“If you ask a man whether he is conscious,” said Peter Ouspensky, “he will answer that he is conscious and that it is absurd to say that he is not, because he hears and understands you. And he will be quite right, although at the same time quite wrong. This is nature’s trick. He will be right because your question has made him vaguely conscious for a moment. Next moment, consciousness will disappear.”

A pertinent question makes us vaguely conscious for a moment — especially asked by us to ourselves. “Did I just do that?” or, “Did I really say that?” or, “Did I truly mean that?” It sheds a feeble light on our unconscious action of a moment ago, and despite the brief lag, exposes it to us. Thus aware of our sleep, we are already partly awake.

“Where art thou?” asks God; the first question to be asked in the Bible.

Adam, made self-conscious through this question, responds, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

“Who told you that you were naked?” God contends; “Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you not to eat?”

Next moment, Adam is expelled from Eden. But whilst still in the garden — whilst still vaguely conscious — he has a choice: does he step forward from behind the bush to confess his unconsciousness, or does he justify himself by blaming Eve? Recovery, not immaculateness, marks a man’s strength. The sooner he sees his fault, the more quickly can he correct himself. And if he catches his fault right away, despite having fallen, he needn’t lose the Garden; he can use his fault to see; he can fling himself back to Be. This is nature’s trick.

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