Friday, March 27, 2015

feeling and valuation

 I measure with my intellect, but I value with feeling.

My valuation of my life increases in direct proportion to my understanding through the intelligence of feeling. Feeling has its own intelligence which is quite distinct from the intellect, which organizes, files, and compares. Feeling experiences; it is not a note-taker, it is a living quality of encountering life. There is a note taker who exists here side-by-side with the one who feels, but they are different people, different brains, different minds. If I see them both in action at the same time I suddenly understand that there are parts of myself that understand life immediately, as it happens here, not as a result of checking back in the notebooks, which I am prone to do a lot.

It reminds me of the way people want to experience where they are through their cell phones. It's most odd; all around me, in the midst of magnificent cityscapes, beautiful national parks, nature, wherever — it doesn't matter. One keeps seeing crowds of people, especially young ones, all hunched over their cell phones and devoting 100% of their attention to a little glass screen which is at best a few inches square. This is what the note-taker does. It excessively believes in the intellect and the material that the intellect is fascinated by. It is, furthermore, easily hypnotized by its own activity.

I suppose we avoid feeling because it can be dangerous. Feeling, after all, may reveal first and foremost that I have an exaggerated sense of myself; that I am motivated mostly by hubris. I'm scared of finding out real things about myself, I see that constantly; and so of course I try to arrange things to avoid that.

In my own case, I happen to be fortunate in that my feeling center is not so passive anymore; it has its own ideas about such things, and is constantly confronting me with how I am, whether I want it to or not. Healthy operation of both the physical and the feeling centers takes place when they awaken a bit and spend more time trying to remind me of what I am. Without the action of these two minds—in addition to the one that wants to look at 10 in.² of glass and the Internet information that displays on it—I'm not going to know very much about my life or who I am.

I come back to something I've written about many times before, which is that information is that which is inwardly formed — not lists of facts. If I acquire real information, it means that life is flowing into me and forming something inwardly. That formation ought to be a tangible, organic one, which I can actually feel and sense in my body; not just a set of thoughts that I bring to everything.

All day long, I see the inner note taker reading narratives to me, it's like this, it's like that, and realize how useless that "information" actually is.

While this is going on, I sense other parts of myself taking life in so that something is formed in me, something active and living, which feels life as it encounters it.

That's what I truly value, is this feeling connection, which I am still, after all these years, clumsy about managing. At their best, my feeling intuition and my feeling intelligence are very good indeed at helping me and showing me how to come into relationship with the world; but I'm not attentive and I don't listen to them as much as I ought, not by a long shot.

I suppose I have improved some over the years, but it's not enough to go an inch when you need to go a mile.


Negative emotions

Common Merganser in the rain
Sparkill, NY

Question: I was observing negative emotions and it came to me that I'm not sure what the word "negative" really means here… also, could the craving of addiction be called a negative emotion? …Do you find it easy to see your enjoyment of negative emotions? 

Response:  This got me thinking about my own negativity. I realized I make a lot of assumptions about it. I often speak about negative emotions as though I understood them.  Yet I am not so sure about that now.

Ouspensky implies there is no negative emotional center:

For instance, although he undoubtedly gave the fundamental basis for the study of the role and the significance of negative emotions, as well as methods of struggling against them, referring to non-identification, non-considering, and not expressing negative emotions, he did not complete these theories or did not explain that negative emotions were entirely unnecessary and that no normal center for them existed.

 —In Search of the Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky, page 56

Yet Gurdjieff himself said there was a negative part of emotional center:

G. said that centers were divided into positive and negative parts, but he did not point out that this division was not identical for all the different centers.
—ibid, page 56

But in consequence of the wrong work of centers it often happens that the sex center unites with the negative part of the emotional center or with the negative part of the instinctive center. 
—ibid, page 258

Anyway, let’s try and simplify it. A negative emotion is, in my experience, a selfish or destructive emotion. If the emotion serves myself only, it is negative in the sense that it is rejecting of others and the world. In this way even things that I experience as quite positive for myself could well be negative emotions; and this is worth thinking out a bit. One sees, for example, throughout one’s life countless examples of people having emotions which they subjectively experience as positive but which are, without any doubt, supremely negative. In this way we see that our personal reaction to an emotion probably has little or nothing to do with whether or not it’s negative. Here’s a typical and common case: most people enjoy watching movies in which the “bad guys” get killed. They deserve it, we think; and a great deal of moviemaking with violence relies on the premise that we’ll enjoy the violence as long as it appears justifiable. To a great extent, we do: the reflexology of the situation gives us little time to consider how tragic and horrible the killing of other beings is, and we forget it. So we are coaxed by the habit of our own nature into liking bad actions.

This is a gross, that is, coarse example; yet there are others too numerous to mention inside each one of us. Intellectual examination alone is never going to sort it all out; so we’re left with the fact—the absolute fact— that another part of ourselves needs to become more sensitive and more active if we’re to begin to understand which emotions are negative and which ones aren’t.

In this sense, your question is astute, because it leads me to see that I don’t actually know precisely what negativity is at all. I just think I do.

So just what is negativity? It is, I would propose, exactly what I said earlier: a selfishness of impulse—that is, a subjective impulse. 

In the end, we can verify this somewhat easily—because every impulse that serves the ego, that serves me, does not serve God, that is, the higher, the good—and this is a rejection of God, that is, a negating of relationship and a negating of the good, all in favor of myself. Perhaps seeing this is a clue as to why Gurdjieff so often emphasized objective consciousness and objective conscience. These are unselfish impulses, since their center of gravity is not my own well-being. 

We might recall that the only time Beelzebub mentions an occasion for concern for his own well-being, he calls it “criminal”: 

…I wish to confess to you in all sincerity that although my essence, with the consent of the parts of my presence subject to it alone, had decided to participate in the scientific experiment about to take place within Gornahoor Harharkh's new invention, and although I had entered its chief demonstrating part without the least compulsion from outside, yet this same essence of mine had allowed to creep into my being and to develop there, side by side with the strange sensations I have described to you, a criminally egoistic anxiety for the safety of my personal existence. 

However, my boy, so that you may not be too distressed by this confession, it is not superfluous to add that this was the first time this ever happened to me, and also the last, throughout my entire being-existence. 

Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, G. I. Gurdjieff, p. 156-57

When we say that negative emotions are an impulse, it means quite literally that they drive us towards something. It is a matter of the horse; so it is, indeed, a matter of feeling, or emotion, which is always what imparts an impulse. 

I think the negativity and negative emotion doesn't come from whether I like the experience of the emotion or not, but what the intention behind it is. The aphorism like what it does not like already implies that I don't understand what I like and don't like, or what is good for me, in the first place.

So if I don't study my intentions, I am unaware of my actual intention, I can't know whether I am negative or not. 

And if my intentions intend harm—if they are selfish—

well, that's negative.

 That includes, of course, negative or destructive intentions towards myself.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heart practice and intentional suffering

 On this trip, I've been reading Paths to the Heart, Sufism and the Christian East, edited by James Cutsinger. It's a sound piece of work, which recapitulates a number of academic and inspirational sources on the meaning of heart practice.

