Thursday, October 19, 2017

Obeying the law, part III


We must understand that our organization exists in life on two levels. One level, which alone gives true meaning, is that of the work, our search, with all the conditions it requires. The other is the official or outer aspect, which is only a cover, nothing more, but which can help us pursue our work without disturbance. This distinction seems easy to understand but in fact is not. I have seen that this official side, organized to meet the image and routine required by life, always reclaims its rights and tends to impose its structure on the work, that is, to impose a form that responds in no way to its true order of values.

—From The Reality of BeingJeanne Salzmann,  # 51To Organize 

This little series of essays about law, subjectivity, and our wish to escape any kind of obligation ends up being, as it must, about obedience.

When I say that we wish to escape any kind of obligation, I speak about how we are—both inwardly and outwardly. The ego rejects obligation of any kind, and it’s crafty in its efforts to construct ways of avoiding it. It certainly doesn't want to be obliged to others, and it doesn't want to be obliged to ourselves either. It is a fundamentally disobedient creature, a child. One might see it as the part of us that has never grown up and only wants for itself.

Obedience is an essential part of understanding. There will always be undisciplined and childish parts that want to run the show; and they will always manipulate emotion in order to try and get their way. Emotion is their number one tool and their modus operandi. This is why it’s so important to develop a relationship to feeling, which has an entirely different center of gravity and is an objective force. But feeling cannot arise without obedience. Feeling is intimately related to obedience and it can only enter once the parts become more obedient to one another—and to a higher force.

This week when working with other people I spoke about our effort to become obedient in language that didn't really use that word. It involved the observation that we must become much more detailed in our work.

We need to focus our attention on the granular material, the molecular stability, of our physical relationship to Being. This idea of molecular stability is one that has come up a great deal this week, because the molecular stability of our attention— which is a physical, not mental, property we can acquire—is what creates durability.

All of the complaints that one hears about being unable to stay with oneself, unable to have a good attention, and so on, are about the fact that I am disobedient. My obedience, my attention, needs to acquire durability; and this has to be done through a very fine kind of work with the attention that lies in the details of Being, not in the grand gestures.

Ego loves to focus on the grand gestures; and in its sneaky efforts to undermine real inner work, it’s constantly inviting me to speak about the big things and how wonderful they are; to rhapsodize about working together and magical energy and so on. It's a very subtle thing, but such emphasis on the miraculous implies an ability to escape from law, instead of submitting to it. The "freedom" we talk about too easily becomes some kind of an excuse not to have to discipline ourselves or be critically intelligent about our inner work.

Focusing on the tiniest things, which can't be celebrated with grand language or exchanged with one another as some kind of secret magic we share, becomes a kind of discipline in itself, because it builds the work in us molecule by molecule, which is what’s necessary. It can easily take ten— twenty— thirty years to attain any real durable quality of Being in a person, because of the molecular and incremental nature of this work.

No one wants to take that long to do anything, of course, because we would rather get results over the weekend.

Hosanna.


New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Obeying the law, part II



Liberation is not to be found in judging the "bad" or the "good." It is in the disappearance of the ego and the union with everything and everyone. The only bad is ignorance, the only good, awakening. Yet everyone wants to direct or be directed as he likes, to judge and criticize before seeking to understand. This attitude is fundamentally false. What we have to seek is not to impose an order, but to enter into an order, an order that existed long before us. It is the order that is important, not the organization.

—From The Reality of BeingJeanne Salzmann,  # 51To Organize 

At the beginning of this discourse on where we are in the action of law (see part I), I mentioned that many people engage themselves with a romantic notion that all paths are different, and so on. I'm embarrassed to report that I have heard this kind of thing so many times that every time someone starts to spout it, the inner critic in me automatically boots my inner “blah, blah, blah”commentary module. People have truly weak minds, it's a common problem; it takes most of a lifetime to develop a strong mind, and human beings are generally lazy about the intellect and the rigors that it requires to properly develop a capacity for a real critical thinking that is creative, rather than destructive. It is, furthermore, the first thing that falls by the wayside when people decide to be "spiritual."

 I say that it's a romantic notion basically because most people who talk about this are doing so—I hate to say it—because of spiritual selfishness and a wish to excuse themselves in particular from the rigors of a path — any path — that requires obedience to higher law. Some individuals I work with furthermore make a great show of insisting on telling everyone else that no matter what people say, all of it is always only their own opinion, their own experience, etc.—as though there were no great laws to be observed, either outside us or within us. This is utter nonsense, but it can sound very important and intelligent. (Am I judging? Yes, I am judging.)

