Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Organizational skills, part III

 I suppose that readers are wondering of what possible use this detailed analysis of inner organization can be; but if we want to understand why our outer lives are disorganized, we can't do it without a careful examination of the question.

 Organization has to arise from a wish. Although the intellect and the material need to participate, there must be a feeling-wish that arises within to participate actively in the expression of order. This arises from understanding one's place, and seeing that one has to serve something. Without the understanding of a greater meaning, and the vision of one's place within that picture — one's position, one's place in the order — no one can engage in inner or outer action that has significant meaning. It is, on the other hand, unusually easy to engage in chaotic, destructive, or selfish behavior if one has no understanding of inner order.

Generally speaking, I have always told people that the outward order of their lives reflects their inward order. How I am outwardly, the way I dress, the level of cleanliness I have around me, the neatness and orderliness of my environment, the systemized (or not) nature of my action — all of this expresses my inward order. I may be able to have a marginal effect on my inward order by ordering myself outwardly; but this has its downside, which is a long discussion for another essay. The point is that I need to have order and structure. And that order and structure needs to be reciprocal, that is, my inner and outer conditions need to have order and structure that complement and supplement one another.

 That structure and order must furthermore not be rigid; each one, inwardly and outwardly, has to have a creative flexibility so that they can respond to one another and to new situations without breaking. The more rigid my structure is, the more prone it will be to breakage. One of the mistakes most of us make inwardly is believing that if we create an extremely rigid inward structure, it will be durable and be able to resist anything that happens. This works up to a point; but the minute an unusual stress takes place, it breaks. This is the whole point, in a way, of the book Antifragile by Nicholas Taleb, and he does — to his credit — touch a bit on the fact that the principle applies to inward as well as outward circumstances. (His argument, by the way, is that the strongest systems gain from encounters with disorder— which is a reflection of the basic principle that the bad is the servant of the good; hence, avoiding the bad does not actually help the good. The true good gains strength from encounters with the bad.)

So we don't want a rigid structure. At the same time, we want to have a structure — and we don't attend enough, so our structure is weak. The practice of keeping things neat and clean, of picking up, even of carefully folding the laundry and putting it up, is part of the reinforcement process to help our attention attend both inwardly and outwardly. Monastic practices have a pretty good understanding of this, but the general level of disorder that the average person is willing to put up with in their immediate surroundings is, in my experience, staggering. One must pick oneself up off the couch and create much better outward order if one wants to begin serious spiritual work. Anyone who sits around in an inward house filled with garbage and things thrown all over the place imagining that they are in some lofty spiritual state is in the depths of a severe delusion — and, unfortunately, this kind of behavior abounds. This is the kind of thing Gurdjieff was referring to when spoke about tramps and lunatics.

Keep in mind that the outward house reflects the state of the inward house. It's a sign of how just unconscious people are that they put their inward nature on display outwardly at all times, and feel absolutely no shame whatsoever about it. It's not just about whether or not there are clothes on the bedroom floor or dirty dishes in the sink; our relentless destruction of our planetary environment stems from precisely this kind of mindless behavior. There is a certain class of people, particularly politicians, that not only engage in disorder; they celebrate it, and even make a living from it. Such people are not only in the grip of demonically selfish forces, they derive enjoyment from it. The forces of disorder have a great love of presenting destructive arguments and pitching them as constructive; and this is true not only of societal forces, but of the force within our inner order. We need to learn to recognize this inwardly.

 One needs to make clear, specific efforts at both inner and outer organization, and one must attend to them regularly — that is, all day long. Every thought and every process ought to be properly ordered so that they follow one on the other and help to achieve the organic goal of living within an entire context.  One has to attend to the process of thinking in order to understand that correctly. When I do not, I live within fractions of context, instead of within a whole context. This is one of the esoteric meanings of the Tower of Babel.

Zen Buddhism's mindfulness, as one example, is a comprehensive practice that helps individuals to understand how to live within an entire context, instead of fractionally. Christianity used to have this practice; and it is common to all the great religions, if they are properly understood. However, in the selfish world we have created today, everyone wants to live within their own context, not the context that the great tradition bestows upon us.

The great tradition ultimately bestows, after all, a context of universal brotherhood; and while everyone is eager to prattle on about how much they love their brothers and sisters, in today's world, everyone actually wants their brother's and sister's stuff more than anything else.

Hosanna.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Organizational skills, part II


 So, in a world where we all crave order in one way or another – well, at least most of us do – what is the difference between conscious and unconscious efforts at organization?

Of course, the glib answer would be that conscious efforts involve three centers. But I think we want to get down into the granular nature of the question, rather than deal in gross platitudes.

The word organization comes from the Greek organon, meaning, among other things, a tool or instrument, or a sense organ. To organize is to systemize various things in such a way that they become tools. So organization by default implies usefulness: that is, that which is disorganized has less use than that which is organized. We could extend the analogy a bit more and point out that organization has a direct conceptual connection to the organs in the body, their order, and their usefulness and interaction, which creates Being.  Readers interested in taking this further should definitely refer to Swedenborg's work on the subject, which was extensive and fascinating.

When we organize, we must organize in an inner manner first, because outward order cannot be manifested without a corresponding inward order. We actually all start out with such an organized inward order; but it is in disarray now, which was perhaps the whole point of everything Gurdjieff taught.

Without bringing our attention to the point where impressions enter the body, we are unable to see the disorder of our inwardness, and consequently unable to bring a corresponding organization to our inner Being. Once we attend to ourselves, and see the disorder, perhaps something new can begin to emerge; but until then, everything just takes place automatically — or, as Gurdjieff explained it, mechanically, that is, without conscious participation.

Conscious participation involves the arrival of critical thinking; but critical thinking does not come just from the intellectual mind, which uses logic. There is also a critical thinking of sensation and a critical thinking of feeling. This is because each of these faculties is a mind of its own, equally capable of critique, although not in the way we usually understand it using logic or the intellect.

So we must bring these various parts together at the point where we encounter perception (see the previous post) in order to begin to understand how organization functions inwardly and outwardly; and then we must measure quite carefully, using the critical faculties of our various minds, the substance and nature of what we encounter inwardly and outwardly, not just following the coarse materials of our desire or the relatively unintelligent materials of the facts we have gathered—nor simply enjoying and being taken by the bodily sensations we encounter—but rather, applying the critical faculties of each center to our experience of what is taking place.

One of the whole points of the "stop" exercise in the Gurdjieff practice is to catch oneself in the middle of identification; but the reason that this exercise is done is not just to counteract identification, but to apply a critical evaluation to it, so that one sees how these three critical functions can work together in order to understand inner organization.

There are, roughly speaking, three different kinds of organization that a man can impose on his external world depending on his being before it develops an organic sense of Self. Those three kinds of organization are material organization (the organization of things), emotional organization (the organization of desires) and intellectual organization (the organization of ideas.) Each one of these has great power in its own right; but any one of them easily becomes destructive when it is exercised without balance. Generally speaking, every outer organization human beings form conforms to one of these three tendencies more than the other two; and one can understand more or less what an organized situation will be able to produce, depending on where its center of gravity lies. Organizations where all of the influences are equally balanced are rare, both inwardly and outwardly; but a conscious effort is aimed at achieving just such a balance.