 Yet it doesn't matter how much I read about heart practice; because nothing touches the sacred soul like the experience of the sacred soul itself. This is a mystery that no writing can penetrate, a blessing that no Bible can describe, and a responsibility that no outer laws can enforce.

I say this because there are no words, and there is no substitute for the direct opening of the heart to God. I can't find God in words, even though I write them and I read them. I can only find God in the receiving of a sacred energy that transforms; and that energy is only open to me in so far as I submit. It doesn't matter what religion I am, or what my opinions — and they are many — are; it only matters that I come into relationship with this energy, which is a truth that surpasses all understanding.

I know that it's possible to speak of this energy with words like bliss, and joy, and peace; and, equally, sorrow, submission, and nothingness. Yet all of that falls short of the responsibility to the Lord; and that is what I remind myself of this morning, as I ponder this question.

Within me is a finer vibration that arrives from somewhere else; I don't even need to understand where it comes from — and indeed, I cannot, I'm not capable of it. I only know that this presence is the presence of the Lord, and that it is, in the end, the only thing that matters in terms of relationship in this life and in this moment.

I'm in a hotel room now, looking out over the cityscape of Shanghai as the light dawns in the morning; and later today, I will go out to be in relationship with hotel staff, taxi drivers, office staff, suppliers, and so on. It's my responsibility to meet this life while carrying within me the resistance to everything, which somehow strangely rejects what life is, despite its untold blessings and its worthy requirements. I have to live with that contradiction even as the energy within me makes it possible to come into a positive and loving relationship with life; and I will be required once again, as I am every day, to see the contradiction between my own tiny being and its selfishness, and the need to offer myself unconditionally to all of these strangers, even those who still remain strangers after I have known them intimately (not, mind you, in the biblical sense) for many years.

It brings me once again back to this day and this inwardly flowing energy, which reminds me that I don't understand anything, and that I am, in fact, born of a realm and forces that are beyond my comprehension.

I hope that I can meet my Being today with enough of this responsibility, this obligation, that is born within me from Being itself, rather than the rules and regulations I imagine governing me, all of which were put into me by outside manifestations: religions, authorities, education, and so on. I want to remember to be responsible straight from the heart, without any reservations, and without any mediator:

I want to be responsible because I can feel within the organic depths of my being how this is a right thing, not because others told me it's important to be responsible.

In this way, I go forward into this very ordinary life to suffer it. I wish I knew more about what is required of me by this Presence which meets me in the center of my life, in my heart: but I don't. This is the place where I have to use my faith and my trust in what is irrevocably true to guide me through the lies, manipulations, and confusion of my ego, which will be with me all day long today, as they are every day.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Knowing life, intimately

I was in a discussion yesterday were one of my best friends asked me how we can know the unknown.

He was speaking of knowing in terms of an encounter the transcendental; an encounter with that which lies beyond us, the eternity that Meister Eckhart calls us to, the place beyond our own Being which is referred to words like stillness. If it is unknowable, he asked me, how can we know if we have encountered it?

This is a serious question. The moment we encounter something, don't we know it? And if so, hasn't it at once entered the realm of the known?

The unknown is, in itself, eternally manifest — and it is eternally still, but it's stillness is not a stillness of the word stillness. Already, it's stillness is unknown, and even though it manifests, it represents the unmanifested.

 In this way, stillness arrives, but it is nothing more than a messenger: a representative. There is a stillness that lies beyond stillness, and it is perpetually manifest. When stillness comes, when the unknown arrives, it is always nothing more than a representative of the unknown; and thus, the unknown always manages to hide itself behind the veil of what I know. I can see its shadow; and that's all.

I can know, in my encounter with the stillness — which exists alongside and in conjunction with everything that is ordinary and active in life — the shadow of this unknown; and as I know it, through my sensation and my feeling (for the mind cannot know this unknown in the way that sensation and feeling can know it) I know that my rational Being can never explain this stillness or the way that it is the force of life itself.

In this way, I can know life, which is the shadow and the representation of the unknown, but not the unknown itself. And the more intimately I know life, the more certain I am that it springs from the unknown source, from God. This is a living truth, one that penetrates the whole body and all of life without leaving a single iota untouched. And this is the beginning of Being, the location where I am, and know nothing more.

I think it's possible to play a lot of word games with the contradiction of the known and the unknown, but there are no word games in the sensing of the truth of life and the feeling of the truth of life, each of which moves into realms of the mind and the unknown which can't be analyzed or picked apart. There is no greater force or greater love than an encounter with this truth, which penetrates all of Being and at once of itself conveys the mystery of the unknown, which I stand forever in front of.

 Real Grace always calls me to the unknown, directly, and without any form to explain itself. It simply is; and it needs no mediation through what can be explained.

To me, there is never anything indifferent or impersonal about this encounter. It is different and personal; yet what it is different than is me, and the personal that it has is not mine.

 Nothing can better convey my own helplessness and the way that I do not know. That's how I meet the unknown; it is always and exclusively not in what I know and can discriminate about, but the place where my discrimination itself fails.

In these places and these times, I stand on a threshold I cannot cross over; and this is the place where I know I have encountered the unknown.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond everything that I know

It occurs to me this morning that if I really take this question of inner work seriously, this question of God and what His intentions for me are, I really do have to go beyond everything that I know.

Of course, Jeanne de Salzmann wrote about this in her notes; yet do I really believe it? Meister Eckhart brings me to the same questions; and no matter where in myself I turn, I'm forced to ask questions and see things that transcend any understanding I currently have.

In a sense, I saw this morning, I have to go beyond Gurdjieff and everything about him, even the word itself. I have to forget about this teaching, that teaching, the Buddha, Christ, and so on — and allow all of these things to die off, to become a formless search within me.

I have to let go of my assumptions, opinions, and attitudes. First I see, it is true, the impossibility of that. I have to stand in front of that and look at it. The convictions I have are all false ones, somehow; there is a nothingness that has to be confronted, and yet in that nothingness is everything of substance, everything from which Being emanates. So it isn't nothing; yet it certainly negates and destroys everything I know.

This is a place of great discomfort. I see that I don't know anything about life and about what I am doing; I see that my wants and needs are temporal, and relate only to aspects of being that will become corrupted and die. There is an element of Being that is not affected by this; yet I don't focus on that, I forget, even as it is forever present and active in me, to come into relationship with it.

It is as though I were a drunkard who had sobriety living in me, right next to me, advising me as I sat at the bar doing one shot after another. And indeed, that's not such a bad analogy. I lived through that once, and there is a truth in what I say there; yet the same thing happens to my soul and my spirit  in relationship to God, and the denier in me doesn't want to confront that.

So do I really believe in this idea of abandoning everything? I can read about it, I can think about it, but in the end, don't I always try to come back to images and forms? And don't I, at the same time, know beyond any doubt and forever, not just through faith but through the experience of truth itself, that the images and forms are all just substitutes for what is real?

Well, I see how I don't know the answers to those questions.

