My Guide to Self as Art

by Christopher Lovejoy on January 31, 2022

Self shapes self, even as self shapes Self, and I make sense of this relationship by drawing on mindsight.

Mindsight is the ability to look within. By way of analogy, where eyesight is the faculty of perception for looking outward to see the world beyond the mind, mindsight is the faculty of perception for looking inward to see the world within and, by extension, to see the world as others see it.

Without mindsight, I could not give any attention to my thoughts and feelings, my urges and impulses, my reasons and motives, my beliefs and opinions, my emotions and passions. Without access to my inner world by way of mindsight, I would function very much like an automaton.

And so, in light of the faculty of mindsight, how do I even begin to differentiate between self and Self?

Who We Are, What We Are

At first blush, a relationship between self and Self might seem rather odd. Obviously, I have a relationship with myself, but a relationship with Self? Think mindsight, which features three distinct modes of operation: (1) focal attention, (2) open awareness, and (3) relational insight.

With a mind on alert, I can focus on inner experience or outer experience (not both) to garner facts or details; here, think of a flashlight or a spotlight. With a mind at ease, on the other hand, I enjoy access to inner and outer experience; think of a diffuse light illuminating both.

Where self is “the ever vigilant self on alert,” by way of focal attention, Self is “the ever aware Self at ease,” by way of open awareness ~ self and Self apply focal attention and open awareness, respectively. Think of this relational insight as insight into the relation between self and Self.

As and when self and Self harmonize as One ~ “Self as One” ~ they realize, both at rest and in flow, what I call “intrapersonal integration from a witness perspective.” This relational unity arises out of mutual care and respect, one that favors and savors both similarities and differences.

That is, where self realizes its dependence on Self by not getting tunnel vision, Self realizes its dependence on self by not getting lost in the light. Here, the Witness to self and Self serves as an orchestrator only for as long as it can remain the holder and the keeper of relational insight.

Orchestrators, the holders and keepers of relational musical insight, turn the musical sketches of composers into musical scores, assigning voices and instruments to orchestras, ensembles, or choirs of singers and/or musicians according to the musical intentions of the composer.

Conductors take these musical scores and bring them to life in concert with others.

Self = the composer (heart and soul ideally infused with gratitude) via open awareness (primarily)
Witness = the orchestrator (mediator of gratitude and generosity) via relational insight (primarily)
self = the conductor (mind and spirit ideally infused with generosity) via focal attention (primarily)

In concert, conductors transmit great power for the simple reason that they must understand and appreciate the points of view of the composer and the orchestrator before bringing their respective energies to fruition in tandem with those who would express these energies in action.

In concert, there’s no time for the conductor to look within, no time to ponder relational insights. For the conductor, open awareness, relational insight, and focal attention all come together in one performance, but it is focal attention that literally takes center stage for the conductor.

Beyond the end of life, vis à vis the Life Review, we each realize “I was a performer!”

In a Life Review, we become audience members to our very own performances on Earth, adding a fourth perspective to that of Self (the composer of our lives), the Witness (the orchestrator of our lives, mediating the composer and the conductor), and self (the conductor of our lives).

As we bear witness to our lives beyond the urn or grave, we live and feel our way, from birth to death, from our own perspectives as composers, orchestrators, and conductors, and from the perspectives of those who were touched by our lives once, twice, or even more times removed.

Before we even know our performances to be complete, they’re over, never again to be repeated.

Beyond performance, we rest, relax, relieve, release, restore, renew, refresh, and rejoice.

More Wisdom, More Freedom

In the midst of a Life Review, we cannot help but naturally wonder: was I free?

I now wonder: am I free to be me? If not, am I at least free to be? If not, am I at least free? I’ll start with the final question in this series and work my way back to the first and, in so doing, come to an innerstanding of personal freedom as it dovetails with a realization of personal fulfillment.

The question of freedom is one of four questions that comprise the premise of benevolence, which states that, regardless of where I am in this world at this time, these four conditions of existence obtain:

  1. to some degree, this universe is intelligible
  2. on balance, humanity is more good than evil
  3. within reason, I can be happy with who I am
  4. I am free to incorporate premises 1, 2, and 3

In the context of Self as Art, I will explore each of these premises, but not before addressing the questions I posed above, namely: am I free to be me? If not, am I at least free to be? If not, am I at least free?

Am I free? Am I free to be? Am I free to be me?

Am I free?

A reasonably satisfying answer to this deceptively simple question must address the fear, doubt, dread, and worry of having to learn to live and love in a wholly random universe, a universe where events suddenly, and inexplicably, arise without even a hint of pattern and predictability.

The fact that I can write these words and make sense of them, however, should tell me that this world is not totally random, but could it be that I fool myself into thinking that this world is less random than it is? Am I justified in assuming that this world is intelligible and predictable?

The fact that I can even pose these questions, and make sense of them, answers the questions, and not just because I say so. The world in which I live is intelligible and predictable for other interesting reasons, like the ability to grasp a very basic difference between Order and Chaos.

The potential nevertheless exists that any one of us, at any time, could suddenly and inexplicably be confronted with a totally random series of events, but the fact that we can conceive of this potential state of affairs should give us pause, with a clue about the nature of this universe.

To wit:

I am free to stand as a witness to the chaos without or I am free to rise above the chaos within or I am free to surrender to the chaos within or without; either way I am free, but am I free to be?

A reasonably satisfying answer to this question must address the apathy, indifference, and boredom of living in a precisely calibrated tick tock universe, one where events are wholly caused and determined, one where patterns and predictability rule the day ~ indeed, all of our days.

