In Practical Terms, What Is Self-Remembering? Pt III

Part I of this series is:

Gurdjieff said that the key to everything was to remain separate. I think this is what is behind Toomer’s experience that:

[My life] was being taken away for a more noble creation. Life was in that other, that wondrous visitor. There was Being, Consciousness, and Existence so large and deeply powered that it would surely absorb me as a mere particle. (35)

Toomer’s higher self, perhaps a representative of Real I, was separated out from his ordinary self, and he experienced this “wondrous visitor” as bringing Life, meaning “a more true life.” Incidentally, this aspect of the account accords with how Bennett felt, in a similar state, that if he stayed in it for too long, he would be absorbed into it. Toomer continues:

Now the moving was in light. The light was moving. The moving light was in changing design. (35)

The design might, I suspect, be related to the laws of the higher worlds. I may be quite wrong, but it seems to me that the fewer laws of the higher world may be the origin of the “ideas” of Plato, and of the “forms” or “types” of Syriac Christian theology: the diversity which is manifested in the world we know comes from a unity in higher worlds (or, more precisely, a smaller multiple working more harmoniously than is possible here).

I shall omit some of his attempts to catch other aspects of the experience by restating what has gone before in different terms. Then, Toomer states:

I was given insight. I seemed gifted with psychological clairvoyance. My eyes simply opened inwardly; and though it seemed miraculous at first, I came to know that it is as normal and as necessary for one’s eyes to open to the inner world as for them to open to the inner world. Blindness is the unnatural condition. … Outsight and insight are faculties that every human being needs, and should have, for the right process of his entire life and orientation. I saw inner events as clearly as one sees outward forms in the luminosity of dawn or twilight, with this significant difference: one’s outward sight is usually of objects only, whereas this inward vision was a seeing of processes – and forms that ordinarily are invisible.

I beheld, inwardly, I saw the main forms of my total human being. I witnessed the workings of the Power. I beheld creating. I beheld myself awakening. (35-36)

Perhaps what is essential here is that Toomer could see “forms that ordinarily are invisible.” We cannot usually see the laws of the higher world operating in this world, and how through them, creation takes place. Because he could remain present while this was going on, as it always is, he could say that he “beheld (him)self awakening.” There is a mystery, but the awakening of self-remembering, experienced as fully as this, brings a consciousness of how the ascending and descending energies blend in a mid-point, and we are that mid-point. I shall pass over the next two paragraphs, to highlight this:

The moving seemed to have a centre whose location, as accurately as I can designate it, was in the torso and to the rear, as though behind me. In my sense of it, it was not in my body at all, or in any part of myself with which I was familiar. … I had the impression that I was witnessing, not subjective, but objective phenomena. … Later phases of the experience showed beyond doubt that that being was another being, not my ordinary self, and that consciousness was a different consciousness, not my ordinary awareness expanded. The Power, the centre of creative action, was outside of this-me, though residing somewhere in my total being. (36)

This is knowingly paradoxical. Yet, I do not receive any impression that it is contrived. Toomer goes on to speak about this critical matter of the development of forms as higher forces manifest on this lower plane:

The motion started, insofar as I was aware of the beginning, as a simple motion. It seemed literally to grow, to become increasingly complex. It became, as it were, a field of motions, waves of moving. The spreading pattern was beautiful beyond description. The motions unfolded, gathered, spread, interweaving, sometimes spiralling. (36)

The word “pattern” comes from the PATR- root which is used for words meaning “father.” The development is shown in Hopkins’ line in “Pied Beauty”: “He fathers forth whose beauty is past change …” Toomer adds that the closest resemblance to what he saw would be the Northern Lights, except that rather than colours, there were only lights “in threads and bands against a darker background.” (36-37) Significantly he states:

So the living light gathered and spread in waves that continually built up built up. So, in time, the living waves came to envelop my whole self, extending downward as far as the base of the spine, perhaps farther, upward as high as the crown of the head, higher, and frontward as well as rearward.

They seemed to acquire thickness, solidity. They seemed to form a veritable body, the body that enveloped this-me and the physical body, a voluminous body, a vehicle capable of great stretching, a new form with new faculties.

… Shall I that this was in fact a body? Shall I say it was a second body, a body in addition to the physical, composed of subtler matters, having its own forces and appropriate functions? I felt it as a body. Indeed, I saw it as a body. But neither to myself, nor to anyone do I insist it was that.

What I know is this. By the mysterious operations I have tried to describe, there was a transformation, and the arising of a new form. … So was I visited by Grace. For the Power is Grace when it manifests to us. …

Apart from some more poetical attempts to convey the same conceptions in different words, that is how Toomer ends Part I of this account, probably the finest and fullest account of self-remembering, indicating rather than capturing so many elements with such clarity.

to be continued


  1. In “The Theory of Eternal Life” Rodney Collins writes about the development of molecular and electronic bodies. Is the description in the third and second last paragraphs that of a molecular bodu?

  2. I don’t see these passages from Mr Toomer in this way. I’m not convinced that the central theme of self remembering is at the core of his emotional experiences.
    Nor do I see the practical value in describing self remembering using such complicated language.

    Mr Gurdjieff and Mr Ouspensky give very practical descriptions.

    Here is one from Ouspensky’s “The Fourth Way”

    pg 8

    ” Q. When you say ‘remember yourself’, do you mean by that to remember after you
    have observed yourself, or do you mean to remember the things we know are in us?

    A. No, take it quite apart from observation. To remember oneself means the same
    thing as to be aware of oneself—’I am’. Sometimes it comes by itself; it is a very
    strange feeling. It is not a function, not thinking, not feeling; it is a different state of
    consciousness. By itself it only comes for very short moments, generally in quite new
    surroundings, and one says to oneself: ‘How strange. I am here’. This is self remembering; at this moment you remember yourself.”

    Mr Toomer appears to have had an emotional experience that may or may not be associated with self remembering but I don’t see how this description can help anyone in a practical sense.

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