Sunday, December 3, 2006
The inner solar system
Yesterday I said I'd make a few more remarks on the idea that during our life, we are in the process of forming an inner solar system. Agreed this idea is a bit theoretical, but we can't discuss practice without occasionally delving into analogy.
Think of it this way.
Life explodes around us like a supernova. Outward events are a massive, seething sea of energy that pours into us from the instant of birth to the moment of our death. As these impressions of life arrive in this vessel we call the body, they are completely disorganized. Until we begin, as an infant, to form the basic inner structures needed to understand them, we can't see, we can't walk, we can't talk.
It becomes the work of a lifetime to bring an intelligible order to all of these impressions, and, as more and more impressions fall into the "event horizon-" the place where the outer world meets our inner world- that becomes more and more difficult.
At first everything is a disorganized gas cloud. The materials attract each other and begin to coalesce into "inner planets." These correspond to various elements of our psyche. Some are aggressive, like Mars. Some are loving or sensuous, like Venus. You get the idea.
But inside there is no definitive center of gravity, or if there is one, it's weak. At best the sun inside us- the part that is supposed to provide the central force of gravity around which the other planets orbit- isn't well formed. So the elements of our personality are chaotic; they orbit errtically, crashing into each other and creating all kinds of havoc in our lives. Our inner sun is a massive planet like Jupiter- a "failed sun," a gas giant that has never quite acquired the materials or gavity it needs to ignite. Like Jupiter it's a troubled planet, obscured by clouds and fraught with mysterious, massive storms. It's not even the center of the system as it should be. The other planets are racing around inside, each one trying to become a sun themselves, even though none of them are properly suited for that work.
It's a mess. There's no one in charge.
In the diligent inner work of meditation and life-observation, we discover an opportunity. We can gradually begin to create a gravity in ourselves that brings a new kind of order to this "inner cosmic chaos." As the inner planets align themselves there are less collisions. And we slowly begin to draw new material into the center of our solar-system-in-formation.
With the practice of discrimination, we begin to realize that our inner sun, if it is ever going to ignite, needs certain kinds of material in order to form. We can't just take in any old set of impressions willy-nilly. For example, if the sun needs more "hydrogen" in its make-up, but what we're taking in is "iron," we're creating an imbalance. We have to begin to know what the inner solar system needs. We also have to be careful that Venus or Mars, for example, aren't sucking up most of the "hydrogen" our sun needs. They want all that good stuff for themselves, too, and if no one is in charge- well, they'll just take it.
Even more important we have to learn you can't get rid of anything. In our inward solar system, everything that comes in- all the impressions of a lifetime- stay in there permanently. Once impressions have arrived, there's absolutely no practical way to get rid of them, and enough disruptive impressions can create inner situations that are difficult, if not impossible, to correct. We all know people, for example, who are relentlessly pessimistic or negative.
Some instinctive part of us knows we can't fix that problem, and fear arises. Some ways of trying to escape the tyranny of our existing impressions are drugs, alcohol, excessive work, escapism, hedonism, and so on. Most or all of them are destructive, and since these escape mechanisms are exercised strictly within the confines of our inner solar system, the ultimate result is that they destroy any possibility of order. They burn up valuable fuel making us temporarily feel better, and in the end they all rob us of the very material we need to set things right.
It's our responsibility to see this and to assume responsibility. If we see, for example that we took in too much "iron" earlier in life, and are consequently too hard on ourselves or others, the best we can do after we realize this is to learn how to compensate. Acceptance is part of that practice.
So we agree with ourselves to become engineers. We begin to attend to our lives through discrimination and right practice to first put things in order- as Gurdjieff said, "repair the past"- and then try and acquire useful materials- "prepare the future." To do this we use the present- that is to say, every immediate moment of practice can be turned to this effort.
As we progress on this path the inner sun-in-embryo begins to gain in strength. Eeventually it has enough gravity to right the orbit of the planets, and then things inside us change a lot. Instead of every planet pulling us in a different direction, each one begins to orbit in an orderly manner.
Eventually, we begin to bring the light of this new inner sun to our solar system. That's the aim of the work- to illuminate. We gradually become a light unto ourselves- at which point we may begin to participate in a much larger structure called a galaxy.
And galaxies are maginifcent.
Love to you all today,