I will get up again this morning and go to work and accept the conditions, even though most of what is in me resists everything that happens in my life in one way or another. Really, it's distressing to see, over and over again, how much of me is formed in a negative way. I live through that every day, rejecting everything; and yet the conditions are exactly right, and they are all good ones.

Why are these parts in me like that? I wonder.

When I encounter goodness and Grace, it works slowly and gently and lovingly to take me past myself. It needs to do that; because there is no good here for what is necessary.


Monday, March 23, 2015


Reader question:

I'm currently reading "The Reality of Being" and I was wondering what Madame de Salzmann was implying in chapter 4:

Real “I” comes from essence. Its development depends on the wish of essence—a wish to be and then a wish to become able to be. Essence is formed from impressions that are assimilated in early childhood, usually up to the age of five or six when a fissure appears between essence and personality.

Is it that we are born without essence, since it "is formed..."? And what, in that case, & in your opinion, is the difference between essence and personality? –for I see none, both being formed by assimilating outside impressions after birth. 

Or it could be that I don't very well understand what "to be formed" means in this instance?


Well, I think that what she says here in the book is misleading.  It may be because it was taken out of context and she failed to explain it thoroughly.  Or maybe she just had it wrong.

 I am reminded of a good friend of mine who knew her very well indeed, and has protested to me on  more than one occasion that the book sounds nothing like what she sounded like when she spoke in person. I have seen several spots in this book with statements that are either inaccurate or untrue; and that will have to be typical of anyone, since everyone's work and insight is always developing, and never complete. There is a great danger in taking what people say verbatim as being correct; and in assuming that teachers are unerring.

Let's examine this question a little more detail. Take, for example, the following statement:

Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is 'not his own.' 'Not his own' means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation—all this is 'not his own,' all this is personality.
— In Search of the Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky, pub. Paul H. Crompton Ltd, 2004, p 168

 Right away, in this statement, we see that essence begins from insidenot  from outside — and that, in fact, we are born with it, as this quotation amply demonstrates:

Essence is purely emotional.  It consists of what is received from heredity before the formation of personality, and later, only those sensations and feelings among which a man lives.  What comes after merely depends on the transition.
— Views From the Real World,  Paris, August 22

 Of course it develops, because it comes into contact with the outside world, which helps it grow. It is like a seed; where the personality is a graft onto that plant which grows from the seed. The distinction is quite apt and this is an accurate description of it.

Furthermore, let us consider the following:

Astrology deals with only one part of man, with his type, his essence—it does not deal with personality, with acquired qualities. If you understand this you understand what is of value in astrology.
—ibid (ISOTM), p 373.

 Type and astrology are characteristics governed by a human being's birth, not by things he acquires — and the quote clearly delineates the difference.

 Here's another little tidbit.

Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further. It happens very often that the essence of a grown-up man, even that of a veryintellectual and, in the accepted meaning of the word, highly 'educated' man, stops on the level of a child of five or six. 

—ibid (ISOTM), p 169.

It's quite likely that when de Salzmann made the comment you cite, what was in the back of her mind was the above quote.

Many other things could be said about essence; but I think the innermost kernel of it is that essence is what we are; we are born with it, but we forget it as we grow up. It becomes, as Gurdjieff told his pupils in Views From the Real World, covered in a thick crust. Readers who are truly interested in the subject should look through Views, since it has a great deal of information on the subject.

 There is a close connection — a very, very close one — between Meister Eckhart's concept of the soul, and Swedenborg's divine inflow. Pondering this inwardly may bear important fruit.

Our experience of essence — of our innermost being — should become alive, and we should experience both of the soul and the divine inflow through it. I say should, because really there is no other way for this to happen, except through essence. It is, after all, of the emotional center — and the center works at the fastest speed, the highest rate of vibration, and thus comes closest to touching heaven. It alone of all centers has the capacity to form a thread, a connection, to the level above us. That thread transmits energy in the form of sensation, of course, but sensation is the beginning of feeling — a complex subject we do not have time to examine today.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Self-importance and character

Hairy Woodpecker, near Sparkill, New York

 It's interesting to me to see how insecure most of us actually are about our own nature.

 The reasons for this, on the face of it, seem obvious: we don't know our own nature; and so, when we begin to see who and what we are (an action that forever takes place in the psyche, even unconsciously, whether we want it to or not) we are confronted with a stranger.

It makes us nervous; we pack in rebar, pour large layers of cement over it, develop habitual responses, take refuge in reliable subterfuges that conceal who we are from others...

and move on.

It's as though there weren't time to be anyone real: there's too damn much to do.

 I'll be real later, when I have time to think about it.

Well then. First of all, we are observing ourselves whether we want to or not; the question is whether we do it consciously (with some attention and mindfulness) or unconsciously (neurotically and under the perpetual threat of seeing, and hating, what we are.) One of my friends recently posted to Facebook, "I have low self-esteem, and I hate myself for it." Well, that's pretty much par for the course, isn't it?

Unless we see ourselves with some awareness, we are perpetually confronted with imposter syndrome; and we make ourselves constantly nervous. This is the source of an enormous amount of personal tension.

Paradoxically, in the midst of this insecurity, we construct a persona around the ego that thinks it's very, very important. I often have occasion to observe people with this issue; mostly type A (overachiever) personalities, incredibly accomplished, yet deeply insecure, conflicted, and delusional.

In a way, it's intriguing to realize that human beings, nearly to the last one, don't have any sense at all of themselves, and this massive construct of self-importance they have glued themselves to — a spiritual and psychological burden that is not only entirely unnecessary, and need never be carried, but is so transparent as to be easily seen through: the bigger it is, the more it is so.

Paradox number two: when one realizes one's own nothingness — a lesson that, in my own case, seems to be the whole point of my entire life, in one way or another — this absurd burden is slowly lifted.

One suddenly has permission to be everything that one is, good and bad, and inhabit it. It doesn't make a damned bit of difference, because the sum total of my value, relatively speaking, is nothing. I only have value in relationship to the higher forces that express themselves in me; and those aren't my forces either. Freedom means coming into service of those forces; so in a certain sense, surrender and bondage leads to freedom.

I'm not quite sure how to explain this and further, because I understand it seems a bit ridiculous to say so.

In any event, it's this question of our self-importance, and our inner character, that interests me. There is so much psychology, so much defense, and so little humanity built into the way most people meet one another, it puzzles me. When I interact with people, I am almost never interacting with the person; I am interacting with their defenses, which is what everyone seems to hold up in front of the world first.

It's like an iron shield...

people don't deal with one another from the feeling, the sensation of their humanity...

they deal with one another in a series of elaborate lies and defenses.

What is the point of all this?

Doesn't anyone realize we are all going to die?

It occurs to me that we might owe one another something a bit more sincere than this charade we all participate in.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sorrow and sensation

Sarcophagus from Cyprus
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Gurdjieff never said he was working towards enlightenment.

In point of fact, he uses the word a grand total of once in Beelzebub’s Tales, when he says that Saint Buddha intended to enlighten the reason of human beings:

Well, my boy, during my detailed study of that religious teaching, I also discovered that when this Sacred Individual had become coated with the presence of a three-brained being of that planet, and had seriously pondered how to fulfill the task laid upon him from Above, he decided to accomplish it by the enlightenment of their Reason. 

