Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
I think the danger of following anyone else, following an example, the manifestation, the way another person is, is that we cease to become ourselves the moment we do it.
The axis of the manifestation of Being is to manifest oneself. One must become an idiot. A unique manifestation of being that belongs to one's self, not to the idiocy (selfness) of others. As Gurdjieff pointed out, even God is an idiot: he called God the Supreme Idiot. There was never any disrespect meant in the term; what Gurdjieff was saying is that this specificity, this personhood, of Being is the whole point of Being.
Swedenborg made much of the fact that every being is a person, even God. The teaching is subtly identical to Gurdjieff's; Swedenborg's personhood is Gurdjieff's idiocy. It isn't meant to imply silliness; it's meant to imply authority, in the sense that a unique and specific being is the author of their actions. This does not just imply power; it implies responsibility. The author of an action takes responsibility for both its authorship and the ensuing action.
If I understand this idea of taking on both the authorship and the consequences — the agency and its results — I begin to see what the whole thing means. This is what consciousness consists of; authorship and consequence, agency and result. The responsibility takes place in the awareness that inserts itself between these two sets of entities.
I can't be someone else. I have to be myself. And I have to be myself rooted and in residence within this body, this being. There may be other modes of being, other ways of being, besides this; but that doesn't matter right now, because my responsibility such as it is extends to this organism first. Everything else is theoretical.
I need to discover the limits of the organism and what it consists of not from outside, using outside stimuli and measurements, but from inside, using inside stimuli and measurements. The more sensitive I become to these, the more of an idiot I can hope to be.
And I must hope to become my own supreme idiot if I wish to have any true Being in this lifetime.
Let's start over.
Let's erase the blackboard and take all of the preceding notes off of it, and just sit here within ourselves as we are.
There's no need to label anything.
Just to be.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.