Many texts have copious pages on this topic, but… what are these buffers?
Buffers are psychological mechanisms which deny us to perceive some fields of life that we don’t wish to see, which our psychological field can’t accept, because these fields of life express dozens of contradictions inside our fragmented personality. We don’t want to see them and, in ordinary conditions, namely for people who find irrelevant, any kind of work toward serious self development, it’s a mixed blessing. But for a “seeker”, it’s a problem, because it is related to lying to ourselves – a lying that expresses the incapacity to accept these contradictions.
These fields of life have “weird behaviours” which belong to us, to our friends, our beloved and society, in general. No one is exempt from this limitation, which is strictly related to the structure of our false personality.
The ancient psychology, and also the modern (see for example, Charles T. Tart), considers that these mechanisms deny us the experience of ourselves as fragmented. Indeed, as we have already written (and hope someone has experienced) on this blog, personality is composed of dozens of “I’s” that are often in contradiction with each other. One moment we wish to do this, the next moment, we wish something else…
In order not to suffer the “shake” of such contradictions caused by the radical changes of behaviour – the emotions, thoughts, points of view and all what we perceive to be ourselves, our personality which has learned since childhood, to separate these fragments with a sort of “rubber wall”, an artificial fog… a black out of consiousness.
What should be understood and often goes unnoticed, even among the “insiders” in this field, is that we have not only one consciousness, but, over the consciousness that should be developed, we have a superficial consciousness which is the consciousness of our personality.
Such superficial consciousness wishes to live a “tranquil life”, to be as it is, with its habits and behaviours, being accepted at any cost by society (whatever field of society it could be, even monastic), and especially to not have a particular sense of guilt. So, “it had specialized itself” to change with nonchalance from one character to another, from a “me” to another “me”, forgetting the previous “me”.
One moment “I” am happy and “I” love you, while the other “I” doesn’t feel anything towards you. Indeed, you even bother “me” and that’s why now, “I” feel sad, disturbed… and all this happens without undermining our good faith or certainty of “being one” – always the same “me”. This is a situation which is worse than a horror or sci-fi movie.
I would now like to point to one thing: many people interested in a work for self-development, especially those interested in the work of Gurdjieff and/or Ouspensky, consider that there’s nothing permanent in ourselves, in our superficial personality. Well, it’s not correct: false personality and buffers (which are characteristics of this false personality) are permanent. And they are smart, very smart.
Let’s see how.
Some examples of buffers: “… but all people act in this way”, “…why can he, and I not?”, “…it’s not my way of doing, I don’t feel this, it doesn’t represent me (which “me”?)…”, “this person made me angry (but sorry, who got angry?)”, “I still do this practice, it’s well- known to me (and this is the reason why you still “sleep”)”…
And that is what, as part of our false self, is more permanent in us, and for a seeker it’s fortunate, that it is so, because such behaviours can be changed.
Indeed, the buffers such as all the false personality, is not organic, or concrete in an ordinary state they always occur, and they are not part of our essential field – our true self, and what is not part of our essential self can be changed.
As children, we begin to imitate adults, and through this imitation, we reproduce and create also the buffers; other buffers are assimilated through education. Then, through life experiences we learn to create them by ourselves. That’s the genesis of the buffers.
There are thousands of strange behaviors to which everyone of us is subjected and they are explainable through this fragmentation of our personality. And once more, this is a fragmentation that, even if we intellectually accept, is difficult to be noticed and accepted in practice.
Indeed, if a seeker writes or hears something about this, it will be not a rarity that he’ll handle this topic “buffers”, thinking they already know all about that, so that this is not their problem, indeed…
Nothing more wrong: the buffers are very many and different each from other so that even we think to have rid of them and of having achieved the so -claimed unity, they are still there and still in charge.