The Path is about changing ourselves....our physical habits and our mental achieve a finer, more rational use of mind and body, develop sensitivity, develop self control, see, hear, feel, touch, smell, taste, and, in general, experience more in almost all ways. And with those capacities, one develops the ability to sustain higher level experience and sustain the experience of God, both of which types of experience demand a higher than usual self-control, ability to concentrate steadily and evenly, ability to see and hear without unnecessary tension and distraction, a quiet, unthinking mind, a very still, quiet body, and much more, or those higher experiences will be disturbed and unable to happen.

The First Need
It is impossible to improve, or otherwise change anything unless we are aware of it. If we are to change ourselves, we must first become aware of ourselves. Not just now and then, but steadily, for long periods of time.

Our External Orientation and crucial lack of consciousness
Our usual natural orientation is towards being aware of things outside ourselves. From birth our development is a steady process of becoming aware of things outside ourselves and of observing that which is around us. But our consciousnesses are limited and most of us cannot be aware of more than a few things at once, if that many. Therefore, while observing the outside world, we are generally not aware of ourselves, our bodies or our minds at all. Since we, ourselves, are the most important, as well as the most readily apparent thing in our lives, that is a crucial lack of consciousness.
The body was carefully designed so that many functioning parts like the heartbeat and intestinal wiggling, that would otherwise be extremely disturbing and distracting, are hidden and not able to be felt or noticed by the consciousness in the body. But there are still numerous things that, even if we are resting and doing nothing, are apparent enough to be a major lack of consciousness if we are not aware of them. Some of those things are our breathing, blinking, eye movement, twitching, itching, restless or involuntary movements, the movements of our tongues, as well as the sensations within our mouths and all other internal and external sensations.

Further, when we do things like walking or moving an object, our attention is so directed at the thing we are doing (on the object and the place we are moving it to or on the things through which we are walking, for example) that we are completely unaware of how we are walking or carrying the object; of how our arms or legs are moving; of whether or not our arms are swinging while we walk; of whether we are using only those muscles that are necessary for what we are doing (rational use of energy); or if many other muscles are unnecessarily tensing and releasing interconnectedly with those that are actually necessary for the operation, which type of non-rational, wasteful use of energy is the rule, not the exception, with most  people. We are generally unaware if our actions are deliberate or if they are reactions to external stimuli (for example, when a car screeches loudly to a halt, are out reactions voluntary or involuntary), nor are we aware what exactly those reactions are.

In short, we are usually so externally oriented or so caught up in what we are thinking about or what we are observing outside ourselves that we are completely unaware of ourselves...of most of what we are doing and how we are doing it.


The object of the path is to change ourselves, our bodies, minds and habits and develop our consciousness/awareness. In short, the objective is to improve ourselves in every possible rational, furthering way: how we think, how we experience, how we move and otherwise use our bodies, how much we are able to be conscious of, how we see and hear (especially how we see and hear….the two higher senses), our refinement of body and manner, to list most of the main things that come immediately to mind.
Since we cannot work on something of which we are not conscious, the very first step of the path is to begin observing ourselves.

The first step is to observe ourselves for short lengths of time, extending those periods of time little by little until we develop the ability to observe ourselves all the time, even while we are doing other things. Ultimately we develop the HABIT of observing ourselves all the time. That is an expansion of consciousness, because we develop the ability to be aware of more than one thing at the same time, ourselves and what we are doing. Later, more things will be added that further expand consciousness in a natural way, while developing our person.

The great problem of self-observation for purposes of the Path is to merely observe, without in any way influencing or adjusting what we are doing. Just plain observing, without influencing or changing or acting according to what is being observed. This point is especially important in the second step of observing: observing the breath. The reason is that the body is extraordinarily complex and, for the time being, takes care of itself quite well without our influencing it. Seemingly simple things we do by habit are really very complex actions involving a multitude of synchronized functions. Our consciousnesses are limited, which means we can only be conscious of a certain limited amount of space (things) in a given amount of time. For that reason, we cannot be conscious of all the individual aspects and components that carry out our actions. But we are still capable of performing those actions, even extremely complex actions like playing the organ with both hands and feet. Further, involuntary actions of the body and functions like breathing are often linked to and support almost all other functioning of the body. Changing them in any way could cause myriad repercussions throughout the body…..repercussions that one might not even recognize as being the result of one’s interference. The object is to get them to improve in those aspects of the way they function that can be improved, while not influencing those aspects of their functions that are needed to take care of and support the body.


Step 2 will be covered in another paper:


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