Nothing can function well without organization, that is, integration into an organic whole which functions through the action of its various organs.

So now we have a new understanding of organization which is based on what it means to have Being, and to be in the body.

Hosanna.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Organizational skills, part I




Readers may remember my recent posts on inner organization, and the sweetness of the Lord.

This morning, my wife asked an interesting question — at least I thought it was interesting. She asked whether organizing things was a task that required more than one center.

This led to a pondering of the exact nature of how we organize things. An understanding of this may perhaps shed some light on an understanding of our inner state.

The question of organization begins with perception.

In the immediate moment, my sensory equipment takes in perceptions (impressions) of my immediate surroundings.

As Gurdjieff explains in the introduction to Beelzebub's Tales, an associative mentation takes place at the point of perception.  Put in the simplest possible terms, it functions in one of two ways: either visually, or verbally.

Now, the process of perception and its encounter with the inner structure — the associative structure — functions in the following way.
  • What is perceived is compared conceptually to already stored perceptions and the order they conform to. 
  • There are both intellectual and emotional responses to this comparative process. 
  • Intellectually, what is perceived is evaluated in terms of its overall structure and order relative to one's understanding of structure and order. 
  • That understanding derives from several different sources: 
    • first of all, what one has been taught structure and order ought to be;
    • second, the additional conclusions one has reached as a result of one's own previous associations and experiences. 
So there is an accretive structure of order, much like the honeycomb that bees make, to which the perception is compared. There is an intellectual assessment based on point-to-point comparison: it either conforms to the existing inner structure, or it doesn't.

 At this point in time, an emotional evaluation takes place. Perception is evaluated so that if the perception of structure and order seems more pleasing than the existing structure inside oneself, one undertakes the task of reordering the inner structure to better conform to the outer perception, so that one can improve the inner structure according to the perception.

Or, conversely, if the inner structure and order is more emotionally pleasing and corresponds better to feeling-requirements than the outer situation, the outer situation is found wanting and an emotional state arises in which one wants to correct outer circumstances and situations in order to better conform to the inner structure.

 In this way, an emotive desire — a wish —  emerges relative to outer structure. This feeling, this motivation, translates itself into a will towards action, in which an effort is made to reorder external things in a more structured manner. So ultimately, order and structure, outer organization, are dependent on the will – the inner motivating force — that forms in relationship to currently existing conditions.

It would be worthwhile to consider this in light of inner arrangements, since the process whereby one's inner being is ordered bears an important relationship to the order of outer things. In fact, all outer order and the outwardness of structure and organization itself emanate from Being, from the way the inner order is already formed. The comparative process and the arousal of will are what serve as the vehicles to bring inward order outward.

It should be noted that organization, the ability and wish to organize, can be either conscious or unconscious. That is a question we'll take up tomorrow.

Hosanna.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The caste system

  A group of people who I occasionally work with were studying Beelzebub's Tales recently and asked about the question of castes. They weren't quite sure about why this subject came up in the book. This particular group of individuals is new to the work and the ideas, and they are not Westerners; so some of the things we take for granted, having been in the West and in various spiritual works for decades, are perhaps not so obvious to them. This is a good thing; because when I re-examine things I think I know about and take for granted, I find out I actually don't know much about them at all. There needs to be some care in thinking; and so often, there isn't.

I crafted the following response to their inquiry, which I thought might be of interest to others.


...


I have examined in some more detail the portion of Beelzebub's Tales which you have a question about.

Your question is actually very interesting, because the reasons Beelzebub brings up the issue of castes is directly tied to the arising of egoism in mankind, and the subsequent obscuring of the vital factor of conscience.

Put in the simplest terms possible, assigning people varying degrees of importance in society (the creation of castes) leads people to believe that they are more important than others (egoism.) At the same time, it divides their Being into inner (essence) and outer (personality) parts. This creates a tension in Being which leads to dishonesty, because the inner is one way, and the outer is another.

If the inner part is exposed and there is honesty, it cannot act in a way that is cruel or incorrect towards others. But it is hidden in man; and when the inner part (in the west we might call it the soul, but that is a bit inaccurate) acquires corrupted or lower influences, then the outer part (personality, or ego) can hide them, because it is clever at such things.

This is a very simplistic explanation of a complex process that is treated in both chapter 27 (Ashiata Shiemash) and chapter 31 (the sixth and last sojourn of Beelzebub on the planet Earth.) One would need to read both chapters entirely in order to begin to have a serious discussion about this; and I fear that anything I could say about it would take many pages and go into a good deal more detail than you may want me to.

I will note that the 18th-century Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg took up exactly the same questions about the dualistic nature of inner and outer Being that Gurdjieff did in the 20th century; and that both of them reached the same conclusions about mankind's dual nature and the corruption of conscience, which is really the critical issue here: if we don't have a connection to our conscience, we can so easily lie about ourselves and who we are.

When I really see who I am, I am uncomfortable with it. This is the beginning of a moment when conscience can touch me, however briefly; and the whole point of seeing myself isn't to see how good I am — because I already congratulate myself on my supposed goodness all the time. The point of seeing myself is to see my bad parts, the things that make me uncomfortable. I need to look at these and put a light on them much more clearly, because this duplicitous, or dualistic, nature is the truth about what I am: not that noble, high-caste individual I think of myself as.

All of that begins with the belief that I am superior to others; and if we remember the person who asked the question about seeing how others were asleep, but not seeing how they were asleep themselves, perhaps we can understand this a little more directly. I look at others and I see all their flaws; but I don't see my own. So I think I'm superior.

It's important to understand that my inner life has a similar arrangement: that is, the spiritual part of me is buried, and the natural, or material, part of me is dominant. It lies all the time; and it wants to run everything. This is why I describe it as an invading army. In other words, I have my own caste system inside me.

The sufi sage Ibn al Arabi wrote a very interesting book called the divine governance of the human kingdom about this subject. 

It's delightful and well worth reading. Arabi was certainly familiar to Gurdjieff— it's quite impossible that he would not have been exposed to his teachings, since he is the single most important Sufi mystic and philosopher in history, and Gurdjieff was deeply involved with Sufis throughout his life.

Conscience plays a huge role in Beelzebub's story of mankind; and this question of castes is, as you can see, deeply linked to it. So if you wanted a single sentence "answering" this question, I would formulate it as follows: we need to examine why our belief in our own superiority damages our conscience.

Hosanna.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What is a machine?

 Textile processing machinery, Jiangsu Province, China

 This morning, I was up above the Palisades on the Hudson River shortly after 5 AM, walking the famous dog Isabel, as is my usual routine. I felt to pondering the question of machines, and exactly what the idea of man being a machine means.

The original meaning of the Greek word from which the term machine is derived, mekhōs,  is contrivance — something skillfully created to serve a particular purpose. Interestingly, this immediately leads us to the idea of a creator, and service. So the word, which appears to be a denigration or devaluation of what humans are, is actually nothing more than an objective description of our role in the universe, and carries within it the implication of religious overtones that are not immediately apparent to us, having grown up in a technological and secular atmosphere — at least, as far as what machines are goes.

