In the field of the development of Consciousness, or what is usually labelled among the insiders “how to awaken”, these same insiders find thousands of problems and obstacles in achieving the main aim they had proposed for themselves: to wake up. Despite the thousands of books, posts, more or less reliable teachers or systems proposed from the same, there are thousands of missing links. This is undeniable, otherwise an awakening could be possible. At least, someone would have awakened.
Indeed, we are speaking about a topic, the inner or self -development, that describes an approach which could be explained in the following terms: “If you do this, this and this, then you’ll have the following results, and such an approach has been so for over two thousand years, such as today. If we follow the steps diligently and still cannot achieve the aim, perhaps we have followed the steps in a wrong way, or there is something missing.
In a previous post with the same name, we had spoken about the importance of the wish to awaken from the ordinary state which the ancient teachings called “sleep”. This is a missing link. Another missing link is that, once explained, which the reader will almost surely think to have understood, is the necessity to notice and grasp the difference.
What is this ”difference”?
The word explains itself. There are no magical meanings, no esoteric interpretations. The general explanation of “difference” is just what it seems at a first look: The act of differing; the state or measure of being different or unlike; distinction; dissimilarity; unlikeness; variation; as, a difference of quality in paper; a difference in degrees of heat, or of light; the difference between the ”awakened” and the ”sleeping” man. In the latter, it is the distinction between these two ”bodies” belonging to the same conceptual category, and the aspect in which they differ from each other, in this case, is the degree of consciousness.
Ok, but how do we apply this to the field of an inner work? The search for the difference can really be applied in every field, in every situation… even in concepts.
The problem is that we are used to notice the difference only on what happens outside of us, and even this is usually performed in a superficial and trivial way.
Even for those who are involved in a work on themselves, the moments in which they really try to see the difference in themselves, not in a conceptual way, but deep within themselves to the core of the question, is very rare. But we must grasp it at the moment when the difference “happens”, namely, for example, in the fleeting moment when we “suffer” a slight or sharp change of mood or personality.
An example for the Seekers is the concept that we are not one, we are fragmented. For those who aren’t familiar with these concepts, we’ll recommend to read this post.
We are fragmented, but we don’t notice this, we don’t notice the “difference”. A radical change in our mood, in our behaviour, in our point of view has occurred, and we didn’t notice anything; even if we are informed of this concept, most of the time, we are unaware of this. How is this possible?
The answer is easy to express, but difficult to grasp in practice: there’s an extraneity between the different “I’s”, the fragmented parts of our personality; the “I” who loves to smoke cigarettes is not aware of the existence of the “I“ who attempts to stop this habit. These two “I’s” ignore each other. This occurs because every fragment (every “I”) is “watertight“, keeping every “I” separated from each other.
Just to make an example, let’s imagine the structure of a beehive: it’s divided into cells isolated from each other. The fragments of our personality are divided from each other in the same way – in compartments, pellicles that divide the “I’s” from each other – what Gurdjieff called “buffers”. What is a “buffer”? They are subtle psychological mechanisms which prevent us from seeing the different sides of our personality, of which we don’t wish to become aware. Said in poor but more understandable words, buffers are the excuses. “Oh, I decided to begin a diet, but now, with all the work I have to do, I need more calories, so I have to eat” (and we eat more than before the decision to begin the diet, even if this is not required).
Such ”excuses” soften the “hits” caused during the transit from a cell (“I”) of our fragmented personality to another one. In order to better understand what we are speaking about, we’ll return to the example of the two “I’s” mentioned above: how could we live peacefully if the “I” that wishes to stop smoking would know of the existence of the other “I” who wishes to continue to smoke? So, to avoid a collapse, namely to not go crazy, we have learned since childhood to ignore these “dark sides” present in our personality through creating dozens (or hundreds) of excuses. We became specialists in excuses. This is what keeps us safe from a nervous breakdown, but also keeps us fragmented and far from any possibility to become “unified”.
From the point of view of inner development, avoiding the excuses, noticing these incongruities, will produce a sort of crisis of identity, and this is a blessing, because these moments could become occasions to make a step forward in the discovery of ourselves, to become more aware of our inner situation, to bring light to all the cells which keep a fragmented “I” and establish a directive center. Briefly, we must learn to notice the difference between this and that moment when it occurs.
Of course, there are several solutions and techniques to become aware, to develop our consciousness, to notice this inner fragmentation and build a “real I”, a real feeling of “I Am”, and such methods have been shared by the schools for self- development in every age. But, without a competent guide (and such guides are very rare) there’s little to do.
The concept of „difference“ is not only related to the fragmentation of our personality, and it’s a huge topic that in part will be developed in further posts.