The idea of spending all your waking hours saying, "Blessed be the gods," has permeated religion since ancient times. A more recent version is the idea of continually "remembering yourself." Such directives for increasing awareness and consciousness have a captious effect on certain segments of humanity, people interested in unusual activities. The methods are all presented on the basis of some metaphysical flaw in man's thinking that has to be fixed. You think: "How profound! If I could remember myself all the time, I'd be a different person." You would -- but why? The real, neuro-biological basis of such practices is the attempt to activate both sides of the Dialogue simultaneously.
The Dialogue is the simple awareness inside of everyone that there seem to be two people -- two aspects and possibilities -- either a voice and an ear, or an active and passive part of the intellect. Without this internal Dialogue, you would not be aware that you're conscious. If not for the Dialogue, you would not be fully human.
At any particular moment, one side of the Dialogue is talking and one is listening. But the Dialogue is not as simple as two humans having a conversation, or even two people talking at the same time. It shifts at the speed of light, like a tongue and ear that switch places so fast you lose track of the fact that there is an active and passive part. Examining the Dialogue is like looking at waves on the beach. You can tell there are waves going in and out but when you try and follow one, the tide shifts and you see other waves going back and forth in the midst of it all.
Likewise, there is a certain feeling that goes along with attempting to "remember yourself." You start out thinking, "I'm supposed to remember I exist. Okay, here goes -- 'I exist.'" For a few seconds, whatever you were thinking becomes passive. Only now the voices are saying, "Am I self-remembering, am I remembering I exist? Yeah, I am." Then you think, "Gee, I almost had a feeling there and now it's gone because," (here's the shift) "there's nothing unusual any more. Thinking 'I exist' is now the active part of my ordinary dialogue."
Instead of you thinking, "Boy, am I horny," you're thinking, "Boy, am I self-remembering." Whatever began to occur when you were remembering yourself drifts off and you forget about it. The ear listening becomes the tongue speaking. It's surrealistic, like a Salvador Dali painting. The tongue spreads out and turns into an ear and then you try to listen, and before you know it, suddenly the ear begins to move. Now the ear has become a tongue and it is talking. But when you try to stand aside and listen to what the tongue is saying, when you try to be aware of just a tongue or an ear, you can't tell which one you've got. In the midst of such surrealism, for a few fleeting seconds you remember, "I am here, I am here." That fleeting moment strikes a few people as being simultaneously spooky and very promising -- and it does hold great promise -- because it is an expansion of the operations of the brain.
On a more simplistic, less spooky level, ordinary people come up with intellectual handles, so-called mental supports and directives to help them alter their behavior. People tell you to "Count to 10 when you get mad." A dieter says: "The weight loss clinic taught me to count calories and most important, they told me to tell myself all day long, 'I am actually thin.'" Employers tell their employees to be more alert and watchful. Parents tell their kids: "Pay attention when you're mowing the lawn, you keep cutting down the flowers."
All of that is a simplistic expression of the desire to activate both sides of the Dialogue, to get more of your potential intellectual functions going simultaneously. At the simplistic level there is some value to mental supports and directives: if a worker is using equipment that can cut him, he certainly had better pay attention. If you count to 10 when you get mad, you've got ten or fifteen seconds to calm down. And, since no one can explain the dynamics of activating both sides of the Dialogue, humans come up with all kinds of names for it -- everything from metaphysical experience to subliminal reinforcement of your efforts to change. It is described as something to help you improve your spiritual state or a way to become rich, when it actually has a neuro-biological basis -- the attempt to simultaneously activate both sides of the Dialogue.
While I am in this area, you should take very close note of a fact: Although people can apparently change their behavior, they cannot change their intelligence. That is, they cannot satisfy the Dialogue. This is why no one is ever fully reformed, converted or recruited. An alcoholic may actually quit drinking, but does the Dialogue quit drinking? No. The person may never touch a drop of alcohol again for as long as he lives, but he will never stop talking and thinking about drinking. The Dialogue continues on and never hears a conclusive statement of change because it never has complete information.
Let's just say for now that the nervous system receives incoming information, distills it and talks back to itself about what is going on. Information comes in saying, "Do you notice how much better we feel down here below because we've quit drinking?" And the brain notes, "I'm aware of that, go on," (as though the brain is waiting, "Yeah, yeah," on one foot). "So, how come I haven't calmed down? How come I'm still thinking about drinking? How come I can't shut up about this? If this is indeed over, why don't I think it's over?"