We have to see how tiny we are and how absolutely constrained we are by law. Otherwise, we just act stupidly in everything we do. That's okay if all we want to do is stumble through life; but if we want to develop a real intelligence, it has to begin with the fact that we’re constrained by law in an absolute sense. It's not all relative. We may have the right to act stupidly, but it is not an obligation. One can demand more of oneself.

To say that everything is different and everyone's path is different is true within a range, but it's an incredibly limited range. You could say that we all live within a different temperature; there are tiny, incremental temperature differences between the bodies of most living things, and within the range of humanity, human beings definitely cover, let's say, a range of average inner temperatures between 97° and 99°. Everyone has a different temperature within that range; but we all live within that incredibly narrow range. Compared to the range of temperatures that operate in the known universe, which spans many tens of thousands of degrees, we operate inside the tiniest fraction of that.

It's like saying everyone's body weight is different. That's true; yet once again, it operates within an incredibly narrow range constrained by physical law regarding the possible weights of human beings. We will never see, for example, an adult that weighs 3 ounces or 10,000 pounds; yet we see things all around us that weigh micrograms or hundreds or thousands or even millions of tons. So our differences, apparent though they are, are strictly constrained and exist within an incredibly narrow range.

Spiritual work is the same way. The "many different paths" that people want to believe in are all actually constrained by the law of three and the law of seven, and every single path conforms to the evolution possible relative to those laws. So it might equally possible, and is in fact more accurate, to explain spiritual development by saying, "all paths are identical," because all paths are perfectly described by esoteric law, which is objective, not subjective. This, in a nutshell, is a large part of Gurdjieff's message to Ouspensky as communicated in In Search of the Miraculous.

We live in an extremely subjective age and we don’t, I think, in the least see how thoroughly it has polluted everything we think about, touch, and propagate between each other. We celebrate subjectivity; and we guard it jealously. I speak about this specifically because I have been keeping a close eye on my own subjectivity and I see quite clearly how inescapable it is. It has emotional reactions to everything that is foreign to it; and in every single instance, those reactions want to co-opt me into a subjective perspective about my ideas, opinions, and being.

This is an active force in every human being. If one hasn't seen this in operation, one’s self observation is deficient and one needs to do a great deal more work.

Hosanna.


New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Obeying the law, part I


Our work needs to be organized. Efforts that are accidental and anarchical will lead to nothing. My efforts need to be disciplined and subject to rules, to laws of another order above the ordinary level. So long as I do not see the imperative necessity of submitting to this order, I believe in my ordinary "I" and do not really work, do not advance toward my aim. I have to recognize this necessity.

—From The Reality of BeingJeanne Salzmann,  # 51, To Organize 

Recently I encountered an individual who wanted to emphasize a romantic trope about how all paths are different, everything is relative, and so on.

This person has a great deal of conversance with the Gurdjieff ideas. They're a friend.

Yet the way they presented these ideas verged on sophistry; and this wish that we have to make everything relative and subjective is dangerous.

All paths are identical in a certain sense. Everything is governed according to law when it comes to development and evolution; and this is true in both the natural and the spiritual world. One can no more escape the consequences of law on this level, or any level, than one can undo the fiber of the universe and then re-weave it into a new form. Maybe God can do that; I don't know. But people can't.

Yet I see human beings constantly attempting to achieve such works using their mind, because they don't like the universe the way it is and they want everything to be an exception for them in particular — even though the way they usually present is as though the exception were universal, and meant for everyone. The sneaky presence of the ego in these statements is always overlooked.

The law of three and the law of seven strictly constrain the possibilities for human development, and every individual on this level, regardless of their own individual and inward level of development, is on the same turning wheel and subject to the same laws. Even if I have developed to say, man number six, I'm still on this level and subject to its laws in exactly the same way as man number two. So we have a certain equivalence, we share the exact same path, even though we find ourselves on different points of it and may have different levels of understanding. I can't travel to man number six without going through man number two; and he can't get to where I am without going to man number six, because it is part of the same path.

I don't really like to use these man numbers as analogies, because the whole concept seems stuffy and outdated (even though it has an obvious validity) but here it is appropriate enough to remind everyone that there are hierarchies and that everything fits into its place according to a set of laws and principles that can't be changed by wishful thinking.

