The Fundamentals of Self-Study

If we want to transform, if we want to change ourselves, then we need to know what we truly are so that we can begin our own personal “reformation”. The chief method of Self-Study is Self-Observation. This is a concept that must be fully understood if we are to progress in our self-knowledge. In order to understand Self-Observation, we must first understand the different states of consciousness.

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The Four States of Consciousness

There are Four States of Consciousness which are described as follows:

  1. Sleep or Dreaming
  2. Physically Awake/Vigil or Day-dreaming
  3. Self-Consciousness/Self-Awareness or Self-Remembering
  4. Objective Consciousness

These four can be summarized into two:

  1. Subjective Consciousness (1st & 2nd States)
  2. and Objective Consciousness (3rd & 4th States)

Normally we spend 97% of our time in the first two states of consciousness. During the 2nd state of Consciousness, we mistakenly believe that we are aware of ourselves and what is going on. But, in reality, we are NOT IN THE PRESENT MOMENT, we are either dreaming about the past or about the future.

In order to be aware of the present moment, we have to first take that as our goal or objective. Many books have been written about “the Power of Now”, etc., and this is something which is fundamental to our transformation. We need to be here, now. Then we will start to take back the present and therefore the Future and our Destiny. The way we do this is through a technique that is called “Self-Observation”.


As we have mentioned, the chief method of self-study is self-observation. To observe ourselves implies that there is a “self” to observe and that we investigate what this “self” is. In order to move from the first 2 states of consciousness into the third state of consciousness, we must start to observe what is going on right now.

Normally when we observe something, we do so externally. For the observation of ourselves, we will do so internally. External observation is done with one or more of the 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, sight or sound. Internal observation is done through directing or attention internally, to our internal states. We must become aware of our internal states, because they are the source of our thinking and feeling.

Lets make a distinction between two things:
1. internal states, and
2. external events

States and Events

In life people often consider that their life is made up of a series of external events. But if we consider our life, our memories, the choices we made, etc., then we will see that it is impossible to separate our internal psychological state from our experience of the external physical event.

When we are irritable, then that changes how we think and feel, and we are not nice to be around:
• we become demanding
• we lack compassion
• we do thinks out of spite
• we make decisions that may affect others without considering them at all, etc.

All these things lead to a change in the external world. If we do not recognize that our life is truly made up of a series of internal states which have influenced or caused the external events to manifest, then we will never be able to work upon ourselves.

The Work upon Oneself

As we have said, the purpose of Gnosis and Gnostic Psychology is to transform ourselves. To do this, we must first recognize what we are, then we can begin to change.

If I want to work on a car, but I do not look at it or understand what I am working with, then the changes I want to make
• could either be impossible (because the structure I want to change does not exist in the way I expect it to)
• or I will make changes that will have undesirable effects (because the change affects the vehicle in a different way then what I wished for)

Therefore we cannot assume anything about ourselves. Instead, we must begin by observing ourselves (as we have already said) without any kind of prejudices – simply observing and gathering information. In this way we can discover what we truly are and how we really work.

Observing Ourselves

Self-observation requires that we look inside to see what we are thinking, feeling, or sensing, etc., in a given moment. Due to our current mentality, this can be difficult at first for 2 reasons:
1. because we are taught that we ARE our thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc.
2. and because we believe those thought, feelings and sensations occur only because of outside stimuli.

We have a huge problem with our present culture, we think that someone else make us “feel” in some way and (on top of that):
• if it is a negative feeling we try to avoid it
• and if it is a positive feeling we don’t want it to go away

So we spend our lives chasing “positive feelings” or avoiding “negative feelings” which we think come from the outside. One of the foundational principles of Gnostic Psychology is that our thoughts feelings and actions come from ourselves. Outside stimuli only activate or shed light upon thoughts, feelings and sensations we already have.

When someone else supposedly “makes me feel bad” what has actually happened is that they have brought attention to something that I am uncomfortable with. As an example, if someone says I am stupid and that makes me feel bad, then something in me:
1. considers that I could be in fact “stupid”
2. and considers my “stupidity” in the particular area referenced to be a bad thing

If I am stupid, then why does it offend me? If its true, then its true. Maybe I can figure out what I am doing that is stupid and stop it… If its not true, then why does it offend me? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves in order to discover how we really work.

We have many mistaken concepts about the world around us and about ourselves. We need to question everything, including what we are saying here, so that we can discover the truth. We are not saying to Accept or Reject anything, instead what we want is to Comprehend. Comprehension or True Understanding is a result of knowing something with our whole Being, not just with our Intellect, or our Emotions, or our Muscle Memory, etc.

Gnosticism sees the human being as not just a physical body, but a rather as an organism that interacts with different types of energies. There are certain concepts about this organism that help us to comprehend
who I am and what I am.

Fundamental Concepts about the Human Machine

Gnostic Psychology has a number of interesting concepts about the human being:

1. The human being has 3 “brains” which are the synthesis of 7 “centers”

• 1st Brain: Action or Motor-Instinctive-Sexual (3 centers)
• 2nd Brain: Emotional, the Superior and Inferior Emotions (2 centers)
• 3rd Brain: Intellectual, the Superior and Inferior Emotions (2 centers)

2. The human being is typically born with an affinity for one of these centers (we are all born either a Motor, Emotional or Intellectual type of person).

3. The Superior Emotional and Superior Intellectual centers are not fully developed in the human being (they must be developed if we wish to really change ourselves)

4. The human being’s physical organism is an energetic machine which is able to transform energies from one type into another (examples: digestion, breathing, etc).

There are many other concepts which build upon these, but for now lets start with these.

The Human Machine and Self-Observation

Beginning with the concept that the human being processes things through the Three Brains, we can start to understand how we can observe ourselves. Self-Observation requires that we separate ourselves from what we think, feel, sense, etc. It requires that we question the reason and origin of these things so that we can arrive at their source. This is very similar to the Buddhism concept of Mindfulness: being aware of our psychological state.

As we begin to observe ourselves, we will start to see that we have:
• a thought in the Intellectual Center,
• or a feeling in the Emotional Center,
• or a movement or sensation in the Motor-Instinctive-Sexual Center, etc.

At the beginning, the purpose of Self-Observation is to develop the faculty of being able to separate: external events from internal states within ourselves. In this way, we will be able to slowly start to see things as they are, instead of how we perceive them to be. It is the beginning of the separation into what is called “the Observer and the Observed”.

After we become accustomed to Observing Ourselves, we will be able to start to know ourselves, but this requires patience. At first we simply see that we have an opinion, a belief, a feeling, sensation, etc. Later we can see how that opinion, belief, feeling, or sensation leads us into certain activities and behaviors.

When we understand this connection, then it becomes much easier to control ourselves. When we do not observe ourselves, when we forget about ourselves, we easily become fascinated
• by the world around us (external events)
• and by our psychological states (internal states)

And as along as we do this, then we are doomed to be someone who moves through life like driftwood on the ocean.

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