For an enlightened study of the selves, two attitudes are necessary: acceptance of their multiplicity, and acceptance of their mechanicalness. The selves are like a box of clockwork dolls, some dressed one way, some another, some pleasant, some unpleasant, some clever, some stupid. The dolls have no free will. They are wound up and activated by circumstances. Under a given set of conditions, one of the dolls will leave the box, go through its performance, lapse back into quiescence. In the third state of consciousness all these dolls call themselves ‘I,’ but to the Observer, who takes over from the Magnetic Centre when the inner work has begun, they are merely puppets. In calling themselves ‘I,’ they attribute to themselves a quality they do not really possess.
It is the task of the Observer, that element of man’s being which carries within it the seed of higher consciousness, to watch the puppets, learn how they behave, gradually accumulate material concerning their roles. To do this he must learn to be impartial. He will never obtain an understanding of the contents of his box of dolls if he refuses to look at all of them, the ugly, misshapen, villainous ones as well as those which seem pretty. This calls for effort and honesty as well as accurate observation.
Impartial self-observation is not easy. How can a man learn to regard his own manifestations with the detachment of a naturalist observing the behaviour of an insect? There are tiresome, degrading, foolish, destructive manifestations of the self that can hardly be accepted without comment. And what of those embarrassing memories which, suddenly coming into the conscious mind, hit the ego with such force that one literally squirms with anguish? How can one learn to accept impartially this material which is so unflattering to one’s perception of oneself as a rational and more or less civilized being?
– Robert S. de Ropp (1969, p 101-2) The Master Game