To us, being a machine implies a lack of everything we care about: most especially, that most ephemeral of qualities, free will, which is so roundly celebrated by our political and social institutions.

Without getting too convoluted, I tried to appear this idea down to its basics. To me, the most obvious difference between a living organism and the machine is that a machine cannot sense and cannot feel.  Our sensory abilities have extraordinary capacity; and I do not just speak about the capacity to receive things outwardly, as we examined in the last post: to know things mechanically with the senses, that is, with the eyes, or the ears, and so on. We have the ability to receive things inwardly, to have impressions fall in us in an organic and sensory manner that implies an unusual unremarkable cellular capacity for understanding the world through sensation. This can't be built into a machine; you can program responses into it so that it does things based on data created through external stimuli, but it does not amount to the intelligent experience of sensation within a body. It probably never will. The organism that has evolved to express this is so unusually complex that if the sensory parts are truly awake, no machine could ever emulate them. They display emergent properties that have never, so far as we know, been seen in any machine.

In the same way, machines don't experience emotion, or feeling. They never will; and this is a dilemma often treated in science fiction movies and novels. A real human being — Gurdjieff's "man without quotation marks" – has this sensing and feeling capacity that is not available to a machine. So when we are called machines, the implication is that we have not lived up to our potential in these areas.

Meister Eckhart's inner mind is a subtle thing. It stands apart from the machine, which receives associative impressions in a remarkably confused and disorderly manner. I watch this go on in me all the time; and the moment I identify with it, I am confused, because the machine isn't really capable of discriminating accurately in these situations.

Accurate self observation ultimately leads to a point of seeing the difference between the machine and that which is alive. There are different ways of being alive; and while the machine is alive, it does not have a sensory and a feeling component at its core. It lacks these essential qualities of Being.

 This sensing needs to be an inner sensing, and not an outer one. The machine senses outwardly; the living Being senses inwardly. The taste of these two things is quite different; one of them vibrates at a different rate than the other one. I need to come into relationship with the finer, higher rate of vibration if I want to discover what it means to acquire Being.

Hosanna.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Three kinds of knowing

St. Augustine teaches about three kinds of knowing. The first is bodily, perceiving images as the eye sees and perceives images. The second is mental but still admits of images of bodily things. The third is in the interior mind, which knows without image or likeness, and this knowledge resembles the angels. The highest ranks of the angels are threefold. One master says the soul does not know itself except by likeness, but angels know themselves and God without likeness. 



Just reside in sensation and rest there. See what happens. 
You don't know what will happen, so just rest there and sense. 
Quietly.

Something will come.

—The author.

 I am quite familiar with the first and the second kind of knowing that Meister Eckhart speaks about here. But I know so little about the third kind. And I don't even know how to approach it. It is easy to approach through the eyes, and the ears, and even touch and taste and smell. These physical things are given; so much so that I ignore them most of the time. And the mind — well, the mind. This is all I actually know; I think about everything far too much.

The interior mind is a completely different form of Being. It is the essence, a child born of the inward flow of the divine into Being, which receives it and is fed by it. Close reading of Meister Eckhart's material will reveal that this interior mind is actually a part of God, born of God. It's essentially indistinguishable from God in its growth, its purity, and the depth of its love and intelligence; yet it is starved in me.

I can know myself, and know God, without likeness. The energy makes this possible; and beginning with sensation, with the organic sense of being, already, there is no likeness. Sensation does not create analogies or construct images; it is incapable of worshiping idols, because it can't construct them, or even imagine them. This is an enormous thing; because so few understand it, so few appreciate it. Imagine — a part of the self that doesn't create images or formulate concepts! What is that? It's a mystery. There is no way to nail this down or pin it out on a specimen board like an insect, where it can be inspected and analyzed. The only vehicle for examination here is immediate, within Presence.

 Perhaps everything about inner work is the cultivation of the interior mind, the mind of the soul. An intelligence can awaken in the body: it is a different intelligence than the confused jumble of premises that my ordinary being operates from. If I see my ordinary being for what it is, this confusion — which has no morality or real intelligence — becomes obvious. Yet there is a living Presence within that does have morality and intelligence: and it can only grow and be present within the part that sees.

Hosanna.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Without making plans, part II

I stand forever directly at the edge of an extraordinary inner mystery.

For as long as I cling to my presumptions, I will always remain at that edge; and little will cross over into me. But the minute I forget everything of what I know, forgot even myself, and give myself to the inner structure that exists apart from my mind—the organic structure—I enter that mystery; and that mystery enters me. We are not indistinct; we interpenetrate one another. 

We are one.

This is a higher authority which I must submit to. I do so quite willingly, when I encounter it; because it emanates from a love and a joy that I wish to be part of. Yet if I want to submit to this authority, I can't set my own agenda. And even when I encounter this higher authority, immediately, because we are together, my ordinary parts think they know something about it, that they can be the authority. Those parts want to have control; and I want to do things, perform actions with this energy, because they presume they know what to do.

There is an irony in this that I need to see. The energy itself makes it quite clear that I don't have the authority or the understanding, the instant that it arrives; so why do these presumptions and assumptions persist in the face of it? They are a testament to the strength of the ego, and its determination to survive at all costs, even in the face of the obvious. Because the ego is the very essence of selfishness — they are not distinct, selfishness and egoism — it will lie about absolutely anything in order to have its way. And if I don't begin to see that I am like that in every circumstance where I am dominated by my ego, then I don't learn very much.

I can't say for women, but men have a particularly hard time with this question of their own authority. I am angry whenever my authority is threatened or challenged — and all the other men I know are identical in this way. We are like this; but we don't see it. We just don't see it. And of this subliminal anger penetrates us at all times, just beneath the surface. So if we are provoked, it comes out at once.

In any event, my contact with the inner mystery has to be unplanned. I can plan to make myself available, to be open to a possibility; but that's all. The possibility has to be sufficient unto itself, not programmed by my agendas.

Hosanna.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Without making plans, part I

This morning, as I usually do, I got up at 4:30 AM. I don't leave myself any choice in this matter — if I am not already awake (which is not unusual) when the alarm goes off, I instantly jump up out of bed. I never hesitate: one cannot engage in inner discipline if one is inclined to be lazy and hesitate.

This is just it, that people are not disciplined. I led a meditation yesterday, which was, admittedly, for beginners — all good people, I might add. Everyone said their meditation practice was casual: which means they are undisciplined, even lazy. I ask you, does God want us to be lazy? Think about it.

I ask you equally, does God want us to be inattentive? To make messes, to not properly clean up after ourselves and lead a disorganize life? He doesn't. Duty is something that extends to every incident of life; everything is my duty, and I must rise to that occasion in every instant.

In any event, while I was making Turkish coffee this morning, the question of how I do exercises and conduct meditation sessions came to me. There is a difference between organization and disorganization; but there is also a need to be flexible and relaxed, which may be in a free style—not structured, but still attentive. This is how I prefer to approach meditation.

