Instantly, I am aroused, alert, intent on what is being said. Turning up the volume, I sit spellbound, eager to hear any scrap of information, my heart pounding, body surging with energy.
Almost immediately, despite the extreme intensity and drama of this experience, I am compelled to wrench myself away from it. I draw back, splitting myself in two. From now on, a part of me participates in the experience and another part watches myself respond.
This is not unusual. I often practice this sort of witnessing of my experience, as a sort of controlled schizophrenia. For over 20 years I have valued and encouraged this capacity. Indeed, this Gurdjieffian practice of "self-remembering" has been the single most important tool I have cultivated to help me break out of our "collective dream," the brainwashing that any culture requires of its citizens [note: what we now call The Matrix.] To develop the fair witness within is to gradually dismantle the automatic mechanical internal program. It's to learn how to think for oneself.
What is unusual this time is what my observer is discovering. For the first time in my life, I am noticing something that baffles me, and which, on reflection, makes me feel guilty and ashamed.
The healthy, detached observer part of me is noticing a further, and most unhealthy split, that between body and mind. A split between what I would have expected myself to feel and what I am, in fact, feeling.
Like everyone I know, for six long months I have been dreading the possibility of holocaust in the Persian Gulf. I had always viewed any war there as much more volatile, more likely to go nuclear, than any other place on Earth. Worse, a Gulf War seemed eerily fated, immersed in mythic regalia, the prophecies of Nostradamus and others all pointing to the Middle East as site of end-time Armageddon conflagration.
As the January 15th deadline loomed nearer, I found myself suffering from a vague sort of underlying depression. Indeed, one week prior to the deadline I had fallen ill, so weakened and dispirited had I become within this prevailing mood.
On the morning of January 14, I began to weep. For hours I wept at the now almost certain and utterly tragic vision of the hellfires we stupid and prideful humans were about to unleash upon each other and our beautiful planet.
And now, only a few days later, upon actually hearing the news announcing the onset of hostilities, I notice my body is surging with energy! Why? What is going on? I would have expected the opposite, a sharp blow to the solar plexus, a doubling over in pain. Instead, I am feeling released, excited, all senses vitalized, alive in the moment.
In the very act of noticing this bodily surge, I also notice that my mind associates it to culturally appropriate images. A sense of identification with the winning team. I want to cheer them on!
This apparent unity between body and mind is, however, short-lived. Again, I feel myself splitting, to create a new polarity, that between higher mind and lower mind/body.
My higher mind is, of course, shocked by what my lower mind is doing. How could this be? Now the split lies between the conscious pacifist beliefs of my higher self and the jingoism of my lower mind/body. This split is so profound and acute that instantly a part of my mind clicks into interpretation, and further, into judgment.
(What part of my mind is doing this? The witness? The higher self? Some as yet unknown aspect of mind? The continuous splitting proceeds so quickly and so complexly that I lose the ability to keep track and describe. This business of attempting to deprogram myself from the collective dream [the matrix] is exceedingly tricky and confusing, especially during times of war, historically known for their propensity to stir up "national pride.")
"Oh, no!" says this other part of my mind. I must still be programmed at the subconscious level for my body to seethe like this!
Past associations with this kind of excitement are all with sporting events, the usual rooting for one side or the other, wanting to be a part of the winning team.
Here I am now, again with this feeling. Does this mean that I am rooting for America in this war, that all the knee-jerk propaganda has influenced even me? Am I still brainwashed into thinking America's battles are between Good and Evil with myself as A Good Citizen, on the side of the Good?
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