I came across this quotation from Lao Tzu (whom one might regard as an ancient Chinese C Influence): When I let go of who I am, then I become who I might be…
It may seem very presumptuous to tangle with one of the great thinkers of all time but another great thinker, Gurdjieff, said, in his provocative way, “‘I’ is a lie…”
How are we to reconcile the two statements?
The ‘I’ that lets go is different from the ‘I’ that is—which is different from the ‘I’ that may be…
There’s a discipline that we can very usefully adopt
• as a valuable bit of self-observation
• when we are playing the role of coach
• as a general change mechanism
The discipline is that whenever we hear ourselves refer to ‘I’, whenever we hear another person say ‘I’, we might ask, as Gurdjieff did, “Which ‘I’ are you referring to?” This will open up an encounter, when appropriate, into a pieces-of-paper-on-the-floor exercise! Or even just a more meaningful exchange…
To practise, we could ask a few questions of Lao Tzu. We could respectfully present him with this: you say—When I let go of who I am, then I become who I might be… It might be interesting to elaborate the possibilities of this useful dictum by asking:
• which ‘I’ has made the decision that some ‘I’ or the other might be different from other ‘I’s that might have existed in the past?
• which ‘I’ will do the letting go of which unwanted ‘I’s?
• which ‘I’s will venture into the ‘I’s that another ‘I’ imagines it might evolve in the future?
• which ‘I’ will manage the transactions involved…?
• which ‘I’ will deal with the ‘I’s that might object to the change?
The thing is that, because we are far more than one single Unified-I,
• the ‘I’ that feels the need for change is not the same ‘I’ that will
• decide for change which is not the same ‘I’ that will
• organise a letting go of ‘I’s deemed no longer useful which is not the same ‘I’ that will
• make decisions about possible new ‘I’s which is not the same ‘I’ that will
• manage a swapover which is not the same ‘I’ that will
• deal with the ‘I’s that might object to the change…
The Enneagram is a huge system of systems that manages the complex of ‘I’s that we have inside us. People currently in different parts of different Fixations would respond to this analysis in different ways: somebody in TF5 would be entranced by it; a DS7 might simply say, “I’m off to a party…”; an SS6 might ask, “Sez who?”; in TF a 4 might look for the pattern they might create but if they were in DS they might object to being cut up in this way; a TF9 might lean back and go, “Wow!” and begin to unpick the possibilities; a TF2 would maybe take the analysis just as it is into their next counselling session and make it work; a DS3 might assert, “I am who I am and that’s that…” and so on round the system.
What practical exercises could be derived from all this?