Now, many people who lead meditation like to do specific meditations on chakras, to circulate energy in specific ways. This has become somewhat the vogue in recent years. I've even been to meditation sessions led by "advanced" (at least, so advertised—which in itself is suspicious) Qigong Masters, where they lead the participants through many different "chakra activations" and visualizations so quickly that one gets whiplash during the process. Others proceed at a more leisurely pace, but always there is this specific idea and structure about how to take the inner energy and do this and that with it.

Over the years, I've done many such exercises; and I know a number of exercises I have never told anyone, although various older members of the Gurdjieff work occasionally bring such an exercise to a sitting, where I recognize it from my own work.

The reason I ponder this is because I was not taught many organized methods of sitting before my inner life changed. For some reason, ever since I began meditating, I have been largely freestyle in my inner work. My own teachers were never rigid in their approach to energy; we never had specific things we were supposed to do over and over again, for example, circulating energy down the front and up the back, or vice versa, and so on.

Yet I opened; and I opened without all of the set pieces, the prescribed meditation methods.

Ever since then, I have spent years studying the inner conditions — investigating all kinds of meditation methods, both structured and unstructured – and trying to understand exactly what it is that helps one to open.

I have come, over the course of these many years, to understand that the prescriptions don't work. That's because all of the prescriptions come from me: and I'm not a doctor. Others aren't doctors either, although everyone believes they have some kind of snake oil that can lead us to God. The fact is that God leads us to Himself, not through our methods, but through His own.

Consequently, I could teach people many ways of opening chakras, inhaling energy in through them, and so on. But I intentionally don't. My own work with such methods over the years has shown such methods to be highly invasive and intrusive, and without exception all of them eventually (or even immediately) become a manipulation of one kind or another. The temptation, invariably, is to allow them to become a kind of masturbation.

Now, I am not one of these Victorians or Calvinists who believe that masturbation is a crime; but it hardly leads anywhere important, as everyone ought to know. But if I don't allow the energy within me the freedom to do its own work, as it sees fit, I am trying to put myself in charge of something I know very little about. And in my own experience, the more I know about it, the more I see that I am not in charge.


This is why I attend; but I attend without coming with an agenda, and I attend without making plans.

Hosanna.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Playing a Role

The question recently came up about playing a role.

One of the significant points about playing a role is that the actor never expresses his own desires when he is playing a role. The desires that have to be expressed when playing a role are the desires that belong to the role, not the actor; and I can understand a bit more about the question of playing a role in life once I see this more clearly.

 I need to be separated from myself, and, most specifically, from my desires, when I am playing a role. If I am vested in sensation and accept it, if I allow it to assume its voluntary position in my life, then the separation is much more distinct, and even though my desires drive me quite strongly, I can build a firewall between my own desires and the desires that the role requires. It's quite important to be clear on this, because it's very common, when playing a role in life, to discover that my own desires are actually in contradiction to the role. This is, in fact, entirely normal; it's why everything in life is arranged to the way it is, and why so many things work out badly. Here is yet another reason that Mr. Gurdjieff indicated the need for our nondesires to prevail over our desires.

In playing the role, the actor must be the servant of the role. Arrogant actors who do not accept direction turn out to be bad ones; they have too much of themselves in the part, and it's transparent. The next thing you know, they aren't playing the role; they are being themselves, pretending to play a role. Results of this kind are painfully obvious.  This is possibly the worst kind of acting; yet this is how I am all the time. It's strange that we so easily recognize it on stage, and are so poor at seeing it in real life.  This is part of the reason that the "stage" of organized work in groups is necessary.

The question of sensation is essential, because I do not acquire enough individuality to distinguish between myself and the role unless I am rooted in an organic sense of being. Now, it is impossible to understand this unless I let the organic sense of being manifest; unless I get out of the way, and allow it to emerge in the is a real thing, a participant. Once that happens, perhaps I can distinguish more clearly between my own desires and the desires that the role ought to be expressing. My ego needs to become subservient to the role.

There are other questions at hand here; every actor in life is asked to play many roles, and he also has to choose and discriminate between the various roles he is offered. One doesn't, perhaps, want to play the villain or the tyrant; yet these are necessary roles, and we discover that it is the selfish people who assigned themselves these roles, which are entirely appropriate to them. The fact is, unfortunately, selfish people are very good at these roles, because their desires usually coincide with the need for the role. It's much more difficult to play more altruistic or compassionate roles. Well, one could go on, but the astute reader will get the gist here.

One of the interesting questions that occurred to me about this is that our entire life is a role. If I can see it that way, perhaps I will see my life differently.

Perhaps I will even see it a little differently today.

Hosanna.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Attention arrives naturally

There is a fineness of interaction that usually escapes me.

I'm interested in it, because it is always available; and it sits at the edge of my perception, awaiting my attention. I can discover it though sensation; and when mind and sensation, which are both always present, come into relationship, attention arrives naturally. I don't try to have attention; attention has me.

Sensation has to provide the motive force for this, because mind is unable. Mind is active under ordinary circumstances, even if its effects have been weakened; and I find it's when the center of gravity shifts into sensation, when the balance is corrected, that things change. Then sensation becomes active and mind becomes passive. This is interesting because sensation is so much more compelling in terms of its ability to receive life; in this case, mind just watches and has much less to say about things. It recognizes sensation's mastery over the art of receiving; and if sensation truly acts of its own volition, mind steps back not only because it resumes its natural place, but also (at least initially) because it has an immediate sense of awe, of inspiration, as it encounters this state.

The word inspiration is entirely accurate, because in this state, I inhale my life through sensation: I begin to function as a tiny particle in the lungs of God, that is, I inhale life through my attention, naturally, and my conscious being absorbs the enlivening material of impressions, enriching the inward flow of the energy as it passes through my body.

Although I am unable to discern the source of this energy as it arrives, and unable as well to discern the exact departure of the energy into equally unknown realms of Being, I am able to participate in the action of the energy within this realm, within the parameters of being as defined by my own experience.

I am here; attention arrives naturally. In this gentle crucible of Being, when the effects of all the emanations of Being itself, all of the results of objects, events, circumstances and conditions manifest and are blended within me, a remarkable infusion arises. Water becomes wine.

Hosanna.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On the nature of universal circulation, part III: The living organism of Being

 When I experience my being, because I have an ego which perpetually carries the intention of separating itself, I do not see myself as one with God. God is a separate entity; something outside me which comes to me. This is simplistic conception of spiritual nature as consisting of higher and lower, which has its truth in the overall hierarchy of Being, cannot possibly do justice to the fact that I receive God in the body, that God manifests through the body, and that contact with God is maintained as I feed God through the body.

 In this way, I am one with the body of God. Everything that is is one with the body of God, and my conscious effort to take in impressions are done only on behalf of God, who I am; all of what I perceive is a part of me, flows into me, and through that secret, sacred inner part, which forever praise for the greater glory of God, flows back into God, carrying the energy of the impressions into the source of His Heart and his Heavenly Kingdom.

