The Struggle Against Our Psychological Habits

The observation of our tendency towards fantasy and daydreaming forms a very important part of self-study, but the next object of self-observation must be our habits in general.

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Self-Observation and Habits

“Every grown-up person consists wholly of habits, although they are often unaware of it and may even deny having any habits at all. But, this can never be the case. All three Brains are filled with habits and a person can never know themselves until they have studied all their habits.

The observation and the study of habits is particularly difficult because, in order to see and ‘record’ them, one must escape from them, free oneself from them, even if it is just for a moment. So long as a person is governed by a particular habit, they are not observing it, but at the very first attempt to struggle against it, they feel it and notice it. Therefore in order to observe and study habits one must try to struggle against them.

This opens up a practical method of self-observation. The purpose of the struggle against habits is to show or expose what is in the particular center. It is very difficult for a person to observe and ‘record’ anything if they do not try to struggle with themselves, that is, with their habits.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

The Struggle and the Work on the Moving Center

“Without a struggle a person cannot see what they consist of. The struggle with small habits is very difficult and boring, but without it self-observation is impossible. Even at the first attempt to study the elementary activity of the moving center a person comes up against habits.

For instance, a person may want to study their movements, or to observe how they walk. But they will never succeed in doing so for more than a moment if they continue to walk in the usual way. But if they understand that their usual way of walking consists of a number of habits, for instance:
• of taking steps of a certain length,
• walking at a certain speed, and so on,
and they try to alter them, that is,
• to walk faster or slower,
• to take bigger or smaller steps,
then they will be able to observe themselves and to study their movements as they walk. If a person wants to observe themselves when they are writing, then they must take note of how they hold their pen and try to hold it in a different way from usual; observation will then become possible.

In order to observe themselves a person must try to not walk in their habitual way, they must sit in unaccustomed position, they must stand when they are accustomed to sitting, they must sit when they are accustomed to standing, and they must make with their left hand the movements they are accustomed to make with their right hand and vice versa.

All this will enable them to observe themselves and study the habits and associations of the moving center.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

The Struggle and the Work on the Emotional Center

“In the sphere of the emotions it is very useful to try to struggle with the habit of giving immediate expression to all one’s unpleasant emotions. Many people find it very difficult to refrain from expressing their feelings about bad weather. It is still more difficult for people not to express unpleasant emotions when they feel that something or someone is violating what they may conceive to be order or justice.

Besides being a very good method for self-observation, the struggle against expressing unpleasant emotions has another important significance. It is one of the few directions in which a person can change themselves or their habits without creating other undesirable habits. Therefore self-observation and self-study must, from the beginning, be accompanied by the struggle against the expression of unpleasant emotions.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

The Results of Recording the Struggle

If a person carries out all these rules while they observe themselves, they will record a whole series of very important aspects of their way of being. To begin with they will record with unmistakable clearness the fact that their actions, thoughts, feelings, and words are the result of external influences and that nothing comes from themselves.

They will understand and see that they are in fact an automaton acting under the influences of external stimuli. They will feel their complete mechanicalness. That everything ‘happens’ to them, and they cannot ‘do’ anything on their own. They are a machine controlled by accidental shocks from outside. Each shock calls to the surface one of their “I’s”. A new shock and that “I” disappears and a different one takes its place. Another small change in the environment and again there is a new “I”.

A person will begin to understand that they have no control of themselves whatsoever, that they do not know what they may say or do in the next moment, and they will begin to understand that they cannot answer for themselves even for the shortest length of time.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

When a person has realized this through observation and practical experience, then they will have the necessary internal shock to begin to dedicate themselves to this work.

Clarifications of some Points and Terms

There are several points in Gnostic Psychology that are of particular interest to clarify:

“1. The first point is the possibility of self-change, that is, the fact that in beginning to observe himself in the right way a human being immediately begins to change himself, and that he can never find himself to be right.

2. The second point is the demand “not to express unpleasant emotions”. The future will show that the study of emotions and the work on emotions is the basis of the subsequent development of the whole system.

3. The third point is the idea of the moving center. Notice the difference between the moving functions and the instinctive functions. How are they different?

4. The fourth point is that the common division of the human being’s actions into:
• “conscious” actions,
• “automatic” actions (which must at first be conscious),
• “instinctive” actions (expedient, but without consciousness of purpose),
• and “reflexes,” simple and complex, which are never conscious
is considered incomplete and inaccurate. In addition, there are actions performed under the influence of hidden emotional dispositions or inner unknown impulses.

As we have studied, Gnostic Psychology completely rejects the idea of “conscious” actions because there is nothing that is conscious in the mechanical human being. The term “subconscious” which plays such a big part in the theories of some authors is often quite useless and even misleading, because phenomena of quite different categories are classified under the category of “subconscious”. The division of actions according to the centers controlling them does away with all uncertainty and all possible doubts as to the correctness of these divisions.

What is particularly important in the system of Gnostic Psychology is the indication that the same actions could originate in different centers. An example is the recruit and the old soldier at rifle drill. One has to perform the drill with their thinking center, the other does it with the moving center, which does it much better. Actions governed by the moving center are not called “automatic”. The name “automatic” is only used for the actions which a person performs imperceptibly for himself. If the same actions are observed by a person, they cannot be called “automatic”.

Automatic actions can be found in all centers; there are, for instance, “automatic thoughts” and “automatic feelings”.

Reflexes are called “instinctive actions”. Recognize the constant misuse of the words “instinct” and “instinctive”. These words can be applied only to the inner functions of the organism: the beating of the heart, breathing, the circulation of blood, digestion these are instinctive functions. The only external functions that belong to this category are reflexes (which, again, are “instinctive actions”).