(page 219)

I bring this up strictly because the aim of Gurdjieff’s teachings is not enlightenment; it is to learn how to share the burden of the sorrow of His Endlessness; that is, the sorrow of God.

Let me emphatically say, therefore, that anyone who knows where this work will take one is lying if they say they want to go there; furthermore, anyone who undertakes this work thinking they will get something that they will like is in the wrong work. 

This work will not give you what you like; it will give you what you need, and that is a very different thing. Purgatory is exactly what one needs; and no one sets out to a place of suffering thinking to themselves, wouldn't it be nice to go somewhere where I could suffer more?

Folks treat this like it is a theoretical question; but it is anything but. Inner work, properly undertaken, leads to this question of suffering, which is a material question and not an emotional one. Feeling comes into it, yes; but the foundation of suffering is material, and it is not connected to external material things. 

Ah, it is so complicated to explain this.

The finer energies that Gurdjieff describes to Ouspensky only produce bliss and specialized higher states of consciousness as a byproduct; otherwise, generally speaking, the finer they are, the more sorrow they bring. Gurdjieff did not describe the sorrow of His Endlessness as a burden casually; it is a weight to be carried, and the more that one's heart opens, the more weight one is expected to lift.

Because of all this, the consequences of this work deviate considerably from enlightenment works which presume freedom from suffering, bliss, joy, and so on and so forth. It is not a work to turn us into radiant beings that will spread happiness all around us as we scatter rose petals at the feet of our white gowns. 

A much more inward and mysterious process occurs; and one has to be willing to trust this, without thinking of angels and devils and the like. They may appear; they may not. What is certain is that sorrow will come; and it must be suffered intentionally.

Stop for a minute and return to sensation. Then try to feel, really deeply feel, for a moment, through the precise nature of vibration in the body, what the feeling that lies beneath this finer energy is.

Perhaps one can be touched for just a moment by an exercise of this nature.


Friday, March 20, 2015

A call to Grace

March 7.

A walk along the Hudson.

A friend calls me to invite me for dinner.

I suddenly realize that I don't deserve any of the Grace that is sent.

And, for me, this is one of the facts of Grace: the more one encounters Grace, and the deeper it falls into Being, the more gently and lovingly it teaches me that I don't deserve Grace at all. It is a wonderful thing, Grace; this love is unconditional. And it keeps coming, more and more, deeper and deeper; and I am less and less—ever less—deserving, because the more I see of God's Grace, the more absolutely certain I am, with every ounce of feeling that my Being can have, with every dram of conscience which can be awakened in this unworthy breast, that I deserve absolutely nothing — none of it.

The anguish that this produces is nearly unbearable; yet the gifts that are sent are so generous it is impossible to say no; and even if I wanted to say no, I couldn't. It is not up to me. It is not up to me to receive; it is my part, on the other hand, to a knowledge and to suffer what I am, knowing that this lesson is quite necessary.

Why does a phone call from a friend trigger such understandings?

I can't say, except that I am sure all of these things that come are blessings. There is a moment when the soul opens to God in which one sees that 100% of one's life is a blessing; that the worst thing that ever happened to me is a blessing; that the least significant leaf lying on the snow, already long spent, is a blessing. Understanding this with all of the parts — feeling, sensation, intelligence — is also anguishing and unbearable, because the instant that a really centered awareness encounters how things are, one overwhelmingly understands one's own nothingness.

That nothingness stands looking directly into the active manifestation of the Lord; and no one really dares to look at the Lord directly.

 As usual, although I can explain the cosmos — more or less — I can't explain any of this, because what really happens in one's relationship with God, in the living experience of the soul and its efforts to be whole, is of a different order.

It exceeds creation.

How it does that and why it does that are mysteries indeed; and the only thing I'm certain of is the way in which it calls me to suffer the truth of what is, in the midst of life.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sensation, presence, suffering, part II

I suppose there is a danger in presuming any progression in spiritual work; yet there is a path, and one cannot presume movement on the path without presuming progression. Aimless wandering will not do; and trying to dissolve oneself in an endless sea of bliss becomes, in the end, aimless wandering — doesn't it?

Sensation, presence, and suffering represent the manifestation of three-brained being according to the principle of awakened materiality (sensation) awakened intelligence (presence) and awakened feeling (suffering.)

Now, the first two elements in this triumvirate seem to have objective natures: sensation and non-sensation, presence and non-presence; but the third one seem subjective, because suffering and non-suffering seems so intensely subjective to us. "I" may not seem to have much of a personal stake in whether I sense or not — and "I" may not seem to have much of a personal stake in whether I am present or not; but when it comes to suffering, well, "I" certainly don't want to do that.

 In order to understand this question better, I need to understand suffering as a material fact — part of the fabric of the universe — and because I have always understood it from my subjective parts, that isn't really available. While the material (sensation) is acknowledged by science, and intelligence (presence) is employed by it, science has little or no place for feeling (suffering), once again, because it seems to embody a subjective nature. The fact that it has an objective nature tied to the root of the universe itself has never occurred to scientists, even though the receiving of a higher energy will, if it is done properly, absolutely verify this.

One might say that science has completely overlooked the significance of emotion and feeling in the manifestation of being. Intelligence and matter are, on the other hand, quite well understood. When Gurdjieff said that human beings are "third force blind," this is, in the broadest possible terms, what he was getting at. We don't see that suffering is an objective material force, that it arises at once in the creation of the universe. It has been here since the beginning; and no matter how "objective" the sciences become or see themselves as, human beings instinctively know this — because they encounter the hard physical reality of it on this level over and over again, even if they remain functionally unable to open to its meaning on a different one.

Once one understands sensation, one can fairly say that one understands there is no point in living without it — that, in fact, without the organic sense of being, one is not actually living, since one has no rooted conscious sensation of it. And once one understands presence, one can say that one understands there is actually no point in living without this either, since it is transformational in terms of its relationship to sensation and brings us to a moment where feeling can enter.

At that point, one realizes there is no point in living without suffering. This is the point at which one attains the marrow of the practice.

The phrase Thy will be done applies to all of the work on this path: I don't do it.

I come to it to participate.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Suffering, Joy, and Love

Not long ago, a good friend of mine — a woman who understands something about these things – mentioned to me that she felt that in the experience of a material — an inner — sorrow, there was also joy.

At the time, I wasn't willing to concede that it is joy we speak of here. The most I would say is, "I would not say that there is no benefit."

This statement was deliberated and concise at the time; yet I couldn't put my finger on why I said that, although I was sure that from within the context of my own experience, it was exactly the right thing to say.

I have been pondering this for nearly a week now, and I think I understand where my reservations lie, and what the nature of the relationship between sorrow, suffering, and joy — as we call it — is.

First of all, I turn the page back to something I wrote in 2003 in my original work on Chakras and the Enneagram. The point of this was that the entire universe, and everything in it, is made entirely of Love. This Love is a divine Love, the most absolute and divine Love of the most holy Sun Absolute, that is, God; and, of course, even though I had never heard of Emanuel Swedenborg at the time I wrote the essay, he wholeheartedly concurs in this evaluation, which is not conjecture, but what Gurdjieff would have called an objective truth.

