Monday, March 25, 2019

An intelligible restraint

The Devil, at St Foy in Conques

In the end, as we encounter and digest the things people say… and write… about their own inner work and inner work in general, we need to form a sound judgment about whether the things we hear and read are in fact reasonable or not.

The word sound derives from the German gesund, that is, healthy; and judgment is the ability to come to considered decisions and come to sensible conclusions. I won’t bore you with the convolutions, but consider may come from the Latin sider, —star. In other words, a considered judgment is perhaps one more informed by the stars, or, in alignment with heaven, than by thoughts tangled up in one’s own thick wad of inner chewing gum.

If we buy this explanation—and I am not telling you to, I’m merely putting it forward—then we need to carefully think over whether what we hear about inner work is aligned with heaven or its less compassionate counterpart. This isn’t, in the end, all that hard to do, in my own opinion. That which is loving, intelligent, sensitive, caring, and humanitarian in its impulse and its root is heavenly. That which is angry, selfish, aggressive, narrow, and arrogant inclines more towards hell… however you may want to interpret that word, metaphysically or otherwise. 

So when we read things we can discern their center of gravity quite quickly, as long as we’re making a legitimate attempt to assess the material instead of starting out with a predetermined negative (or positive) point of view.

This leads me to a comment about the many internet spaces devoted to Gurdjieff discussions (this space is, quite intentionally, not a forum for discussions of that kind) and the rambunctious and even rancorous tone that such discussions sometimes take on: divisive and oft even accusatory.

This is not, in my own experience, the best way to work. Conflict is not of itself a bad thing; but inner work is meant to bring folk together, not divide them. It ought (yes, ought) to engender a gentler and more attentive form of love towards one another. Not rage and dissent. To be sure, anything can happen between folks; but an organic sense of being promotes compassion over all other qualities. That compassion can, surely, be sorely tested; and there are times when one has to exercise utmost restraint in order to avoid lashing out at individuals who seem to have set themselves the inner and outer task of being nasty in one way or another—whether towards others in general, or those in the Gurdjieff work more specifically. 

I’d like to remind readers that none of us know each other all that well; and this is especially true of those of us who only know one another through the internet, and have never sat, for example, in a room together for even one minute. Hurling accusations towards others in this environment is a deeply misguided action, because the folks who do such things have, objectively, absolutely no idea whatsoever about—in my own case— ”what I'm really like,” or what my interests are. One can spend decades, for example, married to someone and despite that proximity understand—and one will, if one works—more and more deeply that one doesn’t even truly understand much about one’s spouse, for goodness sake. 

We’re mysteries to one another. We might consider respecting that more.

So how can folk exchanges posts on the internet or email possibly presume to think they know anything, really, whatsoever about the other? This simply isn’t possible; and sound and considered judgment ought surely to take this into account first. 

If that were done, perhaps an appropriate humility would prevail.

But, you see, it doesn’t, because generally speaking people just aren’t working; they are reacting, they are posing, they are blathering, and getting overexcited, but they are not working, which requires an inner repose within the texture of Being that has nothing whatsoever to do with slinging trash talk at one another online. 

Everyone who engages in this is demeaning themselves in one way or another. 

We all demean ourselves in one way or another from time to time, of course; but the point is to try from an inner point of view, through the sensation, to discover an intelligible restraint.

Wishing the best for you on each of our days,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, March 22, 2019

World: Illumination

Hell (right side), from the Tympanum at Abbey Church of St. Foy, Conques
Photograph by the author

 It turns out that the word world perhaps contains more information than I thought it might about the nature of entering into our work. Gurdjieff used the word in a sophisticated way to indicate important aspects of Being.

Our world — our experience of life through time — is created first through our inner being, our organic sensation of ourselves. It is then maintained (held within the hand) through a sense of touch, a physical inner contact or thread of awareness which is maintained through time within Being. 

We can’t truly appreciate what life means—what the word world means—unless intellect and sensation are active and engaged within Being. Until that happens, we’re limited to the psychological, temporal, and material explanations of the ideas of world. 

