Landmark Education (and I think other coaches and companies as well) decided that who you are needs to be invented.
But all this invention, all this creation is on the top of an undifferentiated mess of stuff you don’t want to look at. So, whatever people in Landmark invent as themselves doesn’t last long, and has to be repeated, ad nauseum. People need to remind themselves… but that is obvious:
If you know who you are, you don’t need to be reminded of it.
The way to become clear of who you are is by becoming clear who you are not. It’s the process of distinguishing: distinguishing means: looking for the boundary between one thing and another. To tell them apart.
Your likes and dislikes are important, but you are neither your likes or dislikes.
Your attitudes are important, but you are not your attitude.
Your gender, your education, your occupation is important, but you are neither.
You have habits, you have a history, you have feelings, emotions, illnesses, but you are not them.
Now, becoming someone is a long process, and in a normal society, ours isn’t, you would do this work as you grow up.
But even if you never had a chance, never thought of doing it, if you want to become someone with a crystallized identity, as Gurdieff called it, you need to get the work done.
Identity means: you identify with that. You are that. The opposite of distinguishing.
But there are billions of things each “thing” you could identify with mean, so the way to go is to deny identification with the rest of the stuff.
The path to knowing who you are is to know who you are not.
You can start anywhere… just keep on doing it until you get where you are clear… The work is never completely done, but nevertheless you’ll be clear.
So I looked today myself, to illustrate it for you, and I wanted to say: I am not a racist person… but then I saw that I often think in terms of race when I want to sum up people… I have racial prejudices, so the statement is a lie: I can’t say I am not a racist… So I leave it alone. I see that I don’t want to be a racist, but who cares… Now, am I a racist? No, I am not a racist either… but somewhere in the gray area.
This is my internal conversation, I am NOT talking to you! I am talking to myself!
- I am not judgmental… yeah, when you pay attention, when you are aware… but is that true that you are not judgmental? Well, let’s say it’s true: I am not judgmental.
- I am not male… although I do have a capacity to think and act like a man, I am not a male… OK. I am not a male.
- I am not Christian… yeah, that is definitely true.
- I am not a Muslim… Yep.
- I am not a social person… yep.
- I am not prone to idleness… yep.
- I’d not spend a day without some serious reading…
- I don’t like hot weather…
When you remove the person from the board they are standing against, the knife thrower’s knives that are in the board will lay out the outlines of the person he did not target… is this clear?
Many of these questions will be very confronting, like my “racist” question. You may have a list of areas where you don’t like who you are… and yet, keep on going, don’t get bogged down.
Fixing a leaky faucet won’t get you anywhere… just become sure who and what you are not.
- If you are a positive thinker: make it a statement like: I can’t be with anything that I don’t like.
- If you are argumentative, say: I can’t be with anyone having the last word, or I can’t be with not being right.
- If you keep asking questions, say: I can’t be with uncertainty, I must be locked into a little room and have definition that way.
Watch yourself, observe yourself when you are alone, when you are with close people, when you are with people like clients.
When you say a “not” statement, please make sure you don’t lie. Don’t consider a wishful thinking statement true.
You see why it will take months, years… but it is worth it.
Once you find who and what you are not, you have defined the “dance floor” where you can go and dance…
Ultimately, meditation sages were trying to say this for ages, except everyone paid attention to the things to do: go within, watch the breath, let the thoughts go…
Every time you tried the other way, you got hopelessly entangled: no freedom, no elbow room…
Like when you say: I am an engineer… exacting misery. Or when you say: I am a seeker of truth: for that to be true, you can’t find truth… you can just keep on looking…. and what will help you find the boundary between truth and falsehood? You have no yardstick… so anything anyone says will lead you astray.
Be clear what is NOT true… what is not acceptable… what is ugly, what is evil… Bring consciousness to it, allow it to drop, and then you can say: I am NOT that.
Instead of all the “sages” that teach you to say: I am THAT… even them don’t know who they are… most of them at least.
In one of my favorite movies, The girl on the bridge, a French movie, both main characters find themselves by getting clear who they are not, even though they had been behaving that way, doing that which turns out that they are not… I love that movie. And now that you know what to watch for, you can learn from it, learn from them.