“I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness
“I want to leave, to go somewhere where I should be really in my place, where I would fit in . . . but my place is nowhere; I am unwanted.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
“A walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets
his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more”
– William Shakespeare
We have spoken recently about the great significance of transiting from the collective me based on the observer, to the real me based on the knower. One of the main elements that facilitates this transition is our longing for our true self, the longing which arises into our consciousness from the inner knower. However, another complimentary element is the ability to rebel against our unconscious identification with the collective mind. There are actually a great number of people that have within them a certain drive to break away from the collective mind. However, there are very, very few who additionally possess the intelligence of self-remembrance. These people carry the seeds of rebellion against unconsciousness, and yet they are stuck in a netherworld where they are unable to recognize that any true rebellion must point directly to the realization of our real self.
Some of these people express their rebellion by simply seeking to be original in one way or the other. Others may be trying to compensate through it for various psychological issues or an inability to fit into society. Others have genuine desire to pursue an ideal of truth, but one that is abstract and restricted to a purely mental or emotional level. Such rebellious people are often very naïve, overly idealistic and can easily fall pray to fanatical mysticism. They may be attracted to drugs, or ‘spiritual’ drugs as ayahuasca, or they may choose to follow an alternative ‘hippy’ philosophy of one kind or another. Many can be found in groups based on spaced-out forms of Indian devotion or other spiritual movements. For instance, people like this constitute the majority neo-Advaita followers. Overall, there is a flavor of tragedy in these people, because they want to break away from being imprisoned in collective unconscious, but they have not yet developed the capacity to seek their true self.
When you meet a ‘spiritual’ person, there is a higher probability that he or she belongs to this category. What is missing from these people that prevents them from entering the real path? It is a big question, and a very important question. The answer is not simple. In spite appearing to rebel on certain levels, they remain part of the collective me, imprisoned in the dimension of forgetfulness, without any self.
In this teaching, we have defined the levels of personality through which we evolve, as our personality become increasingly aligned with our soul. Here, we have defined the stage of ‘egoic personality’ which represents a higher level of development within the collective me, in contrast to a purely collective, pre-egoic personality. Here, our personality begins to shape its ego based on a degree of individuality and intelligence. Egoic personality can take a variety of shapes and express itself in many different forms. For instance, most philosophers, artists and scientists have developed their egoic personality. These people have intellectual or artistic prowess, and a certain capacity to reflect upon themselves and on society in creative ways. And yet still, the vast majority are not seeking their true self. Not only that, they are even too ignorant even to recognize that their true self is missing. Can a person who has absolutely no sensitivity to his own subjectivity be called intelligent? Perhaps clever, but not intelligent.
Of course not all egoic personalities are rebellious, even though in general they tend to be more original, unique, independent or individualized. What they have in common is that they no longer find comfort in identification with the collective mind, but they do not know where to go from there. So they either keep living in this netherworld, or they choose to identify with a more marginal faction of the collective me, such a joining a cult, a radical philosophical group, or even an illusory path to ‘enlightenment’. Whichever path they chose, they are not able to cross over from the collective paradigm to reality.
We can take for example the modern philosophy of existentialism, which has in certain direct or indirect ways influenced a generation of young people. The basis of existentialism was to question our basic values, contemplate the crisis of human existence, and find an alternative way of living that was supposed to be rooted in the pursuit of freedom and authenticity. Unlike other streams of philosophy, which were more concerned with defining abstract truth, existentialists were interested in the human being who is torn between living in a vacuum of meaninglessness and his futile search for a justification for his existence. One solution that they found was to conclude that we do not need our life to have a meaning in order for it to have meaning; living without meaning is honesty.
Existentialism is an example of how human intelligence can develop a certain originality and depth within the frame of the collective me that transcends its main, very mediocre status quo. But still, both the deep philosopher and the old woman who goes to church every Sunday without ever questioning the authority of holy scriptures, belong to the collective me. They simply exist on the extreme sides of its spectrum. The main point is that no matter how profound a philosopher is, he remains ignorant of the most important thing in the world, of that which allows him to exist as himself – his very me.
Can something be done to direct that deeper group towards their real me, their true destiny? Can they be educated to channel their instinct to move away from the collective me? Can their spiritual intelligence be stimulated and awakened? Perhaps in some cases it can. But in the majority, it is very likely not. Their fate is to live a life without direction, without a clear purpose, a life defined by mental ideas and escapism. Those who truly have the potential to transform their rebellion into a genuine spiritual quest will sooner or later find the way, but even those need to strive to activate their spiritual intelligence. Otherwise, even true spiritual longing will not lead them to their real me.
The stage in between the egoic personality and real me is what we have called ‘threshold personality’. Threshold personality indicates that personality has developed to such an extent that it has become a bridge for the inner knower to cross into pure subjectivity. People who live in the netherworld have not yet reached threshold personality, but they have reached a point of deep crisis within their egoic personality. To come closer to threshold personality and move beyond the collective me within them, they must awaken the inner knower. There is no other way.