World needs, instead, to become a physical, emotional, and intellectual experience whose three aspects acquire equal weight within perception

This needs to take place as a sensory engagement, not a thought process. It may begin with the intention of intellect, to be sure; but the intention has to become alive within each of the three parts that have a wish to participate. There must be an intention not just of the mind, but an intention of body and an intention of feeling to accompany it. These three forces need to be balanced; and since they are essentially unequal to begin with, it’s a delicate matter. The intellect alone, which wishes to orchestrate these affairs, can’t manage the affairs of the body and the affairs of the feelings—simply because it knows nothing of their capacities. It’s a separate intelligence. It is only one, in other words, of three different worlds that exist within a human being, all of which need to combine harmoniously in order to create the fourth estate, the fourth way.

Until we understand this more directly through an organic sensation of our being, which is the fundamental texture that can tie our individual fragments of awareness together, everything we see is like being in a dark room that is occasionally illuminated by the flash of a strobe light. 

When that happens, we see everything in the room and are perhaps enormously impressed; but then our awareness slides back into a darkness that allows us to stumble around without helping us to establish sane relations between the various inner objects that surround us. These objects, by the way, are the various fragments of our own being, which are disconnected. We keep bumping into them, often painfully.

Knitting together the tangled yarn of our awareness with sensation gradually allows a whole piece of cloth to emerge. At this point inner illumination becomes more regular. If sensation becomes relatively permanent, the light will be turned on in such a way that we can see the whole world — our whole inner room — without the fragmentary snapshots which have plagued us for a lifetime. 
This is an uncomfortable experience. The fact is that we’ve been bumping into objects in our room for our whole lives without knowing what they were. Taking them for granted, and assuming that they both belong in the room and that all the pain they are causing is necessary and acceptable in one way or another. Turning on the light of awareness within our inner room through a relationship with organic sensation allows us to begin to deploy a faculty of discrimination — mediated by feeling — that allows us to acknowledge where we actually are. 

We discover the world in which we live, the inward world, not the outward one. And it’s this inward world which we urgently need to illuminate: everything else that takes place both inside us and outside us depends first and foremost upon that illumination.

 Instead of focusing, however, on this understanding of this inner world which is begotten not made, and has the potential to receive the force of Christ and God as a master and resident—not a concept or thought process—we always focus on the outer world, and believe that everything we need to achieve and understand is attached to that.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

World: Maintenance

Heaven (left side), from the Tympanum at Abbey Church of St. Foy, Conques
Photograph by the author

Gurdjieff’s interest in Being— which we’ll take, for the purposes of this essay, to be the fundamental ground within which consciousness arises and manifests— begins with the premise that it is created—not made. 

We hereby refer to the passage from the rite of Holy Communion describing Christ as begotten not made, that is to say, procreated or born, not fashioned using outer materials.

 This is important from both a spiritual and a psychological point of view, because what it says to us is that the human being  and Being itself, is not fashioned, at its root and in its essence, from what takes place outwardly. This fundamental understanding of esoteric Christianity can be found throughout the works of Meister Eckhart; his insights on the matter are nearly indispensable. 
Humanity is born, procreated, from the very essence of Being itself: begotten from an inner life, not made by the outer one. This vital (life-giving) distinction draws a line between mechanistic rationalism, the idea that everything is fashioned by the material and rests only on the material for its reason for existence and being, and metaphysical humanism, the understanding through organic experience that everything in being is created, not made. 

We find ourselves in a dialogue here about whether the material gives birth to life, or life gives birth to the material. (See Emmanuel Swedenborg’s comments on the matter, which are definitive.) Worlds are not fashioned through and by the material, but fashioned through the subtle and inexplicable nature of the soul and of consciousness and being itself. It cannot be otherwise. This creation, begotten not made, reveals the essential nature of both Christ — God as a force in the world — and our own essential nature as vicegerents of God. 

 Our world is created. This is what the inner life of man consists of, the creation of our world, and from Gurdjieff’s perspective it functions according to laws which we must understand. The first law which we have the capacity to understand is the law regarding the fact that we are begotten, not made — that we are the seeds of a force expressed through the existence of humanity, both individually and collectively.

