Sunday, November 18, 2007

Trespassing on sacred ground

Every so often an understanding arrives in us.

Understandings are not ideas. Today it strikes me that the difference between ideas and understandings is that understandings do not come from us; ideas do.

We think up ideas-- and, incidentally, ideas may be very clever indeed. They may even be correct, if we're lucky, or smart.

Understandings,
on the other hand, are received. They come from "somewhere else"-- understandings do not belong to "us," to the "ordinary" self, they are merely received by this self. Every once in a while an understanding, which is the property of a higher awareness we are not touched by very often, arrives. Hence the construction of the word: we see that we stand under something higher.

This type of seeing requires the activity of more than one center. With an understanding, we begin to organically, physically know our place--to see what level we are on, and its relationship to other levels.

I received an understanding this morning while sitting which I will attempt to describe.

The understanding is in regards to the relationship between Christ's teaching in the Lord's prayer-- "Forgive us our tresspasses"-- Gurdjieff's teachings on considering and identification, and Buddhism's understanding of non-attachment.

These three concepts are all aspects of one understanding.

Trespassing implies violation. One has entered where one should not have entered, and finds one's self in an inappropriate place. The dictionary defines it, among other things, as entering with an implied force of violence. That can lead into further, more esoteric understandings of trespassing in regard to inner states, which lie outside the scope of the present discussion.

Trespassing, as Christ presents it, is meant to be understood as an inner action. This inner action is the same action that Gurdjieff called identification. It is an action whereby identity--Being, thought, the inwardly formed self --becomes involved with inappropriate attitude.

In this instance, the "attitude" we speak of here is not specific, it's global. It is a universal misunderstanding that arises as a result of what Gurdjieff would have called Kundabuffer.

In engaging in this misunderstanding, our inner form becomes polluted by its contact with the outer world. In mistaking our self, our being, for the external events and objects that attract us, we have taken the sacred-- the organic sense and experience of identity, which springs directly from the root of Christ-consciousness itself, and is indeed sacred-- and brought it down to this level, whereby we tread on it.

We outwardly, actively try to own, to grasp and hold, this sacred receiving of the experience of our life, instead of participating in it from a position of inner repose. This is related to the post last week about the difference between Being's repeated attempts to construct Life instead of dwelling within life.

In The Platform Sutra, The sixth great Zen patriarch, Hui neng, expounds as follows:

"...since ancient times, this Dharma teaching of ours... has proclaimed 'no thought' as its doctrine,
'no form' as its body, and 'no attachment' as its foundation."

..."Thus, the reason we proclaim 'no thought' as our doctrine is because deluded people think in terms of objects, and on the basis of these thoughts they give rise to erroneous views."

I have not quoted the whole passage here, which is very meaty indeed; instead I recommend you buy yourself a copy of Red Pine's translation and commentary (click on the link) and read it yourself, on page 12.

Hui Neng perceives thought as an activity that must arise and proceed without attachment. Unsurprisingly like Dogen, he doesn't say we should not think- emptiness, utter silence, is not the aim.

Instead he says thought should not be "in bondage."

When thought attaches to the external, this is bondage. It is the trespass of awareness into form. This is an enslavement which we all live within, constantly. It's so ubiquitous we are unable to see it.

Take note! In Zen, as in other disciplines, it is not that there is no form. Dogen repeatedly reminds us that that is a mistaken understanding. It is rather the attachment to, the involvement with-- the trespass into-- form that leads to delusion. This is a violation of containment--the rupture of what one good friend of this blog would call the hermetical seal.

Inner considering, Gurdjieff's expression for the attachment of the inner state to outer objects, quickly morphs into identification, where we become so involved with the various external materials (impressions) we have ingested that we mistake it for the locus of Being.

And if we look, we can see this process constantly goes on in regards to absolutely everything, even our inner work.

Outer considering, on the other hand, is a practice that arises (in its ideal form, that is, complete lack of attachment to form) from the Open Way that Chogyam Trungpa expounded. In outer considering, there is no trespass--no violation.

This way springs from the heart.

In order for us to avoid what Christ calls trespassing, understanding must be taken into deeper parts of the being. It needs to be physically absorbed--incorporated into the living cells of the machine itself and perceived from within that state of sensation..

When we trespass, we attempt to violate life itself. It is the act of attempting to take our life from the world, rather than to receive the world life has to offer.

The supreme irony lies in the fact that we were created to receive, born to receive, and that there has never been any need whatsoever to take.

Only our delusion brings us to this ever-present state in which we seize instead of opening.

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

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