Saturday, December 1, 2007

Becoming more specific

Once again, this morning, I woke up very early-- it's that rare and glorious moment, a day off, and yet I found myself wide awake at 4:30 am, studying the inner condition--the physical reality-- of what we call life. Is it curiosity that drives me to this? I don't know. All I can be sure of is that I awaken, I am alive-- and within that given condition, I want to know what is possible.

At the risk of redundancy, it seems worth revisiting this question. I am finding that opening the "inner octave"-- the six flowers-- requires a great deal of this kind of attentiveness and, above all,

inner specificity.

Now, I know we do not seem to come across this word, or this idea, very often in discussions of spiritual work. Then again, those of you who read this blog know that I have a number of terms--such as "organic sense of being"-- that are not borrowed from other people but coined whole from my own work. The terms may be right, they may be wrong-- they may be right for some, and wrong for some others--but at least they are not recycled. Each one of them is specifically (there's that word again) chosen based on my own investigations and experience.

And yes, I make 'em up as I go along. I'm an improviser at heart. As William Segal famously used to say, "make do with what you have."

Well then. In truth, Gurdjieff did often ask Ouspensky to become more specific--very specific-- in his work. He advised him repeatedly to study the inner condition and become familiar with all of the parts of his machine--everything that made it tick, so to speak--the study of centers and the study of hydrogens (now seemingly seen as an esoteric subject indeed by people in the formal branches of the work)-- and so on. If you re-read "In Search of the Miraculous", I daresay you'll be struck by just how specific Gurdjieff asks us to be. I mean, who do we know in the Gurdjieff work who claims -- as Gurdjieff urged Ouspensky-- to have identified, cataloged, and studied the various higher hydrogens and their specific effects--or even tried to?

If no one knows today what he meant, if the subject is now considered so arcane that no one cares to come to grips with it--does that mean it "never happened?" That it "isn't possible," or "can't be explained?" Yes, in one sense it's true that nothing can be explained, but in another sense everything is an explanation. Even the statement that nothing can be explained is... damn... an explanation of explaining.

So perhaps getting specific isn't all that obscure, after all. And maybe we can indeed discover something about the action of higher hydrogens within us... only never in the way we expect to... and probably not ever what we expect.

Dogen also spends an exhaustive amount of time asking us to examine the questions raised by Buddhist doctrine. He isn't asking us to theorize and "figure it out." Dogen, too, wants us to study our inner state, and, I think, he too wants us to gets specific about it.

OK, you're probably thinking to yourself. Enough already.

Get specific about what?

First of all, stop thinking. Thinking is the perfect basis for getting specific, but, as with a jazz musician, who may know all the scales and theories, but then has to cut loose and improvise, we need to abandon our premises--our thoughts--even as we include them. Having created it, we inhabitants do not need to perpetually stare at the intellectual foundations of this earthly house called life; we can climb stairs and look out windows in confidence, knowing that this work of the ordinary mind, incorporated into our foundation, already exists.

The support is there.

Without thinking, the effort then becomes one to inhabit the body, and to perceive, very exactly, what is available. How the inner state corresponds to its own receptivity. Within, I search for the seed of what may arrive--I look for the tiny buds of vibration that can open into those fragrant blossoms we so earnestly seek.

I ask for help in finding them, offering the immediate, essential experience of this life, as it stands, to that glorious mystery hovering on the periphery.

Such buds are always poised directly on the edge of my lack of inner awareness. In the silence of the morning, tactile abilities may be able to sense the hidden potential of those buds, to draw breath in to them and feed their wish.

So much of this depends on an inner attention--a willingness to be invested in breath alone, and to see how it literally allows the nectar of life to flow into the body.


I began this posting very early this morning, and pondered it again within the process of sensation--not ten minutes ago, as I walked the famous dog Isabel.

For a moment, again, as the sun went down, reflecting off leaves so rust and red they were not rust and red any more, but surely something else, I was touched by that place within sensation of the inner centers. Inhabiting not just the sensation of my limbs, but the openness at the base of the spine, the secret, icy river of material joy that may flow within us.

Once again, a subtle yet immediate vibration was available--the taste of now, the undeniable sense and vibration of this life itself, mediated through the arrival of this heavenly assistance.

And once again:


May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

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