The receptive self is represented as a sheep. As an animal, the sheep is of an entirely different kingdom than a cabbage according to the way that biology categorizes. The sheep is a domesticated animal, but there are still wild sheep. Whether domesticated or wild, the sheep is killed for its meat. To protect itself, it is deeply aware of its environment. Its awareness is of what it can see as well as what it cannot see. Interestingly, the sheep-goat effect is the name given to an effect coming out of psi research whereby those subjects who have a previous agreement with psi phenomenon score reliably and significantly higher on measures of psi ability than those who do not have this prior agreement. The sheep has the power of belief.
It is this power of belief in the receptive self that places it in the realm of being. The receptive self much more readily understands the flow of energies in life. These are the energies that are not perceived as things, but as transmissions. Energy. Information. A vibe. Totems, amulets, symbols transmit something in addition to what is contained in their matter alone. This something is qualitative. Sacred images, the source of which is beyond the receptive self, nevertheless have the force of awareness in the receptive self. Self awareness is the force of the receptive self. We sense, feel and think. We are receptive to patterns of energy that are not of the body world. At one end of a possible scale, there is sentiment invested in things that may or may not have material value. At the other end, there is the yearning of all and everything. The range of motion is vast and so quickly can the impulses flux.
The wool of sheep is a valuable substance, and it can be shorn with no injury to the sheep. The wool of the receptive self is, I believe, the quality of awareness, of experience. Gurdjieff and Bennett both teach so powerfully about this. Where the depth of the receptive self is synergized with I (I in the Gurdjieffian sense), this is the place of quality of being. It is along the theme of the opening of the heart, qalb, in the Sufi tradition. In the story the traveler must take the sheep first. This inevitability in the conditions of the story ironically opens the need for inspiration in the traveler in order to move beyond this initial step. Working with the sensitive energy is an important grounding. This continues to deepen over time even when there does not appear to be freedom in it at first.
When the center of gravity remains in the receptive self, the power of belief can run towards suggestibility. It is no doubt the case that we act on beliefs that we are not aware of. It is also the case that we are immediately in front of situations that are totally inconsistent with sane logic and for which we hold actionable beliefs. What are some of the possibilities for the next plot point in this story of the receptive self? We either totally ignore such beliefs and switch onto something else, or we accept them as true as suffer or welcome the consequences. A predisposition of our receptive self is toward polarity, it seems. Our energy field can be patterned as a single flow, down and out, as part of its possibility of experience. Belief, or at least uncontested agreement, has such a strangely powerful effect on our actions, and we are often very little aware of our own suggestibility. The power of choice in the receptive self is toward what it experiences as good. Good vibrations. Good feelings. Good thoughts. Of course, we all understand that what is “good” is the real commodity to be bought and sold for those who wish to profit from this. The solution of the receptive self is to be many I’s, each with its own set of beliefs, each with its own more or less worldview. This is not a pathological condition when we are all allowed the space and time to integrate ourselves in an understanding circle of life. It is pathological when it is exploited. Each must exercise their power to choose in accord with conscience. Although, the receptive self is not the source of conscience, it can be its voice.
The implanting of belief is known by such names as hypnosis, propaganda, intelligence work, mind programming, brainwashing and advertising. Some would also include in this list education, entertainment, politics, religion, science and art in various forms. There is no doubt that we can be herded. There is no doubt that we can herd. What happens when instinctive triggers are used to induce behaviours without the impulse of conscience? One answer is that our receptivity gets messed up because our sensitive, receptive self does not appear to have a built-in firewall. If one is not attuned to listening for the impulse of conscience, one does not easily discern between learning and indoctrination. There is no easy solution to this conundrum it would appear. Our inner attitudes and our environment have so much bearing upon the quality of our receptiveness. More important is the contact we have with essence. This contact may have happened naturally as part of everyday life some time in the past. Many traditions point to this. Nowadays, it seems, we are under many strange influences.
Some of the reality of our own death is in knowing that our body will stop functioning. But more meaningful can be the body of experience that we are. The sheep has to cross the river more than once to move the story along. Each of these trips means something different to the sheep. Overall, there is transformation of fear. Not necessarily in a loud heroic sense, but in quiet, deep way. When this body of experience does not happen purely automatically, there is the possibility that it tells something closer to a remarkable story.
We are working with improvising a character for each of the selves, as mentioned previously. The sheep / receptive self is the character Baa-th. We’ve recorded improvised character monologues which we may find our way to posting at some future date.
Next, I intend to write about the wolf.