I live, as you do, directly within the experience of this world — my ”man–age” — which I become responsible for—must manage, meaning to handle, or touch.  

That is, engage with intimately

It is only through a direct and tactile experience of my creation, the arising of my consciousness through an inner force in every moment of existence, that I can begin to have any direct understanding of what it means to engage with the laws of world creation: the creation of my being. This takes place strictly in an inner sense, and it arises as a force before I encounter anything within the outer world. 

The outer “world” contains the third-order meaning of the word world, that is, a cosmos or a set of events that is external;  yet let us remember, as we continue this exploration, that the word world always applies to man and time, or, consciousness and the perception of impressions, so even the tertiary meaning of the word world is dependent upon a human force. Objects, events, circumstances, and conditions which are perceived are all utterly dependent on human perception in the first place. Human perception as an experience of awareness exists apart from the material (is meta-physical) and all of what is physical and perceived is irrevocably dependent on the existence of a human to perceive it (humanism, the fact that all consciousness and perception is dependent on a human force.) 

 This primacy of human force, which mechanistic rationalism calls anthropic,  that is, of man, can never be divorced from discussions about the universe, because the discussions themselves are dependent on man for their prosecution, even if one attempts (laughably, from a philosophical point of view) to remove him from the argument while having the discussion. 

That may seem like an intellectual twist; but the primacy of human force, the fundament of organic Being and the organic experience of Being, is not solely intellectual in its essence. It’s composed of all three of the forces that create a human being— body, mind, and feeling. 

We begin by inhabiting this place of awareness wherein we are in a body, are able to think of that, and have feelings about it. These forces are created, not made. When we encounter the world around us, outside us, that third-order world of things, we do so from the place in which we are born within Being.  

Our perception creates this world we call the experience of being human; and the more deeply we are invested in that initial experience—the more clearly we see how it precedes the existence of all other experience through an organic relationship to it—the more clearly we can see what Gurdjieff’s laws of world maintenance consist of.

 The word maintain is derived from the Latin manū and tenēre,  which mean to hold in the hand— bringing us back once again to this tactile requirement of intimate inner contact

We must needs touch ourselves from within with a sensory quality that transcends intellect alone— that is physical— in order to maintain, to grasp, the nature of our inner and our outer life. It is this intermittent direct contact from within that enables our ability to evaluate the impressions that flow into us, and the way that we see our lives — our attitude.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

World: Creation

Christ, from the Tympanum at Abbey Church of St. Foy, Conques
Photograph by the author

A friend of mine recently posted an extensive quote from Ouspensky— accompanied by additional quotes from Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson — regarding Gurdjieff’s observations on the many different ways in which human beings disagree about what the word “world” means.

Following this, I thought I’d undertake an investigation of the word and its meaning, along with my personal observations about it, just to see where it goes.

The word world is a Germanic word composed of two roots, wer,  meaning man, and ald, meaning age.  (Readers interested in monsters will note that a were-wolf thus means, quite literally, a man-wolf.)  Hence the word fundamentally refers to human existence—the life of a man. The applications of the word to other pieces of territory, such as a cosmos, are appendages. Given Gurdjieff’s interest in etymology, he would have known this. 

Linguistically speaking, world does some very heavy lifting, taking up as it does some six full pages in the Oxford English Dictionary. Its primary meanings all relate to human existence, the pursuits and  interests of this present life, the affairs and conditions and life, secular life, and so on. A collection of secondary meanings relate to the earth or regions of it, the universe or parts of it, parts of the universe considered as an entity, the material universe as an ordered system, and so on. A third group of primary meanings relate to the inhabitants of the earth or sections of it.

 Taking this in its entirety, we see that the word world has three “levels”: 

—the personal level of one human being
—the level of societies of human beings
—the level of the cosmos itself. 

It thus reveals connections to the Buddhist concepts of discovering one’s awareness in three different ways: the self, the community, and the Dharma (the cosmos.) There’s also an implicit connection to the Holy Trinity.

