Thursday, October 30, 2014

My own zero

In the world of video games, if one dies in some virtual conflict, one is instantly reborn and gets to go around again.

This recreational version of the conceit of reincarnation is ubiquitous by now; and there seems to be an ever-greater proclivity, among the digitized (...we are all being assimilated) to believe that life and Being afford re-dos of some kind or another; that one can come back and have another chance at things.

In contemplating this question during our Berkshire breakfasts, it occurred to me that we all bring yardsticks to life: there is an inner ruler by which I measure things. The ruler has inches and feet marked on it by my upbringing, my education, and my beliefs; and I slap it up against everything that happens in the presumption that my own personal, egoistic, subjective yardstick has all the elements and design in it necessary to measure every situation. I believe that "zero" begins way back there somewhere in my childhood; and I am capable of understanding life through this yardstick I've created within myself.

What I forget is that there is no "zero" back there, from years ago. Modern psychology has encouraged us to believe that we can plumb the roots of our childhood in order to understand who we are; and it's altogether common to assign blame for where I am, what I am, who I am, to events and circumstances from the past.

Yet this is senseless; it sidesteps the fact that life always begins here.

"Zero is always right here," I said to my wife over the apple crisp pancakes. "We always begin right now, at zero."

In this sense, even the idea of beginning again is a misunderstanding.

I can't begin again; because there is no re-do, no resurrection, of beginning. Beginning is always and eternally now, as Meister Eckhart points out; and the moment I think I will start over, I have already misunderstood. Beginning involves this moment, only this moment, shorn of the baggage of my yardstick.

This is, of course, an enormous difficulty; in order for me to understand this fully, I have to be in relationship with a quite different energy than the ordinary energies I work with. Yet I know that it is possible; and in the midst of suffering every insufficiency I am capable of mustering (and I am quite capable in this area of insufficiency, an expert, even) I must search for this zero, this beginning that I live in the midst of.

I see that my subjective beliefs and emotional attachments glue me like epoxy to the inner yardstick; and I see that Grace has a power to dissolve that. My ego is frustrating to me; yet I'm the prisoner of it. Even at my best this force of ego has an iron grip, spread out evenly over all of my parts.

The inner practice of humility, I think, comes deeply only over the course of a long lifetime in which I begin to appreciate that I do not have the power to separate myself from my beliefs, from my yardstick, and find that ground zero at which the inner towers fall and Grace alone stands tall.

I wait for this moment; and perhaps that is the zero I ought to turn towards.

Hosanna.




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Believing in myself

Insofar as belief is what I use to set myself apart from others, to that extent, it is exactly what I need to give up in order to complete any cycle of reunification with a higher, generative principle of consciousness.

I can observe this action within my own sphere of being; in the sense of Gurdjieff's principle of many different I's, and the three principle centers, all of my I's believe in themselves to the exclusion of others; and each of my centers believes in itself to the exclusion of the other centers.

I often see belief as a unifying principle, and in community, we celebrate its aspect as a shared set of values that bring us together. This is a powerful and necessary function; yet all too often it distracts us from the other side of its nature, the dark side: it sets us apart from all other groups of others. So if certain parts of me believe in working in a certain way, they set themselves apart from other parts that believe in working in a completely different way altogether; and in this manner various inner parts come into conflict. They display the same set of characteristics in an inner sense that are displayed in an outer one: vanities, conceits, and self-importance arise. This is exactly how identification works: all too often, it uses belief as its justification.

The power of the via negtiva comes into play here: Gurdjieff's principle of refusing to believe anything which I have not verified for myself. It isn't enough to turn this principle outward: it needs to be turned inward as well, so that I don't believe myself. It's this believing myself, I think, that is one of the greatest and most destructive elements at work in mankind; and this is the root of all egoism, the belief in one's self.

If I were able to see just how much of that belief in myself isn't belief in myself at all, but rather belief in a hodgepodge brew of materials injected by society, family, and so on, it would probably shock me to the core. Only with the development of a modicum on continuity of Being does it become possible to begin to see that; and even then, there is no freedom from it, because all one can do, really, is see the jar one lives in. It's like an aquarium in the sense that these belief, this personality, are in a certain sense the very medium that keeps me alive. I have become dependent on this medium of belief; to destroy it—which is ultimately necessary in order to find any real community, whether with others or with the sphere of God's good Grace—is all but impossible.

From within, there is no possibility, on my own, of the destruction of what I am. It is against my nature to undertake this action; so I have to suffer what I am. "Only conscious suffering has value," said Gurdjieff; and that conscious suffering is the suffering of my own belief, not the celebration of it.

I wonder how I would be—how we all would be—if we brought our inward parts to the surface of our lives with a sorrow appropriate to the tyranny of our beliefs, rather than a subjective celebration of them.

Hosanna.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Belief


You have a weakness which he who works with me, must destroy. You believe. You must never believe. You must criticize everything, accept nothing which you cannot prove, like two and two make four. Believing does not count, it is worth nothing. You believe, you identify, and you wish to pass on your belief with your emanations. You identify, you give all your energy.


This morning my wife and I are in the Berkshires, and at breakfast, the subject of what I believe comes up.

Belief begins where it is taken for granted; it's the line where questioning stops. In a sense, belief is what makes us all idiots; and remember, as Gurdjieff said, even God is an idiot.

An idiot is subjective; unique unto itself. All of us are this way in our beliefs. No one has the exact same beliefs as another; and yet if we want to work in community, achieve a greater unity—inner or outer—it is belief that has to go first, because I use it not just to agree with, but above all to to set myself apart from others. 

Perhaps I ought to say, more accurately, that belief uses me; because belief seems to me (at this writing, anyway) to belong to the outward part of Being, that which is formed by outward objects, events, circumstances and conditions. It is ingested, that is, I acquire it mostly from parents, from education, and from peers; and so it stands as apart and distinct from that deep inner part of me from which the reality of my own Being emanates.

You'll notice that Gurdjieff treats belief as though it were some kind of infectious agent: you wish to pass on your belief with your emanations. This is, come to think of it, exactly what charisma does, isn't it?—and we all know how dangerous that can prove to be. Hitler, for example, was terrific at passing on his belief with his emanations. 

In our discussion I brought up the idea of fundamentalism. Although I'm a devout Episcopalian with powerfully and deeply traditional Catholic leanings, I discovered, during the six years that I lived in Georgia, that this meant nothing to born again Christians, who unerringly (to them, anyway) believed that I had to say the words, "I accept jesus Christ as my personal savior" in order to be saved in the way that they believed I needed to be saved. None of my arguments, viewpoints, or discussions to the contrary could dissuade them from the idea that I was otherwise damned for all eternity. In discussion like this one (there were many) even though we were both Christians, our beliefs were fundamentally different, and it prevented growth in community— it was, in other words, divisive, not unitive.

This brings me to the question of the nature of the universe, and what idiosyncrasy means relative to creation. Although this may seem like a rather large subject, its parameters are quite tangible. 

