Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on

Yesterday I got upset because I saw students outside of the school where I drive standing together without masks on. I scratched my head and wondered, “Why all this effort if people aren’t going to be careful?” Then I decided that it was my job to be careful for just that reason. These are kids. They don’t think of every possible thing that could harm them in life, and maybe that is a good thing, a kind of innocence still.

Innocence. And now I wonder, “Have we protected our children for too long?” What lies behind my question is that I see children told what to think, how to feel, and how to behave. This creates a crust of false personality between their conditioned self and their essence, what some new age thinkers call “True Self.” But I wonder, too, if there even is a “True Self”?

Certainly there is something truer to our Essence than false personality, but naming such a thing as the “self” becomes tricky, because there are so many versions of it. The “self” grows out of aggregates of experience and memory, and the consequence is that most of us have more than one “self.” But there is a magnetic center between the selves, Gurdjieff tells us (P.D. Ouspensky, Search for the Miraculous) that harmonizes and integrates and promotes us toward wholeness.

Yet this wholeness, or integration of self, does not come about without the discomfort of Paradox. By mindfully holding together in my “self” the two opposing aspects of my duality, they must either blend or one die to another, I become more integrated. And yet the self is always changing. This is why Mindfulness. This is why.


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