The word is so rich that it would probably be worth reading the entire OED entry on it; I won’t repeat it here, however. Our interest is in unveiling the essential meaning of the word, which relates, above all, to the inner life of a human being and of the processes that both create and maintain it.

 Take note that one of Gurdjieff’s obligolnian strivings is understanding “the laws of world creation and world maintenance.” Let us take that to mean, first and foremost, the primary meaning of the word, rather than its secondary derivations related to cosmology or society. 

Since Gurdjieff was so persistently interested in the inward development of a human being and the evolution of their spiritual nature, we can presume that this was his primary interest. When he uses the word world, in other words, wherever it crops up in a direct way related to his teaching, he is referring to our own inner world, the psychospiritual inward space which we inhabit.

Our world is created by the impressions we take in; and it is correspondingly maintained. Recognizing this, we uncover potential meanings about Gurdjieff’s interpretation of time, which he called the Merciless Heropass: a force which erodes the place of not just God’s but our own, being.  

Because the word world contains the roots for both man (wer) and time (ald = alt = old, or age, in German)  we see that the very word world itself already contains a direct and embedded reference to the concept of both man and his relationship to time. 

Without man and time, there is no world.

The important point here, however, is to understand that we need to discover the meaning of the world in relationship to how we are within ourselves, as human beings.

 We live within a world in the sense of our very manifestation as human beings, along with our age, the time within which we manifest. In this sense we become entirely responsible, throughout the course of our being, for the creation and maintenance of the entire world of what’s called the Self. The Self  — also a Germanic word — means identity, one’s own person. Identity, of course, comes from a Latin word identidem  which means that is repeated, consistent. 

 One understands that the repetition of acts of awareness which distinguish us, in a separated sense, from the actions themselves (the action, for example, of simply seeing something or hearing something) is what creates our inner world. Within a Gurdjieffian context, World, means, in its most specific sense, consciousness and its experience as discovered through a human being. All of its other meanings come after that.

Gurdjieff’s comments about the confusion regarding the meaning of the word world  thus relate to an overarching commentary about our confusion about who we are. This, of course, was the whole point of his teaching in the grandest sense; and the obligolnian striving about the laws of world creation and world maintenance thus become a central point around which everything turns. 

What creates our sense of our Being?

 And how is it maintained?

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Being less special

January 25, New York

Most of the imagination revolves around thinking somehow I am special. That I have special abilities or qualities, that the world somehow turns on aspects of who I am, and so on. Very little of my manifestation is turned directly towards just being ordinary. This can be scrutinized at intimate levels if I’m more present, more related, to my inner nature.

 The word ordinary turns into a disparaging term. When I’m in a “higher” state, ooh, it’s greater and more important, more special, than my ordinary state. And so on. I want everything to be extraordinary. So much so that the word gets flogged to death: we prattle on about extraordinary experiences, the  extraordinary qualities of inner work, how we love this extraordinary finer energy we experience, etc., etc. 

 Perhaps it’s worthwhile to just turn the attention — the physical, intellectual, and feeling attention— towards being ordinary. 

Towards just inhabiting what I am as a simple and uncomplicated fact. 

There is nothing special about me. 

In fact, I’m one of billions of tiny organisms at this level struggling to fulfill my inner and outer responsibilities. How special could I — could any of us — be?

 It reminds me of something that was once said by a minister at St. Bartholomew’s in Manhattan. This was back in the 1980s. At church that morning he said (to one of the wealthiest congregations in New York City) that although it would be a bitter pill for many there to swallow, the janitor in the building who cleaned out the toilets was equal in the eyes of God to everyone else.

 We’re all just janitors in this building. 

My inner work is meant to help me see this. There is no doubt that I ought — yes, I ought, it is my duty — to have the greatest gratitude for the least things. That I ought to give thanks to God for every single instant that I have even one single cell to sense; that I ought to give thanks to God for every single breath I take and every single color I see, for each berry I eat with my yogurt and honey. These are truly special things: and they have absolutely no contact with, make no impression on, all the imaginary things I dream up about how special I am.