The minute I think that everything is flexible and relative, I'm tempted to make an exception for myself (which is what everyone wants) and believe that, in terms of development, all things are equal.

Nothing could be further from the truth; and if one does not understand what the laws are and how to obey them — obedience being the most important feature of an intelligent understanding of the path — one can't really go anywhere. Ego function is almost entirely dedicated to producing such states in people. It's how it preserves itself. This is why a human being that wishes to develop must subject themselves to an outside obedience. It's only through this than any freedom can arrive; that freedom is also always constrained by law.

It may sound strange to say that freedom is attained by obeying the laws; but this is the same everywhere. The moment that I choose to disobey the laws, I risk imprisonment. And we all want to disobey the laws, because we would rather serve ourselves than God.

Hosanna.

New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The roots of Being, part VI: exactly where I am


Another specific point of understanding that came up earlier this year. 

A person I know spoke about how confusing it was to them that they lost their work whenever they weren’t in a set of formal conditions where they were with other people pursuing spirituality. 

This is such a common condition; we come to our idea of our spiritual life with a lot of theories and ideas, which are much higher than what we can actually achieve, and then we're surprised when we get out into life and it doesn't work out so well.

It's easy to be spiritual when I'm sitting on a meditation cushion at the Zen retreat or the Lake Conference Center. It's easy to be spiritual when I'm in church or at home in prayer where no one is bothering me. But these places are the places where it is in fact the greatest waste of time to be spiritual. My soul, my spiritual nature, urgently needs to be out there in the world where it's tested and asked to contribute its energy to others — not in here where it just wants to—please excuse the irreverence—suck on God's teat. It's fine to nurse at God's bosom up to a certain point, and it's necessary, but there's a point where I have to be willing to become an adult and become more responsible. I have to get out there, outside myself, and take risks and engage in forms of growth that are much more difficult. It's really easy to become an infant that breast-feeds at the heart of my work, whatever it is, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, what have you, rather than going out into the world in a different way.

I have to become more responsible; and truly, really, it's possible to spend nearly an entire lifetime without doing that. 

If I become dependent in this way, of course I'm confused; I want the rewards of effort, but without paying for them. When I become excessively dependent on the crutch of my spiritual form and my spiritual organization, the inner muscles I need never quite develop the strength they require in order to help me walk. To come back to the analogy of the plant, it's like leaves and branches; they have to grow upwards and expose themselves to wind, to risk breaking, in order to develop the strength that will support them so that they can grow and expose themselves to sun. 

I need to risk breaking parts of myself off in order to help them become strong enough to receive what is necessary for inner growth.

Well, anyway, let's not rely excessively on this analogy of plants, perfect though it is in its own way. The point I'm trying to make, once again, is that I can't be a philosopher. My ideas and my philosophy about spirituality always exceed what I'm actually capable of, and I fall into delusions about who I am and what I can do.

Another example that came up earlier this year was that of being in direct and conscious relationship with another person, which is a very simple moment and not hard to reach. Yet I'm not in that moment much, even when I do grow roots into my Being. 

That's because a simple moment like this is actually a very high form of work and it's terrifying. When I look into another person's eyes directly and with honesty, and with an awareness of exactly where I am, the branches are exposed and the wind is high. Everything in me might break; at that point that's exactly where I ought to be. 

I don't do this very much, because it's scary and I have to actually admit in a practical way that I perpetually live in the midst of the unknown when it happens. 

Yet all of the love that my feeling parts have the capacity to receive is available in just such moments; that love is everything, and I ought to be willing to risk everything to receive it. Grace wants to be within this moment. I need to see that much better. 

The problem is that I think I am capable of very high and lofty kinds of work, whereas really, the most basic proposition is quite difficult for me. If I saw this better, there would be more humility. To tell you the truth, the humility even needs to come first; because if the feeling part develops a humility, an organic shame, it increasingly develops a willingness to suffer moments like this — and that is where real work could begin.

 It wouldn't, in this case, begin on the Zen cushion; it would begin at the checkout counter in the supermarket, or on the subway train.

Hosanna.

New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The roots of Being, part V: reconfiguration


Earlier this year, a person I know who is struggling to better understand their work expressed confusion about the disconnect between their inner work and ordinary life. 

