It is a mistake to think that me, you or any other person is always one in the same person, we are never the same person for long, we are continuously changing, seldom remaining the same even for half an hour. Are you always who you say you are? Is the you reading this the same you that was doing something different before, or will be doing something different afterwards? We all change as quickly as our thoughts feelings and sensations change, and despite calling ourselves by the same name we are not the same we were a moment ago.

Without developing the ‘self’ (called the “I” in Psychosynthesis) a person has nothing permanent and unchangeable, every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation says ‘I’ and in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I exists as a discrete entity when in fact there is no foundation whatever for this assumption. What you believe and what you feel right now is not necessarily what you believed a while ago, or what you may feel in the future, even in the next minute.

You may decide to get up early tomorrow morning but who is it that snuggles down and doesn’t get up after all – the same you or a different you? You make a promise about this or that to yourself and immediately the question arises: who is promising what to whom? You may not even be conscious of the promises you made with yourself, you made to other people, or other people made to you. During your childhood development you created lots of subpersonalities all with their own wants and needs; now some are clamoring to get what they want, others are hiding in the background, some may even be sabotaging your efforts to be true to yourself.

Instead of the discordant activity of different desires there is the possibility within us, our only chance for ‘freedom’ and possibly more, for ‘continuity’, of developing and learning to live from the one single ‘I’, the self that is indivisible and permanent. To become the conductor of your orchestra. Then instead of the mechanical process of trying to respond and fulfill the contradictory needs of your various subpersonalities, your ‘true will’ arises from your core and you may conduct your life accordingly, free, independent and unalterable from without. Naturally there is opposition and we have to learn to overcome both the reluctance and the resistance from your subpersonalities, not through mastering them or forcing them and so on, but through directing them inclusively. Like a good conductor, bringing all the players into the orchestra, finding ways to fulfill the needs of all players to express themselves.

We are almost always in the state of identification, only the object of identification changes – for instance you may identify with a small problem which confronts you and you completely forget your bigger purpose. Unconsciously identifying is one of our most terrible issues because it penetrates everywhere. You then may lie to yourself, tell yourself that being identified is good and even pleasant, and if anything at all bad is going to happen it is not going to happen just now, at least not this day, so you have no need to think about it. Finally we fool ourselves we are other than we are, believing that one player in the orchestra is the real thing.

All inner inquiry brings us to face to face with our human condition. Fritz Perls, the founder of gestalt therapy, summed it up well: ‘No eagle will want to be an elephant, no elephant to be an eagle. They just are. How absurd it would be if the eagle wanted to have the strength and thick skin of the elephant. Leave this to the human – to try to be something he is not – to have ideals that cannot be reached, to be cursed with perfectionism so as to be safe from criticism, and to open the road to unending mental torture.’

Inner inquiry challenges us to face darkness (and, by implication, death) without becoming caught up in our existential anxieties about life. There is nothing to explain and no time in which to explain it, or any time to be caught up in emotional knots – simply identify with what is, relax into life, be at one with and compassionate to all creatures, including yourself. Things are as they are and inner inquiry reminds us not to try to make it otherwise, not to try to be ‘perfect’ in some way.

Only one thing is vital for all of us at all times, to set our sites on freedom. The teacher Gurdjieff expressed this clearly through saying that only one thing is absolutely vital for a person who is imprisoned and who is condemned to death: how to escape – then nothing else matters. The paradox is that to find the way out you have no choice but to go further in, right in to where you have even transcended the limitation and separateness of the conductor and have become the composer of your life. Don’t settle for less.

Will Parfitt –