 I suppose it’s natural that one develops a more acute sense of one’s inner vision and nature as one grows older. Yet nothing can prepare us for this idea of how thoroughly and ordinarily human we are; and how absolutely and irrevocably we ought to absorb this lesson within every cell in our being, into the marrow of our bones, in order to get an understanding of how we are ordinary.

 I can’t participate in the actions of humanity if I keep setting myself apart from it, as though there were something better about me than others. 

If I want to be more human, I need to be willing to be less special.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Texture of Being

Capital, Serrabone
Photograph by the author


In the last days I'm feeling the need to work with more intensity, increasing my efforts to be attentive, more present, and the question comes to me: is it be because of my age, (I am 62) or does it come from some influence of another order?


It's a good thing. Why are you trying to figure it out?

Our duty is simply to work. If you work, then there's no need to think it out. The work explains itself through itself, not through us.

Correspond to your life. Find a place of repose within the texture of your Being and repose in it.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

1,000,000 page views and counting

Scene of the soul being weighed
From the Tympanum at St Foy in Conques


Today this online journal has reached and surpassed 1 million page views over the course of its history.

When I started to write in this space over 12 years ago, a statistic like this was not only unimaginable, it was unthinkable. It never occurred to me that I'd be writing a journal online for this long, or that it would reach such a wide audience all over the world.  To put it in perspective, it used to get 10 or 15 page views a week when it was first established.

To all of the readers over the many years who have helped the blog to reach this milestone: 

Thank you for your support of yourselves as you continue your inward efforts to discover a Being that is more permanently grounded in your sensation, more organically founded in the love for others and for God, and skeptical of everything in the self that tries to destroy these factors for the growth of Being.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Some notes from March 6-8

Today's solar event has been useful for inner work. 

My Whole Life

Whatever state I’m in—partial, less partial, fragmented, upset, inwardly still—I'm here right now with 100% of life. 

So as I examine this active question of my Being, I always have to begin from right here and right now.

There’s no part of my life that’s happening elsewhere under a different set of conditions. No part of life that isn’t available to me now as a part of my investigation—my effort to see who I am and where I am. 

So everything that’s necessary is here. There isn’t anything that’s missing. If I torture myself with thoughts that I’m insufficient—that the current conditions are insufficient, and so on—I miss the availability of the wholeness of my Being, which is inviting me to inhabit it.

Perhaps there are indeed qualities in me that are lacking, but the active experience of life which allows me to see them isn’t. I can’t approach my life with the idea that I’m not good enough to at least live it honorably.

Above all, within this experience of life, I need to become responsible to discover what my inner work means. To discover itself for myself, without reference to all the books and philosophies. To discover the molecular properties of my inner Being, their rate of communal vibration. This is a physical and an emotional investigation, not a mental one. I can permit myself to leave all the mental stuff behind. Really I can. It’s an impediment.

Instead I’m looking inward into a relationship that consists of a communal vibration. A vibration that arises at the ground level of my being, from which all of my presence emanates.

It’s this rate of communal vibration I’m interested in. I can invest in it anywhere, at any time, as the foundation of an investigative tool that does not rely on thoughts our theories to make its points or glean its meanings. It’s an intelligence bereft of intellectual thought; it thinks through simple, direct impressions of my life itself as it’s lived, here within the breathing and the sensation.

Payment through Relationship

Every instance of Being is paid for through relationship. 

Relationship is a currency; a means of an exchange of valuations. I need to come to and respect the wholeness of my Being as I am in order to begin this exchange. 

It demands a certain level of responsibility. It costs me something.

There isn’t any Being without relationship, so I need to learn how to pay for it. 


Nothingness is an emotional Grace

Humility is an essential condition given as Grace. It’s part of real feeling; higher feeling. 

I can’t come to an inner impression of humility unless it’s sent, it’s given. Most of what I think is humble consists of a theory about humility, a thought about it. An ordinary emotional sentiment that tells me I ought to feel humility because of this, that or the other thing.