What I heard from this person, and what I hear from so many people, is that their inner work is weak, they always find it possible to work together with other people groups or at meetings, and so on, but the minute they are out there in the world on their own there is a disconnect; they forget about working. They see that their work is weak and has no force or strength unless they are leaning on others. And of course, one of the conclusions one reaches — which is not entirely incorrect, as it happens — is that one can only work with the help of others.

I say this is not entirely incorrect, because it is partially incorrect. Obtaining the help of others doesn't need to consist of being a parasite and feeding on the collected energy that we can bring together. When we work this way, I ought to think about what I can contribute, not what I take away; and when I am relying on everyone else to help provide the energy that can get me to work, I actually have it backwards. I need to come to an understanding that everyone else is relying on me to bring my energy to work. In other words, it's never what I can get that comes first; but always what I can give. I have to discover a strength that contributes, not the creature that feeds.

It's very easy to enjoy the benefits of working with others and become a parasite instead of a commensal organism. But anyway, let us get to the meat of this particular observation which I wish to offer.

In order to understand the connection between one's inner work and the world, it's helpful to understand that on this entire level of being, which is expressed physically and has a very concrete materiality, my being is composed of particles. These are very finely grained particles and don't necessarily relate to any of the specific levels of material reality as we understand them in terms of quantum, atomic, or molecular structure and substance — although of course they are quite dependent on those phenomena and have important correspondences. Let's forget about those literal structural concepts, which are very functional in terms of scientific understanding, and simply understand that as "I" am, the manifestation of my Being is composed of these finely grained particles, which I am able to sense if my sensation is properly connected.

The particles are clumped together. Under ordinary circumstances, they have become heavy and claylike and are glued together so solidly that nothing can penetrate them properly. As Mme. Salzmanm said to a friend of mine many years ago, "you are too thick." 

These particles are the soil of our being. Our whole life on this level is a form of soil. This correspondence is not just allegorical; because biology reflects spirituality quite perfectly in all of its correspondences, the being of ordinary life is a fine or coarse soil, depending on my level of responsibility. A plant is meant to grow in that soil; but if the soil is thick and impenetrable, if the particles are clumped together and resist the flow of water, if the particles cling too strongly to one another and don't yield nutrients, it's very difficult to get a plant to grow. And this is what I am trying to do. My soul is a plant that needs the nourishment from the particles and soil of my being; and it can't grow unless the soil is properly prepared.

This means that I need to come into a much closer and more intimate relationship with this soil of my Being, to sense its particles and help loosen them up. That happens very slowly over a very long period of time; the soil not only needs to loosen up so that its grains are finer and finer, and I sense that fineness as a living vibration; there are also many kinds of beneficial "bacteria"—we might call them the intimations of higher feelings— that also need to penetrate that soil and breeding it, and they won't do so unless it rains regularly, the temperature is correct, and so on. Eventually, if I do the kind of work (which Mr. Gurdjieff called conscious labor and intentional suffering) that prepares the soil, my higher Being and my inner work begin to grow roots down into this soil.

There's nothing allegorical about this process. I need to understand it quite literally, from a spiritual point of view, because the sensation and the feeling of these roots is literally that of the growth of roots. Once the plant starts to grow roots, it connects my inner work to my outer life, and there's a much stronger connection between my work and the way I live. But I think you can see from this description that it's quite impossible to think this up and make it happen. You might as well go put a seed out in your garden and try to think it into sprouting. Which is what we, of course, do try to do — and it's an entirely wrong conception. The entire point of inner work needs to be reconfigured in us so that we stop trying to be philosophers and start trying to be gardeners.

This reconfiguration takes a long time as well, so it would be best to get started.

Hosanna.


New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Freedom from Negativity, part III


Let's say that we succeed, that we are "free" of our negativity. This can happen; but it does not happen all at once, unless one has some kind of epiphany which won't last for very long, quite frankly. It takes a long period of time and negativity rearranges itself quite frequently during the process, sometimes even intensifying. Negativity enjoys working through habit in the way that it already is, you see, so it resists efforts to change its function. Changing its function has to be guided through a higher energy of grace; and that has something to do with polarity and the inward compass needle.

On this level, there is a certain kind of magnetism that draws us towards it. This is why we are attracted to outward objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. Our compass needle keeps pointing towards this. We have to deposit enough "iron" in the right location of Being in order for our compass needle to swing around and point in the other direction; and it's only when the compass needle points in this direction that our attachment to negativity lessens. Emmanuel Swedenborg likened this to facing towards God instead of away from him; and this is exactly what needs to happen in a human being in order for them to become free of their negativity. It doesn't mean that negativity goes away; it's always present. It means that negativity now takes its right place in terms of service within the context of the organism at large and its place in the cosmos.