Ibn Arabi calls the manifestation of creation the names of God: quite simply put, everything thing that ever was, is, or could be. Each manifestation of The Reality, God, is a particle of this wholeness: a particle of His Endlessness, as Gurdjieff might have put it. (In this way, objects, events, circumstances and conditions are all particles of His Endlessness.) Meister Eckhart's name for this wholeness-divided-into-parts creatures; that which is made, meaning, in this case, emanated from God's single wholeness which is indivisible. 

In a certain sense, for us, belief is a holy-denying force. 

More on this tomorrow.

Hosanna.   


Monday, October 27, 2014

Nemawashi

This question of instinct is interesting, because Gurdjieff spoke about this center with Ouspensky; and yet all we ever seem to hear about in the Gurdjieff work is "three centered" work, that is, work of the mind, the body, and the emotions.

You are a small person. One aspect in you has grown. Six others must also grow.

This passage from Wartime Transcripts (p. 33) reveals there's more to it than that; and of course there is. There are parts deep in a man or a woman that must become more active in order for inner work to become a living thing; those parts don't of necessity belong to the mind, the body, or emotions, because they emanate from other parts of man's Being. Mankind has seven parts to its comprehensive Being; they are represented by the chakras in yoga, but this is a fixed representation and thus quite misleading, in a certain sense. One must go much deeper than diagrams and schematics in order to understand anything real about this.

To go deeper is to become active in the contacts between the various centers; and this includes instinctive center, sex center, and the two higher centers. The entire system slowly becomes knit together through an active participation; and that active participation isn't direct by me or orchestrated by me. In a certain sense, according to the laws and corresponding methods of Great Nature alone, all of this ought to proceed naturally under the governing forces of instinctive center, which is the very root of Being; but I'm usually detached from this influence. The typical interest in inner work tends to be formed around the higher; one experiences a bit of energy from above the head, flowing down the spine, and so on— or one experiences energy in the abdomen, and this higher energy becomes fascinating and attractive because it seems so magical. The root energy that arises from the natural and active connection to sensation doesn't awaken, though; and since this forms the essential connections that are needed before anything else, the rest of the system goes wanting, in the end.

The Japanese have a special word for what's necessary in handling and preparing the roots; it is Nemawashi. The word originally meant to go around the root ball of a tree, preparing it for planting.

Nowadays it has a different meaning, often used in business: it means laying the groundwork, building a consensus.

This laying of groundwork is essential in inner work; and Gurdjieff mentions instinct simply because it is the groundwork: as he says in yesterday's passage, everything works... except that which must.

Hosanna.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Work knows itself


"This proves that you do not know what you are looking for. You interest yourself in these questions without partaking of your instinct... I understand why you do not advance... up to now, your instinct was isolated. It never took part in your work... Something in you remains apart; it looks. Another part in you does something else; you work without instinct. Everything works; head, feeling, except that which must."

—Gurdjieff, Transcripts of Gurdjieff's Wartime Meetings, p. 27 

Interesting, no?

We don't hear much about instinct as a part of inner work... and yet it must be. In this sense, instinct is not what animals have—it is a natural or intuitive way of thinking.

That which is intuitive is inward; an inward teaching, or tuition; and it is accurate or unerring.

In this passage Gurdjieff alludes to those parts of ourselves: those inward and hidden parts, submerged and not damaged by our ordinary reasoning, which can still influence our work in a positive way. That is to say, there is an inward part in man which knows the way; and we're not in touch with it. If the inward flow of the divine awakens, I know much better what this intuition is; and above all I need to understand, physically, that it isn't a psychological process or a system of guesswork and hunches. It's very easy to confuse intuition with hunches, but it's nothing of the kind in this case; it consists of an inner certainty.

If one doesn't understand at once what this intimate and absolutely reliable quality of inner work is, one hasn't found that within one's self which one can trust; that trust must, once touched, reveals itself as so deep and so irrevocable that the entire organism, throughout its sensation of itself, aligns perfectly and at once with that direction, in the same way that magnetic particles will all almost instantly point the same way once they come under the influence of a magnet. Instinct is like this; it is magnetic and directional.

So I must look for the inklings, the glimmerings, of that which is magnetic and directional in me, the part which emanates from an unseen source but is nonetheless so absolute trustworthy that I know at once, as it arrives, that it has authority. Under this influence, I face in a new direction which is quite inward; I know for the first time where I am and what I am doing. No thinking is required here in order to know what work is; under instinct, work knows itself.

If I don't know the work that knows itself, I don't know real work. Real work does not doubt itself; it is at once confident and aligned. I can be in either moment; work that knows itself is not always or forever available. Only intimacy and many years of submission bring me closer to an unrelenting contact with this quality of effort; and it's the wooing of a lover that brings it closer, not the sweat of a blacksmith.

Hosanna.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Being the person you are

Churches, temples, mosques, inner works and spiritual disciplines are, on average, densely populated with individuals who think they are something; yet in inner work we are first asked to populate our inner earth with individuals who know they are nothing.

We hear talk today about "becoming the person you want to be."

This is a bit of conceited nonsense, because no one knows who they are in the first place; and no one can ever be the person they want to be if they don't already, first, know who they are now.

So one needs to be, most throughly and fearlessly, the person one is; not the person one wants to be.

From this perspective, already, one sees that one can't even know what person one ought to want to be; because this person who is is filled with all kinds of desires and impulses that don't make any sense in the first place. How can a right desire, a right wanting, come out of this?

 No, I can pretty much forget about that. I need to turn my efforts towards being the person I am, no matter how painful or difficult that may be. If there is any such thing as "self observation" from the basic and most psychological (as opposed to inner and spiritually necessary) point of view, it consists of knowing who I am; and that is who I am, not who I wish to be.

I suffer my being as it is; not as I wish it to be.

This is my inner home.

In this way, there is some irony to the Gurdjieff prayer, "I am— I wish to be," since I can't really know what it means. It is the sensation it produces and the questions it raises that become interesting, not the idea that I might wish to be anything.

In other words, I wish first and forever to become a person who has Being—and a person who knows nothing beyond that.

Being is the destination; not some other set of qualities. Being, furthermore, has the exact qualities I already have. If Being does not begin there then no development can take place, because nothing can be built in the absence of a foundation.

I assume, first of all, that I have a foundation; and that is a big assumption. I had better take a good long look at that first.

Then I ought to see if I know anything about masonry.

It is a long, long way to any built walls.

Hosanna.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Liquid Silver

Commentaries on Transcripts of Gurdjieff's meetings, 1941-46

Luc: I was exhausted by my negative emotions organically. Today, I have never felt so well, so animated.

Gurdjieff: Never have you had, previously, any liquid silver. You must feel that you have today some liquid silver.

Transcripts of Guirdjieff's Wartime Meetings, p. 26

It's quite difficult to describe the exact nature of the inward flow of the divine Being— the substance of Self— with ordinary words. To refer to the organic sense of Being, or Presence, is quite correct, and more often than not, when Gurdjieff says that one should have a sense of one's Presence, he is referring to the organic sense of Being, which is so closely tied to cellular sensation — a sensation radically different than ordinary sensation.

