After reflection upon the nature of self-existence during a time of particularly intense affliction — during and after a period of illness in which I felt particularly vulnerable to suffering, it has at last become clear to me what is the nature of “self-identification”.
To the point: self-identification (self-contraction) is the feeling of an automatic action of tensing that happens so automatically and so involuntarily as to compel one to accept, “this is myself.” It the sense and assumption that one is “a self” compelled by the inability to “be anything different”.
In that state, efforts to get relief from that uncomfortable state of self-contraction merely use and reinforce that very self-contraction. It seems inescapable and it is this seeming inescapability that seems to make acquiescense to this state of contraction, inevitable, that makes us surrender to the sense that, “This is myself.”
It’s a sense of self-contraction, a state of automatic self-activity, ongoing habit, that comes from one or more of the faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING — operating in the background without conscious involvement.
This “without conscious involvement” entails automaticity — happening by itself, seemingly as an unavoidable feature of existence. This automaticity makes it seems as if it something that “we are” rather than as “something that we are doing — and can stop doing”.
TENSING AS READINESS FOR LIFE
I have referred to, “tensing”. To tense oneself is the first step to readying oneself for action of any kind. It is “readiness for life” — often taken to be “maturity” or “competence.”
This “self-identified” state of contraction has myriad forms. It is a complex “wad” of contraction-activity made of all the memory impressions acquired over a lifetime. These memory impressions form automatically as the “recording activity” of life-experience. This recording activity has adaptive value — up to a point. It equips us to be ready for more experiences of the kinds we have already experienced.
It becomes a problem as this “readiness” piles up from some experiences that seem to repeat themselves — and from many that never repeat themselves, but that have left their mark on us as a state of readiness for “more of the same”. It is a kind of stupid, rudimentary intelligence that is supposed to serve life but that does so without the conscious, deliberate participation of the individual; it is a primitive artifact of earlier evolutionary times, when individuals had yet to become so distinctly different from one another (individual), when they were so much more embedded in “nature” and “tribe”, expected to conform out of survival-necessity, that automatic recording (learnings) of experience adequately served the survival of individual and tribe (or culture).
Again, as this readiness piles up automatically and we remain “perpetually at the ready,” we become more and more self-identified, self-contracted. “Perpetually at the ready” is a kind of attitude. It is also a feeling — the feeling of “self”. People who think they “know themselves” merely know this pile-up of readiness.
Because it forms and plays out automatically and without our ability to stop, it seems to be self.
Like so many patterns of involuntary self-limitation, it entails the automatic functioning of one or more of the four faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING. As with all patterns of involuntary self-limitation, the key to release is to bring all four faces “on-line” and awake. When that happens, what has been running “on automatic” ceases to be automatic and becomes subject to observation (non-identification) and voluntary control. Efforts to become “non-identified” without that awakening merely become new, unrecognized forms of self-identification.
When that voluntary control awakens, two things happen:
- The activity ceases to occur automatically and thus to seem inevitable.
- One no longer regards it as “self”, but now recognizes it as a mere conditional (or temporary) activity. Activity no longer automatically triggers self-identification/self-contraction. One can act without becoming loaded with self-contraction — without intensifying involuntary self-identification. It’s the capacity for free action without the affliction of inevitable “self”.
A SECRET, UNRECOGNIZED FORM OF ‘SELF-IDENTIFICATION’
It is the sense of “other”. We consider others to be selves like ourselves — but what makes this form of “other-as-self” unrecognizable is what may be called, “the blame factor”. We hold others culpable for their actions, as if they were voluntary, rather than as stupidly automatic as our own unconscious self-identification. We assume a “self” over there to be praised or blamed for behavior. This sense of “self-over-there” IS IDENTICAL to the feeling of “(my)self, here”; it is self-identified self-contraction attributed to “an other” over there.
It is a form of self-identification because we consider ourselves to be “not like that” or to be “like that”. It is “other-identification”. It makes things, “personal.”
Prior to recognition of one or more of the faces of the TetraSeed running “on automatic”, we feel stuck with “the other” and with the dilemma of “blame or forgive” — both of which are ridiculous, absurd, and unworkable alternatives — pretenses, actually, based on idealisms built upon the automatic, evolutionary survival program that records experience without conscious participation and makes us into “robots of the past” (robots of memory).
What’s so pathetic about it is the degree to which the mass of humanity continues to operate in this way — so unconscious, so automatic, so habitual, so entranced, and so unintelligent.
“Awakening” is not an idealism. It is a functional actuality. It is the one thing we can do, at least partially voluntarily, as human beings. We can inspect our reactions to experience for “asleepness” (automaticity) in terms of the four faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING.
By its ongoing trials and insults, the life-process highlights areas of our lives that are running on automatic. The reason it does so is that the sense of “trial” and “insult” is always a trial and/or insult of an identification-as-self. “Someone” is felt to be undergoing a trial; “someone” is insulted by life.
The sense of a “someone” is always some form of automatic readiness, felt as inescapable, to which we acquiesce as if it were,” self”. The “we” who acquiesce are more of the same.
When the four TetraSeed “faces” come awake, the compulsivity of self-identification is over — at least in the area awakened. What awakens is tacit, intuitive freedom felt as adequate in the moment, free of the sense of “self” under the thumb of experience. The sense of “conditions” and creative responsiveness remain — and the uncomfortable sense of contraction (self-imploded, self-implicated readiness) of self-identification eases, and with it, the self-imploded sense of personal suffering.