None of this is very comforting relative to our ingrained belief in psychology, rationality, and so on, all of which insist that negativity is a force we ought to be able to conquer. No one suspects that negativity can simply fade into a nuisance level background noise in most situations; nor can folks imagine that once this takes place, a whole new set of problems and challenges arises.

The organic feeling of Being, which centers itself entirely around worship and the nature of the sacred, and points the inward compass needle in that direction, has a completely different set of priorities. It has no intention of wasting its energy on the usual negativity that manifests on the ordinary level; the tasks it needs to undertake require an enormous amount of energy and the organic feeling of Being naturally conserves what is available in order to direct it towards what is necessary.


Hosanna.

New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Freedom from Negativity, part II



Today is my birthday. I'm 62.

Ultimately, the aim of receiving higher energy and distributing it throughout all the cells of the body needs to be realized by the awakened organic sensation of being, and intensified by the awakened organic feeling of being. Not by the mind, going through a rote series of mindfulness or consciousness exercises that attempts to "assist" what ought to be a natural process — as if a river needed our help in order to flow downwards towards the sea. This process ought to be awakened naturally and need no assistance whatsoever in order to complete itself; that is the natural condition of depth in a human being if they receive impressions in an active way. They don't need to interfere with it; it's as natural as breathing.

Once these materials are deposited, they form a kind of tissue within the nervous system that begins to reconnect all of the neural material in a human being in a different way. Again, this takes many many years, and consists of a sensitization of the body, the mind, and the feelings such that they coordinate their activity in a much deeper and more intimate manner.

Now, I will describe how that affects negative emotions in exactly the way I described it to my mother-in-law, so that readers can get a better understanding of how this changes your inward feeling parts.

All of the parts in the body can be likened to sprockets with teeth on them, that is, gears of one kind or another. A human being has literally trillions of these gears in them; we call them molecules, but they function — in an extremely simplified model of their nature — exactly like gears do. Let's imagine all of the molecules on the surfaces and interiors of cells as the teeth on a gear; these gears are constantly touching one another and they turn. If two gears are properly matched, and their teeth are of the right size, they turn without any friction; but the minute that the sprockets move out of synchronization with one another or they aren't fit together properly, friction arises. Negative emotions are the result of friction in the way that the inward gears turn. Now, this takes place on a molecular level; but because of the way that the emergent nature of consciousness functions, it comes out of us as our actions, attitudes, feelings, and so on. The point is that if the gears don't mesh well, and the teeth aren't working properly, they begin to crush one another. That's basically what goes wrong at the molecular level; and the way that it expresses itself at the top, so to speak, of the food chain, is that I am negative in one way or another.

Rearranging the inward molecular structure so that it meshes in a more harmonious manner helps to reduce this tension and friction, which is constantly arising in Being. This is achieved by ingesting the finer food of impressions over a very long period of time so that all of the tiny little gears inside us, which are invisible but always working, function better together. It's not an action that can be directed by the conscious mind, as you can see, so it's easy to understand, once one sees the way the mechanism works, why we can't have a direct influence on these things, and why Mr. Gurdjieff constructed his work the way he did. All of the psychological and yogic techniques in the world cannot work at the molecular level over short periods of time, which is what's necessary here. This is a long-term work; and if one wants to form a different relationship with one's negativity, one had better be willing to participate in one's life, to suffer one's negativity as it is, and to consume one's impressions of it for many many years, a minimum of 15 or perhaps even 20 years, unless one gets extraordinarily and unusually lucky.

All of that can only take place, mind you, after there is a more active relationship to sensation, so unless one works on that first, one can forget about all the other benefits that ought to accrue if we are working to free ourselves of negativity.

Hosanna.

New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense



Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Freedom from negativity, part I

Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho, Bangkok

Recently, my mother-in-law spoke to me about the idea of becoming free of negativity. She said that she knew some people in one form or another of the Gurdjieff work (unspecified) who were taught by whoever was leading them that one shouldn't have any negativity, that one should become free of it.

We had a bit of a conversation about it, and I thought I would pass my observations on the subject on to readers, since I can share some specifics on the matter that come from practical experience rather than theory.