But that is not all of the story.

 I've had a great deal of time, not just over the past week, but the last 14 years, to ponder this question from many different points of view, and in my estimation, it goes something like this.

It's true that the universe — all of material creation, what Meister Eckhart calls creatures — encompassing not just living beings, but all concepts and inanimate objects as well — is constructed entirely of a vibration call Love, which exists rooted down at the level where the quantum state collapses and reality manifests, and governs all of its actions. That vibration and its collapse into material reality is inherently loving, a quality which can only be appreciated by receiving its vibration deep in Being and understanding how absolutely unconditional and inhuman — indeed, uncreated and in its origins unmanifested— it is.

I say inhuman because it is transcendental and incomprehensible to us except as an understanding received by our feeling center, which alone is the part that can receive its nature. (I should mention in passing that the majority of Meister Eckhart sermons are about precisely this feeling—perception.)

 Yet this root of Love begins even deeper still, beyond its own unmanifested and uncreated nature, in a place that exists beyond time (Eckhart's eternity) in the heart of God's own soul.

If we were to describe this place in terms of physics, we would call this location a place — in so far as it can be a place, which is of course impossible —as the pre-big bang state; before time, and before creation, where creation and time are anticipated, along with absolutely all of their consequences, essentially infinite in nature.  Physics calls that place a singularity: and it is a place with, so to speak, zero entropy, that is, a state of perfect order. Such a place is impossible for us to imagine from the point of view of science, because everything in the created universe is driven by entropy, that is, the tendency for things to wind down to the lowest energy state, where, roughly speaking, the least order exists.

This comprehensive anticipation of creation and time, this singularity, is the undivided, comprehensive mind of God as described by Ibn al 'Arabi in the Sufi saints, and it consists of an inestimable sorrow.

That sorrow precedes everything else that follows; it is, in fact, the heart of creation and the heart of the universe.

Gurdjieff had his own story for this situation, and he did not specifically elaborate on the deep roots I am describing; yet the sorrow is linked to the relentless action of what he called the merciless heropass, or Time. The sorrow arises from the fact that it is impossible to create the universe — which must of necessity exist — without time, which causes all things to ultimately pass and be destroyed.

It is an arising of Love that folds its own destruction into itself; and the sorrow arises because it is impossible to preserve anything, even though every single iteration and manifestation of created reality contains within itself the unsurpassable perfection of Love, with all of its consequent characteristics and qualities.

Moving on to the point of all of this, what is blended into the experience of suffering — the sorrow of creation, which is part of the material fabric of the universe — is not joy.

It is Love.

That is to say, it consists of an even higher rate of vibration and principle than joy, or bliss, or any other word that can be used to describe it. Love is the highest principle; and when we experience what we think of, especially at decayed rates of vibration, as joy, what we are really experiencing are various "echoes" of Love, which is not quite the same thing at all.

If we were to distill all the joy that were ever emanated and experienced by beings all over the universe, we would discover Love. It is this sublime force that we sense along with sorrow; and indeed, suffering on behalf of this Love is the greatest spiritual reward of all.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sensation, presence, suffering

As I have explained in the last few posts, there is an overall purpose to inner work.

That purpose, in its largest sense, consists of suffering; and in fact the aim of all inner work according to this particular system is suffering.  There is a hierarchy that relates to this.

One develops sensation in order to create a foundation for presence.

Presence can't manifest unless it finds itself in an active, grounded field of awareness through sensation. At this point, several different levels of sensation develop in order to support presence. The first one is organic; the second one is molecular; the third one is atomic. That is to say, one moves from sensation within organs (chakras)—which although various schools say is refined, is actually a rather gross form of sensation—to sensation within the molecular sense of the body, to sensation of one's atoms.

Each of these stages is something that takes a number of years to develop, because the deposition of the material substances of impressions that make it possible takes a rather long period of time. During that period, which can easily last a decade or more, successive layers of material are deposited which eventually support these successive levels of inner work.

Eventually, the organic sense of being leads to an inner sense of gravity: and that inner sense of gravity is generally supported by solar influences, which wax and wane. One needs to learn how to move within the rhythms of that energy in order to develop a good relationship with this gravity.

The gravity attracts presence. Presence waxes and wanes with it; and yet in itself it is not an end.

The whole point of developing both sensation and presence is so that they can support suffering; and that takes yet another long period of time, during which the material of impressions is deposited to support the work of inner suffering. Only after the foundation of both these two qualities of sensation and presence is firmly established can this inward suffering really begin to take place.

Inward suffering is a quite different thing than suffering which is attached to outward life and the material circumstances of life. It brings a relatively inexpressible anguish which ought to become almost constantly present. Because it is detached from ordinary emotions and life, it doesn't create the same depression that suffering in the lower emotional center or physical center will produce. It is a suffering that holds itself apart from ordinary life, but radically deepens one's experience of it. Once again, reaching this stage is a very long process—and yet that only represents the beginning of an inner point of such work.

When one speaks of intentional suffering, one has to understand it from the point of view of this inward suffering, which cannot become available without a thorough support from sensation and presence. Even then, it must trickle into being in small doses over a long period of time, because the experience of it in large quantities is overwhelming and impossible to sustain over anything but a brief period. As such, one is required to suffer intentionally for many years; and what makes this intentional is that—as must be instinctively understood—one must go towards the suffering. This is why one needs to learn to work with one's instincts. Instinct on the ordinary level runs away from suffering — instinct on the spiritual level is attracted to it.

 It's quite possible that an individual may be shown some of this at an early stage of inner effort, to give them a taste of what needs to be worked towards; and as one's work progresses, further indications in this direction are given, as long as one is prepared to recognize them.

A perspective which asserts that presence and the freedom, or bliss, which often accompanies it, are aims unto themselves, does not—in my own experience, at least—take into account the further stages of effort which are necessary in order to continue inward in this manner.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Arising from outer events

In the ongoing posts about suffering, and various exchanges with readers on the subject, it becomes more and more evident that this question is generally understood from the point of view of outward events.

That is, no matter what we do, we default to an understanding of suffering and sorrow—intentional or otherwise—as arising from outer events.

This is an inverted and incorrect understanding. Everything we experience — experience itself — arises inwardly as a result of what flows inward from the outer events. That is to say, the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions are all indeed outward, and exist; but sorrow and suffering — which are responses to the outward world — arise inwardly, and are entirely the property of our inward nature. They do not belong to what is outside of us; they belong to ourselves, and thus, we become responsible for them. It is the response of consciousness to what it encounters.

This may seem like some kind of metaphysical or psychological point, but with a proper development of inward sensation, the distinction becomes quite real and is not a technical one subject to analysis using rays of creation, octaves, hydrogens, and so on. In some senses all these theories and diagrams are absolutely useless when compared to the physical sensation and the understanding it arouses. The technical work is just a ladder to climb to the roof; once I get there, I'm not thinking about ladders at all—I see the whole city.

