Many of us find that we didn’t really start seeking the Truth in earnest until we suffered some trauma or catastrophe that left us with literally nothing else to do. We had to find out what was going on with our life and who we really were, for the previous experience-based system had collapsed. Why is this so common and seemingly necessary in the search for definition? First, let’s back up a step or two and look at how we are built, what our traps are, and then we may see the answer.
The personal ego-mind may be said to be composed of two parts: the emotional and intellectual. This ‘self’ that we call ‘me’ is upheld at bottom by the survival urge, which is emotional, to say the least. We usually can’t see this far down inside until we are face to face with oblivion itself. Most if not all of our beliefs and actions are emotionally based, and are then carried out and rationalized by the intellect. Few notice this, and many hold the firm belief that they, as intellect or mind, are making their decisions from a rational point of view. But if they looked a little closer, they might see that beneath the veneer of intellectual assuredness they are operating from a combination of fear and desire, which are most assuredly based in emotion. This experience-pattern of intellect fueled by emotion is called ‘me’ or ‘myself’, and is the thing we know the least about, having never questioned it in other than a ‘self-serving’ way. We may berate or praise ourselves, but seldom actually observe same.
This task of self-observation, rather than endless dichotomy, is necessary and darn tricky. It can only be done at first through the memory, second-hand. This is because of the gap of time that exists between the mind and its contents. We may think we are in the ‘now’, watching ourselves, but usually this ‘me’ that is watching is itself a mental construct built on an emotional need. The mind is composed of many such constructs, referenced by memory and built with projection, having no part in anything one could call a ‘present moment’. Such a present moment, self-contradictory in terms, would only be possible in a dimension of eternity, not in one of time and space. In other words, we may see the thoughts of our intellect as it weighs a situation and then comes to a conclusion, but we may not see the emotional force behind it, or the process of the mind forming the various concepts necessitated by these emotions. We are always a thought behind, acting on the past to build an imaginary future.
Now all of this may sound too complicated to worry with, for it’s easier to just believe in whatever theory we’ve found that flatters us, but the importance in this is the hold it has on our attention. We may think that we are free to point our attention at whatever view we wish, in any direction, but all we really see is the constantly constructed pattern of thoughts built on past experience, fueled by unconscious emotion. This is limited and peculiar to each of us, and completely encompassing.
An event of failure strong enough to change the course of our lives, such as befell Terence Gray, can be a blessing in disguise if we have our feet firmly under us, and have taken the pains necessary to improve our intuition. Then, if we find ourselves unmoored and drifting in a sea of doubt, we will have a chance to look within, for our attention may have been temporarily broken loose from its fixation on our experience pattern, giving us a clear but fleeting moment in which we can turn around, and see what lies within.
This brings up the question of whether one can manufacture trauma for the purpose of finding ‘within’. One cannot, for the element of chance that permanent mental damage may occur is too great, if one is not ready. And all of us tend to think we are ready. The best one can do is to find those who have gone before and study their mistakes as well as their successes, while perfecting the intuition and reason. One must become healthy and whole before one can be emptied, for unless one is innocent and of sound mind, what comes to fill one may not be what one needs, for truth and realization.
Another point to be made is that the ego cannot enlighten itself. Any effort it makes will be on its own level, and only serves to further its dichotomy. The best one can do, is to make a commitment to a higher power, to one’s inner self, that one will do all one can to further the search. Then one forgets about it. This is to allow the higher power to run the show in the long run, and to not let the ego’s scheming interfere. After the commitment is made, and forgotten, we continue to struggle by working on improving the intuition, and doing the best we can with what’s available. We begin to understand that we are struggling in paradox, waiting for an accident; and just perhaps, the inner self will grace us with one, one ‘we’ will not survive.