First of all, one can't get rid of negativity. We absolutely need it. It is one of the polarities that is required if energy is going to flow. In the same way that batteries have both a positive and a negative pole, we need to have positive and negative sides so that energy can flow. An as-of yet entirely unpublished set of comments by Gurdjieff that relate to cosmology specifically describes the universe as being composed of poles of this kind; and everything that exists is, more or less, what "flows" between those two poles.

So we need our negativity. The question is not whether we ought to have it or not, but whether or not we are attached to it. There is absolutely no possibility of becoming unattached to negativity, which will always manifest, with the mind. It's impossible to think one's way out of identification. The only thing that can lead us to a different relationship to our negativity is a change in the inner arrangement, so that our parts are better connected; and this only happens over the course of many years, certainly decades, during which we make many different efforts in our work while finer substances are slowly deposited that can change the work of the organism.

We live, as we all know, in the age of the quick fix: everyone thinks that as soon as you think of this or that, there is some rational and practical way to achieve it. It's like believing that sedimentary rock can be formed in five minutes, or that a human fetus can be brought to term in a couple of days. If only one tries. Of course, the idea is ludicrous when we look at it from this point of view, but if we are in a hurry to get rid of our negativity this is exactly what we are trying to do. First of all, we have misunderstood the question entirely; after all, we can't get rid of our negativity, and even if we did, it would leave us flaccid and unable, because all of the energy that we have to move through life is generated by the flow of energy between our positive and negative poles. Second of all, negativity is a huge help to us as long as we work with it correctly by forming a right relationship to it. Eventually, it can transform into an engine instead of a liability; that is, it becomes a kind of fuel for Being. But that takes many years; and it can't really begin to take place in any major way until after the sensation has formed a permanent kernel of awareness that can attract not just the mind, but also the awakened organic feeling of Being.

Okay, I know this is complicated and seems lofty, that already we are thinking ourselves into knots here. The important points to remember are that we need our negativity; and that we can form a different relationship with it. It's this different relationship that makes a difference.

We live life from within this level. We can't possibly change the influences from this level and the way they act within this level unless we receive material from a higher level. I would tend to call this Grace; Gurdjieff used technical terms such as higher hydrogens and increased rates of vibration; others have referred to it as finer material, higher energy, and so on. The point is that this material is part of the inflow; and one has to consume it for many years, in small amounts, so that it is deposited evenly throughout the body and all of the cells. Of course there are yoga exercises and breathing exercises known to people in the Gurdjieff work, as well as other works, in which one ingests these substances intentionally (usually using breathing) to distribute them all over the body and deposit them; but these are at best instructive and at worst can become manipulative.

All these exercises are meant to do is teach one that this is possible.

Hosanna.

New Book.


This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense





Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The permanent dog


I just sit here quietly now.

I don't have to cling to any stubborn beliefs. The day will take care of itself later. Everything within me already knows how to disposition such matters; I just need to allow it, and participate. For now, everything is good just as it is; I'm letting the impressions of life flowing to me gently, understanding what a gift it is to dwell in this organism and receive what life brings.

I think, sometimes, that everyone has forgotten how to do this. To come into a much simpler relationship with nature and accept it. Not just with external nature; that in itself is an extraordinary and powerful force which I don't appreciate at all, it's true, and which might have a much deeper transformational effect on my being if I could come into a deeper and more natural relationship with it.

Yet first, before the natural world — which is an eternally flowing blessing, no matter how much damage mankind does to it – comes into me, I try to form a more intimate and loving relationship with my parts, which are here with me. They are what receives everything, after all; and they are like faithful animals, like dogs, who come together in a loyal and obedient way if they are properly tended to.

This is an idea about sensation. For many years, I study it and I think I have an idea of what it is, because I have a picture of the dog. I know what it looks like, the way it walks and runs, how it behaves, and I begin to understand from the pictures that the dog needs to be fed and cared for, and so on. But for many years I just study the dog in my encyclopedia. I don't have a real dog.

Then, one day, lo and behold, a real dog appears. It's just a puppy. It's absolutely nothing like all the theories I formed about dogs, it is a living, breathing thing that supports me and loves me. Up until now, my encyclopedia relationship has been a one-way relationship; but now, it's reciprocal.

Somehow, I need to develop a relationship with his loyal, obedient, and faithful partner who can help me so much. I need to not just have a picture of the dog; I need to have a permanent dog — one who is at my side at all times. Not as a servant or slave, so much as an equal partner in my life.