 I come back to this point over and over again, and have had a number of different readers ask me to explain the difference. The difference lies within sensation of Being itself, however; not in the words that describe it or the analogies I can think up—no matter how good I am at analogies.

Yet in addition to all these irrefutable impressions of the outward world— the diseases, the war, the terrorists, and so on —there is a much finer substance we can receive. One must liken it to food one eats; and in order to understand how it is encountered, enters, and affects Being, one needs to compare exactly to taking a sweet piece of fruit — try papaya, for example — putting it in the mouth when one is quite hungry, savoring it carefully, and understanding the entire experience of how material it is to bite it, chew it, swallow it, feel it go into the stomach, and then understand the sensation of being folded spreads throughout the body. This is a coarse and quite material example of receiving a substance.

Records of his teaching demonstrate that Gurdjieff specifically wanted his pupils to experience this act with great attention, which may seem a bit odd; but there were reasons.

Imagine this sensation refined to a much more exquisite sensibility, and imagine it being received physically through metaphysical means — that is, imagine an emanation, like sunlight, that enters the body and penetrates it as food.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in reality, this is the physical touch of God as mediated through the angelic realms; and it takes many forms. (For example, Rumi described the sensations of smell which it can arouse as musk—an intense perfume of the soul.)

What is important is that it is a physical material that is received from higher levels, which penetrates and permeates the body. The higher sensation we work towards arises from the receiving of similar material (although sensation itself begins within the receiving of the material at a lower rate of vibration than the one that relates to intentional suffering.)

Again, these are technical points, and can't be understood with the mind; one has to keep coming back to an encounter with one's inner sense of intimacy, and a submission to God's will, in order to open to this substance.

In the Old Testament, it was called manna; and of course, it has also been referred to as prana, and the Holy Spirit, although these expressions limit it to a single substance or action, whereas it has, in its entirety, many different aspects, all of which relate to the receiving of varying rates of higher vibrations.

The work I have undertaken in explaining its relationship to intentional suffering relates to the highest (for us) available level of vibration, which was the one that Gurdjieff spent so much time writing about in Beelzebub.  I've undertaken this because it seems to me that there is so much confusion on the subject, and such a powerful tendency to mix it with the questions of this level, which exist entirely within their own octave, and exert a force that must, in the end, actually be overcome and abandoned in the effort to open one's heart.

 That action of abandonment, in what may sound like a paradox, actually turns out to precisely and compassionately serve the events on this level, which cannot actually be served in any other way, no matter how we struggle and flail around in our outward efforts to affect the outcome of events. Only the influx of a higher influence can really affect anything on this level.

It doesn't mean that we abandon outward efforts; but inwardly, we need to understand where they lie in relationship to our work.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Unmanifested sorrow

Reader question:

What of the suffering which we undergo when we willingly bear one another's "unpleasant manifestations"?  It's more than a decision not to express negative emotions, one of the first things we're taught in the Work. It's a lot deeper, because we see and suffer from the behavior of another, without any wish to retaliate, without getting angry, without being able to change it, knowing that we're powerless. That this is how we are, how we all are. The sort of thing which happens, for instance, if a friend or family member is caught up in drugs or alcohol abuse. Real suffering, wouldn't you say? And yet, where to place it? Inner or outer? I'd say it's inner suffering, but caused by something outside ourselves. The sort of suffering which God must have, when He sees us. Sharing in His sufferings, perhaps?


I think this is an interesting question; and I think we’ve all had it at one time or another. I’ve been on both sides of the drug and alcohol abuse fence; and I’ve dealt with multiple cases of friends, very close family members, and longtime business associates with bipolar disorder; anyone who has had to deal with that can attest to its disastrously debilitating effects. 

These diseases produce very real suffering; up to and including complete and utter anguish and emotional devastation. There is nothing worse, perhaps, than watching helpless as a child destroys themselves and everything around them, an experience I have watched several parents go through by now.

In my own eyes we need, however, to learn to clearly distinguish between these objectively outward forms of suffering and inward suffering of a higher nature. They are related; but they are not the same thing. One might liken it to a hawk, and its image in the mirror; one is a perfectly faithful, but ultimately illusory, representation of the living, breathing creature; yet both present identically to the eye, and both may through their image inspire nearly identical feelings.

This is a trick of sorts; and it shows how little we ought to rely on powerful, yet superficial, appearances to unveil the inner, or true, nature of things. 

In my experience, the type of suffering you speak of here is very real suffering; yet it is suffering that prepares

I draw the distinction because there is, equally, a suffering that repairs; and these two sufferings are not of the same order, although one precedes the other. The suffering which prepares is external suffering; and it develops according to its own octave, moving through progressive stages of Materiality, Desire, Force, Being, Purification, and Wisdom… each one of which represents a deepening of understanding in which the suffering becomes more and more one’s own inner property. 

They are all steps, in other words, towards assuming responsibility. 

Yet until one passes the final interval from si to do—that is, the last note in the octave—one has not yet become available to the suffering that repairs, which is a form of Grace. We suffer externally throughout the progression of life, always deepening our experience of suffering; and in that final passage from si to do, if we intentionally suffer the consequences of the entire octave until now, we encounter a moment of forgiveness which is truly unconditional.

Well, one could go on at length about the technical aspects of this. But it is, I think, the feeling nature of the question that ultimately informs us… and interests us.

That moment of forgiveness, a moment of true feeling, opens us—if we have truly broken apart, in our innermost nature—to a higher energy. And that energy transmits a level of sorrow which is no longer experiential in terms of the outer world or its manifestations. 

It is an emanation.

So I would say, most emphatically, that this bearing up under the unpleasant manifestations of others, is just a starter kit. It prepares the soil for what I would call unmanifested sorrow, which is part of the material fabric of the cosmos… a force which surpasses all known sorrow, and leads us directly into a communion with the sorrow of what is unknown.

I know I speak a bit cryptically here; yet I doubt there is any other way to say it.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Hope of Good results, Part II: One must try

So in inner work, we make our efforts in the hope for good results.

Is ambition out of place here? Ambition, after all, could well be construed as a wish to do; and one of the standard adages of the Gurdjieff method is that man cannot "do."

The meaning of this statement is complex, not simple; and has layers and levels built into it. Yet one must admit that man and woman, in the Gurdjieff system, are advised to try and do a very great deal indeed—at least for creatures who are from the outset advised that they can’t do anything.

The egregious contradiction here has rarely, if ever, been examined by those undertaking this work, at least in my experience, and the statement must thus be relegated, in the most immediate practical sense, to the dung heap, not matter how metaphysically correct it may be.  One is, after all, advised to do movements; to do exercises; to do sittings; to see; to observe; to do this, that and the other thing ad infinitum… all without doing anything, and without working for results.

One might excuse the potential for confusion here, all of which arises from a lack of clear thinking (or, for that matter, thinking of any kind whatsoever) on the matter. 

Let's face it: the sheer weight of facts contradicts the dogma. Whether man can do or not, one cannot just sit on one’s ass reading books and watching movies.

One must try.

In trying, there are possibilities that lie beyond glib words and misleading, if not openly false, statements about the situation. One can try without attachment; and I believe that this is what people actually mean when they say one must work without expecting results. 