The difference between instinctive and moving functions is as follows: the moving functions of a human being, as well as of animals, of a bird, of a dog, must be learned; but instinctive functions are inborn. A human being has very few inborn external movements; an animal has more, though they vary, some have more, others have less; but that which is usually explained as “instinct” is very often a series of complex moving functions which young animals learn from older ones.

One of the chief properties of the moving center is its ability to imitate. The moving center imitates what it sees without reasoning. This is the origin of the legends that exist about the wonderful “intelligence” of animals or the “instinct” that takes the place of intelligence and makes them perform a whole series of very complex actions. Consider the idea of an independent moving center, which, on the one hand:
• does not depend upon the mind,
• does not require the mind,
• and which is a mind in itself,
but which, on the other hand:
• does not depend upon instinct
• and has first of all to learn.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

Habits and the Influence of External Stimuli

“The existence of a moving center working by means of imitation explains the preservation of the “existing order” in beehives, termites, and ant-hills. Directed by imitation, one generation has had to shape itself absolutely upon the model of another. There could be no changes, no departure whatsoever from the model.

Each center is not only a motive force but also a “receiving apparatus working as receiver for different and sometimes very distant influences. Consider what has been said about wars, revolutions, migrations of peoples, and so on; picture how masses of humanity could move under the control of planetary influences, and you will begin to understand our fundamental mistake in determining the actions of an individual.

We regard the actions of an individual as originating in himself. We do not imagine that the “masses” may consist of automatons obeying external stimuli and may move:
• not under the influence of the will,
• nor of the consciousness,
• nor of the inclination of individuals,
but under the influence of external stimuli coming possibly from very far away.”

– Paraphrase from Chapter 6 of In Search of the Miraculous

Planetary Influences

There are a variety of external influences which come to us from many different sources. External influences can come from:
• other people’s words or actions,
• from communication media of various sorts (books, magazines, newspapers, pictures, images, music, sounds, etc.),
• from modern technology (television, radio, cell phones, computers, etc.)
• from minerals, plants or animals (which can include the place we live or work, the food we eat, etc.),
• and from the cosmos (planets, stars, etc).

Some of these influences can be stronger than others, but all of them can have an effect on our Internal State. When we are not observing ourselves: our Egos or “I’s” translate them, but when we are observing ourselves: we have the opportunity to transform them. Since the majority of humanity is in either the first or second states of consciousness, then we can see that we have a serious problem…

Upon humanity as a whole, the most influential of these external stimuli are those of the cosmos. There are very subtle influences that come from planets and stars which affect us in ways most people are completely unaware of.

“There are periods in the life of humanity, which generally coincide with the beginning of the fall of cultures and civilizations, when the masses irretrievably lose their reason and begin to destroy everything that has been created by centuries and millenniums of culture. Such periods of mass madness, often coincide with geological cataclysms, climatic changes, and similar phenomena of a planetary character. And are the result of planetary influences.

Somewhere up there two or three planets have approached too near to each other; and tension results. Have you noticed how, if someone passes quite close to you on a narrow sidewalk or street, you become all tense? The same tension takes place between planets. For them it lasts, perhaps, a second or two. But here, on the earth, because of the human being’s inability to manage this energy, the tension results in a war.

People begin to slaughter one another, and they go on slaughtering maybe for several years. It seems to them at the time:
• that they hate one another;
• or perhaps that they have to slaughter each other for some exalted purpose;
• or that they must defend somebody or something and that it is a very noble thing to do;
• or something else of the same kind.

They fail to realize to what an extent they are mere pawns in the game. They think they signify something; they think they can move about as they like; they think they can decide to do this or that. But in reality all their movements, all their actions, are the result of planetary influences. And they themselves signify literally nothing.

Then the Moon plays a big part in this. The influence of the Moon upon everything living manifests itself in all that happens on the earth. The Moon is the chief, or rather, the nearest, the immediate, motive force of all that takes place in organic life on the earth. All movements, actions, and manifestations of people, animals, and plants depend upon the Moon and are controlled by the Moon. The sensitive film of organic life which covers the earthly globe is entirely dependent upon the influence of the Moon.

Man, like every other living being, cannot, in the ordinary conditions of life, tear himself free from the Moon. All his movements and consequently all his actions are controlled by the Moon. Everything that happens on a big scale is governed from the outside, and governed either by accidental combinations of influences or by general cosmic laws.”

-Paraphrase from Chapter 1, 2 and 5 of In Search of the Miraculous

The Moon, Mechanicity and Materialism

“The Moon tends towards materialism and this is a serious problem for us, all terrestrial mechanicity is controlled by the Moon. All life on Earth, the whole terrestrial mechanism is controlled by the Moon, all the mechanicalness of life is of a Lunar type. The Moon, like the pendular weight of a huge clock, makes the terrestrial mechanism move:
• the growth of plants, and animals,
• ovulation in women,
• the ebb and flow of the seas, the high and low tides etc.,
depend upon the Moon.

The influence of the Moon is one of the reasons life is so mechanical for us. So if we really want to be successful then there are 2 things we can do to counteract the mechanicity of the Moon:

    1. take advantage of the Waxing and Full Moon in planning activities.
    2. and use the perfumes of the Rose and Violet plants in order to control Lunar materialism.

These perfumes must be used in order to control materialism because the Moon exercises a materialistic influence upon the human Mind. It is to our misfortune that the Subjective Elements which we have within are controlled by the Moon…”

-Paraphrase from Chapter 31 of Tarot & Kabalah

However, if we eliminate our Subjective Elements, our Egos, then we eliminate the cause of our problem.

The Center which is most susceptible to control by the Ego is our Emotional Center. Observe yourself during the different phases of the Moon. In our next class we are going to talk about the work with the Emotional Center.

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