moves we’ll make to ensure ourselves the outcome we want. So we may dress for success or play coy or deflect. We may automatically deny all responsibility for anything or automatically claim responsibility for everything. No matter what the program we follow, we’re imposing a set pattern onto life rather than allowing life to unfold and flow.
We complement these two precipitates by taking our past and shaping it the way we wish it to appear and “be.” That doesn’t just involve assembling a photo album, say. It also includes refining our story of events until it represents us just so.
Erving Goffman, in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, studied our social life as if it was a theatrical performance. He knew that we prepared our moves ahead of time to achieve an impression and optimally manage its reception.
“I shall consider the ways in which the individual in ordinary work situations presents himself and his activity to others, the ways in which he guides and controls the impression they form of him, and the kinds of things he may and may not do while sustaining his performance before them.” (1)
In living life this way, we remove ourselves from the flow of life, moving with things as they arise. We’re actually the puppeteer removed from the flow of life working the puppet who’s also not in the flow. Puppets are dead. And our self-images, scripts and stories are also dead.
And deadening. We end up with self-image battling with self-image, script disagreeing with script, and story arguing with story. Surely you’ve seen this in every sit com you’ve ever watched. If we didn’t have these social and personal constructions of reality, we wouldn’t have comedy.
Of course I make the rider that we minimize the harm by becoming aware of self-image, script and story. When acted out from awareness, our constructed self does the least amount of damage to our aliveness. It can even enhance it. But when we agree with ourselves to remain unaware of the three, then the trouble sets in.
I remember giving a university lecture on all the words we use for making love. Porking, poking, scoring, screwing – nasty lot we are. One of the things we saw was how many words synonymous with doing violence were used to describe making love. How is it being in the flow of life to say we porked a woman? How does a woman feel hearing such nastiness? No wonder rapes occur.
What would see us use vocabulary like this when discussing what is perhaps one of the most sublime acts between a man and a woman? Men reveal themselves wanting to subdue, vanquish and control. Sex sees men victorious over women: they have scored. How sublime is that? No wonder the bedroom is for many a battleground.
I’m led to believe that women also have their calculations and hidden agendas, which someone else would need to write about. Archangel Michael said yesterday in the reading I had with him that to leave the Third Dimension we had to be at peace with it. Here we see that love-making, which probably should be then most peaceful joining together of man and woman, is talked about as anything but peaceful.
This discussion reveals that we see something sublime from the vantage point of our our hurts, a reaction to the memories of traumatic events in life, an agreement with ourselves to step out of the flow of life and substitute something really awful for something really wonderful. So many of our self-images, scripts and acts are unfortunately designed to do this – allow us to step out of life and substitute a picture for the real thing, the menu for the meal, a defensive posture for extension of the hand of peace, in order to remain safe.
“Every single problem in life has as its root the misidentification of self,” said est 6-Day Trainer Hal Isen in 1980. We make ourselves into things, identify with the things, and then wonder why we experience no aliveness in life. Things don’t experience aliveness. Only beings do. And if we want to experience aliveness, satisfaction, happiness and full self-expression then we too have to begin the long road back from thinking of ourselves as things to becoming beings again.
Shakespeare had it right. To be or not to be. That truly is the question.
Being, as far as I’m concerned, is the foundation we lay for Ascension and it will always be the object of the work we do. When we discard our act, or at least become aware of it, we step back into the flow of life. That for me is the greatest act of courage.
(1) Erving Goffman, “Introduction” to The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City: Doubleday, 1959.