Yet real humility, as I know it, only arrives from an inner seeing that arises from contact with a higher energy. When that Grace is sent, I can take in a much clearer impression of my own nothingness. A real impression—not the ersatz ones I flatter myself with when I just think about this idea. 

Nothingness is an emotional Grace.

When humility arises from this, that or the other thing, it’s artificial. Real humility has no point of origin; it's universal, a property of God’s own Being, a particle of His Endlessness. 

It's also a kind of food, which one might liken to manna: a substance found in the midst of ordinary life (the desert) which nourishes. 


Be yourself

In inner work, one has to become what one is, not what others think one should be. 

It reminds me of my teacher Betty Brown, who always had suspicions of organizations and their power-possessing beings. She saw them as forms—and, like all forms, something we need to go beyond.

“Don’t ask me to lead—I may not lead. Don’t ask me to follow—I may not follow,” she said. She emphatically wished for her pupils to be themselves... not what others made of them. 

Don’t be what others expect you to be. And don’t let them intimidate you. Set the highest possible standard within, and then Be yourself.


Inner energy

It’s helpful to understand that the energy needs to be harmonically dispersed throughout the entire body in a balanced manner. It’s okay (and quite normal) to receive energy in specific locations, such as the solar plexus, but it’s necessary to collect and evenly distribute it throughout one’s entire Being, so that all of the cells eventually acquire compatible rates of vibration.

The rate of vibration between different cells and different groups of cells needs to become harmonized. The disharmony between such rates is one source of inner tension, and when energy becomes too concentrated in one part (for example, the spine) it produces interesting effects but nonetheless disharmonizes the action of energy in the rest of Being. So concentrating too much on the action of individual chakras can actually produce the opposite of an intended aim to balance the system.

Our aim must be always and everywhere to distribute energy evenly within Being, balance the parts and the functions, and bring inner energies into a harmonic community. 

Wishing the best for you today,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Resolution and Being, part V

By simplifying the relations between my various inside parts I become a better steward of myself. I learn to let go; I let each distressing and complex event pass into a new and simpler form in which it simply is, and I allow myself to move into it, through it, and onwards— as best I can.

9. To reduce, transform, or change to something else.
10. To untie or loosen.

My inward life can be transformed. It’s certainly changeable: as Jeanne Salzmann once said, the only thing I can change is my attitude. 

By untying and losing these inward knots I’ve twisted myself into, many new things can become possible. In doing this, I’m conforming more generously to the actual conditions around me, which are also in a constant state of change.

11. To answer or to solve, as a question or argument.
12. To remove, clear away, or dispel– for example,  as in doubt
13. To decide, to determine what's up.
14. To determine or decide upon.

I'm engaged in a lot of inner arguments. Almost all of them revolve around this belief in resolution of one kind or another. Most of them are attached to my outward circumstances. If I look at myself quite carefully, I see that my inner arguments are seldom actually directed at how I am inside: I don't look at the individual parts of myself and ask them about how they’re behaving, what their relationship to one another is. Instead I look at what's going on outside of me—and argue with myself about that. 

With this suggested inner action—this approach to an inward resolution of Being—I’m interested in trying to clear up my inward doubts about what is taking place by removing and clearing away the complexities, the demands for permanence, the assumptions, the tyranny. 

I want to determine what's true now.

I want to take responsibility for how I am inside, right now.

15. To free from doubt or complexity; to bring certainty, clear understanding.

This now obsolete meaning of the word resolve –common, according to the OED, in the 17th century –most ably illustrates the hope born of an effort of inward awareness. It describes what Gurdjieff would have called an objective state. 

There are those who argue that such a state is functionally impossible for human beings; yet it’s an absolute fact that when the 3 centers are acting in conjunction with one another, at higher energy levels– through their voluntary abilities —objectivity of this kind is normal. This is a true resolution—a resolution of awareness, which is not attached to any outward thing, but has the ability to move within all outward things: to be fluid, to maintain (on this microcosmic level) efforts towards the properties of God which can be manifested within life: Wisdom, Mercy, Endlessness. To form relationship.