Yet the arrival of sensation itself—taken as a permanent, and not ephemeral, condition—is not at all enough. Although sensation has a living quality, there is also an energy that feeds it, and not all of this energy is derived from air — the second being food, or, "help for the moon," as Gurdjieff claims the citizens of Atlantis called it:

The beings of the continent of Atlantis then named the second being-food 'amarloos,' which meant 'help for the moon,' and they named the third being-food the sacred 'amarkhoodan,' which signified for them 'help for God.'

—Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson, p. 718

The energy that feeds all of the processes of living in Being within a conscious state — which is a state related to the manifestation of all centers above all specifically in relationship with a higher energy— is a part of that living inflow of energy depicted in the fountain on the left-hand side of the Garden of Earthly Delights.

This object shows a process that takes place within human beings—the inward flow of the substance of the divine as it manifests on this level.

This is the "liquid silver" Gurdjieff refers to in is comment to his pupil. The expression is a good one; I have worked for many years to describe the phenomenon as it arrives, and although there are other analogies, I'm unable to come up with a better one.

He describes the energy as liquid because it is ubiquitous, flowing throughout the body with prejudice, entering into all of the elements of Being and enlivening them.

And he calls it silver because it is a precious element—let us be clear about that, because it is an element in the strictest sense of the word, that is, an entity which is whole and unified within itself and cannot be reduced to any lesser components. As a precious element, it enhances everything it touches; and indeed, we need this for our inner work, as he indicates.

What he is instructing Luc to sense here is that he has this liquid silver in him, this inward flow; it is what is sustaining him and animating his Being.

The need here is to come into a direct sensory contact with that inward flow: Gurdjieff tells him he "must feel it," that is, it is his responsibility to feel it; he must respond to it by consciously sensing the nature of the inner energy.

Hosanna.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Can't be explained.

 The darkness gives way to perfection; the sun rises into perfection, and it sets into perfection. It is all a whole thing; and it is one day. It may be this day; for me, it is. But it is every day.

This day and every day are filled with nothing but impossible things, all of which exist. I can't explain that. I can't, in fact, explain anything; yet I am intelligent. What I do see is that I can obey — I can open to these impressions, obey this life, and come into alignment in such a way that I express a right obedience in my Being.

When this takes place, all of the perfections belong to me as much as they belong to those things which are perfect. I'm not significant; but the perfection is, and my awareness makes the relationship possible in which it is acknowledged.

Ah — so difficult to explain. How can one take the yellow leaves, the blue sky, and print them in letters anywhere? They are printed in the soul, and nowhere else. That is good enough; and yet one wants more, one wants the soul to not only take in the world, but to pour it back out with generosity. One wants to both hold the world and let go of it at the same time. Can't be explained.

 I wish I could learn to love perfectly in the way that creation loves perfectly; but, of course, that perfect love is merely a reflection of even greater love that births it. I see that my own self, as it flows through me, is flawed; and yet even within this flawed nature, it participates. Even the flaws are correct; can't be explained.

I wish to be within myself so much that I am not myself anymore; I sense a much greater truth than anything my mind can think of here, within this Being.

I can't eliminate what is outward and ordinary in me; they are the canvas on which Being is painted.

Sometimes, I can even feel the colors being applied to me.

 Can't be explained.

Hosanna.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Being and manifestation

Underneath every active external manifestation, Being.

 There is nothing but Being, which is forever born within. This is the understanding I wish to come to — and the understanding I participate in all day, every day. If life doesn't begin here, there is no living.

In order to come into contact with Being, Being must be a living thing — not an idea in my head. Reading books about it and discussing with other people all happens after the fact, if the fact happens.

 Life is such a precious thing, which begins from within, and takes in what is outward so deeply, if it is given the opportunity. There is a richness here, a beauty, a deep love that never fails, as long as I am present to it.

One could ask for much more, I suppose; and indeed, there is much more available, according to how available I am myself. Yet even to begin, this is enough. In this is the beginning of gratitude; the beginning of prayer, the beginning of love. As long as these things begin in me, there is an endlessness available to them. These qualities aren't meant to be finite; each one is an active exploration of Being, and none of them has limits within themselves, only the ones described by how available I am.

 I find it unprofitable to complain about how one can't put anything real into words. I think that this idea simply arises because many folk lack imagination; words are as good as anything for what is real and what isn't. They are an external manifestation, it's true; and yet they belong to Being as much as any part of me. Why throw them out or alienate them? Every rejection is a devaluation. It is, I find, surprising to see how many rejections of this kind slip on a mask of spirituality in order to pretend they are valid. Taking life in — that is real.

There is nothing to reject in life, if I accept what life is.

Hosanna.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 16


Third anniversary of my sister's death.

Look, my dear,
The sky is lightening—
I am no longer in the dead of night:

My fear now somehow softer
Than the sin of my transgressions.
Perhaps now I can love
Without the thoughts of retribution.
Lay vengeance-laden ways aside,
In favor of a better world,

Where honest sorrows are the kings and queens,
The night a womb, and not a crypt.

I'll slip each care into its daily coffin,
Loving the lady—

She is with me even now.

Slip soft wings of prayer around my shoulders.

Hosanna.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The clockmaker's dilemma, part II


So there's this "system," this game plan, consisting of a teaching; a form. It isn't quite adequate; and there are even teachings that take the form of espousing no form, admonishing us, with words, not to engage in the use of words. The contradictions are striking; yet they get swallowed whole. People discuss them in all seriousness without appreciating the irony; and for the most part, it seems as though the ironies, the contradictions, are not understood exactly because these teachings, forms, and words are all outward aspects of an inward form.

The outward parts are evident enough; they can't be any other way. Trying to tell them not to have words or not to have a form is futile; that is their very nature in the way of their outwardness. So already, if I tell outwardness not to have a form, I am misunderstanding the nature of inwardness and outwardness, and mixing them. I might as well tell ice not to be cold, or the sun to emit darkness. This simple and inescapable point is entirely glossed over, because it sounds so much more mysterious, impressive and important to speak about not speaking and utter words about the banishment of words. People widen their eyes in awe and amazement; how profound it sounds!

This focus on making the outward what it is already not and can never be distracts us from turning our inner eye inward, because we are so involved with the outward and how we ought to deny it, banish it, change it—in other words, basically, devalue and diminish it. This via negativa of the outward may purport to turn us towards the inward—but I doubt it. We cannot make the leopard change its spots; instead, we might want to consider the idea that there is another leopard, which is spotless.

It's this inward form, this unseen mechanism of Being- which is not a thing, but a force-that marks the increments of time and change, and sets the measurements from which all outwardness flows. Getting into touch with that may indeed be formless and wordless—but this makes no shame of forms and words, it simply reminds us that they are not quite enough. Alone, they are partial.

We can't get rid of them; but they can be incorporated—taken into the body of Being—rather than expropriated from the outwardness they rightly belong to.

To have outwardness incorporated, taken into the body, is another way of saying that I allow my outwardness to come into me as an impression, not rejecting it or judging it, but allowing it.

I let my clockmaker do his work; it is an intimate work.

