Realization – William
Many years ago and quite against my “will”, I became involved with a married woman. This affair lasted for several months, during which time many things I believed about myself were shown to be quite false. Further, many horrifying things I had never imagined about myself became quite apparent and I was left with the uncomfortable realization that I actually had no will and that I was almost completely powerless to interrupt the course of events.
It was very confusing and appalling to me to watch myself continue to behave in a fashion which was diametrically opposed to what I desired. I wanted to be honorable; a trait I had imagined was consistent in me. Over and over, day after day, I gave myself reason after reason why I should put an end to the affair. I did not wish to be involved with another man’s wife. I felt quite strongly that I was being manipulated. Interestingly, I was also in the beginning of a relationship with someone else who I did not wish to betray.
One might imagine that there was a “Yes-No” struggle going on in my thoughts but this was not even the case. Everything involving my intellect was dead set against the affair. In fact, I do not remember a single moment where I found myself trying to justify my behaviour. I felt like I wanted it to end with every fibre of my being.
And yet, mysteriously, I continued, like a puppet moved by some unseen puppeteer whom I knew nothing about. I began to notice something very strange. Like Ouspensky‘s Ivan Osokin, a fictitious character who was given the opportunity to relive his life in order to make changes, I watched myself make the same mistakes repeatedly, even though I knew what the outcome would be.
Indeed, I actually had the opportunity to relive the same scenarios many times. Each time, I was aware of steps I could take to alter things, I was aware that there were other courses of action available to me that would produce a result more in line with what I wanted. And, of course, I was aware of the undesirable outcome that waited if I changed nothing.
My resolve turned out to be meaningless. I was able to change nothing. Eventually, the woman’s interest waned and the affair ended on its own, without my intercession. I was left with the undeniable fact that I was incapable of behaving the way I felt I wanted to and that I was somehow completely helpless to avoid repeating undesirable situations. I seemed to have no will at all. This was very distressing to me and I felt quite disappointed to be so weak and powerless. I could not even begin to understand how such a strange reality could exist.
It was years later that I met the Fourth Way and first encountered the words of Gurdjieff: “The most characteristic feature of a modem man is the absence of unity in him and, further, the absence in him of even traces of those properties which he most likes to ascribe to himself, that is, ‘lucid consciousness,’ ‘free will,’ a ‘permanent ego or I,’ and the ‘ability to do’. But no one will ever believe you if you tell him he can do nothing. This is the most offensive and the most unpleasant thing you can tell people. It is particularly unpleasant and offensive because it is the truth, and nobody wants to know the truth.
“When you understand this it will be easier for us to talk. But it is one thing to understand with the mind and another thing to feel it with one’s “whole mass,’ to be really convinced that it is so and never forget it.”
Needless to say, I needed no convincing; I recognized my own situation immediately, and also the possibility of escape: self-remembering.