Most of my experience of life consists of what I would call mental sensation of self. Although I certainly have a powerful emotional side, until I was in my mid-40s my conception of life consisted of what I could think about life. I am a pretty concise thinker, which impresses people, and it seemed to me that that was what was important about me. I even used to try to think up my art -- which of course did not ever work very well.
All of this thinking was directed outwardly. While I am unable to step into anyone else's shoes to verify it, I believe we all live this way most of the time. Most of our universe consists of thought or emotional reaction.
One of the senior members of the Gurdjieff Foundation mentioned to me about a year ago that as we grow older, our work becomes more inner in nature.
In my own experience, nothing could be closer to the truth. There are parts within us that can awaken in their own right which are connected not to our thoughts, but to the state and process of the organism itself, that is, they arise more from our biology than our psychology. And this is precisely where we lack a connection, a connection to the body itself that can inform us-- help to form us inwardly.
And why, you may ask, do I mention our biology? We don't hear much about biology in spiritual work, do we?
Our biology is what connects us to the planet. Everything that we think, all of our ideas, arise from our biology. The body is what makes it possible: no body, no experience. (Although I have , incredibly, met those who argue this point ...using their mouths and other body parts, of course.)
So it would appear our intimate connection to the planet earth--an astral organism, alive on the level directly above us, of which we are a part--is more properly located in our biological origins than in any highfalutin' cosmic ideologies we may espouse.
In this context, perhaps we might consider seeking that within us which can help us to have an inner sensation of self.
That sensation does not arise from our ideas or what we think about ourselves; it arises from the organic state of being. This means it is connected to the root source of life rather than the circus of psychology which occupies our daily existence. When we discover it--or it discovers us-- it's more like that, really, isn't it?--it is as though we have found a deep tap root extending into ourself. Vital connective tissue that plunges into the dark and hidden soil of Being from which all existence arises.
This is a mysterious place, this dark soil. It involves heat, and breathing. Deep down inside, we cannot see, but must rather sense, what we are and how we are. Instead of thinking about ourselves, in this place, like blind men, we touch in order to find out the shape and sense of things, and in turn we ourselves are touched. This is the place within ourselves where Alph the sacred river runs through caverns measureless to man.
There is a source of arising within us that exists before we do.
It is possible for countless rootlets of consciousness to extend into our cells and connect them to this greater sense of being I refer to. In this way we can begin to experience the miraculous, living network of our inner vehicle-- a completely extraordinary machine which we know little or nothing about.
The sensation of the limbs is just beginner's sensation--a good thing, to be sure, but it is only the first step on a path which goes much deeper. Sensation has to penetrate into the bones; it has to penetrate into every organ. Not only does sensation have to penetrate every organ, we have to experience the way that sensation arises within all of the organs. We need to discover the inherent vibration within the body which sustains life.
This vibration is not a property which belongs to us, only one we can attune ourselves to. Intimately linked to our breathing, it can remind us of the sacred nature of every moment of consciousness.
The inner sensation of Self, if discovered, becomes a motive force in our question of what we are and how we are. Does it answer our questions? Of course not. It raises new ones, countless new ones, all of them enlivened by the very existence of our life itself.
The action of this force within is what leads me to question, to search, to look very precisely at the inner processes and what feeds them. To cultivate a relationship inside that exists in a different world than the world I inhabit in my daily manifestations. This point--or, more correctly put, this set of inner points-- become points of work that connect me directly to a force within which is greater than outside influences, which invariably seek to enslave me to their own purposes.
Of course, in taking this path, I am still under influences, the difference being that the influences I am under are more chosen, less imposed, and are feeding me instead of feeding on me.
May your roots find water and your leaves know sun.