Hosanna.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The clockmaker's dilemma, part I


Dutch Burr-Walnut clock by Rutgerus van Meurs,
18th century Amsterdam
Private Collection

Question: 

Do you connect everything in life to the system / the work? Do you look to the teaching of the system to all things in your life when necessary? For example, when handling un-useful habits or negative emotions and you notice them arising, are you reminded of what the system "says" about it, and can you thus 'do the right thing?' 

Response:

There is a fine old clock in a train station. 

It is gummed up and untuned, and isn't working correctly; and so all the trains run late, or early, or not at all. 

The public, seeing how confused the trains are, raises a huge outcry, and great energy is turned towards fixing the trains, the schedules, and the layout of the station. Politicians get involved (they always do.) No one thinks that the issue begins with the fact that the clock isn't working properly. The dysfunctions it is causing are great, and they absolutely get all the attention.

Finally, the clock problem is recognized by a few more perceptive but relatively minor bureaucrats, and after a lot of effort and argument a very young, somewhat naive clockmaker is employed.

At once, instead of allowing him to work quietly on the clock, dealing with the very fine details of machinery that are absolutely necessary in order to correct the time, the public demands that he participate in the rewriting of schedules, rerouting of trains, and so on. He isn't even capable of doing that. What he can do is slowly and quietly make very fine adjustments to the clock so that eventually, all the trains will come back onto schedule; but he's young and easily influenced and distracted. Instead he succumbs at once to the pressures of the outside world, and his energy is wasted on all the uproar that started the need for his work inside the clock in the first place.

Sometimes he dies before he ever actually gets to open the clock and make any adjustments; but because he becomes completely identified with the uproar, even convinced of what the others have told him, he thinks he's accomplishing something.

...

This is a very interesting question to me. 

I think it begins with the fact that people generally confuse everything about inner work. The moment they hear the words, they hear them outwardly; and everything that ought to become inward is automatically and mechanically turned outward.

In part, this is because people's thinking is actually very weak; all the thinking is generally outward, that is, automatic and mechanical, whereas thinking ought above all to be inwardly inspired, and begin there.

Outward thinking turns inner work into outward action; this is adultery and mixing of the worst kind. All inner works can be perverted in this way; and they generally are, because so few understand what it is to work inwardly, that is, according to the actual influence of a higher energy.

This idea that any system of inner work can be "used" to fix outward life and "do" things is to misunderstand both the direction and nature of inner work. Inner work is intended to change essence; and this is an inward quality that exists and influences action before anything ever takes place. As such, inner work is turned to the origin of causes, not the amelioration of effects. If I turn my attention to the origin of causes, that is, the original self, the effects will take care of themselves. But this doesn't produce the immediate results that people demand, and think is their right.

Hosanna.     

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The roots of sensation

I've been talking about the organic sense of being and the roots of sensation for many years now; I originally used the term in May 2008 to describe a permanent and complete sensation of Being, as opposed to ordinary physical sensation.

Of course, my initial comments were almost a year before the publication of Transcripts of Gurdjieff's meetings, 1941-46; and I point this out to readers so that they understand I didn't crib the term from the existing literature (as per meeting transcript # 2) as various suspicious souls may be inclined to think.  I called it that because that is what it is; and Gurdjieff used same words, because there aren't any other words for it.

The organic sense of being is an objective condition, not something one can make up; and no one can mistake it for anything than what it is if one has it. Of course, I have said this before as well; but I want readers to well understand that they should make no mistakes in understanding, that is, one absolutely has to see that this question is entirely different than one's ordinary conception of sensation.

We have the ability to become rooted in the body in a quite literal sense, that is, to have an experience of the roots themselves, so that we are the roots, we become the roots. The roots are what feed Being; and one doesn't experience Being without these roots, because the plant of Being can't be nourished if it isn't tapping into the level below it for its nutrients. Without this, everything remains theoretical and hypothetical; and of course this is the center of gravity for a very great deal of so-called inner work. Nothing becomes practical until one knows the difference. Theory can pose as practice under ten thousand different conditions; be wary of it.

 Practice fundamentally begins with the organic sense of being, which is rooted, and this never happens until and unless one comes into relationship with a higher energy. That relationship waxes and wanes in exactly the same way that the moon does; and indeed, initially, these influences are under lunar rule. Over time, as roots deepen and the experience of Being grows, the influences shift and become predominantly solar; this represents a different kind and level of action. It does not eclipse the lunar action, so to speak; the action of the roots of being always remains, but different actions take place in terms of the solar influences.

 The important thing to remember, I find, is that I can't work without this energy.

I find that one of the greatest mistakes I see people make in inner work is in thinking that they can work without relationship to a higher energy. That relationship must always come first; and unless the energy is there, and there is an intimate connection to it, that is, a fecund, procreative, and essentially fearless and loving relationship, there is no food for real work on Being. In the absence of such food, the mind can get itself up to all kinds of nonsense; and it does. Everything that leads up to receiving of the energy which feeds Being is preparation, only. One can't really call it "work." It is just setting up the furniture in the studio. But one can sometimes set up furniture for so long that one thinks the whole point of effort is to set up furniture, not to have guests come in and sit on it.

 In order to begin any inner work, I need to seek the root of Being; and I need to hope that the root of Being will seek me. It is only when we join together here that anything begins. Here, there can be a kind of continuity in Being that is lacking in the temporary nature of mind.

That is the thread that connects us to what is real in life.

Hosanna.


Friday, October 17, 2014

"Mind-sensation"

The difficulty with understanding an organic sense of Being is that almost everybody I know seems to confuse this question of the word sensation with an ordinary sensation.

That is to say, there is an ordinary sensation that arises that is tangible to the mind. The mind perceives it; and the mind sees it as existing outside the mind, that is, it is owned by the mind, and is not understood as its own event and its own action.

This kind of "mind-sensation" is what all of our senses bring to us. We have a wide variety of sensations in us; they are biological. There is a sensation of organs, such as hunger in the stomach; the sensation of pain in the foot, of movement in the arm, the sensation of touch and the skin, hot and cold, of seeing things and hearing things, and so on. But these are sensations that take place on this level, and they are mechanical biological functions, not an active awareness of sensation. The active awareness sensation begins rooted deep in the body, down in the cells, and it is no exaggeration to say that a real, a living, sensation extends to every cell such that every cell speaks of its own being within the context of life itself. In a certain way the whole point of this sensation is that it contacts us from a lower level — and that is a critical understanding, because if we do not have contact with this lower level, it shuts off contact with any higher levels. We are a system that connects levels; not a level unto ourselves.

To be sure, the overall effectiveness of living sensation waxes and wanes according to the inner structure and energy levels of the organic body; but this kind of sensation is like a gentle fire that burns forever down at the bottom of life, where it gives warmth to everything that exists. The origin of life and being are connected to this sensation; and it is not the same as the biological sensations we are accustomed to. Merely developing an awareness of those sensations, a greater attention to them, is not at all enough. It is quite different than the kind of sensation that Gurdjieff and de Salzmann asked us to understand.