It's the attachment that creates an impediment, not the prospective result; yet in labeling the situation as we do, it is the potential result that is ultimately tarred and feathered, not our attitude towards the activity that attempts to achieve it. 

To try without attachment creates an objective atmosphere; this is effort without presumption, working (more or less) without opinions. This form of agency need not, in my estimation, eschew ambition; for of course we have a wish… wish itself is in a certain sense a form of ambition. 

Even if one’s wish is construed in the propositionally narrow terms of “consciousness alone,” that in itself is a goal. 

The whole of ambition covers a range of agency which needs, in this sense, to be divorced from itself. Natural or material ambition, subjective ambition, needs to be divorced from spiritual or objective ambition. In distinguishing between the two, the determining factor needs to be whether or not the ambition is selfish.

Ambition is at heart a trinitarian manifestation. One must have ambition for one’s self; but this must in the end serve ambition for others, and that in the end must serve ambition on behalf of God. There is, in other words, a hierarchy of ambition; and as it evolves, ambition must become more and more selfless—as the fifth obligolnian striving points out. While considering this, it's worthwhile seeing that the strivings themselves represent a hierarchy of ambition, which begins in a (relatively) selfish place, but ends with a striving that is selfless. They reflect, in other words, the point I am trying to make here.

Perhaps we are better off, after all, if we turn to Eckhart’s proposition that God alone is the goal; for God represents a quality (and, were he but material) a quantity that transcend all words—and perhaps even consciousness itself. Every concept, after all, is a created thing—anything manifest or that can be named (cf. Ibn al ‘Arabi) falls into this category—and thus represents a barrier between us and “God alone,” which lies above and beyond all creatures, and time itself.

Insofar as there is a “universal” goal in inner work, then, it is God; and of course an unattached effort is the only effort that will suffice—anything attached to creation and its universe of concepts must be abandoned.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Hope of Good results, part I

Monkey, Angkor Wat
Photograph by the author

Now, you might say, there is by nature nothing in the soul but images. Not at all! If that were so, the soul could never become blessed, for God cannot make any creature from which you can receive perfect blessedness - otherwise God would not be the highest blessing and the final goal, whereas it is His nature to be this, and it is His will to be the alpha and omega of all things. No creature can constitute your blessedness, nor can it be your perfection here
on earth, for the perfection of this life - which is the sum of all the virtues - is followed by the perfection of the life to come. 

Therefore you have to be and dwell in the essence and in the ground, and there God will touch you with His simple essence without the intervention of any image. No image represents and signifies itself: it always aims and points to that of which it is the image. And, since you have no image but of what is outside yourself (which is drawn in through the senses and continually points to that of which it is the image), therefore it is impossible for you to be beatified by any image whatsoever. 

And therefore there must be a silence and a stillness, and the Father must speak in that, and give birth to His Son, and perform His works free from all images.

Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, Sermon One, pages 32-33

I recently heard a person ask what the goal of inner work is.

This is phrased differently than aim, which is the term Gurdjieff used; and yet they may seem to mean, overall, more or less the same thing. 

Yet goal means more an object of ambition than one of direction—which is what aim implies.

The question is interesting. First of all, is there an overall goal of inner work, a ubiquitous one that trumps the aims of individuals? If the work is “not for myself,” as it has become common enough to say in recent years, what is it for? It is certainly true that Gurdjieff said the fourth way could only fulfill a man’s individual aim or aims and could have no aim of its own… either this is true or it isn’t, and one can’t quite have it both ways.

Secondly, what is the place of ambition in the work? Isn’t it antithetical to humility and the idea that man “cannot do?”

In order to discuss this matter of aims and goals, we must first admit that to work without the expectation of results is quite different than to work with a wish for them. If work was work conducted absolutely and simply for the sake of work alone, and not for any ends, aims, or results, there would be no point in working. Work must have a purpose: a reason it is done. 

At various times I have, in my essays, pointed out that we do, in the end, work for purpose: and those various overarching purposes may be construed, broadly speaking, as covering the following points:

—The creation of an astral (or mental, or causal) body
—Service to humanity and to God
—The active manifestation of goodness, compassion, and wisdom.

In addition, we might point out the distinctly purposeful obligolnian strivings, which in their entirety describe a set of desirable results that ought to arise from the exercise of inner effort.

Gurdjieff’s system, in other words, is goal-oriented; and it is specifically stated as such, in many different places. One cannot understand Gurdjieff’s cosmology (or any cosmology, for that matter) without understanding its goals, because all cosmologies assume purpose (else they are not cosmologies) and purpose presumes goals, achievements, and results.

Let’s dispense, then, with the lofty sounding proclamations about how there are no results, in the same way that we dispense with the bogus philosophical premise that there are no answers (answers being responses.)  People say these things because they want to sound profound, and because they subscribe to an a priori dogma that encapsulates and endorses such nonsense.

Let us say, rather, that many answers are wordless; and that there is nothing degrading about it when we admit in honesty, rather than deny in sophistry, that we do make efforts, both inner and outer, with aim, purpose, and the hope of good results in mind.

I opened this essay with the quote from Meister Eckhart simply because of his straightforward words on the matter—God is the highest blessing and the final goal. 

We aim, in short, for blessings, and for the goal of God.  

More on this tomorrow.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

One true thing

Question: How does one work against specific "I's"? For example, addiction "I"?

Response: Well, I'm not sure how to discuss this in general terms, but I can certainly talk about how one works against an addiction "I"—a part of the self that has an addiction—since I have been doing it throughout my 33+ years of sobriety. Let's see what I come up with here.

First of all, I think we ought to recognize that we can't get rid of "I"s. They are all part of the surface (and interior) of our personal planetary atmosphere, and once they have formed within the gravity of our inner planet it would take huge amounts of inner "rocket fuel"— which we don't have, LOL— to launch them past the orbital sphere of our Being.

I am, in other words, stuck with what I am—all the parts of myself—and there are laws and reasons for that. I can't eliminate these parts. They are with me for the duration. If I don't find a way to work with them—that is, find an accommodation that allows me to be the master of them, while understanding and acknowledging their own power and autonomy, which can be formidable—I'll find that I struggle against them forever, and often in vain, since they are, as I said, powerful, and sometimes much cleverer and stronger than the inner parts that rightly oppose them.

This kind of perpetual struggle against is exhausting, and many, many people who are caught in it lose the battle. Last December the son of a good friend of mine, a man in his mid 40's, finally lost his inner war against heroin addiction, which he fought for most of his life. He was, like his parents, an essentially good man—yet he wasn't superman, and only superman can win a fight against a determined inner addict. Sooner or later one collapses and the addict takes over for one last shot.

In my own experience, I was aware for many years that I was an alcoholic. That's just the fact. We can speak all we wish to of denial, but the bottom line is that I knew I had a drinking problem for many years—and I knew it because of how careful I was to hide it. This hiding of things is always an absolute indicator of inner lying—which both Gurdjieff and Swedenborg emphatically pointed out is entirely contrary to the purposes of both Being, Heaven, and even God Himself.

