“Everything happens in us” was Ouspensky’s favorite theme, and now that we were trying to do things differently we discovered the truth of this saying.

Few things are more difficult for a man to realize than the fact that he possesses no will, and it is obvious why this should be so. “But I did what I wanted to do,” he exclaims when his mechanicalness is pointed out to him. “How can you say that I have no will?” Yes, he has done what his various desires (and not an independent will) have compelled him to do, and over these desires he exercises little or no control. So it is only when, for the sake of a single persistent aim, he turns against the current of his mechanical desires that he discovers what is the real meaning of the word “will.”

Why, [Madame Ouspensky] asked, should we take so much trouble and care about a thing so utterly worthless as a personality?

People were not so easily taken in by appearances as we thought and, in any case, they were so preoccupied with their own personalities that they had no time to take notice of others. “Madame,” she would say, “is not interested in what is artificial in people. She is only interested in what is real in them, in that small part of them which sees what they really are and has a desire to become something else.”

How indeed can we obtain any more knowledge and, more especially, that kind of knowledge that comes through intuition, or direct perception, rather than through the intellect, unless the personality can first be got out of the way. The so-called intuition of a man controlled by his personality is only a manifestation of his prejudices and biases and nothing more than this.

So for the sake of a distant aim we accepted the unpleasantness of having our personalities revealed. Mr. Ouspensky had always warned us that the tru9th about oneself was often painful, and so it generally turned out to be, whether that truth were self-found, or uncovered for us by somebody else.

The fact is that we live mostly in our imaginations and, like industrious silkworms, spin round ourselves gorgeous chrysalises of silk. It is therefore bound to be unpleasant when rude hands tear all this spun finery of ours to pieces and reveal to the world that there is nothing inside it but a very ordinary grub.

Yet there are compensations attached even to this. Having been seen, and having seen oneself as one is, there is no longer need for recourse to that troublesome art of “saving face.” Men who have lost all their money can no longer be robbed.

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