Religions, although they don't much venture into telling people how to change their thinking, have recognized some part of what I am describing, to wit they tell their followers: "You haven't really changed until you have changed in your heart and mind. You may have quit committing adultery, but if you still have lustful thoughts, you haven't won the battle."
There's only one real change to a real neural Revolutionist -- to change behavior and undergo a parallel change in intelligence. Only a Real Revolutionist can do something, walk away and forget about it as though indeed there were a period put on the end of the sentence. Even a Revolutionist does it a lot less than you might think. The whole idea may not be as full bore as you would imagine -- rather than a .44 magnum, it's closer to a .22 short.
But under ordinary conditions people don't even have a pistol. They may change their behavior but they cannot alter intelligence. People can no doubt quit smoking, lose weight and stop beating their spouse. The lazy can start running. You are surrounded by people who can apparently change the way they behave, but none of them can change the way they think. In the City it is not important to change your intelligence. To do so is barely important to anybody.
Do you now realize why I've pointed out in our fictitious list of revolutionary rules of conduct that, for instance, if you actually changed you wouldn't tell anyone? It is not for any reason you can describe under ordinary conditions. You must realize that if you actually change both sides of the Dialogue, what changes is not only your behavior, but also the way you think -- and then the Dialogue has nothing else to say about the subject. For you to then mention it means you've gone back and churned up your own account. You've rubbed sandpaper over a wound that's almost healed and pulled the cut back open -- you went back and undid something that you did.
It would be bad enough to be caught flat-footed under social conditions where someone says, "Didn't you do so and so?" and you have to make up an answer. But to ever bring it up on your own, to say, "Yes, I used to drink. Nasty habit. Let me tell you how much better I feel." You just quit feeling better. If you've got to talk about it you ain't feeling better. The Dialogue has started back. Your account is being churned at no profit to you. None.
Human speech itself is not detrimental to anything mortally feasible, but talking about what you're doing does not go hand in hand with actually doing anything, because when you actually Do something both sides of the Dialogue get taken care of. When you do something -- when both your behavior did it and internally you did it -- there is nothing to talk about. That is what a real person of action is -- just look at any of the archetypical strong, silent heroes in literature and the cinema. Does John Wayne stand around talking about what he's going to do? People had wrestled with the puzzle of untying the Ghordian Knot for years, fooled around, debated and came up with all kinds of theories. Then Alexander came along and just whacked it apart with a sword. There is a neuro-biological basis for such direct actions being silent ones.
The only way the Dialogue goes on is if there is some question on the subject. In the broadest possible sense, binary consciousness is always asking, "Should I do this or that?" That is the most basic question in the human nervous system, residing slightly above the query, "Will this kill me?" The question of "Should I do this?" is a little less pressing to your physical health. It becomes a matter of morals and spirituality. It becomes an intellectual question: "Is this the proper way for a human to behave?"
This question, the Dialogue, is continually present -- even in the most ardent fanatic. A person who fanatically believes something is evil is still subject to the operation of the human nervous system. Perhaps they gave their life for their belief and proclaimed with their dying breath, "I still say it is evil." You might argue, "Now there was someone fully convinced." But they were not. Perhaps they were more passionately half convinced than the person who killed them, but in the City, you can't ever be more than half convinced because if you can be convinced something is right, you are also convinced that there is a "wrong" alternative.
If you knew what you were doing, you wouldn't have anything to say. You wouldn't die for anything, or else you would die for everything. It's not a matter of morality -- if you knew what you were doing about any one thing, you'd be seeing around the corner where binary words do not quite cover matters. When you actually Do something, there is no longer any discussion on your part -- there is nothing to say. You are no longer the supporter for: (fill in the blank -- goodness, truth, justice, mercy, whatever is "right" to you at the time). You are no longer the defender of any of that. Can you see how people could accuse someone involved with This of being shallow? In a sense, you would be shallow because under certain conditions, with certain subjects, you would really have no Dialogue going on.