So when I see inner lying, already I know there is something very badly wrong.

Now, I need to consider this quite carefully because there is so much inner lying, isn't there? It hardly starts and stops at the addicts- the ones who want to eat, drink, or have sex all the time. It's everywhere, in one measure or another. And the lying always, in one way or another, revolves around my own selfishness. It's only when I see it and admit to it—that is, become honest inwardly—that anything 'against" it becomes possible.

All the seven deadly sins, by the way,  relate to this kind of selfishness.

So it's this seeing and admitting what I am to myself that becomes a power for good. I remember that the first moment I understood what was necessary in me to get sober was when I saw my own death in the mirror, the morning of November 16, 1981, after a broken personal relationship and the epic binge that followed it.

The moment was irrevocable, because it brought truth into the picture over all the lying. I saw one thing; and what I saw was true.

This is why it can be such a big deal to see one true thing. If a person ever really sees even one true thing about themselves in this way in their lives, it can be a game-changer; yet I suppose it's somewhat rare. The "I's" that specialize in addiction and other extreme forms of inner destruction are just about experts at preventing this kind of seeing; and one has perhaps to see that, at the same time one sees that one true thing.

I didn't know what that one true thing (my ongoing death from alcoholism) was, because it was so well covered by inner lies. These lies were concealed by posing as truths. There was a long list of them, all supporting my drinking habit in one way or another.

This is like Bosch's pearls, which look beautiful and perfect but (like all pearls) have crappy little grains of sand at their heart.

In a certain sense, everything about inner work is aimed at helping a person come to this moment where they see one true thing and finally understand that everything, simply and absolutely everything, has to be sacrificed (if necessary) in order to deal with those issues.

So for many years one works to prepare one's self; and then one sees one true thing, and then one can work with one's "I's"—maybe and probably only just this one I which one has seen truth about, but perhaps a few more.

At that moment the I one works "against" is always still much more powerful than the I which has seen anything true; and so to some extent one must, perversely, enlist the help of the bad "I" itself in order to effect change.

The only way I can explain this is to say that once one true thing is seen, even the bad "I" cannot deny it, so it is willing, however reluctantly, to become an ally. This is because (as I have said before) the bad is the servant of the good; and in this case it can become literally true.

That creates its own problems; but hey, no one ever said it would be easy.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Sacred Aieioiuoa, part II

Once again, I inadvertently find myself pondering obscure points of doctrine.

 One might ask why the arrangement in the heavenly spheres is such that spiritual angels embody truth, and heavenly angels embody wisdom. The key to this lies in the relationship between being, purification, and wisdom; that is, the notes sol, la, and si on the enneagram.

 It is impossible for me to catch readers up on all the background material I have already presented on this; those who need to refresh their memories are introduced themselves to it need to get themselves a copy of The Universal Enneagram. so what we are going to cover here is for those who already understand the relationship of these notes to Being, Purification, and Wisdom.

On the usually dominant earthly side of the diagram, before Being emerges as a realized force at the note sol, it is not possible for man to know truth. On the natural side of the enneagram, which is  inexorably bound to the material forces which dominate it, truth is a relative thing. This is why we live in a world in which sophistry, lies, and relativism abound.

Only once one acquires Being is it possible to begin to discriminate between what is true and what isn't. This is because only at the point where the heart becomes active, where sensation becomes conscious, and higher influences begin to flow into Being can one begin to see truth in the first place. Otherwise, it is always obscured on the other side of the equation.  In the natural world, lies and truths appear to carry equal weight and cannot be discriminated one from the other.

 Passing from the natural to the spiritual side of the enneagram, one arrives at Being confused, because it is inevitable that the vessel of Being comes to its point of awakening filled with all of the material that got it there; and much of it is not true. This is on the order of all the impressions one has received, which need, upon the awakening of active mentation, to be sorted out properly, an action that cannot be undertaken by the thinking mind on its own.

This process leads to the next note in the diagram, la,  which represents purification, that is, the  winnowing of the chaff of impressions and the discovery of actual truth, which is in the domain of the spiritual Angels.

Only after this process takes place is it possible to move into wisdom, which is represented by the note si.

Understanding this, we can see that the two forms of angelic hosts govern these two processes, and that they occupy an orderly hierarchy in the approach to heaven itself.

I think that I've sufficiently covered the relationship of the development of remorse and the intonation of the sacred syllables that readers can now intuit how these various forces weave together into a single sacred process.

 If not... my apologies.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Sacred Aieioiuoa, part I

Readers of Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson have no doubt puzzled over the provenance of many of the “invented” words in the book; yet Aieioiuoa seems to be among the most obscure, consisting as it does of a series of nearly unpronounceable vowels.

I’ve explained in earlier posts that these vowels actually constitute a set of sacred syllables, which combine in a chant which is to be intoned upon receipt of sacred energies that encourage a certain kind of inward suffering. 

The chant is a facilitator, but in itself can’t be artificially invoked—so understanding has to be received, rather than imparted; yet it may be helpful to aspiring adepts to understand the technical nature of the word, lest a precise understanding of its esoteric meaning be lost.

In this context, what may be interesting is an understanding of why this word exists in the form we encounter it in at all; and in order to explain that, one needs to turn to Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell, where one finds the following passage in section 241:

Angels who live in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom talk much the same way as angels who are citizens of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom. However, heavenly angels talk from a deeper level of thought than spiritual angels do. Further, since heavenly angels are attuned to the good of love for the Lord, they talk from wisdom, while spiritual angels—being attuned to the good of thoughtfulness toward their neighbor (which in its essence is truth)—talk from intelligence. For wisdom comes from what is good and intelligence from what is true.

The speech of heavenly angels is like a gentle stream, soft and virtually unbroken, while the speech of spiritual angels is a little more resonant and crisp. Then too, the vowels U and O tend to predominate in the speech of heavenly angels, while in the speech of spiritual angels it is the vowels E and I. The vowels stand for the sound and in the sound there is the affection; for as already noted, the sound of angels’ speech is responsive to their affection, and the articulations of the sound, or the words, correspond to the individual ideas that stem from their affection. 

The word, then, is in the syllabic language of the angels, as is appropriate for a second-order (that is, very fundamental) law. 

In order to understand the word a little better it’s helpful to note that the second and third syllables, built around the letters E and I, are lower-order syllables belonging predominantly to spiritual angels, whose being is of a lower nature than heavenly angels. The fourth and fifth syllables are those of heavenly angels, and the entire set is framed by the letter “A”. 

The word itself, then, captures the essence of angelic language, rather than embodying individual words; and this essence is imparted by the dominant tonalities of the vowels in question. So the word can be understood as the primordial utterance of the two angelic hosts, the root vibration of their means of communication. Intoning it will impart an experience of that under the right circumstances, that is, if and as the appropriate energy is received. 

Don't try to do this in order to invoke the energy! It must come of itself first.

The intonation represents a progression from Truth, a lower order, towards the good, a higher order: and that progression must take place through the process of remorse, which enables the participant to initiate a distinction between truth and falsehood through a process of purification. 


Part II publishes March 11.