From the perspective of the knowledge of the knower, the vast majority of people who rebel or seek alternative ways of living, such as being drawn to superficial spiritualty that is not linked to the awakening of me, have actually never activated their inner knower. Only an active inner knower can help us to cross over from collectivity to individuality. Then there is a minority who are indeed connected to their inner knower, but because their intelligence is not developed enough, they still end up remaining lost for their whole lives.
Can people who have reached this type of impasse within themselves be inspired in some way to activate their inner knower? The thing is that when someone’s inner knower is entirely absent or dormant, any attempt towards inspiring them spiritually will invariably be received by their egoic observer. The observer can be inspired easily enough, but its inspiration is false, meaning it is not based on reality. The observer of some is very eager to enter the path of enlightenment, or so it thinks. But its eagerness is based on entirely illusory presumptions.
In this light, we can consider the issue of the possible role of spiritual education. Trying to activate the inner knower in most cases is like trying to show a rainbow to a blind person. It is futile. So such an education would make sense only when it is addressed to those who have a genuine potential to awaken the inner knower. And this actually implies that the inner knower is already present in a subtle way inside them. The inner knower, in its seed form, can and needs to be inspired spiritually. More specifically, the outer knower needs to be inspired towards serving the purpose of the inner knower. In other words, the longing of the inner knower must be reflected in the intelligence of the outer knower, because he is the active center of intelligence responsible for giving us direction and translating our spiritual longing into the action of self-recognition. This would be the role of real spiritual education, but in the absence of the seed of the inner knower, it would fall on deaf ears
The fact is that the majority of people do not have the capacity to activate their inner knower, which is our very soul. This is the way it has always been, the way it is and the way it will always be. As a result, our teaching is by nature elitist. It is elitist because it is pragmatic. There is no time to indulge in idealistic fancies. Instead, we can invest the precious energy of this teaching in the fertile ground of more mature souls. Only such mature souls carry the sacred flame of the inner knower in their being.
The Netherworld of Rebellious Personality: Questions and Answers
Does every living creature carry the potential of the inner knower within? Even animals, for instance? If not, what is their life for? Why are they alive?
Even though self-knowledge is the most important purpose of life, life is a purpose in itself. Life is living, and that is its purpose. Life is the ultimate creativity of the self that manifests as a multitude of beings for the very joy of living. The problem with being human is that we have reached a point in evolution where just living is not enough. We begin to experience just living as suffering because life itself is trying to motivate us to find a higher purpose to being alive. So we are at a crossroads. Because most humans are incapable of awakening to their true self, and yet evolved enough to suffer because of the absence of it, they are in a tragic position, an impasse. But why should you be concerned about others? Do your job and be happy that you are finding a way out of human misery.
If people carry the seed of the inner knower, how does it reach the threshold of becoming an active element in a person’s consciousness?
The call of the inner knower has to reach the outer knower. What occurs here is truly mysterious and it is difficult to explain. It all happens within intelligence. If our intelligence refuses to evolve, to awaken, it all goes to hell. While the inner knower is the seed of the soul within us, the magic actually happens in the outer knower. He is the true creator of our future, endowed with the power to emancipate us from the dimension of suffering. For this to be possible, the outer knower has to serve his true master, which is the inner knower.
Is there a difference between those who rebel against the collective me and enter some form of spirituality, and those who rebel in other contexts, such as becoming artists, philosophers, alternative thinkers, and so forth?
No there is no difference. They are all lost.
Does one have to pass through this netherworld stage, where one has begun to rebel but not enough, and not in an intelligent way? Or can some rebellions immediately be expressed as seeking real me?
The most common scenario is that one indeed has to pass through this stage. To translate the longing of the inner knower into the concrete shape of the spiritual path is not easy, and a significant amount time is required for one to mature. The period of being lost and living in the netherworld is important for everyone, but some get stuck in it for their whole lives. Even worse, some do not even recognize that living in the netherworld has become their downfall.
If you meet a person who seems to have spiritual potential but is stuck in some form of false rebellion, is there any way to help them?
It is possible that by speaking to such a person, to his or her outer knower, that he or she will transform their perception of reality and start to develop a higher perspective. But this requires several attributes in the listener: intelligence, sincerity, humility and courage to step into the new.
What is the factor that makes someone start to move out of the collective mind, if it is not the presence of the inner knower?
The presence of the inner knower is the only real reason that a person would want to transcend the prison of the collective mind, but people may have developed false reasons as well. The collective mind is not necessarily one unified thing and there are many versions of it that all exist within the same, basic construct of forgetfulness. So when some people ‘rebel’, they are actually doing by going against one aspect of the collective mind by choosing to identify with another one. For instance, if one rebels against Christianity by choosing to become a Buddhist or even an atheist, what is the difference? There is no difference and this is a false rebellion. All these beliefs are just different niches of the decaying building of forgetfulness, an illusory castle of sand.