It's this permanent dog that makes a difference; because no matter how far I wander, the dog is always by my side.

I can learn love by coming into relationship with this dog; yet I need to bring my intelligence to that, because the dog needs my intelligence in the same way that I need its obedience and faithfulness.

Hosanna.



New Book.





This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense





Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The sixth sense


Introduction to The Sixth Sense:

This isn't a very long book. At 72 pages, it's more of a monograph.  Yet the subject will certainly be of interest to the Gurdjieff community, especially those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses. 

During some discussions earlier this year, it dawned on me that most people have no idea of what Gurdjieff meant when he said this. The discussions covered a wide range of what amounted to ultimately unfulfilling speculation. 

 It occurred to me that it would be a service to the community to investigate what the sixth sense really is, since material one can draw on to support such an explanation is abundant. While this monograph will hardly be the last set of notes on the subject, it lays a foundation for more discussion on the subject. 

 If you have ever wondered what your sixth sense is, what it ought to do, and whether or not we even have any connection to it, this monograph will (one hopes) raise questions, provide paths for further inquiry, and help move us towards a deeper understanding. 

Click the link below to buy a copy of the monograph.


The Sixth Sense



Hosanna.






Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

the goodness in life

May 12.

Some thoughts from this morning.

Last night I had a long talk with a close friend about the struggles we face in confronting what we can no longer do in older age and have to let go of.

It's my experience that we don't see how attached we are to external life and its influences. The Buddhists, of course, called this attachment, but Gurdjieff called it identification — the failure to distinguish between myself and the external world, so that I become, inwardly, a series of relatively static objects instead of a living, breathing being.

This process of becoming a series of things — fixed ideas and objects, like stones— inside is an insidious one, because it happens gradually over time as a result of desires that pull me in one way or another. Each one of those desires attaches itself to a static thing, an idea, about how life will be better if I get this or that. As I indulge in that habit, just following my desires, I gradually forget about the idea that maybe life is already good, right here, right now. Maybe the goodness is in living itself and not in the things.

It's possible to have a definite and objective experience that living is good in itself, before anything else happens, but in order to do that, I have to become much closer to who and what I am as a Being — to become closer to the sensation of my body, the intelligence of my mind, and the compassionate intimacy of my feeling, before they encounter the outward world. Each of these parts of me is a Being of its own that can help me discover the goodness in life that comes first. Really, it comes first, before all the things that happen.

There is an astonishing possibility available in this action, but I have to be willing to turn in an opposite direction from the way that my desires and my tyrannical reliance on intellect lead me. There is a natural intelligence, a natural depth within me that has an enormous capacity for living first, and encountering the things in life only afterwards — but I have to allow it its authority, allow it to begin living and breathing first, before I become identified with external life.

If I begin to understand this, no matter what comes along, I can let go of it. The smallest things become a reason for living; and they do it all day long. It doesn't mean I walk away from the big questions like retirement funds and whether or not my knees work properly; but it does mean that life now flows into me as I develop a completely different capacity for appreciation. Oddly, developing a greater respect and appreciation for my own being automatically causes me to deepen my respect and appreciation for others. First, I need to see the difference between my ideas about myself and life, and what life actually is. Life is a force that flows into my Being. If I am there to form a relationship with it in this moment, everything is different.

Hosanna.






Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The roots of Being, part IV: Tipping over inside me


 So today, come back again to that living force, those roots of Being, that are already active in us and that give rise to our being as it is. 

This is the whole of life; to allow life itself to flow into Being and feed Being, which is a sacred condition.

 Don't think of anything else. Just be present to this and don't think at all. Allow life to flow in; it is a thing of great beauty and great truth, that has no parallel and cannot be replaced by anything else. If I have this, and nothing else, I am alive; and if I don't have this, even if I own the world and everything in it, I have nothing whatsoever of value, because all value is created within the moment that life flows in.

 There are many different levels of sensation connected to the roots of Being. I can't use a single word to describe this or talk about it; it would take a number of volumes to break down all the different phenomena that relate to it and explain each one of them. That is certainly possible; but why bother? This isn't the point of living. We can't act like we are laboratory chemists who want to write down everything and notebooks. We have to come out of our heads and be alive within the uncertain, extraordinary, demanding context of relationship in our life. We are going to have to get a lot of things wrong in order to do this. We can't be afraid of that. We have to have the courage to meet life from within the context of the roots of our Being and accept. 