Let me expand upon my increasing use of the terms "simplistic" and "complex." When I speak of more complex attitudes and understanding I am not referring to an increase in ordinary mechanical ambiguity, haziness or convolution. In the City they could say, "The further science goes, the more complex it becomes." That's not what I'm talking about. You might go from being a Baptist to being Presbyterian or even Episcopalian. Then you might think you're more complex because you have shed your simplistic views that, "If you go to the movies or have a cocktail you're evil." But such ordinary views of complexity are not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is not the opposite, but as always, it's almost the opposite.
What I speak of as complex is an enrichment in known information. In the City, complexity seems to be a step backwards because complexity goes hand in hand with things becoming more obtuse and harder to understand. People declare, "Yeah, I know they call this new invention progress, but they're just trying to fix things that don't need fixing." However, when your thinking actually becomes more complex it almost becomes more simplistic.
To do This Activity you have to personally and individually, intellectually, become more complex. But the increased complexity is not an encumbrance. Complexity does not cloud up what you see. You begin to see how there is more and more information piggybacked, hand-in-hand and dancing with what you apparently already knew. Complex thinking is not a bunch of mystical words coming down in code from a dead Iranian rug merchant who lives in spirit on Pluto. It's just ordinary information -- except you understand that there is additional, parallel information -- you find out there are side bands on your TV that broadcast other programs.
The different views of ordinary sight literally overlap, and where things overlap there is information not ordinarily seen. A Revolutionist has more complex information, but the complex information is involved with the presently available information. Enrichment is not new or extraneous, spooky or shocking. The information that's available right now becomes more complex.
The complexity does not make things more questionable and uncertain; it makes them more certain. If you properly attempt this, complexity makes things more simplistic, more easily seen. Once you expand the view into greater certainty, you understand that taking the wide-range movie that's been clipped for TV back to it's original wide view is not the point -- because when you reach that point you understand that behind every expansion is another expansion. Behind every complexity is a further complexity.
Once you get the process going, once you get your own brain activated above the ordinary level, you understand that everything you see is not the end of it. The enrichment continues. You might go on to something else, or you may drop the matter, but you do not leave it thinking, "Well, I sure got that case closed." If you think you closed the case then you closed something worse -- you closed up you.
You can think more complexly; you can take things you've looked at all your life and realize, "I've been looking through a narrow slit. I can see now that this one little thing is connected with something else and now it makes a lot more sense. It makes so much sense I don't even know how much more I need to see. It makes so much sense that I have just had a small-scale atomic mystical explosion that in the City would be good for a lifetime's work. I now see what I couldn't see before." That is the increased complexity of intelligence that I am describing.
Here's something else to consider. If you find shopping (or some other activity) to be a mechanical hobby, a low-level addiction (shopping is a fine hobby in the City), then with an enriched intelligence, you can take non-shopping as your hobby. You can refrain from shopping and have just as much fun as if you were shopping. The point is not to deprive yourself or to prove to the gods that you are not materialistic. If you're properly involved with This, then not doing a hobby is even more fun then doing it, at least in the beginning.
Now expand this. Whenever you find one of your habitual patterns is being interrupted -- whenever you are accidentally caught on one foot -- rather than be annoyed, you can grab the situation and willfully push the disruption even further -- to the point where the disruptive behavior, vis a vis your past pattern, becomes a new pattern. "Not shopping" can be the new hobby to replace "shopping" for some length of time.
Everyone's nervous system is wired up to be annoyed when a behavioral pattern is interrupted. It's natural. Dogs, possums, popes, priests, politicians and prune pickers all feel that way. But someone doing This, rather than being annoyed and irritated, rather then trying to get back in balance, can take the disruption and use the energy -- grab it up as a new hobby -- make it a new habit. If you miss your weekly shopping spree and have to stay home with your baby brother on Saturday afternoon, from then on, every Saturday afternoon make it a point to stay home with your baby brother. Or, just stay around the house when you would normally go out shopping. Just make the disruption the new pattern. Don't worry about how long a period of time you should do it -- you don't know how long you're going to be alive.
Also, have you noticed that you can pick up a jar with coffee or any substance in it and with almost no thought just shake the surface even? Let's say you've been taking coffee out by the spoonful and you look down at the top one day and notice how the surface is bumpy and piled up against one side. Without any conscious intention, without any particular art, you can take that jar and shake it so that the surface levels out.