You often say that even though people appear to be individuals, there is actually ‘no one’ there. How is it possible? When I look into someone’s eyes, especially when I feel closer to someone, I feel there is often a very rich spectrum of emotions, and perhaps kindness or compassion. Isn’t that a clear indication that there is ‘someone’ there?
It is an interesting question. The first thing that needs to be clarified is what ‘no one’ actually means. No one means that there is no solidified sense of me, that there is no self-awareness on the level of pure subjectivity. But this does not mean that there is no sense of self at all. As we have explained, humans experience their sense of me as the observer, which is me when it is entirely identified with external attention. The observer is like a mixture of someone and no one; it appears to exist, but when you look inside it you cannot find anything.
This is why in Buddhism there are various meditations on no-self, stemming from an analysis of different components of consciousness that seems to prove the non-existence of self. By analyzing the consciousness of an ignorant person, they have drawn the wrong conclusions about the reality as such. There is indeed ‘no-self’ at the beginning. But the whole idea of the spiritual path is that this ‘no one’ becomes ‘someone’. That is the magic of spiritual transformation, to transit from the observer to the knower.
Reading the facial expressions of people is an interesting subject. You need to contemplate it in order to be able to distinguish between seeing a heartful, introverted observer, or an inner knower in another person’s eyes. Many students tend to give a completely wrong assessment of others, saying for instance, ‘this person is a real seeker’ about someone whose inner knower is entirely absent. Or in another example, a student might say, “I am very lucky. My girlfriend is practicing Reiki. So it feels like we are both on the path.” It is a bit ridiculous, but it shows how desperate some seekers are for human company and human connection. They believe that because their partner is involved in some shallow form of spirituality, this will bring them closer together. But in which way will a person who is doing Reiki support you on your real path? It is preposterous to think they can support you in any way. On the contrary, it is more likely to be disturbing, as it will connect you to pseudo-healing energies and spaced out energy. Indeed, it is better avoid spiritual monkeys entirely and find yourself a pleasant and innocent girlfriend or boyfriend from the ordinary collective me.
So to really see if the inner knower is present, you must look through and beyond psychological facial expressions. You must look deeper. A good exercise is to watch an animated movie like ‘Metropia’ where the characters are made to look human. Here you can clearly recognize the spectrum of human emotions that shine through their face and eyes, but you can also see no one exists there apart from all these expressions. There is also a story about a man that fell in love with a female mannequin. With whom did he fall in love with, if there was no one there? Because the mannequin was life-like, his brain projected the hologram of a person onto it, with all the attributes of his ideal woman. And this is not far from reality. There is actually a kind of principle present in our everyday life where we constantly assume people to be what they are not. Most of the time we do not see even real people. Rather, our brain is imposing its preconceived models onto them.
Our brain has many models to choose from within its vast memory bank, and it forms its ideas about the other person by quickly analyzing a lot of data, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. This process is happening very fast, and very automatically, so you need to try and become mindful of it. For instance, if a person you meet does not smile, he might appear unfriendly. But if his face is relaxed or eyes appear dreamy, you might assume that he is pleasant, or introverted, etc. Human monkeys are very good at reading facial expressions on the level of personality because they have evolved entirely in the social context. This has been one of the prerequisites for surviving in a group. They have had to learn who is their friend and who is their enemy, who can give them emotional security and who can hurt them. This learning starts from very early age, and those who fail in it become socially and emotionally dysfunctional.
This is all fine. The problem starts when we try to see into the other person more deeply, such as to feel their inner knower. Unless we develop special skills, our ability to read people will remain fully limited to their persona. Initially, we just cannot see beyond the surface and façade of personality, because it has not been required in our collective evolution. This is why when you try to feel the inner knower of someone else, in most cases you are just imagining things and projecting what is not there. You assume that there is ‘someone’ home, but in truth no one is there and no one has ever been there. It is sad, but we need to get in touch with the reality we are living in, so that we can approach it with wisdom and discrimination.
When you really feel the inner knower in someone you also feel their pure attention. To do so, you need to go beyond the façade, beyond what appears to be there. You need to feel that person from within their own self, just like you feel your own inner self, your own pure subjectivity. The skill to see the inner knower in another person is particularly important for spiritual teacher. Otherwise, he cannot really teach because he is not able to see whom he is teaching. To teach, a teacher must feel complete unity with the inner knower of a seeker. Aside from teaching, this skill is also important for anyone who is on the path, so that he or she can develop an intelligent relationship with the world which is clearly based on reality rather than on personality.
Practically speaking, how can one recognize the presence or absence of the inner knower in others? What matters most is the intention to feel who the other person is beyond who or what he appears to be. Personality can be very good at emulating the soul, when it is pretending to be real and heartful. You must see beyond all this and feel who is there directly. A certain empathy is needed, not emotional empathy but spiritual empathy, which allows you to feel how that person experiences himself from his own perspective. And of course, only the inner knower can recognize the presence or absence of the inner knower in another. So the first step, naturally, is to ask yourself – how do I know my own inner knower?
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