Most of the attention exercises, and almost all of the attention that goes in the sensation, end up contacting this biological sensation, rather than living sensation of Being; whereas the sensation that ought to arrive is completely different than that in the end. This is the danger of exercises. One can do sensation exercises for decades and even become an adept at them and still not understand what the sensation of the organic sense of being consists of. This is, unfortunately, "normal."

Allowing the mind to conceive of this from any ordinary point of view and use its ordinary understanding to touch the question is ultimately useless. One has to open to a new kind of sensation, a completely different sensation, that creates an inner revolution in terms of awareness — a revolution of inner energy, not the action of thinking about inner energy.

Real inner energy thinks on its own and for itself — not because of me, and not on behalf of me. This particular kind of sensation which gives rise to organic being is a part of that revolution; in fact, as I said before and have said many times, it is the roots of the revolution, the place where everything begins.

In a certain sense, one has to begin by dismissing everything one thinks one knows about sensation, and starting over. One has to know sensation from sensation itself; that is, sensation must become the knowing—

which balances the knowing of the mind in an entirely new way.

Hosanna.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Self-remembering, part IV

Let's put this question in Christian terms.

In manifestation in the material world, the divine self divides itself into an infinite number of particles that are emanated from divinity into the fractured nature of the universe as we experience it; and some measure of those fractured particles, according to level and order, assemble themselves into reflections of God's consciousness.

In diving Himself, God surrenders His divine form in an act of abject sacrifice. This enables Him to be born and to manifest on this level; but in a severely reduced state. His emanations arise and flow through the heart, the center of the spine, into the Being that gives each of us life; and in doing so, God is made man in the same way as Christ is made man-all the attendant suffering and sacrifice exemplified by Christ's life and death thus utterly incumbent upon each individual manifestation of God. God denies Himself in order to give us life; our own life is, in other words, a sacrifice of God's very own life on our behalf. In this way Christ has already died for our sins before we are born; it is in the fact of our birth itself that Christ's sacrifice is already implicit, since God dies that we may be born.

This is one of the esoteric meanings of the Holy Denying force. In denying Himself, God gives birth to us; and in self-remembering, we return (if and insofar as we are able) to God, returning the favor of His Mercy by giving himself back to himself (one of the esoteric meanings of the worm ouruboros.)

Christ's sacrifice objectifies this action by demonstrating that just as God dies for us, so we must die for God. The fact that the divine emanation of self, of Being, takes place within us in each moment of life as the divine inflow enters us and creates our being places an action of divinity at the heart of our lives; and this is why Christ calls us to be as He is, that is, to return to the sensation of this inherent divinity. This, in the end, is what self remembering is: the remembering not of myself in this life, but of God in this life. One is reminded of Ibn 'Arabi's remark that we are vicegerents of divinity. It is an essentially Swedenborgian action; we realign with the inflow, and rediscover the essence of our own Being as the essence of God.

It is, as well, no different than what Meister Eckhart calls us to. We are meant, as Christ did, to become God; not as the tyrants of our own Being, but as servants of His.

Hosanna.

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Self Remembering, part III

Because the self, on this level, has a precise nature—an emanation of divinity according to the physical and spiritual laws of this level, seamlessly blended within a human being—self-remembering consists of remembering that nature.

This means that self remembering always begins with a conscious relationship to the divine emanation that initially creates self and being, at the center of the spine. The awareness needs to invest itself within self, that is, sense the eternal and continuous arising of life and being from this inner "point" of origin. All of life radiates outward from this point through sensation into the rest of the body.

Self-remembering is, unfortunately, a degenerate science in its present form because it has so often been inadvertently turned into an outward science, deeply tied to various psychological theories that have little or nothing to do with the essence of the question. One cannot in the least remember one's self without coming into relationship with a higher energy; and yet people think they can "do" this in ten thousand different ways, none of which begin with a sensation of the higher energy, the actual emanation of the original self, which is constantly and eternally re-created within the heart of Being at every instant.

The correct remembering of self begins with sensation, because the emanation of self into being through the divine inflow finds its origins and understanding rooted first in the sensation of life, not in the thought of life. (There is, to be sure, a thought of life, but it is a higher entity, and we are not on a level where that can be properly comprehended, even though most people obsessively seems to think it's possible.)

If all this is true, one might ask, what are the relevant natures of energy at the top and the bottom of the spine?

The energy at the top of the head is a separate energy which comes as help. This energy does not belong to self as we know self. If and when we can open to it, it is quite critical in terms of lending assistance, but that assistance stands apart from our responsibility to come into relationship with our own Being through the sensation of self at the center of the spine.

The energy at the base of the spine is actually a root into the sensation of the body, which anchors being; but this also serves as a point through which the energy we serve flows outward into lower levels.

In this way, we come to understand that self, as referred to in the words self-remembering- is actually a radiant inner force of Being which creates this life, emanating directly from a divine source. When we remember the self, we do so by understanding its energetic nature, and the fundamentally generative and creative role it plays in our inner being. In order to understand this we need to come into relationship with a higher energy which, although it is higher, is properly of this level. That is to say, it functions according to the laws of this level.

The organ kundabuffer took this fundamental ability away from man. It tied his sensation first to pleasure, and only afterwards to service; and this is why Gurdjieff said that it caused man to perceive the world "topsy turvy." The correct order of Being, as it emanates from the divine, is to understand the principle of pleasure serving; and mankind was rearranged to service pleasure. This inversion needs to be corrected.

The action of self-remembering is, in other words, an inner action in which we turn the face of our soul back towards the divine—and we do this through sensation of Being, not through outward action and psychology.

Hosanna.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Self Remembering, part II

In order to understand what the self actually is on this level— which is entirely proper and possible, since in dealing with self on this level we deal with the self of this level first—it's necessary to understand what the self of this level consists of first, before we consider why we ought to remember it—or why, in fact, we ever forgot it in the first place.

In order to do this, we'll need to make a wide-ranging excursion through a variety of subjects. First of all, we need to understand that the self manifests primarily through "receivers" of energy within the spinal column.

The reason that the organ Kundabuffer was originally created in man was because if he retained the normal sense of Being that creates a Self capable of objective reason, upon seeing that his efforts would all merely serve a form of cosmic slavery, he would on principle destroy himself; that is, simply  put, the circumstances in which he dwelt would be seen as intolerable.

In order to prevent this, the organ Kundabuffer was implanted; and, while its chief effects were material and measurable, above all the effect it had was to cause man to be unable to properly sense his self.

Now, the cosmic individuals who installed this aberrant factor in man ought to have foreseen its consequences; but they did not. The location in which the organ was implanted was the base of the spine; and the sense of self is located specifically in the spine.

In order to properly understand this we need first of all to understand that the sense of individual self is the holy denying property of the universe. The reason is simple: to experience one's self as separated from God, one denies God; self affirmation can only come at the expense of unity, relative to the unity of the absolute. All manifestation of Being short of God Himself is a denial of God, since it separates from that selfsame unity.

Man, as a microcosmos ( a tiny model of the entire cosmos) reflects that system through the nervous system, connected by the vertical structure of the spinal column.

