The human being (woman) usually only has one child at a time. One birth – sometimes twins, either identical or fraternal. Rarely a triplet and above usually due to intervention of some medical sort.
While the fetus and infant is in the womb it is in a state of bliss – after "the quickening", this new person has its own heartbeat and lives an aquatics state. Recent advances in imaging have shown that this fetus seems to enjoy and have a lot of fun in the womb, kicking and playing, masturbating (yes, it's already too late not to grow hairy palms) and having the life of its mother's life by being inside, breathing the peritoneal fluids and being fed through the umbilicus, which in cutting my own sons umbilicus taught me, is no flimsy rope but a really tough multi-structured entity.
What was once heaven turns into hell after the "Great Flood" written about in all the world's archetypal history but really refers to the water breaking, which sends a woman into labor. Now the previously glorious womb turns into a Python like squeezing device, trying to expel the infant, who is probably going into shock just about now. After the woman has dilated to 10 or 13 cm, in a healthy birth we have the crown coming out. As a man I can barely imagine the suffering that the woman must go through. (My only analogy might be trying to crap out an intact watermelon – boys, remember that – your mother went through that agony which is from the early Greek and means "The Trial").
As the head is the largest part of an infant, getting the width of its cheekbones and skull out of the vaginal opening usually results in the rest of the infant flopping out quite easily with the placenta and the other mucositis. That part I can barely remember, because in 1951 they routinely knocked the women out, and some of whatever it was manages to get through the umbilicus so that I came out woozy.
This is not a first-person singular autobiography so suffice it to say that I do remember the doctor holding me upside down and smacking me on my ass to get me to cry, and in hindsight I see it as a kind of Christian confirmation: "Welcome to the World – This is what you can Expect from it." I guess they do all the normal things like cutting the umbilicus and tying it all off and suctioning mucus out of the infants ears, nose, mouth and throat. Then they swaddle the infant and put a hat over the soft spot – whether you like it or not, your first yarmulke! (I think that is hilarious)
But anyway after my mother woke up they brought me to her and I remember staring at her in an existential shock – where was I, who is this woman and what happened? My mother reports her own version: She says that when our eyes met she thought she was looking into the eyes of the oldest man she had ever met, but that after about 90 seconds I softened and became a baby.
The infant comes out with its own Id, the roots of which mean "one's own self". To this newly arisen being, everything exists as its self in one of two states – comfort and satiation, and hunger, discomfort and frustration. I can certainly tell you that I felt like an idiot, being a baby means being so dependent on others. But the id still exists in a primordial (before number) and primeval (untouched) state of cosmic bliss. This state exists even into the playground where a young toddler might see a toy she likes and just goes ahead and grabs it and plays with it with no respect to the other child that might be the owner. When the object is withdrawn from the child who is taken it, it might raise a fuss declaring "mine, mine, mine". Unashamed pure id.
After a time the child begins to see and accept that there are boundaries between things as well as between him or her and other people etc. This facilitates the growth of what is called ego – and absolutely necessary instrument of discrimination and boundary acceptance. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. You will have an ego for your entire incarnated life, and there is nothing mysterious or bad about it. Now the child has an id and an ego. Fine, but here comes something else called persona, from the root sona meaning sound because in Greek theater several men (women were not permitted to act) would where various masks and change the sound of their voices to assume the different characters in the plays.
A person begins to build various personas with which to deal with the various circumstances and vagaries of life, and whomever that person is having to deal with. Man does not just have one personality, he has lots and lots of them – practically a different one for every situation. That's one of the things people don't understand about personality – it might be a kaleidoscope of 1000 parts which arrange and rearrange depending upon whom they are dealing with. When I was growing up I had both white and black friends – when I was with only black people and I was the only white person, I developed a persona – a personality who knew their lingo and slang and could hang with them. I certainly did not expose my parents to that personality. I had a different personality for them, and I hid many other personalities from their vision. I probably had 12 different personalities in school. One I showed the principal and teachers and others I showed different groups of people.
So, what Mr. Gurdjieff reiterated is absolutely true. Man's name is Legion. He is not a single person, ever. I use the following analogy often – the man who sets the alarm clock is not the man who has to get up to it, or there would be no need for a snooze button. In fact, if a man were singular, he would probably never need a clock at all. At the Priere they devised a manner of drinking a certain volume of water in order to get up at a certain time, using the bladder as an alarm clock. A singular man without quotation marks or anything else could set his alarm clock and would wake up simultaneously as the gears inside the clock prepared to sound the alarm.
But all of these personalities are not the worst of our troubles. The worst thing imaginable gets imagined – a "perfect self" who is never wrong and should be worshiped. It is the very tsizm of idolatry. And embarrassment or stage fright or anything else like it occurs when we believe that the "other" can see both that imaginary self and the flawed self that actually manifests. This imaginary self is our foremost enemy. It must be ruthlessly ferreted out and destroyed. But a person cannot do this on their own, or perhaps it is so rare that it might as well be a fact that no one can do it on their own.
But at the beginning of the work – when one meets our work and our tradition, one is told that one must not change anything in the personalities except to observe them in an objective manner, as if we stood outside of ourselves and could see ourselves as an actual walking talking object. And one of the reasons why we are told not to change is because our only desire is to change in the direction of the imaginary worshipful false self, and if we change, as much as it may hurt to not change, we will be playing a shell game with ourselves and we will never see what others have seen of us. We will try to hide that we are sorry-assed pigheaded idiots, who are filled with internal considering and what are called "Requirements." Even if a man could just get rid of requirements he will have come a long way in our work – accepting reality as it is rather than how we would like it.