The Waking Dead

Sarah Tirri
January 7, 2020

Her body was functioning and she had a smile on her face, but Debra-the-deli-assistant was asleep, mentally living in some private elsewhere, performing her tasks semi-consciously. Displayed on the counter top were jars of condiments. I wanted to pick up the mustard and squirt it over her crisp white apron, just to see how she would react. I resisted the impulse because I didn’t want to upset her and would need to shop there again, instead I just smiled and made some bland comment about the price of roast beef being obnoxious. Debra agreed and we said a bland goodbye. She then addressed the next customer—her words automatic: “Good morning, sir. What can I get for you today?” I was hoping he would say, “How about a bottle of Jack Daniels and a sassy maiden with big tits who likes to cook.” But he didn’t, and I doubt whether she would have noticed if he had. How could she? She wasn’t there. She was absolutely absent...

My cheese was uniformly sliced and weighed exactly a pound, and the man carrying out my groceries asked me exactly the same question he had asked me twenty times before. The waking-dead are everywhere, I know because I have been one. Not only do they bag your groceries, but they teach your children, invest your money, diagnose your illness, fly you across the Atlantic, and look back at you in the mirror. Most of us are all able to function very well in a trance—dab hands—living a little life in some half-baked state of mechanical consciousness that we have been hypnotized into believing is all there is.

“Robotic bugs blend into a cockroach society.” Gurdjieff, a Sufi mystic, maintained that man was a machine, awake but asleep. I understood the observation immediately.  From an early age, my mind was inundated by an endless stream of divergent thoughts that I could not shut up. I was too young to know that this inner clamor was the voice of my ego-mind or that I actually did have control over it. So on the clamor would run, shamelessly insistent and demanding, preventing me from fully engaging life—robbing me of vitality so that a kind of mechanical response was all I could manage. This is what happens when you live in two places at once, one mental and one physical: you are stretched too thin.

The media likes to inundate those living on auto-pilot (the majority of us) with shiny energetic people—paid to look refreshed and vibrant. We quickly react by putting on our pageant smile and engage others with a robust handshake and a quick one-liner. We go to work, raise our children, and throw our dinner parties; and all the while a mental soundtrack of mostly pointless thoughts besiege us in a torrent so continuous that the only way to shut them up is to sleep. And many of us don’t manage that very well. An overactive mind causes insomnia, and in an attempt to seduce oblivion, we down a cocktail or a sedative. Hopefully, eventually we sleep, but when we wake up, we’re not really awake, not vital or alive because the endless chatter begins again—acting as gatekeeper to ward off the awareness that something more must surely be going on here.

Total identification with the ego-mind means you are only partially awake, and remaining that way is more likely when you adhere to the spiritual worldview which profits from a doctrine of human smallness. The philosophy of the monotheistic faiths, the texts and representatives of which not only speak of man being lowly and sinful but also would condemn man for perceiving his true nature as divine, as an utter blasphemy, encourages man to remain in the shadows of his own glory. Where else can he possibly live? He sees himself as small, unworthy, and powerless and a “little life” is all he manages to create. That “still small voice” is drowned out by the negative narrative of his ego-mind, and his soul’s constant attempts at inducement go unnoticed. This the problem this blog was created to address.

When the ego-mind has taken solitary charge of our awareness (habit accounts for much of this), it often disguises itself cleverly, appearing pious and godly. Theosophist Gottfried de Purucker (1874-1942) speaks of the ego-dominant man following involuntarily, the Path of Shadows. He says: “Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the Path of Shadows and in comparison with these multitudes, it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and nefast intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of Maya [Illusion]. The Brothers of the Shadows are often highly intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm, and to the ordinary observer, judging from their conversation and daily works, are fully able to “quote scripture” as are the Angels of Light [the awakened]. …The noblest of the human race…are men who have raised themselves from humanity into quasi-divinity; and this is done by letting the light imprisoned within, the light of the inner-god, pour forth and manifest itself through the humanity of the man, through the human soul of the man.” Total identification with the ego-mind blocks this eventuality—which many speculate is dawning.

I believe it is theoretically possible for a leap in human realization to occur, and it is my belief that a critical mass of sufficient magnitude for such human change is attainable only when we begin to remember who we are and how to get what we came for. But first, we must become aware that we have two distinctive ‘sources’ from which our thoughts originate; our ego-mind and our soul-mind. Contrary to much fear-mongering, the ego-mind (the external I) is a divinely inspired creation—necessary to pulse human evolution, but we must also know very keenly that the runaway ego-mind will lead one into the shadows. The Shadows is a place where one is unable to see clearly - a place of low-grade and uninspired experiences. But don't worry, if you don't find your way back into the light in this lifetime, you will be reborn into another lifetime so you can make another attempt.

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