A similar kind of shaking up goes on inside the human nervous system, and you can use it to your own advantage. This happens in the City in a very mechanical and temporary fashion -- through what appear to be tragedies, pressures and surprises -- interruptions in patterns of behavior, patterns of everyday life. It's commonly known as stress. Everyone has some knowledge of this. You can see an extreme example in people when a close family member dies. They go through the motions at the funeral, they welcome the people from out of town, but you can see they are in a state of shock. People try to bring themselves out of it, or their relatives will say, "Hubert, we're all hurt by this death, but you haven't eaten or slept in two weeks. Snap out of it." Normally they do snap back fairly quickly.
To varying degrees, the same thing happens when you interrupt any pattern in your life. You're mad because you have to stay home with your brother and can't go shopping. Your pattern is interrupted. You may get so mad your mother says, "Ease up. Good grief, you can't die over a missed shopping spree. You can go next week." This shaking up, this interference, has a potential use. It's almost as though you're the uneven surface of the coffee and Life shakes the jar and evens you out, puts you back at ground zero. Then it's almost as though you had a clean slate -- as though you're back to a more primordial level of uniformity.
In the City this shaking up does not matter. Not only is it mechanical and temporary, it is not put to any use. Any variation is generally viewed in a negative way: "Snap out of it. Get yourself back to where we recognize you. Get out of the house, take a shower, eat." "Yeah, you're right." Your mother says, "Come on, I see how mad you are, but good grief, someone had to watch the baby and you know I had to go pick up your father at the airport."
You can willfully use that because where other people find surprise or disappointment, pressure or interference, a Real Revolutionist finds opportunity. It's as though some outside force has fortuitously shaken up the pattern you've been operating under. Somebody's been taking coffee out of one side of you for the last few days and now the surface inside the jar is lopsided. Life shakes the jar, and the disruption gives someone involved with This a chance to do something different. Even a small thing can give you a chance.
It's almost as though Life doesn't know what it's doing. Of course, Life does know what it's doing, but it's as though Life doesn't know that anybody's going to get anything out of this little shake up. There you are playing Hide-And-Go-Seek with Life. Life turns its back and says, "I'm going to grease up everyone's saddle. Most of you probably can't get back on, but I'm going to turn my head anyway and count to 10." A few people realize, "I can use this," and they wipe off the saddle right quick, jump on and ride off. You have to move quickly, though, because Life doesn't play fair. Life's not going to count to 10. Life will go "Alright, 1," and it will turn back around. That's when you holler, "Life's unjust!"
I can't speak for everything that Life does, but it just shows how dumb you are if you haven't caught on that Life always counts to 1 and turns back around. It's a pattern, so you can't say, (unless you're ordinary) "Life is turning it's head and giving me the chance to do something. Let's see, I've got until 10 to plot what I'm going to do." Life will look away and say, "1," then turn back and say, "Gotcha!" After Life has done that to you over and over and over, don't keep saying, "Life's unfair." Give yourself a break.
Don't keep being surprised that Life says, "Alright, Hide and Go Seek -- 1," and time and time again it turns around. Life ain't gonna count to 10 -- it's gonna count to 1. Don't say "Life's unfair." Go look in the mirror and say, "Dumb."
Instead of searching for amazing new tricks and great breakthroughs, take the minor interruptions to your patterns, every time something apparently goes wrong, and use them. Most people don't pay any attention to the patterns. But quite often, one of them breaks up and you get annoyed. This interruption is meaningless to Life in general, meaningless to ordinary people, and by and large it slips past your attention, but you can use it, profitably, to the point that you won't question why you did it. You will understand immediately, "This is the right thing to do." You don't have to look for some kind of complicated way to do it. Don't try to go back and reestablish the old pattern; don't try to straighten things up, that is, to get the uneven level of the surface back to where it was. Just take the pattern that has been broken up, just take a small thing, and make it your new pattern.
"I never realized what a big hobby shopping was until I had to stay home one afternoon with the kid. I realized I was annoyed." Aha. There's a new hobby. That will produce what seems to be new energy. It also opens up the potential for you to look through new holes, new cracks in the fabric of things.
Consider this story: A person spends a long period of time pursuing a desire to transcend the limits of ordinary consciousness and perception. They are just sure there are other worlds, and they expend intense energy at great expense. The day finally comes when they fall into a trance and become aware of this other world -- but, the other world is exactly like this one. What could be the meaning of this other world being exactly like this one?