Sunday, October 14, 2007

From the Bund

This is what the view looked like this afternoon from the Bund in Shanghai.

Dramatic, eh?

You have no idea how dramatic.

The area that you are looking at is called Pudong. 20 years ago, all of this was squat buildings and farmland. No kidding. The people from the Shanghai Artex Corp. took me there in the late 1980s and bragged mightily about how the government was going to develop this land. At the time, all I could see was fields of yellow mustard. I can see them still, in this part of my immediate experience which we call "memory," and they look pretty good to me. I wonder, how much more of nature can we sterilize before it decides to return the favor?

The answer may be closer than we think. If the weather keeps warming, and the ice over Greenland and Antarctica keeps melting, nothing anyone can do will prevent this from being underwater in a few hundred years.

This may sound like idle musing that does not belong in a blog about spirituality, but nothing could be further from the truth. The nature of our Being cannot be separated from the nature of the planet, no matter how many buildings we erect and meadows we pave to contradict that fact. Jeanne DeSalzmann, as it happens, frequently said that we need to work so that "the planet will not go down."

It's true, there is some disagreement within the Work as to exactly what she meant by that, but most of the people I know accept that there is a core of truth there.

For myself, I can say for certain that planetary conditions affect my work. For example, through the years, I know that lunar phases have had a distinct effect on the availability of energy to work with. In addition, there are spring flows and fall flows of planetary energy that make it much more possible to work. Gurdjieff alluded to the distinct influence that solar and planetary influences have on our availability for work in his concept of "solioonensius," the period when emanations from the sun accelerate the possibilities for the beings which work under its influence.

For that matter, the entire discussion of so called "astral" influences is simply a discussion of planetary influences, that is to say, influences from the level directly above us. Astral entities are entities which have crystallized on the level of the planet, i.e., they have become a part of the planet and will probably last as long as it does. You can find numerous oblique and even direct references to such entities in Castaneda's work, and it is a simple matter of fact that you cannot engage in the Gurdjieff work unless you are willing to sign on to the idea that we are in the Work in order to create an astral body.

I have observed, over the years, a good deal of beating around the bush by people who don't seem to want to look this one right in the eyeball. One can, I suppose, engage in the Work without signing onto the concept, but by the time you throw the idea away, so much bathwater goes out that it's rather difficult to avoid including the baby in it.

Encounters with angels are encounters with astral entities. Beings on this scale are terrifying to us; read the Bible, you'll notice that the immediate reaction every human being has to an angel is fear. Astral entities are aliens to us, and contact with one of them is an incredible shock. If you are looking for a phenomenon that will truly rock your world, try this one on for size... presuming, of course, you are able to attract attention on that level.

You may not want to. The choice as to whether or not your life may truly change will no longer be up to you at that point.

Well, most of us appear to prefer to avoid discussing these things. One man I know who I consider a good friend and a person who is, objectively, very intensely involved in his personal inner work feels we should never discuss these things.

There is a neat irony there; he's a poet -- quite a good one as it happens -- and his fellow artist Rilke certainly discussed them.

The summary point of this post is that we are not separated from nature. We are not separated from the planet. We are all a part of this enterprise. The fact that the species is treating the planet as though it were a disposable diaper extends from the external circumstances all the way into the depth of our Being itself. We must deepen the organic roots that connect us to the planet if we want to know anything real about the nature of our own being.

The beauty of the work we do is that it does deepen these roots. It is in the discovery of the depth of sensation within the cells themselves that we uncover the pulse that connects us to the planet.

As we continue to travel across the surface of this planet together, brothers and sisters,

individually and collectively, within this moment, and within the next moment,

--and within all the moments that we have together before we have used up all our allocated moment--

May each of us deepen the roots of the mind that extend into the body so that we may become more whole, discover more compassion,

and open the heart.

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

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