Friday, November 16, 2007


This morning I examined the inner state with a particular acuity during my sitting. I am in a real scrutinizing phase.

In regard to this question of the connections between centers, and the receptivity and functionality of our inner flowers, I see that it is a complex system. The energy channels in the body are as subtle and intricate as our biology itself. It is a network that spans worlds as well as cells, since it is designed to connect levels.

The simple fact, I see, is that the network is not always available in equal measure. There are several reasons for this.

One reason is because of the invariably limited resources we have. Our inner chemistry is not perpetually stocked with the necessary substances: they are not "easy" to manufacture, and we inadvertently squander so much of them.

Another is the astral, or planetary, conditions around us at any given moment: we cannot reasonably hope to prevail against the tidal forces that drive life on earth; the best we can do is learn to swim with them. The consonance that Dogen calls us to seek between ourselves and nature--as symbolized in Zen by rocks, trees, mountains, tiles and mirrors--is, among other things, his way of asking us to fine-tune our relationship to the natural forces we ourselves actually arise from.

I need to keep reminding myself of this, because there is a part of me that expects- or perhaps even demands- that "everything" always be available, and that my inner connections be forever good, or better, or even best. Of course there is a positive side to this type of striving--after all, it is an aspect of keeping my wish alive-- but when I expect too much--which is to say, more than what can actually be available-- I run the risk of signing on to a culture of perpetual deficiency, where I am not good enough, my efforts aren't good enough, and my experiences aren't good enough. All of which adds up to what one might call inner considering about one's work.

I think a very great deal of that goes on in all of us, but isn't talked about too often. Worth keeping an eye on, that question.

That being said, what has interested me of late is the meaning of what Gurdjieff called impartiality-- the question of how to become more whole.

My original group leaders, Henry and Betty Brown, often brought this question to us. The word cropped up; we heard it. Nonetheless, having heard it, I am not sure we understood how to examine it, that is, study the question of our partiality in an inner sense.

To be impartial is not, in the end, a question of intellectual objectivity. There is a much greater question at hand here: how do the inner parts connect to form a whole?

In the structural study we undertake, using the Gurdjieff system, the enneagram, and other practical esoteric tools to discern the nature of our Being, we begin to see that our parts are not connected. Maybe we even learn to help some of them form better relationships. This type of work is gradual, protracted, intimate.

All of it leads to a moment when the potential of wholeness emerges. In studying the relationship between our various inner parts, eventually all the flowers need to become one flower. In learning to breathe in through our individual flowers, we also need to learn how to feed the whole garden. In the inner sense, all flowers are parts of this one flower; if we can get a taste of that, more may be possible.

There is a teaching contained within this idea that relates to the essentially fractal nature of the enneagram. When I was in Cambodia last month, I saw how cleverly the architects who built the Hindu temples at Banteay Srei and other places depicted the sacred fractal nature of relationship within the universe. The towers of the temples at Banteay Srei have multiple levels that climb towards heaven, depicting the ray of creation as it flows downwards.

And on every level, at every corner, there are miniature versions of the selfsame tower.

The message is clear: big temples are made of little temples, which are made of littler temples still.

We get so involved with the individual little temples (ideas, interests, parts) that we forget they are all part of one big temple. In the same way, our little inner "I's" forget they are part of a bigger single "I," a greater Being.

If we remember ourselves, perhaps we get a taste of that greater Being. The Self that has been forgotten is unknown, in large part, because it is greater than the Self that seeks to know. We speak here not just of inexperience but of differences of scale, and the inevitable deficiencies of vision caused by our habit of cheerfully squatting within little temples.

...And that Being, that Greater Self? Well, even that I is part of a still larger "I." So it's quite possible self remembering is necessary at every level of the universe, in order for the fractured nature of awareness to reconnect itself.

These are some of the external associations, from which very beautiful cloth indeed can be embroidered. The greater question, for me, is how to actively sense and see within myself how every flower is a part of one flower--how every center connects to form a greater whole which, in the Gurdjieffian cosmological model, we refer to as the enneagram.

And in particular how I might be able to experience that by the supremely difficult practice of throwing the associative assumptions away.

I continue to find, in my inner research, that touching and tasting these realities depends on the most intimate possible kind of contact with the breathing. A kind of contact that has nothing to do with manipulative practices. Instead it relies almost exclusively on the cultivation of a new and deeper type of awareness.

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

1 comment:

  1. This may be the best thought you have had in the entire blog. It ha set my thoughts to -- well, if not churning, than at least wondering.

    Last night I viewed the movie "Amazing Grace" and was surprised and convicted by its message.

    Your blog of today has now likewise given my day a similar start, if not in content, then in intensity of thought. I will reread and chew on it for awhile. It makes me remember the kind of thoughts I had when I was a child, the kind that brooded on connections rather than defenses.


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