The head represents the holy affirming force, that is, unity of all selves; the spine, holy denying, that is, individual self; and the nerve nodes which convey sensation are, in the case of mankind, the holy reconciling force.

What is most important to understand here, in the midst of what might turn out to be a rather complicated story, is that the sense of self on this level manifests in spinal energy. The serpent, in ancient art, ultimately represents the self; and the serpent that tempted Eve is, in essence, self will. Self will tempts us to pick and eat the material fruits of existence without respect for the higher. In a certain sense the whole history of mankind follows on this action.

The spinal column of a human Being receives and transmits the energy of Being through three principle locations; but the energy of self and of Being which manifests on this level—which is the part we are primarily concerned with right now—is in the center of the spine, where the "heart" is located. Generally speaking, people reading about and discussing the heart confuse it with the actual organ that pumps blood, whereas the spiritual heart of human beings- which is the heart referred to in all esoteric practice—is actually a central point that has no actual physical dimension, located in the upper chest and more or less in the exact center of the spine, "inside" the spine. I say "inside" in quotation marks because the physical location is radiant and can't be limited by a definition.

The spiritual self, or Being, of an or woman radiates outward from this precise point, where it is received on this level according to the divine inflow, or influence, which flows into man and gives Being life. This emanation of life itself, and the consequent arising of one's created, living Being, is forever arising and being birthed from this source of inflow. It is the radiant creation of Self by God that manifests on this level.

More tomorrow.

Hosanna.

 



  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Self Remembering, part I


Art in the Periphery of Empire

The word self means a person's essential being; the part that distinguishes one from others.

It's important to understand this word first by being precise about its ordinary meaning. People in various kinds of inner work often seem to want to begin from the extraordinary and dismiss the ordinary; but this is like trying to understand advanced calculus before one has mastered simple arithmetic. We must first understand from the context in which we are in before we start imagining how we will fly with angels.

So the word self has a quite precise and specific meaning; and if we want to remember the self we are attempting to remember our individuality,  what sets us apart from others. Some readers may recall Gurdjieff's statement that the organic sensation of Being is what creates our individuality; and indeed, in other remarks, recorded by Ouspensky and never published, he makes further statements to this effect. No matter; what I write on the subject is already quite enough, since it does not derive from third party quotes, but my own direct understanding.

There are, however, other dimensions to the question of self-remembering. The term has an exact meaning that can be explained very precisely indeed; and it may not mean what readers expect it to mean, a point we shall soon get to.

Self is the qualities that make an individual unique. What exactly are these qualities?  Usually, we ascribe them to personality; and perhaps this outward understanding is sufficient for most folks. Yet one doesn't see how utterly this dominates; and how absolutely divorced it is from actual self, the part which is rooted in the original manifestation of Being.

In mankind, this original manifestation of Being takes place along the vertical axis of the spine; and the nature of being in relationship to this manifestation can be exactly described because it conforms to an esoteric scientific principle, that is, there is an objective nature to the self which is not so far removed from ordinary understanding as to defy description.

This is another soft spot at the heart of esotericism, which easily attracts weak minds. There is above all a wish to rise above this level; and an egoistic wish to sound very important by making self important noises alluding to the fact that one can't understand, there are no words, etc. These things are true; but they belong to a level other than the one we are on, and our understanding must begin here. We cannot understand outside of the level we are on; to do so is to arrogate to myself qualities and responsibilities I do not have and can never have, because I am on this level. I emphasize this because so much of esoteric thinking and work-effort seems to be directed at the idea that I can transcend this level instead of inhabiting it. Yet if I am on this level, and there is a meaning to it, perhaps I belong exactly here.

Being on this level comes with a specific set of restrictions, limitations and laws I must work within; and while I may be able to become free of some few of them, I will then simply come under other laws. Until I die, I remain here on this level. The inner work that has to be done is on this level, not on the higher levels I enjoy prattling on about as though I were already on them, picking sweet grapes and berries to pop into my mouth. (There are an awful lot of these berry-pickers around. Watch for them, they are the ones with rose-colored glasses on.)

I will discuss this precise and eminently definable aspect of self tomorrow so that we can better understand what self-remembering actually is and truly consists of.

Hosanna.





Sunday, October 12, 2014

Woman and Man

Question from A.P.:

On pg. 154 of 'To Live Within', Sri Anirvan says the following:

"A woman can reach this awakening state through "natural intelligence," that is, through her essence, whereas a man can reach it only through voluntary sacrifice and personal discipline. there is no other way for him."

How is this to be interpreted? Is it simply due to the nature of the feminine/masculine essences that they benefit more from one work more than the other?

"There is no other way for him" ... why?

Reply:

Good question.

Women and men are fundamentally different. A woman's essence is closely aligned with her emotions. A man's isn't. This is a natural condition; and in some ways it makes man the weaker of the pair.

If we study Eckhart, we will understand (intellectually, at least) that the essential nature of God is fecund. When we have a practical encounter with a higher energy as a formative quality within Being (if it is a real and durable one) we will understand that it is also essentially fecund—that is, generative, creative, nurturing and forever giving birth (again, Eckhart's eternal movement into birth of the divine—a Leitmotif of his sermons.) For example:

When the spark of intellect is taken barely in God, then the 'husband' is alive. Then the birth takes place, then the Son is born. This birth does not take place once a year or once a month or once a day, but all the time, that is, above time in the expanse where there is no here or now, nor nature nor thought.

The Complete Mystical WorksSermon 31, p. 188

Women, since they are the naturally created receivers of the materially manifested fecundity of God, are directly aligned with this creative principle in a way that is forever barred to men. This is why women are emotional adepts. Men are aligned not with the creative intelligence of the universe, but the structural intelligence. These two intelligences are fundamentally different. 

The creative intelligence is more intuitively able to find God because of its emotional nature. God is Love; and because this is a feeling quality, a woman is naturally inclined to it. Men, whose structural intelligence is related to wisdom (the next-highest quality) have to complete an emotional octave which is already in a definitive sense already present in women. I say definitive, because it is what defines them.) 

In this men and women balance one another, because women are always inclined to be more loving than men; and men are inclined to be more wise than women. This never takes away one from the other, because they are meant to be in relationship and find balance, and women are actually superior to men, because Love forever trumps Wisdom. Nonetheless, we see an unwise love can be nearly as destructive as an unloving wisdom. Structural order is as essential as love; it just comes second (it is the chicken, not the egg.)

In today's world, we are dominated by unloving wisdom, which is, in a nutshell, what technology consists of. You may love your cell phone; but it will never love you.        

Because of their essential and very physical separation from the eternally fecund, eternally emotive (and inherently loving) root of being, men must suffer much more in order to discover their true inner Being. Voluntary and intentional sacrifice is needed, because wisdom without love is essentially willful, that is, it follows its own counsel. Discipline and sacrifice are necessary in order to change this; in other words, a man must much more go against what he is in order to develop a connection to God, because his inherent condition is one of opposition to God—holy denying—whereas a woman plays the role of holy affirming.

The child (the generative result of union between man and woman) is always the reconciling function in this duality; hence the Christ. Inevitably, Mary was the receiver of the Christ Child, not Joseph; and not by biology alone.