 I will always have this perception of separation; because I am separated from myself and from God by the cloud of unknowing that begins beyond the veil of material manifestation, and I am separated from myself and from God by the cloud of unknowing that draws a second veil over the inward flow of my impressions back into the heavenly kingdom of God. I stand in the middle, between these two natures; and although I am told that these are two different levels, they are actually one thing: God. The world flows out of God into me; and it flows out of me, back into God. I am simply the part that breathes in and breathes out on behalf of God.

 There are so many further implications to this understanding of the inward flow, and its circulatory nature, that they can hardly be detailed in a series of essays. What is, without any doubt, most importance to come into relationship with this experience, at which point one can know everything that is necessary without having to outline it in any linear fashion, or use words to nail it down so that it can be examined with the logical mind. It is an invitation to enter the living organism of Being; and this, after all, is why I pray, why I live within this sacred universe of creation.

Hosanna.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On the nature of universal circulation, part II: the lungs of God

It is in the nature of all things that what is above always flows downward into things below, insofar as the lower things are adapted to the higher: for the higher things never receive from the lower, but the lower receive from the higher. Now since God is above the soul, God continually pours into the soul and cannot fall away from her. The soul can indeed fall away from Him, but as long as a man keeps right under God, he is immediately receptive to this divine influence unmixed from God, and is not subject to anything else, neither fear nor joy nor sorrow, nor anything else that is not God. So, cast yourself then completely under God, and you will receive His divine influence wholly and solely.

—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Worksp. 449

As we are, if we open our Being, God flows into us. This is the process I have been engaged in  observing for the last 13 years; and the mystery of its organic manifestation, the irrevocable stamp of individuality (that is, literally, undividedness) which it confers, is worthy of a lifetime of study. Yet, in the midst of my instantaneous and eternal consternation, which consists completely of Being without knowing, I have always held in front of myself the question of what the nature of this process is. It seems to arise from a higher level; and it seems to come from "outside" me; yet in fact, it's quite certain that it doesn't come from outside, no matter how stubbornly the conceptual mind seems to insist on this. In fact, the inflow always arrives inwardly, from inside; and in fact, this underscores my singular identity as a particle of God.

Yet the vessel does not just receive energy. It is not a dead end. And I cannot say that the energy that is received simply serves my own growth; because I don't grow that much. Yes, I grow a little bit; but most of what is received in arguably serves a different purpose, which is much larger than me. If anything, I corrupt that purpose, even though I participate in it and am privileged through grace to make some small contributions. This is the dilemma of sin, that a person can be good, and still sin.

 In any event, what happens after the energy is received? In order to understand this, I have to look again to the question of the cosmological processes and why these mysterious entities called black holes exist in the first place.

 A black hole is the center of gravity of a galaxy; and anyone who has had deeper experiences of sensation and has a direct and organic understanding of how Being forms in relationship to an inner center of gravity will know how essential that center of gravity is to the rooting of Being in sensation. Everything that is organized, that fits into these storage structures we create within being — which, as I pointed out in my earlier series of posts, are somewhat like honeycomb, storing the nectar of impressions — must be formed around the center of gravity. In a beehive, that center of gravity is the Queen, who, like God's Word, is perpetually fecund: another demonstration of correspondences. This idea of the center of gravity is female relates to Eckhart's ideal of the soul, which is also female (see page 453 of sermon 93, as well as many other sermons.) Speaking once again from my irrevocably Marian roots, the symbolism of the Blessed Virgin serves here as the center of gravity for Being; and when the center of gravity for being is born, it is analogous to the birth of Christ — that is, the gravity is what makes the birth of Christ possible, because it establishes the other end of the process of the inflow, that of the outflow back into God.

 This flow that takes place within us, so closely tied to sensation, and born of the essentially fecund an creative action of universal energy, does not just "flow inward." To receive is not enough; the aperture on the other end of Being that flows the energy back into God must also be open. So the inflow proceeds from heaven, through humanity, back into heaven; and as it flows through human consciousness, it is "aerated." That is to say, in exactly the same way that blood picks up oxygen as it circulates through the lungs and comes into contact with the air that is breathed in, as the energy that flows through humanity circulates, the impressions that man takes in aerate it so that it has a richer, higher kind of vibration as it returns by way of the inward flow back to God. In this sense, the universe itself is one of the alveoli in the lungs of God; that is, God breathes in and out, deriving sustenance from the impressions received by all of the conscious beings that populate our universe.

 Swedenborg, forever the committed anatomist, had what is undoubtedly the most sophisticated understanding anyone has to date recorded on the matter of correspondences between the human body and the heavenly kingdom. Gurdjieff's well-known contention that man was a universe in miniature, usually taken as an allegorical statement, was actually meant quite literally. The understanding of circulation in relationship to Being is an important one; because we are not distinct from God, we are God — we are part of His body.

 And perhaps I shall say a bit more about this tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

On the nature of universal circulation, Part I: the third striving


This morning, I had a particular insight into a question that has occupied me for the better part of 13 years.

As longtime readers may recall, in June 2001, I was shown — inwardly, not through any outside agency — that we are vessels into which the world flows, a subject I have written about on a number of occasions. Since then, I have observed this inward flow and the relationship it has to sensation for some 13 years.


 At the time I had this understanding, my teacher, who is now long dead, agreed with my observation. As she put it, we are receivers. She spent decades bringing me to this organic understanding. There were many other discussions about this; yet I think that for both of us, understanding this was for the time quite enough.

 In my 13 years of observation, which has consisted simply of watching, and suspending judgment, as this energetic process continually flows through Being, I have been constantly impressed and surprised by the organic and integral nature of receiving. As I've said on some occasions, at its finest levels, the granular nature of energy and reality itself can be sensed; that is, one becomes aware of the particulate nature of sensation and impressions. Always, it seems, the material is received from "outside;" and this is indeed in keeping, at least superficially, with our routine idea that God is outside us, and that we are separate and distinct from God.

As such, we are "here" — God is "there" — and we receive the world, that is, we are kunda (pots, or vessels) into which this world flows. We receive it; and our Being grows in relationship to it. Hence Kundabuffer; that which blocks the flow into the vessel.

 Yet there is much more going on here, and it requires a greater understanding of the laws of world creation and world maintenance — the third obligolnian striving— in order to comprehend it.

 When we conceive of mankind as a bridge between levels, we need to begin to understand humanity as a bridge not just from a higher level to a lower one — this is the simplistic and linear version — but as a bridge from God, back into God.

Some time ago, I explained that the cosmological order consists of suns, which are apertures which emanate the Heavenly Being of God into the known universe, and black holes, which take all of the cumulative energy assembled by galaxies in the creative act of solar birth and generation, back into the heavenly Being.  Tremendous amounts of energy are released into the universe through the emanation of suns; and even more material energies are radiated and emanated as the material returns back into heavenly Being at the event horizons of black holes.

 Mankind is a microcosmic reproduction of this system, which will take some considerable amount of time to explain, so we will have to leave it for the next post to continue on the exact nature of the details. 

 All of this needs to be considered in light of the group of essays on the reproductive and sexual nature of material reality, which is directly connected to this flow of energy. The entire system is essentially creative and procreative; and all of it represents the circulation of the word of God, that is, one single thought in the mind of God, which is infinitely adumbrated as it encounters its initial material manifestation.

