It occurs to me as I grow older that my aim is, indeed, to die to this world; and that this aim means both to die to this world, and to be born in it.
There is a gentle fire born in the soul that lights the soul on fire towards God; and it is indeed born of an intensity, but it is not an intensity in the way that we use the word in our ordinary life. It is a loving intensity, an intimacy, a tactile quality of conjunction with the sacred. And in this, I think, it relates to the idea of integrity that I brought in the last post.
While I must live this life — wish though I might to flee it into some sacred space where I can have refuge — there can be a real contact with sacred forces. My role is to suffer in the midst of both this life and that contact, an action which requires another kind of integrity, a consistency and courage that I usually don't have. I am, after all, fundamentally fearful. If I admit it to myself, I am a coward, and it is with trembling that I approach every right action I should undertake, because so many right actions require me to do things that seem threatening from an outward point of view. Other individuals intimidate me; I'm inherently shy, even though I may not seem that way, and I'm always overcompensating for it. I don't trust things; I don't trust God. And it is perhaps exactly this untrustworthiness that upends my efforts.
All of this despite the fact that I know what an inner value is. That knowing demands that I go against everything I am in most moments; and, as I described it to one friend not an hour ago in an email, everything I am is composed mostly of hubris and a tendency to enter situations, as I put it, "asshole first, with my pants down."
If I truly see how I am in this regard, my conscience begins to act in a way that is most distressing; and maybe Gurdjieff's "evil inner God of self-calming" invented itself specifically to deal with that distress. In any event, if real forces begin to act in me, anguish arises; and anguish, unlike all other feeling and emotion, may reveal something true.
The rest of me is unable to do that.
When Jeanne de Salzmann asks us to see our lack, and stay in front of it, she calls us to this anguish; and the ones that think they are brave and stalwart, who can stare such things down, who consider themselves astral warriors with a powerful will or some kind of special spiritual ability, well, they have never come to the point of work where the anguish is real, and one must actually experience what Gurdjieff called the Sorrow of His Endlessness.