A very important concept of developing consciously is one of separating the inner and outer in one’s life. G.I. Gurdjieff, in the words of many of his pupils, was a great master at this. There are many stories in which he would outwardly behave according to a certain role, almost unrecognizable to those who knew him, but then – for brief moments – could respond totally contrary to that role, proving that he was in fact not mistaking himself for that role, but that he was playing it, consciously.
Another master in this field is Gabriel Raam, who coined the term spy to refer to this means of surviving in social situations as a fully conscious person.
First, it is important to understand what it means to play a role consciously. When Raam and Gurdjieff use this word, they are referring to consciousness as higher consciousness, in the Eastern sense of this word. In Western terminology, it would be more accurate to say: from the higher Unconscious.
One might be inclined to think that such a person, who is on one hand acting according to social norms, and on the other, is totally loyal to himself internally, is at two places at once: that on the outside, he is actively playing a role – deciding which facial expressions to use, which hand movements to make, what to say – and on the other, he is fully conscious internally and alive.
But there is an important distinction to be made: one cannot do two things at once, nobody can. When a person plays the piano with two hands, and both hands have complicated figures to play, like in a piece of J.S. Bach, it is not that the pianist is doing the playing with both hands. This is not possible. The movements of the hands happen mechanically, without the pianist doing it. This is the only way to play such works that have multiple voices (and require more than one hand to be played). It is also one of the reasons complicated works for multiple hands, such as fugues, were regarded as a great mastery in religious musical practice. In fact, up until the 19th century, it was required for church organists to be able to improvise such fugues to make them eligible for the position. It demonstrated that a person had such mastery of an instrument, that they could play without doing – that the Tao was playing the music through them.
Raam says about this: “The authentic person does not try to be the executor, the mover or the causing factor of his life. He is rather a listener and a responder to his life, thus, allowing that which is bound to be: to be. He does not wish to be the playwright of his life, but rather the pen and the paper.”
Coming back to the spy concept, it is important to understand that the spy does not do his act. Rather, the act is done through him, automatically, like driving a car or scratching one’s head. He remains unmoved and conscious inside, while to the outside, he appears to be doing quite a lot: he is talking, listening, joking, laughing – in short: behaving like everyone else.
For the spy apprentice, who is attempting to employ the spy method, many problems emerge at once that were unseen before. Before behaving like a spy, a person has only two choices in a social situation: either they will downgrade themselves to the level of the others, thereby losing touch with their inner being, or they will aggressively try to bring forward what is alive in them, causing the world to object to them, scrutinize and attack them. The first option is giving in to the rhythm of the outside and moving to it, while the other is the attempt to force one’s own rhythm onto the outside. Dancing to one’s own, different rhythm at a party must appear to others as though the person is crazy or deaf. In Plato’s allegory, this is the man who saw the light outside the cave, his eyes now adjusted to the light outside, and as he returns to the cave, cannot see in the dark anymore because his eyes got so used to the light – the result being that the people make fun of him for being blind.
The spy is the third option. Attempting it means that the person no longer will allow the outside pressure to infiltrate and then phase and synchronize them to its frequency, and they will not outwardly dance to their own rhythm. It means that the spy has to dance to two rhythms at once: outwardly, they dance to the rhythm of the outside, so that nobody suspects that something is wrong with them. Yet, internally, they dance to their own, totally unrelated rhythm. They are like a percussionist who has to play two completely unrelated rhythms with each hand.
The only way the spy can do that is by not doing any of the two. They have to remain, in the anology of Gilad Sitton, “in a quantum state” – neither here, nor there. This is the only way a different rhythm can be held with each hand. The moment they turn their attention too close to one of them, observing it – immediately they fall out of the rhythm of the other, just like in the famous double-slit quantum experiment. The moment there is an observation, the quantum state of the observed object is gone and it is becoming binary, either this or that. Schrödinger’s cat is a thought example talking about the very same situation: only as long as the cat in the box (together with the poison that has a 50-50 chance of killing it) is not observed, is it dead and alive at the same time.
Therefore, the spy’s awareness cannot be in any of the two. In fact, and this might seem quite radical, they cannot observe (direct their attention to) any of the two rhythms, as this will bring them out of the quantum state!
This, for many attempting spies, is a great problem. There is a great fear of losing control, of being helpless, when not being self-conscious (in the sense of self-awareness). The more pressure we feel in a situation, the more we insist on being self-conscious. The term self-conscious here does not refer to real consciousness, by the way, it is, unfortunately, the term the English have decided to use instead of self-awareness to refer to a state of being aware of oneself in a highly uncomfortable and actually unconscious way.
Being self-conscious is the safe-haven for the insecure the moment they are doing extremely dangerous things.
There is nothing more dangerous than a social situation in which one has to talk. Talking is the most dangerous activity on the planet: one wrong sentence, and our marriage of 10 years can be over. One wrong word, and our career – finished. Actually, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a bit about giving a speech in public being the number one fear of people and death being number two – so, he says, in a funeral, people would rather be dead inside the coffin than in front of it giving the euology.
Facing such a dangerous activity such as talking causes most people to be extremely self-aware, and it makes being the spy incredibly difficult, as this is basically the exact and total opposite of what is necessary to be a spy.
The spy, just like the master musician, cannot dance to two rhythms and remain self-aware, they have to give up their self-awareness and be totally in the realm of higher consciousness, where there is no possibility of interference. It is not enough for them to be neutral, through effort, because the neutral vector can still do observation and influence the quantum state. What is necessary for them is even more difficult: they have to be in a quantum state themselves, that is, in a state of higher consciousness (or, in Western terminology, of the higher unconscious).
For the master musician and percussionist, there is always a trick: both melodies and rhythms that they are playing are not really independent. They are rhythmically related to each other, following a common pulse. This is the pulse they are tuning themselves to, allowing to play both melodies according to the relationship each melody has with this pulse and thus with each other.
For the spy, the social pressure and their inner voice could be seemingly totally unrelated and far apart, so there is no apparent common denominator, seemingly no common pulse. The situation seems much more difficult. But there is one common pulse that encompasses all and everything, it is the fundamental pulse of the universe, an absolute tuning fork: the Tao. Our connection to it is only possible through our higher unconscious.
Only the higher unconscious can hold the multiplicity of potential, without calculation, without rendering it to give it form. It can grasp the formless and let it be, without any interference. The perception of synchronicity, a term by C.G. Jung describing two seemingly unrelated events as being meaningfully connected, is only possible through the common pulse (in Gurdjieff’s words: “Our Common Father”), as only it contains the key – like a secret password – that connects one event with the next.
So the spy, if they truly wish to be a spy, has only one place to be: they have to give themselves up totally, let go of being self-aware, and give themselves to the pulse of the Tao, so that they could play two melodies at once.
To go deeper into the concept of the spy, I recommend this essay by Gabriel Raam.