Hosanna.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fecundity

 In the previous series of essays on sweetness, I mentioned that all of creation — Eckhart's creatures— are actually reproductive or sexual organs. This may not make much sense to the average reader, so I think the question bears greater examination.

First of all, let us be clear that creatures, creation, refers to all things created — objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. That is to say, the totality of manifestation, the Dharma, is what Meister Eckhart means when he refers to creatures. In the same sense that the Sufi mystics understood it, anything that can be thought of falls into the category of creatures. The manifestation of reality, the existence of the cosmos, is but one single expression of creation and creativity, one single instance out of an infinite number of possible instances of creative thought and creation itself which God is capable of. That is to say, our own cosmos is a single thought in the mind of God, in much the same way that modern physics understands our universe to be one of an infinite number of universes, the multiverse theory. The two ideas are hardly different, in the end.

That which is, that which has Being, is essentially fecund in nature. We cannot separate Being from its productivity; and although sexuality, as a word, nowadays carries strictly biological connotations in terms of the mixing of genes through gender interaction, the word actually applies to a much larger set of actions in which all objects, events, circumstances, and conditions combined with the one another through the action of causality and produce new objects, events, circumstances, and conditions.

This perpetual unfolding of the Dharma is perhaps best captured, in Buddhism, by staggeringly florid works such as the Avatamsaka sutra; yet the idea is recapitulated in diverse works, such as the begettings in the Hebrew Bible, and the extensive investigations by Ibn al Arabi, who did some of the most incisive thinking on the subject to date.

This means that all action is sexual in nature; and sexuality, as Gurdjieff pointed out, is an energy of an extremely high order, so much so that if it is properly oriented, all other energies fall in behind it. If, on the other hand, it is subverted to lower forces, catastrophic dissonance ensues (see Gurdjieff's comments in chapter 12 of  In Search of the Miraculous.)

Yet at its heart, because sexuality runs everything and because the reproductive nature of material reality, even the lowest material levels (think of the organization of molecules into crystalline structures) are ultimately regulated by the constant reinvention of all that is. Conge said that everything prays; one could just as easily say that everything has sex, because sex and prayer are not separate things: they are joined forces, aimed at God's reproduction of His universes within the limitless context of all His thoughts.

 I realize that some of these concepts may be difficult for readers to understand, because one has to have a specific experience of how impressions are nectar, the way we collect them, how sweetness is expressed, and understand on a granular and cellular and even molecular level how these things integrate into the fecundity that Meister Eckhart presents as the essential nature of God. The closest most of us come to an experience of this is sexual orgasm, which has an undeniably different quality of experience from the rest of ordinary being. What is not understood is that this is a relatively limited and rather tiny expression of the full potential of higher energy in man; and that sexuality, with all of the higher energies that drive it, ultimately lies at the heart of spiritual experience, since the action of oneness with the Lord is, in the end, a sexual or reproductive action, in which the Lord is reborn within us.

A great deal of confusion has arisen on this subject because of the tendency of people to mix Tantric sexual practice, that is, corporeal or bodily sexual practice, with higher sexual practice, which takes place on levels and with energies that can only be reflected by the body, not held or contained by it. In this sense, all of human experience within the body is a reflection of the higher principles.

 This leads us to the idea of the body as a reflection of God, that is, a mirror in which all of God's Being is captured and reflected back at God Himself.

Hosanna.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sweetness and the Lord, part IV

Jesus reveals himself, too, in infinite sweetness and richness, welling up and overflowing and pouring in from the power of the Holy Ghost, with superabundant richness and sweetness into all receptive hearts. When Jesus reveals himself with this richness and this sweetness, and is united with the soul; the soul flows with this richness and this sweetness into herself and beyond all things, by grace and with power, without means back into her primal source. Then the outer man will be obedient to his inner man until death, and will be at all times at peace in the service of God forever. 

—Meister Eckhart, the complete Mystical Works, p. 70


So now we come to the personal matter of sweetness.

Because we store the sweetness of the Lord within, we must first receive that sweetness; what Gurdjieff called conscious labor makes that possible. 

We must be intentional, that is, we must inwardly tend towards that sweetness, we must be precise and intelligent about ingesting it, in the same way that a bee uses its delicate mouthparts to probe flowers for their nectar.

This nectar which we collect may, at the discretion and by the Grace of the Lord, be released from time to time: yet this only takes place if there is enough nectar, and if the energy is needed for our inner growth. At such times the Lord sees fit to allow the release of that sweetness; and this is strictly and always to remind us of His actual physical Presence within us, and the need for us to continually work to receive Him.

When we are visited by the sweetness of the Lord, it is like no other sweetness. 

Imagine the sweetness of honey, magnified and multiplied so many orders that honey itself is mere dross or bitterness compared to it; and then imagine all of that sweetness, concentrated into a single, infinitely small point of Being, so tiny that it has no material existence but exists only as an instant in time and location, that is, a place rather than a thing; and then imagine that that place is in fact the Kingdom of Heaven. 

This is how the Kingdom of Heaven is within us; and it can only manifest according to the Presence of the nectar of the Lord, and His arrival within us, which is what Swedenborg called the inflow, the inward flow of divine Presence. Now, either one knows this or does not know this; and one knows for certain whether or not one does know, because either there is certainty, or there is not. The aim of inner work is to develop a relationship with God and to open the kingdom of heaven within Being and within the body; and there is no other reason for it. If one has no interest in this, one might as well just stop working and indulge in food, sex, money, things, and so on. To a certain limited extent, these satisfy; unless, that is, one understands what the kingdom of heaven consists of. 

Then, there can be no rest in Being.

There is no other reason to do inner work, but on behalf of the Lord; and it is this divine inflow, this manifestation of the sweetness of the Lord, that stands as a testament to His Glory and the reason we all work towards Being. Being is, of itself, both the parent and the child of the Lord's Presence; it is the flower of the Lord's deepest heart and the expression of all His goodness. Born in sensation, which is the fundamental building block of impressions, it gives birth to all and everything.

These matters are largely lost on us unless we have a direct experience of the Presence of the Lord, of His sweetness; and until that happens we think we know what we are, that we are important and significant and that somehow, we know something. 

But when the sweetness comes; then, we know at once both everything and nothing, and we know ourselves not in ourselves nor of ourselves, but only in and of the Lord.


Now he says: "This is my commandment. " If anyone commands me to do that which is pleasant, which avails me or on which my bliss depends, that is exceedingly sweet to me. When I am thirsty, the drink commands me; when I am hungry, the food commands me. And God does the same: He commands me to such sweetness that the whole world cannot equal. And if a man has once tasted this sweetness, then indeed he can no more turn away with his love from goodness and from God, than God can turn away from His Godhead: in fact it is easier for him to divest himself of self and all bliss and to remain with love close to goodness and God. 

Meister Eckhart, page 100

Hosanna.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweetness and the Lord, part III

Honey: part of this year's harvest from my hives in Sparkill, NY


"He went up into the mountain." This means that God thereby shows the sublimity and sweetness of His nature, from which must fall away everything that is creature.


