In 2011, creators of the iPhone 4S took speech recognition software to the masses with an “intelligent” assistant named Siri. Siri responds to all kinds of verbal directives, Siri looks things up on the internet, makes restaurant recommendations, keeps track of your schedule, asks clarifying questions, and learns, to a certain extent through continued use. Some people find Siri amusing; others find her useful. Still others find her annoying and turn her off. And then there are those who joke with her like my husband.
“Siri, call me Master!” he commands. Then Siri replies “But I already call you Master, Master!”
Whatever effect Siri has on you, I think we can all agree that she lacks sensitivity, creativity and self awareness.
What if, through the right combination of downloaded information, user interaction, and increasingly sophisticated programming, Siri’s ability to learn reached a whole new level? What if Siri developed an identity of her own and took over your iPhone? What if, one day, out of the blue, she interrupted your ability to download a new app because, well, it just wasn’t “her”?
The human ego is a bit like Siri run amok. It initially serves as a useful interface between our inner and outer worlds, gathering information, balancing personal desires and instincts with appropriate social behaviour. Yet somehow, along the way, this organizational feature of consciousness develops an identity and tries to take over despite a lack of talent for adaptability, imagination, and innovation.
Here’s how it works: from the day you were born, all kinds of thought and behaviour patterns are downloaded into our innocent little brains by family members, peer groups, and cultural, religious, educational, and professional authority figures. All these forms of input become the “voice in your head.” You form an opinion about who you are: you’re funny, you’re stupid, brilliant, clumsy, pretty, musical, good at sports, smart, annoying, quiet, shy, loud, skinny, fat, loved, the list is endless.
We decide at an early age who we are. The problem is that as the mind approaches maturity, this organizing principle moves from a helpful mediating role to a controlling role. So now we’ve made decisions about who we are before we really become who we are and the ego shuts out any programs or information that conflict with this limited sense of self.
The ego is little more than a collection of habits that come together to form a rigid identity. The ego relies on outside approval, outside appearances, money, security, and social standing. This rigid ego does not allow for creativity, intuition or room for change.
When I was in Italy many years ago I had the privilege of visiting the museum that houses Michelangelo’s classic marble statue of the Biblical hero David. It stands an impressive 17 feet tall and is stunning! This statue is considered one of Michelangelo’s greatest works! This statue will always be exactly how it was when it was declared finished.
In that same museum were four statues that Michelangelo never finished, they were called the “Slaves.” They were called the “Slaves” because the partial creations appeared trapped and unfinished. Michelangelo believed the sculptor (himself) to be a tool of God, not creating but simply revealing the powerful figures already contained in the marble.
These works of marble spoke to my heart, these massive slabs with only part of a man emerging from the rock held the promise of still becoming whatever it needed to be. My imagination could create beyond what I saw.
Our struggle to free ourselves from our limiting beliefs is similar to the struggle so evident in these statues straining to explode out of the marble block that keeps them captive. The undiscovered power one feels is extraordinary.
What we carve in stone threatens to turn our minds to stone. Any mask or image we cling to becomes a limiting belief. Somehow over time, we forget that we are not the programs we have downloaded or the sculptures we have created for people to look at; we are not the programs, we are the programmers, we are not the sculptures, we are the sculptors.
To even begin to know ourselves we must be comfortable with mystery and the not knowing. Think of all the experiences that still lay ahead, open yourself up and allow yourself to change, grow and become. Open the flood gates to all the possibilities of who you are. The Gifts of the Horse is a powerful workshop which will open provide you with a deeper understanding of who you are.