Together, exercised within awareness, these three properties of being create a higher expression of that unique and inexpressible property…

which we call Love.

All of this bears repeated examination. Once it becomes clear that Being is not a destination, but an action, and one releases one's inner obligations from the rigidity instilled by a constant demand to resolve everything, a new inner relaxation becomes just a bit more possible. 

Of course—especially here—I should never expect perfection. I’ll always need hell in order to maintain heaven. It's the balance between the two that matters; and if there is anything I ought to keep my eye on, it’s this.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Resolution and Being, part IV

The human psyche, the essence of our soul, must become a measuring tool of not of things, but of process, if we wish to understand what Being means. In this sense, even the word Being itself is deceptive. The word, after all, is a very simple noun with this brief etymological mention in the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology

“from earlier use meaning existence, developed from verbal noun be.”

To be is an irregular verb, whose etymology has a metamorphic character. Like what it describes, the word itself has been constant movement throughout its use in the various Germanic tongues that coined it. Being is not a thing; it is an action. When I say I wish to be, or I wish to have Being, I am not referring to something tangible which I can have and hold. My wish is for a state of action, an ability to act. 

That action takes place not within the simple field of consciousness, which even a worm or a molecule occupies; it takes place within a field of awareness, that is, a capacity to observe and evaluate.

This, then, is what struck me as what it means for anything to have a resolution: it means to be aware

The only resolution that can ever truly exist within life is this resolution of awareness: my being, the action which I take. 

It's the resolution of now.

That can be resolved in an inward sense alone; I have the capacity to be aware within myself. This, in this moment, is an absolute and objective resolution; not a subjective one. It’s objective to the extent that my awareness is detached from the presumption of resolution in the physical world: the world of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. There will always be movement and change here; and there will always be desirable and undesirable outcomes and consequences. Yet there will never be resolution there. The only resolution that can be achieved is this inward resolution of awareness.

At the same time that this becomes evident to me, the requirements for living within the material world and all of the deceptively attractive “resolutions” it offers — every one of which must be attended to, often even with passion and conviction –are brought into question. 

Taking that into account, I’ll revisit my abbreviated Oxford English dictionary list of meanings for the word resolution and see how each one of them, in one way or another, applies to this question:

1. To melt or dissolve, reduce to a liquid or fluid state.
2. To disintegrate, to break up, separate into constituent or elementary parts.
3. To soften. To disperse or dissipate.

Within the action of awareness and being, I attempt to allow all of the solidity of the experience of what I call myself to gently melt or dissolve, becoming more liquid and fluid. What “I” am now is strongly integrated; a rigid structure that actually needs to be broken into pieces in order for it to be better understood. Those elementary parts all have an important values, but they need to discover a new, different kind of relationship. 

I can become softer; my experience of myself can thereby become more permeable, like a liquid that receives all of the things that take place, easily moving from one state to another in the same way that water flows and penetrates what it encounters. 

I can let go of this solid creature I believe I am, this one who demands all the absolute answers, and make more of an effort to inhabit the moment in a gentler way.

4. To slacken or relax, as in the limbs.

I can allow myself to relax. I give myself permission to let go of a bit of the physical tension and anxiety I constantly feel when confronted with this demand for one resolution after another. It's a foregone conclusion I won't get all the resolutions I seek; anyway, most of them are sheer fantasies in the first place… why not just try and take it a little easier here?  Within myself, perhaps I can allow myself to Be instead of trying to force a resolution of Being.

5. To cause to pass away.
6. To separate a thing into its component parts.
7. To reduce by fundamental analysis into more elementary forms principles or relations.
8. To pass into another form or into simpler forms.

It's all right to let each moment go; to welcome it, taste it, release it. 

Things with me need to be taken apart, removed from the complexities of my beliefs and insistences. Simplified. I need to sort them out, to see them individually for  what they are, rather than believing in the structures they have created. By seeing, through a concise and more objective awareness, all of these elementary parts of myself, I begin to appreciate what a patchwork my psyche is, and how careful I might choose to be about assuming responsibility for each piece of it. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.