Yesterday I explained how impressions are part of the sweetness of the Lord, a concentration of His essence. Although even brief consideration of Gurdjieff's chemical factory and, in fact, his entire body of teaching at once reveals this to be true, it's not discussed much; yet it is essential to our understanding of inner work, lest we forget the most essential reason for it in the first place. When Conge says that everything is prayer, he alludes to this.

This nectar of impressions draws us into relationship with the innumerable flowering bodies of the Lord, that is, all of His creation and all of the arisings that, individually and collective, express His Being on this level. So we are drawn to Him and his manifestation; and we collect the nectar of His impressions, at the same time brushing up against the sexual or creative parts of His Being—that is, Eckhart's creatures, or, created things in all their variety. (This subject alone would be worthy of several essays, so we shall see if I can get to them later.)

You will have to bear with me here, because I am about to explain something that is very poorly understood but that is in fact precise and rather obvious, if one understands Gurdjieff's teaching properly. Those who are interested in this subject will find it profitable to think carefully on what I am about to say.

All created things are sexual organs, that is, flowers; and all created things beget more creation in each of their interactions. This is why Gurdjieff said, more or less, that sex runs everything; and it is, as well, the reason for Eckhart's fundamental recognition of God as infinitely fecund. 

As creation takes in and collects impressions, it brushes up against the "pollen" of Being, that is, the causality which brings into contact and transfers the genetic material of Being between various sources of its arising. 

Gurdjieff explained this in the abstract in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, when he expounded on the arising of the various cosmoses (see chapter 39, The Holy Planet Purgatory); but the material is obscured and unhelpful-somewhat typical of Gurdjieff's own style, which has ultimately become outdated by events.

The nectar of impressions draws the various elements of creation towards each other in an attraction that, to varying degrees, allows for this reproductive activity; and while various Beings (including man) store this nectar, they also participate as fertilizing or pollinating agents in the ongoing, fecund, and infinitely creative reproductive action of what we call Reality. Readers interested in more extensive thoughts on this matter at the cosmological level are encouraged to turn to the writings of Ibn al Arabi, who treats the subject at exhaustive lengths throughout the body of his work.

So the entire universe of conscious Being is, in fact, a sexual machine that eternally creates new Being, even as the attractant- the nectar of impressions-is stored in each Being.

Being is designed to store the nectar of impressions for a number of different reasons. This necatar is, first and foremost, the very Essence of the Lord Himself; it has all of the sweetness and goodness of the Lord at the heart of its material Being, since it is nothing more than innumerable perfect particles of the Lord, in varying degrees of concentration, deposited (exactly as Gurdjieff said) in the body of each Being who receives them. 

To receive impressions is, in other words, to receive the Lord Himself; and insofar as a human Being stores them, so he or she stores the Lord within themselves, ever more concentrating His essence in their own bodies. This is, by the way, perhaps one of the most precise reasons Christ said the Kingdom of Heaven is within.

So we all become, to one degree or another, repositories of the Lord, storehouses of the very material essence of His heavenly kingdom itself, insofar as it manifests on this level; and to the degree we concentrate this essence, so are we informed—inwardly formed—by the Lord.

Tomorrow we will discuss the sweetness itself in more detail.


Hosanna.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sweetness and the Lord, part II

It is true that all creatures bear in themselves some consolation, as the comb produces honey. But the honeycomb, meaning whatever goodness there may be collectively in all creatures, that is altogether in God.


Many readers know I am a beekeeper; so I am familiar with the outer aspects of comb and honey. Yet there is an inner comb and an inner honey; and this analogy is quite precise. We might refer to Swedenborg's doctrine of correspondences, in which all things reflect properties of God, which they share in common not only with God but with one another. And this is indeed important; but without a specific explanation, it remains conceptual.

Our inner life is built, like the comb of bees, in a structure which has the capacity to be quite organized. Honeycomb, whether of the hive frame or freestanding, demonstrates an exacting order; it is a structure, much like the metaphysical ones posited by Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, in the sense that it is highly organized and designed to store something. In Gurdjieff's work the understanding of storage is expressed in accumulators and hydrogens, which a man is meant to ingest and retain; and the idea is ultimately yogic in every sense, since it clearly derives from ancient ideas about the ingestion and retention of prana. 

The analogy of honeycomb is far from casual, since both the structural nature and the purpose of man's inner order are exactly like it. This esoteric truth has been preserved, in some ways, for thousands of years in traditions that liken the spiritual activity of man to that of bees; yet it is more than allegory, a fact which Gurdjieff's teachings provide a bridge to. 

Humanity, in its ingestion of impressions, gathers their honey- the extracted nectar- into itself. I am required, here, to explain the precise nature of impressions and their relationship to honey in more detail. 

Impressions are the nectar of Being. All Being emanates impressions, which are conveyed through various diverse channels, all involving either molecular vibration or photons. Without becoming too technical, it should be understood that nectar is, in flowers, that which attracts the pollinators; its nature as an an attractant is born of the essential sweetness of Love, which creates all things and is focused and concentrated by their Being. 

Each individual act of Being, no matter what it is, is a flower of God's Love and concentrates and exudes its own nectar in the form of the impressions it emanates. (Eckhart's creatures—i.e., created things—all fall into this category.) 

Consciousness is designed to collect and feed on that nectar; and just as there are innumerable types of flowers and bees, innumerable types and concentrations of nectar, there are innumerable types of consciousness. The nectar of impressions of Being and the nature of consciousness which collects them evolve together in lockstep, because the various systems and levels of consciousness are mirrored by the behavior of the biological structures which give rise to them.

So our own consciousness, like all other forms of consciousness, feeds on and stores (if it functions rightly) impressions in an inner "honeycomb," a storage place for all of the concentrated energy, the good things, the impressions, which are emanated by life.

The impressions we feed on are emanated strictly to attract us to the nature and manifestation of outer things, all of which are a direct expression of the good of the Lord; so impressions are actually of the Lord, all of them, and taking them in is actually a form of worship. 

Tomorrow we shall investigate that in a bit more detail.


Hosanna.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sweetness and the Lord, part I

 'I sometimes experience such sweetness in me that I forget myself and all creatures and wish to dissolve right into thee.' But when I want to seize it, Lord, you snatch it from me. Lord, what do you mean by this? If you would entice me, why do you take it from me? If you love me, why then do you flee me? Ah, Lord, you do this so that I may receive much from you.


The first phrase in this passage is attributed to St. Augustine (confessions); and the balance, according to Josef Quint, is Eckhart's own.

It's interesting that we hear little or nothing of this sweetness in the Gurdjieff ouevre; yet the sweetness of the Lord is often spoken of in Christianity. The concept is not foreign, either, to esoteric Islam; and although Buddhism may come to expressions in a different way, its iconography leaves little doubt that the matter is familiar to the discipline.

Is this sweetness, as some might presume, an invention, an imaginary experience? Is it purely conceptual, a product of the wishful mind? Or does it have a real and meaningful place in the actual, objective manifestation of spiritual work; and ought it be sought for, lauded, or otherwise integrated into an organized, scientific, and objective body of understanding on esoteric spiritualism and the essential nature of inner work itself?

