Until we understand ourselves, it is not really possible to understand much about anything around us.

To make an observation and create a memory of it, one needs to be a bit more awake, and we wake up at times when things are not happening completely mechanically, times when our usual mechanical patterns have been interrupted. One of the first intervals we have to overcome is to find ways to catch the machine when it is behaving mechanically and to see what it is doing then, because those are the moments when it is manifesting from feature and body type and center of gravity.

Through self-observation, we discover areas that clearly need work—manifestations that, on a practical level at least, cannot occur at the same time as self-remembering. The expression of negative emotions provides an obvious example. On a theoretical level, one could separate from such manifestations and simply observe them. Perhaps conscious beings can do that, but we can’t. Consequently, self-observation inevitably brings us to areas that need practical work.

Part of a man number four’s suffering is to see himself behaving mechanically and not be able to do anything about it. This suffering is a necessary payment; we have to be able to see ourselves before we can even begin to think about doing something different. There is no way to avoid being in this situation, or to avoid the suffering of seeing one’s mechanicality. When we understand that it is part of the process that leads to something else, then we know why we are making the payment.

A useful way to work with the pain and suffering that result from seeing oneself is to ask: “Who is in pain? Who is suffering?” It is not higher centers, nor is it essence; it is false personality that suffers. The reason that we have pain and suffering when we start to see ourselves is that we have an imaginary picture, and we are seeing that we are not what we imagined ourselves to be. This realization helps us understand what level is experiencing the pain and put the suffering into perspective. That, in turn, makes it easier to separate and find a level that is not connected to it. Whether we see it or not, in the moment we are exactly what we are. When we see ourselves, false personality dissolves and something more real gradually comes into being. The part of us that understands about being awake and understands about being more real does not suffer from seeing that we are not what we imagined ourselves to be. On the contrary, it comes into being by being aware of the way things are.

We understand how difficult it is to change anything in ourselves, yet we expect other people to act differently any time it is convenient for us.

Probably, I have learned most about myself from seeing situations when other people reacted differently than I would have. In those situations, my machine mechanically produces judgment ‘I’s about the other people and justification ‘I’s about myself. These ‘I’s are buffers that keep us from seeing ourselves. Their function is to draw one’s attention away from some attitude one has. One has to look behind those ‘I’s and ask: “What is my attitude? Why do I react that way? Do I have some opinion about how the situation should be or how another person should behave?” When I observe a judgment ‘I,’ I can use that as a chance to turn around and see that opinion or attitude in myself. But if, instead, I allow myself to be identified with the judgment, then my attention goes to the other person and I do not look at myself. This method works for all four centers; it is not just a question of the intellectual center, although ‘I’s from other centers are generally formulated in the intellectual center. Personally, I have found this to be one of the richest and most exciting areas of second-line work. Our machines are interesting and fun, and they are fun to observe. To be able to really enjoy it, all you have to do is to give up the illusion of self-importance.

A common form of judgment ‘I’ is to think that somebody has done something in the wrong way. It may be that you think another person is not dressed well, or it may be the way they prepare and eat their food, or it may be the way the person speaks. Or it may be that you judge yourself this way. In all these cases, your machine has an attitude about what it thinks is the right way, and that is what you need to observe. For example, my machine is intellectually centered, so I have many judgment ‘I’s about the way other people think. But until I learned to look back at myself, I did not understand these mechanical attitudes. In particular, I began to see that my machine is identified with acting in an intellectual way, and it expects others to be able to explain what they are doing with the intellectual center. But someone who is moving centered may be working to solve a moving-centered problem just by trying things—experimenting to find out what works—and they will not necessarily be able to explain it in a logical way. My wife is emotionally centered, and I will often ask her: “Why are you doing that?” Sometimes, she does not know. It was her emotional center that made a small, in-the-moment decision about something. By observing these things, I came to see that there are different ways to “think.”

When we are asleep everything happens mechanically; everything just goes its own way. When we experience friction, it usually means that our mechanicality has encountered some kind of denying force. What we are trying to do is to learn to use those moments to see ourselves. The machine will want to focus on the stimulus, or whatever it was that produced the friction; instead, we can learn to ask ourselves, why does this particular event or circumstance cause me friction? Being intellectually centered, my machine has friction when people don’t understand what I say, but it doesn’t have so much friction if the moving center has trouble imitating another person—for example, being able to perform a task as well or as fast as another person. My machine has a lot of friction if people don’t behave the way I think they should—that is, if I have not dominated them successfully—but it is not friction for me if I am with a group of people and they are not having a good time.

Girard Haven