Thursday, September 13, 2007


Confrontation carries with it the meaning of conflict, of difficulty, of something to be avoided. Nonetheless, we all recognize that it is sometimes necessary. Perhaps we are forced to confront an uncomfortable truth about ourselves or our lives; we are required to confront an adversary who has a destructive wish; we confront our family members or friends when we disagree with them.

This is all outer confrontation. It pales in comparison to the need for inner confrontation: the moment when we really come up against how we are within, how confused and poverty-stricken our reactions and attitudes are, how saturated with fantasy our imaginations are.

Inner confrontation is, in fact, almost constantly required. We need to develop enough presence to police the inner state, to examine each associative arising, to question it ruthlessly.

This does not mean to examine ourselves like the Spanish Inquisition. Inner confrontation should never enlist that personal Torquemada each one of us nurses; no, he cannot be invited under any circumstances. The confrontation must instead be a compassionate confrontation, one in which we face our inner state with love, and discover a care-filled willingness to go against the destructive impulses--the immeasurable and unrelenting temptations--that flit through the emotional weather of our ordinary state. I say emotional weather, because what we so often find ourselves locked in struggle with is a powerful emotive impulse of one kind or another.

Emotions breed identification. Identification prevents confrontation. If there's no separation from conditions, if we have tilled no soil and cultivated no depth that can offer us a refuge from the temptation of immediate conditions, then we become the conditions.

Conditions cannot confront themselves. They require an opposing force--not, however, one that acts through force, which is what we usually deploy when resisting our impulses. Instead there needs to be a solidity, a sincerity. This doesn't have to be a powerful force; what it needs is to be intact. We need to be willing to look ourselves right in the whites of our inner eyes as we manifest. How are we? What are we doing right now? This is what Gurdjieff called the separation of the self from the self.

This inner confrontation has an inestimable positive value, as long as it isn't conducted in a belligerent manner. It's very important to avoid the self-deprecation typical of so much of our introspection, to confront even that, and bring something more wholesome to the situation.

In the end, we may find we can confront and oppose ourselves with honor, dignity, and respect.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

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