We aren't going to like it. Liking it is never the point. To like or not like has little to do with love.  Love, in fact, always finds its greatest expression in the difficulties, not in what is easy. A love that is not born in the midst of adversity has little value. Love that's born from the roots of Being is willing to accept the difficulty of conditions; it doesn't know much of anything about how to do this or that, but it knows how to put a foundation of love under the rest of life so that it has a stability, that it doesn't tip over inside me.

 Life too often has no sound foundation and tips over inside me like this. If I'm present, I can even see and feel it happen. The roots of Being, this "new sensation"  I speak of, and the active prayer that it engenders can all help  to build that foundation that keeps things from toppling. 

And even if something topples, if love is there to catch it, it does not fall.

Hosanna.






Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The roots of being, part III: prayer and Being


 Search for the force of life and the roots lie within you. These are real things; they have nothing to do with all the nonsense that the world throws at us. Much of that nonsense, of course, can be swallowed, digested, and organized into finer structures that do make sense; but that only happens if the parts are correctly organized within themselves, and then correctly related to one another. This takes many years. You aren't going to achieve it in that work weekend or intensive retreat you thought would be so special, so forget about that.

Spiritual work takes many decades, because the roots of being are very fine things. They are very much like the delicate mycorrhizae of mushrooms, which grow hidden within the earth or logs for years until they suddenly produce extraordinary, beautiful flowering bodies. Until then, their work is to penetrate thoroughly and prepare for the moment when they will emerge.

Everything works the same way. All being grows from roots of its own, regardless of the type of being it has. If one understands this properly from an organic and practical point of view, one will realize that the crystalline structure of DNA, for example, has a root that it grows from, and that crystals in general are flowering bodies that grow from the roots of the physical, chemical, and even quantum and atomic properties that underlie the principle of their Being.

 That's interesting, of course, but I don't want us to think about that today. Let's just think about being within the organism and forming an intelligent relationship with that, so that the possibility of sensing the roots of being arises, and whatever small form it can. The beginning of prayer lies at the root of that action; and prayer becomes a living force that grows from the roots in the same way that Being does. Prayer and being are not separated; and prayer should not be seen as a special function of the organism, but its ordinary state. All intelligent action and all movement, all feeling, should ultimately be seen as functions of prayer. This should not be seen as some unusual activity, but as the objective ground-floor of our present circumstances. Our relationship with the roots of Being in this moment will make that quite clear if we participate in it.

Hosanna.






Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The roots of being, part II: with contrition


 Picking up from the last installment on this question.

Come into relationship with the roots of being and understand them, through a new sensation (which is so new it is no longer what I thought about before.) These roots are living things, not concepts. My life feeds itself from them and I feel this taking place actively within me, in the cells. My conscious being is connected to my cells in a different way, because they are no longer ideas about what life is made of, but Beings that compose my Being. 

We are a community together.

 Through this, quietly and gently, I come into relationship and understand within stillness and without words that I am here. I understand the words "I am," but they are no longer words and the presence of the action is no longer "I" or "am." Like "sensation," which is now no longer a word or a concept but an event, Being is an event that I participate in directly. It is mysterious and can't be related to or qualified by outer life: it just receives it, objectively.

 Through this, quietly and gently, I begin to understand the sacred nature and purpose of my life, which is a gift given by the Lord. I'm here to receive His blessings and His Mercy as active forces; not to receive the things of life, which are necessary but temporary, and ultimately deadening compared to the living force of prayer. 

To the extent that I open my heart to this inflow, the living force of prayer becomes more active in me. It can help to cleanse me of "sin," which isn't really wrongdoing but simply just my attachments to all of the material things of the outer world. The more I let go of these things from a physical, practical, and organic point of view — not from a philosophical one — the more the power of this living force can enter me. Ultimately, the only thing that matters in my practice is receiving this force,  quietly and gently, over a long period of time. I don't need to do anything with it. I simply need to participate as a receiver. It has its own action and effects inward transformations that my ordinary mind isn't capable of understanding. I shouldn't waste my time trying to figure that out. I should simply participate, objectively, by honestly and honorably standing ready to come into relationship with that force, which is a force of love.

 This force, quietly and gently, ought to be present at all times, feeding me in a trickle of life and truth that enters my Being no matter where I am and what I am doing. 

I need to study this carefully, with contrition. 

Hosanna.






Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.