Hosanna.





Saturday, October 11, 2014

Seeing from within sensation

Hieronymus Bosch, Fragment of a Triptych
Yale University Art Gallery

When I try to see who I am, from within this level — which is the level I must live on in this life — I have these three parts that can see. One of them is the intellect; and it has the whole box of crayons, that is, I allow it to color everything that it sees according to all the material it has already ingested and arranged in the way that it sees fit. This is called subjectivity; it's a personalized vision of life dependent on a manipulated set of values and ideas.

The emotions have some issues of their own. They have been bullied around since I was tiny, and came with their own deficiencies to begin with (just like my mind did); and so they have these automatic responses to everything that takes place, a direct conflict with the mind (which is constantly telling them to feel things they don't actually feel and probably cannot even feel), and a confusion about how to operate.

Of the three different parts that can see, the sensation is perhaps the most objective; it has the advantage of being part of the operating system, that is, it is very close to the instinctive parts and deeply connected, in its own peculiar way, to the intimacy that is needed in order to understand that I am alive. If I want to understand life, after all, I want to know that I am alive first, to know it in controvertibly and without any doubt, and to know it at all times

If I don't know it at all times, then whenever I don't know it, I am asleep. I'm not conscious. And the consciousness of sensation is in fact the consciousness that can inwardly form a connection to this fundamental truth, which is needed in order to begin to understand life.

I ought to be waking up, as I have explained before, every morning looking for the connection to sensation so that I can have a fundamental understanding that I am alive; and from that understanding everything else can flow. For one thing, with that understanding, a tiny crack opens towards the inward flow of the divine, a higher energy that is attracted by this relationship to sensation. Once the relationship to sensation is formed, the relationship to life is formed; and life itself, at its root, springs from a divine source, so a conscious connection to the root of life is a conscious connection to the root of the divine. They aren't separated. This rich inward flow that can result from a connection to sensation is essential to understanding where one's work should begin.

Make no mistake about it, all of this discussion is about where one's work begins. This is not an advanced subject. This is not about higher levels; it is about coming into a fuller and more complete relationship with this level, before any of these other things are considered.

I've noticed that the longer people engage in inner work, the more they think they are at some advanced place where this kind of work isn't necessary anymore, whereas by and large, it seems as though everyone encountered it early on, batted it around some, didn't quite understand it, and then left it in the road and moved on to what were presumably more interesting things. 

The understanding that a direct and permanent connection to sensation is perhaps the most interesting thing that can happen in life is thus glossed over completely.

Sometimes I think that this was the only thing my teacher wanted me to understand when she spent the 20 years we were together working with me. She knew that if this was understood, all the other necessary things would follow; and so at the end of her life, the last time I saw her, long after we had reached agreement on this subject and I did finally have some understanding on the subject, she was still bringing me back to this point of work, because it is where reality can be separated from imagination,—at which point some form of actual inner work can begin.

 So it's this seeing of my life from within sensation that I'm interested in this morning. I will take that out into the day with me. It's kind of simple and stupid; it doesn't present any high ground from a philosophical point of view. But all day long, I know, with this action taking place within me, I will be asking myself:  Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I?

 This won't be taking place with words. The action will be within the sensation itself, which is already a questioning.

Hosanna.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Putting all of the action of the mind directly into question

 Crucifixion, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

So let's talk about this more.

The action of an organic sensation of Being is to put all of the action of the mind directly into question.

 I say all of the action of the mind, because the intellectual mind is comprehensive in its action within life; for the most part, it dominates everything, even when it is strongly influenced by a more powerful center... typically, the emotions. Everything that I think about life, myself, all the concepts about inner work and false personality and self remembering and so on, all are of the mind. They go into the mind; they live in the mind; they come out of the mind. The intellectual mind processes everything with words and concepts, and this is where the center of gravity of my understanding lies, because the other two mines are not trained to be active or understand.

In a certain sense, the mind of the body and the mind of the emotions — these two intellects or brains that are quite different than my intellectual brain — are frightened creatures, because they have been sidelined and are rarely offered the chance to really participate in life. They blunder about in one direction or another blindly, unable to speak the language of the intellect and confused about why it is constantly instructing them to do things that are clearly, from their own point of view, absurd. All three of our centers, if they are acting in concert, suffer from this problem. This is why we are such tormented creatures.

We can't discover anything real or true about the mind unless there is a center of gravity, a strong weight, in which the attention centers itself that is oppositional — not in the sense of trying to fight with the mind, but in the sense of balancing it. There needs to be at an investment of being in a second place that has a strong weight and gravity to anchor the mind, so that the mind can actually be observed as a separate entity.

Now, because of the way that inner work (whichever one you want to discuss) is constructed, one uses the intellectual mind, the thinking mind, to try and observe the other parts. A bit of pondering ought to reveal the fact that this is a profoundly ass backwards way to understand things, because the other parts also have a full and comprehensive ability to observe from within their own center of gravity, and yet I place all my efforts in the mind. It may take years for me to understand that it's actually possible to have sensation or feeling come along and participate in an action of conscious observing that is separate and equal to anything that comes from the mind. If and when I do have an experience like this, I often mistake it for an experience of higher consciousness — and to the extent that it has informed me that my other parts are also real brains with a real sense of "I" in them, it is. Yet it is indubitably just an experience of this level, albeit a quite different one that I am completely unfamiliar with. If I do have such experiences, it may take me years to understand that they are just rather ordinary tools that ought to be functioning at all times and integrated into this understanding of being that I form almost exclusively with my intellect.

Once the center of gravity for consciousness and understanding of self acquires strength and objectivity through its manifestation in a center other than the mind, it puts the mind directly into question. Sensation is particularly useful for this, because it does not "think" in words; it's unable to rationalize or fiddle around with things. What it does is plant me right here in this body, now — and once I see how that works, once I see from within the sensation, I observe the mind at work and I begin to get the sense that it is an idiot in many ways... I could explain this further, but perhaps not here. But if you want to know more about Gurdjieff's science of idiots, there is a clue.

Hosanna.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More practical perspectives

Perhaps readers think I write and speak too much about sensation; but, as regular readers know, this is my diary, and I write about what is specifically on my mind and within my practice at a particular time.

 Hardly anyone properly understands the question of sensation. Sensation ought to be a living thing, and it ought to be permanent; folks hear this, and it seems theoretical or abstract. It seems unreachable. It seems like a mystery that is being presented. Yet the organism ought to be firmly and irrevocably rooted in a permanent sensation of being, otherwise, the rest of one's efforts at work are nonsense. So in the beginning, all of the work that one does — the exercises, the self remembering, etc. — ought to be turned towards developing this initial and fundamental sense. It is not a high level piece of territory; it is a foundation. One's inner work cannot be turned properly into a direction that is meaningful without this foundation; yet people work on it for a year or two, have little experience with it — or none — and then move on to other, more lofty subjects which seem to be more interesting and afford greater possibilities.

