We do not exist in isolation. We exist only in relation to other people, society, the world, the environment, to ideas and culture and things. We can’t understand ourselves in isolation. We must be able to observe ourselves in relationship to all these other things. Because all of our beliefs and behaviours and action are conditioned by the world around us, by other people, by nationality and culture, rules and ideas and social systems. We are machines, automatons, doing what the world has programmed us to do.
We need to be clear about this. We need to see it clearly at work from moment to moment. Only when we see this will we understand ourselves.
We are not looking to compile a report, however, full of historical incidents and examples. It is not about accumulating knowledge, which we then have to cart with us as so much baggage, referring to it rather than seeing clearly in each moment. We must not be burdened by the past. When we learn about ourselves, we do so afresh in every moment. It is a living process, ever changing, always alive and moving.
This is essential because we are also ever changing. We are not static. We are always alive and changing and so our observing selves must be free to follow, and fleet of foot into the bargain.
This means bringing no judgements or ideas or preconceptions along for the ride. We all carry around an image of ourselves and it’s that that we see most of the time – not our true selves but our self image. This prevents us from seeing our true selves.
To get around this, we need to learn to look out ourselves with simplicity. This means not making excuses for what we see, or allowances, or distorting the picture, or turning away if we don’t like what we discover. Instead, whatever we find, we should not judge but merely observe, with innocence and humility.