What is your take on Ouspensky’s Self-remembering?

Tarot Major Arcana: Judgement
Mind Seeks and Finds its Source

In my view that is the final pursuit on a spiritual path because it is the natural movement of the mind towards the Knowledge of Self as Consciousness (The World). As long as there is a felt necessity to do something for spiritual realization that “is it” no matter how that movement is named or “performed”. Any aim or effort that is performed is a preparation for that final movement: the realization of Consciousness as Self.

In a nutshell: stop and look closely at what is happening in this moment. Not on the surface; but deep, where thoughts, emotions and sensations spring from. What is subject and what is object? In Tarot that action is shown by the arcanum: The Judgement.

In my case, before Self-remembering could become a reality in my daily living the core imaginary picture of myself as a separate entity had to be exposed as imaginary. A significantly deep revelation of the Self had to take place (The Hanged Man). It may well be different for different people; gradual, for example, I don’t know. But how can one remember the self if one has not been shown the Self first? Something to consider…

I know what you mean by those revelations. I’ve had those perceptions myself, they are like gifts from above.

Knowing the Self for the first time (The Hanged Man) certainly felt like a gift to me; compared to the nightmare the ego had become with all of its suffering and concurrent ignorance of the root of suffering. Now the root of suffering is irrevocably Understood to be imaginary.

But a “gift” as opposed to what? A state that “we” create as a result of “our own cumulative efforts” or our “control” or “mastery of the machine” or “curbing of desires”, like some teachers propose? That line of self-related thought is exposed as false in Self-knowledge (the hanged man’s experience). All is a gift, including our ability to make efforts or not, to start with.

Efforts may well be the case, but in Self-Knowledge the focus shifts away from the “person” and what that person could or would purportedly do or acquire. The person is an idea. A mental box where we place all that we wish to call “me”. And until that moment of Self Knowledge we had been working to obtain happiness, freedom, wisdom or whatever, for an idea we call “I”. That changes with Self Knowledge, if the insight is deep enough.

We, as individuals, are not agents of creation or action. Action originates from the Totality, it is not centralized. We as individuals are waves in a single infinite Ocean of Consciousness. This is probably the most literal analogy there could be to describe the relation between the individual and the universe. So, if we are a wave in an Ocean, what are we exactly? What is “I”?

The Self is not a high mental or emotional state that we experience and then lose. How could we lose what we are? Plus, the notion that “I have” a state presupposes an “I” who has stuff. That is only a learned and unquestioned supposition.

I often joke that the verb to be is the most used and the least understood. So is the pronoun “I”. Most of us say “I” a million times in a lifetime without a clue as to what it really is in essence. That is what the Gift of Self is. To Know “I” for what it is, not some high, drug or drug-less, state of metaphysical perception.

If the revelation of Self has happened and doubt about what we are re-enters the picture then Self-remembering is the action to call upon. However, it is possible, and common, that further imaginary beliefs must be cleansed from the mind before Self-remembering becomes efficient and effective and eventually spontaneous and effortless. (Notice that the arcanum Death comes right after The Hanged Man. That is most definitely not arbitrary and shows that there is work to be done after such an “awakening” as depicted by The Hanged Man. It also shows that that is a known pattern in spiritual development).

Metaphysical powers, a permanently activated higher-mental-emotional center, all fun and no pain, saintly behavior, perfect character, immortality, paradise – those do not relate to, or are causal of, Self-Knowledge (The World) and the end of psychological suffering. Self-Knowledge is the eradication of suffering rooted in a false idea of self, nothing more, nothing less. Self-remembering is a call to face that fact (as symbolized by The Judgement.).

In the process of deepening of Self-remembering it becomes possible to delve into the deeper emotional aspects of personality and essence and bring emotional pain from the unconscious into the conscious to be assessed and digested, rather than being reacted to with psychological suffering. (Tarot is a tool sharply suited to that purpose.)

What must come up can come up, as ugly as it may be. A profound degree of Acceptance is engendered by the impersonal character of this process. Those pains that are deeply connected to our unconsciously learned sense of self are looked into and welcomed into our natural compassion, and thus become neutralized, and flow like water flows.

Each of the seven chief features of false personality, with its central fear, will offer its own flavor of going against the flow and present an obstacle to Self-remembering.

False personality creates psychological suffering: self-centered negative emotions of guilt, shame, and resentment for example, which, is what necessitates spiritual work to start with. Work toward remembering the True Self.

In fact, Self-remembering and the transformation of negative emotions (neutralization of psychological suffering) are simultaneous. That, I presume, is why Ouspensky said that to transform negative emotions Self-remembering (The Judgement) is required.

The fact is that, in Buddha’s words: deeds are done but there is no doer thereof. If that is realized then the true Self “is remembered” and there is no ground for self-centered negative emotions to stand on. True Self-remembering is Freedom or Love or Peace because of that fact; because every action is Totality’s action, not individual, and not because “we have mastered how to do it” or “have reached or accomplished some personal spiritual goal”.

Self-remembering is an action. When that action is performed successfully the underlying Understanding is that there is no one remembering or transforming anything. The “Self” is realized as impersonal, effortless and ever present, and reality is presented as is, as Consciousness. When not successful we go back to experiencing one or more of the last ten major arcana so that work can be done in making conscious and clearing the mind of various degrees of imagination according to each person’s psychic constitution and history; but mainly and ultimately: the imagination of self.