This is a deeply mistaken attitude, because what it does is lead one past what is absolutely necessary in order to begin into subjects, attitudes, experiences, and efforts that are much too sophisticated and complicated to understand without a permanent root of sensation in the body. What folks don't realize is that sensation is an objective sense; and because it is so close to what we are within ourselves, it is the first objective sense a human being can develop. Of course there are others; but you can't play tennis if you don't get a racket and a ball out first. People want to go to Wimbledon before they put their sneakers on. It just doesn't work that way.

Why is sensation so important? Not, mind you the kind of sensation where I make efforts to sense my legs, or to sense chakras (much too advanced, generally speaking) or what have you. No, I'm talking about the kind of sensation that is a living thing, that is me. It is so important because one is unable to get a more complete sense of one's Being and understand how helpless and confused one is unless this organ, this brain, is active. By active, I mean, functioning under its own energy, not the energy that "I" bring from my mind by telling it it ought to do this, that, and the other thing. Once sensation is functioning under its own energy one has the carpet pulled out from under one's assumptions about life. One actually has to live; and the first time that this happens, one will see immediately that one has never actually been alive in any real sense on until sensation becomes alive. Then, all of life seems like a flat and uninteresting landscape, a piece of cardboard, unless one is in active and intimate relationship with one's sensation.

Is that enough?

It isn't. Under these conditions, one sees that life is still a flat piece of cardboard; but one knows it now. And one also begins, slowly, over a period of years, to understand that it does not gain dimension without the participation of feeling, which without exception produces anguish, not the blissful joy everyone thinks they want in life. Don't get me wrong here; I want blissful joy as well, but every real joy and real happiness that is acquired in life is only acquired by paying for it in advance by suffering.

If this sounds too severe for you, well, don't try this inner work. It's not for you.

Sensation is the active quality that can help a human being to begin to understand that they understand them nothing; and by counterbalancing the action of the mind, it raises a question — without words, because sensation does not use words — about what it means to live that puts all of the action of the mind directly into question.

 I'll speak about that more tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Stop theorizing

Triceratops Sculpture

 It's okay to theorize. Whole schools were formed around studying theories; and without theory, esoteric practice in general would find itself deeply lacking. So I am in favor of studying theory; and I do it myself.

There is, however, a huge difference between theory and practice; and without a sound understanding of what it is to live within the sensation of one's own Being, one doesn't understand the difference. Theory has a way of inserting itself into everything; it belongs to the outer part, to personality, to ego, and to the mind. There is a possibility of objective theory; but it's relatively rare, because the mind and personality seize everything that comes along.

In working with others, there's a great danger that one ends up firmly wedged into theories. The only way to avoid this, in my experience, is to keep coming back to the ground floor question of what it means to live, right here, right now, within the immediate sensation of this body, before the mind starts to interpret it.

Above all, I shouldn't try to sense. Trying to have sensation is already not having proper sensations; sensation needs to come of itself and be present as its own part of me. For as long as I try to have sensation, no matter what way I do it in — thinking about it, feeling that I lack it, doing exercises to invoke it, feeling it in one limb, and so on — I am conceiving of sensation as separate from me, that is, I don't understand that sensation is me, just as much as thinking and theory is me — just as much as feeling is me. When I say that "I" have sensation, or "I" have feeling, I already set these two things apart as though they were not whole parts of my being with an equal weight and value to this "I" that has them. This is absolute nonsense— and yet look at how convinced I am of this. I try to sense; I feel. When will I wake up—that is, out of this unconscious and mechanical state—and understand that I am feeling and I am sensation?

When consciousness is located in a different part, it's dangerous for me to take it so literally as to understand that it is now located in the chest, for example, or the abdomen. Those experiences are, of course, possible; in fact, consciousness does not even actually need to be located in my body — but that is another subject entirely. The point is that consciousness needs to be relocated so that it resides within sensation, so that it resides within feeling, and so that the full experience of consciousness and life begins to find the center of gravity in these parts other than the mind.

This is the moment when a voluntary sensation or a voluntary feeling participates in such a way that I truly understand what three centered being means; otherwise, I am thinking about what three centered being means, theorizing it, hypothesizing it, and laying out various plans and machinations, various exercises and plots, to achieve it. All of that material comes from one center and is, in a practical sense, quite useless. It is like trying to paint over black paint with more black paint in the hopes that it will eventually become white.

This trying to sense is what stands in the way of sensing. It comes from the wrong part. There has to be a relaxation, a letting go, not just of muscular tension, but of the mind itself and all its excessive effort to control everything.

Then the sensation may have some room to enter; and then Being may have a chance to begin to manifest.

Hosanna.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A perpetual question, part II

So this perpetual question that I am interested in does not come from my mind.

It emerges from a sense of  individuality and Being that is organic.

It arises from an inner vibration that can not be denied.

The other night, someone asked me how one comes into relationship with this. It's a puzzling question; in fact, I can't do much of anything. In my own experience, there is no secret formula outside an intense and protracted suffering of who one is and one's own life.

In my own experience, I had to suffer for many decades through an almost endless series of indignities and personal failures, each one of which I was required to tolerate and work through in one way or another, facing each one of them as honestly as I could (in other words, not very honestly.) It was only after I had been (metaphorically) beaten into many tiny pieces, had submitted to the forces of my own life, admitted to myself that everything was, in the end, my own responsibility — and when I was willing to forgive all the other people who I blamed for this, that, and the other thing — that something changed inside me.

So I think that I come into relationship with this quality through my own suffering. That is, I go intentionally towards my suffering and I try to understand it by admitting it. I don't run away from it; I don't deny it or repress it. I try to look at it right in the face, with all of the anguish it brings, and admit to myself that this is how I am. I don't try to be happy or to get away or to manufacture an imaginary life or world where things are good and I am a good person; I just try to meet everything exactly as it is. In order for all of this to happen, the don't worry – be happy factory needs to shut down.

Mr. Gurdjieff had a number of interesting words for things like this; the phrase remorse of conscience comes to mind. In my own case, I think there is something wrong with me if I don't see how ungrateful and difficult I am in relationship to the life I have been given. There is a supreme irony to me in the idea that others think I am some kind of good person; every goodness I have in me has only emerged through a struggle against that which is not good. So in almost every case, where something positive takes place, it is not that I have goodness, but merely that in that place I lack badness.

 An organic sensation of Being removes one of the avenues of escape. The whole point of having an organic sensation is to find oneself in a place from which one cannot turn away. It is not so easy to sleep under this condition; and the idea is that one looks at what one is more clearly and more ruthlessly—that is, with less of the excuses that one usually uses for everything.

It reminds me of something I said about my skill with ethics: the fact that I have expertise in the area of ethics does not mean that I am an ethical person, it simply means that I know when I am not ethical. In the same way, sensation helps me to know what I am not; and knowing what I am not helps to remove imagination and assumptions from the way I live, so that I can try harder to acquire things it's clear enough I don't have.

If I want to be, I need to have a wish to be that does not die from minute to minute, but that is eternally reborn within the sensation of Being.

The mind can't sustain this kind of action; so it is up to the vessel receives something higher to remain open, and participate with it.

Hosanna.