…or how conscious you are, can be assessed by how much of what is not your self you experience (i.e. how ‘soft’ your self is), particularly when interacting with other selves. The following test determines your conscious awareness or functional selflessness — and therefore how good it is being with you (see below for brief explanation of ‘self’ and ‘consciousness’).
Rate the following forty statements from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), note your score and then check your bewithableness below.
Note: These kind of quizzes, not to mention grading your quality, are a kind of joke, quite obviously deeply flawed (as is, despite the final ‘grade’, Buddhism, or aspiring to be the Buddha, which here I present as a metaphor). But still, have a go. Go on…
- Ultimately — that is for matters of real importance — I derive the meaning of a spoken utterance from what is not said (tone, implication, quality of gesture, etc).
- I am comfortable with non-literal language (metaphor, comedy, myth, dream, art, etc).
- I’m comfortable with uncertainty, lack of closure, nothing quite decided and open-endedness generally (e.g. I do not worry about money, even when I may soon have nothing).
- I can easily tell if someone else wants to enter a conversation, if they are feeling uncomfortable, or what they might want to talk about.
- I find it easy to explain to others things that I understand.
- I enjoy caring for other people.
- I find it easy to know what to do and say in social situations.
- I find it easy to let go of the past — to ‘shake off’ unpleasantness, to release my grip on desire, to drop grudges and regrets, etc. When someone criticises me I don’t take it personally. I can ‘let go’ of justifying anger.
- I never go too far in driving my point home in a discussion.
- I don’t get swept up in other people’s emotions. I can ‘maintain frame.’
- I find it easy (in face-to-face interactions) to judge if someone is rude or polite.
- I don’t require an authority (teacher, therapist, policeman, etc.) to tell me what to do in order to do things.
- I don’t do much on autopilot — I notice subtle qualities around me (like birdsong) and can usually remember journeys.
- It upsets me a great deal to see an animal in pain.
- I can easily perceive the unique character of an animal or a young child.
- Talking is fine, but the time soon comes when you have to act.
- I trust my first impressions. I can read faces very well.
- When I dance I tend to do so unselfconsciously.
- I have strange, enjoyable or suggestive dreams.
- I can relax completely.
- I’m not a worrier.
- I am aware of the subtle sensations in my body. I can ‘read’ when they are telling me to stop doing something.
- I often feel good for no reason. I often feel grateful.
- I can immerse myself in my senses completely, without distraction.
- Men and women are fundamentally different, and I’m glad they are.
- My God I love the simple things.
- When I am in a partnership I make love a great deal — despite how I feel.
- When I walk down a crowded street, I often ‘pull back’ from my focusing, naming mind and experience the entire event (rather than looking, naming and thinking about bits of it).
- I tend to avoid experiences which make me ardently want or not want (pornographic sex, violence, video games, etc.).
- I am not easily offended. People who are depress me.
- I love being in nature.
- I do not defend my negative emotions, or attempt to suppress them, but act to understand and deal with them.
- I do not blame my unhappiness on other people or things outside my control (my parents, society, genes, illnesses, ‘the patriarchy’, ‘my ex’, ‘them’, etc, etc, etc.).
- I easily feel the quality, tone or atmosphere of situations, rooms, people, works of art and so forth.
- I make plans, but let go of them easily.
- I am spontaneous (but not ‘wacky’).
- ‘Death is part of life’ — this is a truth which I endeavour to live.
- I would prefer to be understood than praised.
- I look into other people’s eyes; but I don’t stare. I know the difference between looking and staring.
- I do not need to fill time up with ‘fun’. I am happy without stimulation. I don’t need a phone.
Now add up your scores and tally them with the results. Assuming you’ve answered honestly and reasonably accurately;
- 40 — 50: You’re lying. There is no way on God’s green earth you could have read this far. Only employees (yours or other people’s) will consent to be in your company. You are right not to trust them I’m afraid — they don’t like you. Your unconscious repeatedly tries to inform you that something is very, very wrong in your life — you get tangled up in horrible love-affairs, your dreams are troubled, emotional pain dogs you, painful criticism never seems far away — but you cannot bear to face any of this and will do anything you can to push it out of your awareness.
- 50 — 80: It is pretty painful to be you — a suffering you push from your awareness with narcotics, stimulation, mindless activity or fun, but which, without either realising or caring, you repeatedly inflict on others. Conversation is usually a kind of agony for other people; either because you are deeply unhappy, and it hurts your loved ones to see you this way, or because you are deeply unconscious, and it hurts them that you hardly see others at all. You might tell yourself that ‘listening’ means giving the required number of head-nods and ‘uh-huhs’ and ‘interested questions’ but more than likely you’re just waiting for your turn to speak. That or you’re just too desperately miserable to pay attention to anything.
- 80 — 120: Something is missing, and it’s likely to get much worse before it gets better. You know this is true, but you can’t really face it. You can be a right twat — a shameful, life-wrecking, self-induced catastrophe is never far away, and it isn’t exactly a bed of roses living with you — but you love and are well loved. You’re going to make it. Just.
- 120 — 150: You know what suffering is, you know the darkness — but you are well on the way out of the dread cave of woe. Hold straight line to the good thing little woman. Don’t give up little man. See you on the beach colleague!
- 150 — 180: Fear, suffering and selfishness, yes, they’re here — but there’s a better driver at the wheel than yourself now. You can admit, act and live despite the presence of ego, so it is nearly always good to be you; and good to be with you. Conversation with you feels warm, spacious, simmering with possibilities. If you are not already creating works of enduring beauty, building storm-proof houses or flooding nourishment into the body of the real world, then you soon will be.
- 180 — 200: You are the Buddha. Teach me.
Of course, life and people being what they are, you could ping-pong from 0 to 240 and back again in a day. These scores aren’t iron cages to define for good, but a flavour of a scale; from living-dead in the pits to guts-alive on the rooftop.
(You can download a pdf of this quiz here. Feel free to distribute to all your friends and followers, thereby losing most of them).