Those bereft of this sweetness, those who have never experienced it, cannot qualify to approach such questions or write on them; and this is exactly the problem, because so few come to this sweetness in their own real life, or routinely experience it. It is merely something heard about or written about; a tradition passed on in word that becomes a dismissable tradition, that is, a set of events or reports based strictly on hearsay. How many philosophers speak directly of such things? It isn't in the canon; and in the Gurdjieff work, despite Gurdjieff's tantalizing allusions to the bliss of the second Being-food, so much emphasis is placed on Ouspensky's inherently reductionist analysis of Gurdjieff's methods, and the structural, workmanlike application of said methods to a conceptual architecture, that the sweetness of the Lord- the very thing that any spiritual structure ought properly to house-  is very nearly forgotten.

It is left to the few fundamental mystics with some direct experience to resurrect this subject; and it is perhaps one of more than passing interest, because it touches not only on the deepest spiritual traditions of the actual Presence of the Lord—as opposed to discussions about it—but, parenthetically (or, perhaps, inevitably) the question of what Gurdjieff called "higher hydrogens."

Speaking of the sweetness of the Lord, which was something common to the mystics of the middle ages, has fallen out of favor, because as humanity's inner spiritual conditions have steadily deteriorated, so has its ability to receive such sweetness. You will note that Eckhart refers to this sweetness as that which is received; and a culture which is not open to God will receive little of Him. Our grasping nature (again, alluded to by Eckhart) only increases with time; and that which grasps cannot receive. 

Yet as a confirmed Marian (disciple of the blessed Virgin) I will now venture to speak on this sweetness, since there are times when such witnessing is necessary, lest the entire tradition be abandoned and perhaps even destroyed. And it is presumably of interest to readers to attempt to understand something true about this sweetness.

So in the next few posts we will examine this question of the sweetness of the Lord without, insofar as may be appropriate, resorting to the exercise of my poetic muscles, which are in fact a superior tool for communicating the sweetness itself, insofar as that may be possible.


Hosannah.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Apology

 Someone who reads this blog recently asked me to apologize to my readership for exposing them to something that someone else said.

Given this objectively convoluted idea, the subject of apology became quite interesting,  so I pondered it at some length.

It turns out that the word originally meant, taken from its Latin root, to make a speech in one's own defense. Of course, it usually doesn't mean that anymore; words undergo change in meaning, just as objects, events, circumstances, and conditions do. Meaning constantly changes in relationship to that which takes place. The most horrible things may not mean what we think they do.

In this context, I often examine the most insulting and personally injurious things that are done to me. They are baffling; they are often motivated, it seems to me, by pure selfishness or sheer mean-spirited action; and yet there they are. In each instance, I try to see how I am and who I am, and what my reactions are, in the midst of these upsetting events. My ordinary parts are affected by such things; why deny it? And when I think about it carefully, I see that I do things like this as well; no one is free from selfishness, and no one is free from being mean-spirited from time to time. It is my examination of these selfsame sins that truly becomes interesting, because I am outraged when I see them in other people; yet I invariably engage in self justification when I see them in myself. Such a contradiction!

It's these circumstances that lead me to the moments of real feeling, where real apology is necessary; and the only real apology that is necessary in spiritual life is apology to God for my own fallen state. One dispenses secular apologies to other individuals in life according to circumstance and necessity; and when feeling enters that, it's a good thing. But in the end, all real apology is religious, and belongs to God—and it is the entire state of my own sinfulness that I have to take responsibility for: not anyone else's.

Interestingly enough, the higher never demands apology; because God emanates nothing but Love and is in fact Love itself, forgiveness and Mercy are dispensed in advance of any apology. That fact alone is what helps to create humility; when one is forgiven in advance for one sin, as God always does with us, one is forced to consider how limited and circumstantial one's own love is: that is, one isn't actually loving.

I always get tangled up in my states of conflict with others; and in doing so, I'm taken away from the settled state of inwardness that comes into relationship with something more real. Each time, my organic state of being is, to one extent or another, forgotten; and although the thread can always be kept alive, a thread is a good deal less than a whole piece of cloth.

In the meantime, taking a cue from God, who in His infinite Mercy forgives everyone for everything in advance, I hereby sincerely apologize in advance for everything I ever do or write about, or expose my readership to. The apology is primarily intended to God, to whom I ultimately owe all apology, but once again, emulating His infinite generosity (which I fall woefully and infinitely short of) I offer it to everyone else, too.

In doing so, I visualize this particular apology as a very large, rich stick of butter, radiantly yellow (I'd never thought of this before, but that's a lovely color for an apology, isn't it?), quite soft, which can be spread over innumerable pieces of toast without losing its ability to impart flavor. At least, I hope so.

I make this buttery apology universal because everything is, in one way or another, flawed, and anyone who reads anything I write is, unfortunately, irradiated by the inherent flaws in it. The noblest course would be to stop writing, or, better yet, commit suicide, so as to remove my flawed Being from this universe; but alas! I am too weak and egoistic— more flaws.

Those who wish to apply this apology retroactively are welcome to do so.

Hosanna.


Goodness again, from sermon 91

Bread is a great comfort to a man when he is hungry: but if he is thirsty, bread gives him no more comfort than a stone. It is the same with clothes when he is cold: but when he is too hot he has no comfort from clothes. It is the same with all creatures, and so it is true that all creatures have bitterness within them. 

It is true that all creatures bear in themselves some consolation, as the comb produces honey. But the honeycomb, meaning whatever goodness there may be collectively in all creatures, that is altogether in God... But the consolation of creatures is not complete, because it is not unmixed. 

But God's comfort is pure and unmixed: it is perfect and complete, and He is so eager to give it to you that He cannot wait to give you Himself first of all. God is so besotted in His love for us, it is just as if He had forgotten heaven and earth and all His blessedness and all His Godhead and had no business except with me alone, to give me everything for my comforting. And He gives it to me complete, He gives it to me perfectly, He gives it to me most purely, He gives it all the time, and He gives it to all creatures.


 I am generally accustomed to commenting in my posts; yet this particular excerpt is so succinct and exactly right that it barely needs my commentary.

 Nonetheless, having set myself the task, I will proceed.

 Coming back to it the day after I set it up, this quote has a richness in it that consists of its flavor, the way it tastes: take note that comfort and the lack of it is associated with taste, that is, in us, it is bitter. Yet consolation is sweet like honey; and I have to note both tastes to know the difference between them.

Bitterness is a strange thing, because it has good in it. How can this be? The fact that it is like this tells me how there is good in all things. When I come to sorrow and find the goodness in it; when I come to bitterness and, in the taste alone (not in some vindictive spirit I invent) discover goodness, then I begin to understand something more real. Goodness is in the beginning of things; individually and collectively, they may acquire other aspects, but everything begins in the good. This is a mystery I can't explain, as I have mentioned before; and yet even in the worst events, I encounter its truth.

Exactly what is God's comfort here? It is in Being; Being contains inherent comfort, but I can only know this within it as it manifests. In its absence, there is nothing more than guesswork.

Is there any difference between Being and God? There is not. At least I don't find it so; because in all of Being, God is always present, hallelujah.

Hosanna.