I have trouble deciding to work on self and I find that I often cannot remember to work.
You are describing the functioning of the head brain. You assume that thinking, the little voice in your head, is you…who you are…and that it is the thinker that actually remembers and decides to do things because thinking appears to precede the doing. This is a false assumption.
Almost everything we decide to do in our daily life begins in the body, with sensations and impulses to move and speak. Once these impulses are underway, the thinker comes along to take credit for deciding the actions that are already proceeding. It will take many years of observing self to see this clearly. Impartial attention can know this immediately but your early efforts to observe will likely use head brain attention, which is attention intermediated and interpreted by thought. Head brain attention is too slow and limited to enter real time; it lags behind the occurrences of ordinary reality, so much so that it can falsely think it is the one who decides.
If you want to remember to work, you must be able to plant the impulse to do so in the body. For example, impartially observing the momentum of sleep in your machine for many years, certain gestures become clear indicators of mechanical sleep functioning. When observed, these gestures spontaneously provoke the immediate recognition of sleep and activate the impulse to invoke attention and presence. Related thinking may then arise. This process can be described as making ‘conscious habits’. By nature, habits are the foundation of sleeping behaviour but they can be made otherwise.
If the thinking ‘I’ is an illusion, who am I?
A good question. In the sleep state, no one is home. There are various rotating identities…haphazard assemblages of self-images, loops of self-talk, personal history and past conditioning…which take their turn on the stage. When an identity is operational, it provides a semblance of predictable behaviour and thinking until it is displaced by another. Observing self makes clear that there are no real decisions in the sleep state because there is no one there to make them. Everything is already programmed.
The illusion of ‘I’ is one of the most difficult to break. Surely I can be taken seriously as someone who thinks and decides. Seeing through this illusion may initially be somewhat frightening but it opens the possibility of knowing another ‘I’, the ‘I’ of presence, which is conscious and unboundaried.