Supposing that the events of this world, both inner and outer, are wholly determined, and therefore predictable, could it be that I have somehow managed, for whatever reason, to bring total order to my ways and days? For example, “Is this why I feel so bored with myself and my life?”

Also: “dare I move beyond my comfort zone to invite, if not welcome, at least one random event?”

Yes, of course, there is another dimension to this determination of our days ~ a moral one ~ when and where we are suddenly and inexplicably confronted with evil, with an event that overwhelms any sense of good. So, do I have it within me to hold space for the emotions that ensue?

This is a question that each of us must answer for ourselves.

For myself, I could choose to look the other way, to pretend it never happened, but only if it didn’t affect me personally and profoundly, for if it did, would I not be hard pressed to respond in a way that restores and renews my sense of balance? No more apathy and indifference for me.

Am I free to be?

This might depend on whether I have it within me to “hold space for the emotions that ensue,” at the very least, and then perhaps to make time and space to process the emotions that ensue, to make sense of them, even as I struggle to remain a witness to their intrusive turbulence.

Another piece to the puzzle of “are we wholly caused and determined in a clockwork universe?” is this question: what if emotionality, by way of what is known as “the negativity bias,” is forever keeping our rationality from ever knowing the truth about living in a clockwork universe?

And so, to what extent am I willing to balance the negativity bias in myself?

It is only when I once again assume, “on balance, humanity is more good than evil,” that I can then move to the next step in the premise of benevolence, namely, “within reason, I can be happy with who I am.”

Supposing that I am free to be, am I free to be me?

I would like to think that each of us is a work of art in progress, but what could this mean? I began making sense of this question when I started writing Self as Art : Self as One, which, essentially, is about viewing and treating Self from three perspectives: subject, witness, and object.

That is, from the perspectives of the conductor that is self, the mediator that is the Witness, and the composer that is Self. In view of Self as One, where self, Witness, and Self are humming along in harmony, Self as Art is simply the process and product of flowing in and out of harmony.

The way to do is to be and I am free to be me as I go and grow with the flow.

Self as Art, as Easy as 1, 2, 3?

I’d like to think that I am free to incorporate premises 1, 2, 3: that (1) the universe is intelligible, to some extent, at least to the extent to which I can move to the next two premises: (2) on balance, humanity is more good than evil, and (3) within reason, I can be happy with who I am.

For me, the sticking point in this series of premises seems to be number 2, and yet, in a world of accelerating change, I can very well imagine that (a) the balance of good and evil in humanity is in a constant flux; and (b) I can position myself to influence, for the better, this broader balance.

That is, I am happy to the degree to which I can influence, for the better, this broader balance.

Or not.

I could merely assume that, on balance, humanity is more good than evil, and leave it at that, so that I might get on with the embrace of “be true, be wise, be free” in my own time, in my own way, but how would this show up in my life? Could Self as Art really be as easy as 1, 2, 3?

As I mentioned already (see above), Self as Art is simply ~ ultimately, I might add ~ the process and product of flowing in and out of harmony, and so, as I also mentioned above, and I’ll quote myself here, “the way to do is to be and I am free to be me as I go and grow with the flow.”

In and out of harmony.

For is it not true that a pitch perfect positive harmony in relationship with reality, with this world, with Life itself, would exclude and preclude any sort of insistence and resistance whatsoever? Think about it.

Or not.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself wholly inclined to contemplate the sheer depths of this cosmic possibility, not with a view to actually allowing myself to be engulfed by said depths, but with a view toward actually using them as contrast for the assimilation of imperfection.

Not as an obsession, but as a perpetual contemplation.

Intend → Summon → Express → Manifest

The mechanics of creation for a conscious entity, such as myself, are fairly straightforward.

The art of dancing with reality can be outlined in 4 steps: (1) intend a desired effect, result, or outcome; (2) summon the inspiration to fulfill the desire; (3) give expression to the intention by way of inspiration; and (4) manifest a desired result or outcome (“this, or something even better”).

Insistence can be quite subtle, breeding subtle resistance, and so why would I insist, even subtly, on intending anything at all? If I wholly trusted whatever I cared to do as an expression of who I always already am, then why would I insist on manifesting any sort of intention whatsoever?

In allowing doing to flow from being, do I not already have enough with which to play? Just how subtle could my insistence (and resistance) be to satisfy my every need and to fulfill my every desire? What if I fell truly and deeply in love, not with my being, but with being itself? What then?

Stronger? Smarter? . . . Better? . . . Wiser?

If I would be stronger, how would this affect my relationship with weaker?

If I would be smarter, how would this affect my relationship with dumber?

Is there not a time and place for appearing weak? Is there not a time and place for playing dumb? Or am I willing to die with the heart of my being wholly intact? Perhaps better, not bitter is but one more perspective, conditioned and programmed into being. What do you think? Or do you think?

Under the influence of a negativity bias, thinking becomes stinkin’ thinkin,’ does it not? A pitch perfect harmony with self, with reality, with the world, with Life itself, would have no need of a negativity bias ~ or even a positivity bias. Why think at all when I can know without a doubt?

Going and growing with the knowing and flowing: is this not the ultimate in wisdom?

Would this not lead me to the ultimate in flow, freedom, and fulfillment?

What am I missing? A conceptual structure by which to guide the flow?

Or the faith and courage to flow and fly by the seat of my pants?


. . . . . . ? . . . . . . !

~ yours

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