Friday, January 18, 2008

Realization and relationship


One rarely hears the word "chakra" in the Gurdjieff work, and yet integrating the concept into the heart of the Work becomes nearly inescapable once one realizes the connection between the enneagram and the inner flowers.

Becoming aware of the inner centers, or chakras, is an essential part of discovering what "inner work" actually means. It's refreshing to me when some of the older people I know in the Gurdjieff Work dare to discuss this; I fear we speak too little of it, or of the central place of love in the Work itself.

"Inner" work is not a work of the intellect. The deeply ingrained emphasis on "self-remembering" in the work invites a kind of psychological intensity that tends to trap itself within the world of thought. It takes many years to form material within this discipline, and even more to break out of it into something deeper.

From this point of view, as much as I admire his work, perhaps it would be better to avoid Ouspensky altogether (admittedly, difficult.) And even Nicoll, for that matter. Chogyam Trungpa expressed distrust in regard to the practice of self-observation for precisely this reason.

Having been through my own years-long set of experiences in this regard, I can understand his trepidation.

Awareness forms realization. In realization, we see that there are inner flowers, and that they can open.

Increasingly, the important point to me is not just realization, but relationship. The point of the diagram is the relationship, the connection between the centers, and not the centers themselves. Any one center, if it is open, can seem to be enormously whole, and yet this magnificent experience all too easily becomes a glamor.

It increasingly strikes me that developing a deep and durable connection between all the centers in which the dialogue takes place according to law -- that is, the multiplications --is a very long-term work. It does not yield itself readily. Diligence, perseverance, work on this exact question within ordinary life itself-- that is what is required. If we focus on one beautiful inner center, we get "stuck."

My wife and I were discussing this question this morning, and we agreed that the problem at hand appears to hold true both in the inner and in the outer life. I suspect, actually, that our outer life is a reflection of the fears that dominate our inner life and prevent us from becoming more whole. We get stuck in outer life and repeat--this is habit.

Habit is something Gurdjieff always recommended we go against. In this sense, if we can see how we are behaving outwardly towards others, we may learn something about how we behave inwardly towards ourselves. There are habits here, too.

This reminds me of the old Zen story of polishing a tile to make a mirror. The implication in the Zen story is that this transformation of tiles into mirrors is patently impossible. I have learned, however, from reading Dogen, that to trust implications in any Zen story is rather hopeless.

The tile is, perhaps, our outer life: all of the material formed by the five senses, the hard and crystallized substance of personality. It appears to be flat and unyielding, yet if we were able to understand it properly, that is, polish it until it reflected light instead of absorbing it, we would see our inner self so clearly in it that we would know who we are.

Seeing outer relationship helps in inner relationship; seeing inner relationship helps outer relationship; everything is a mirror that reflects everything else.

Anyway, it is the wholeness of the connections between chakras--the movement that takes place between them--that forms a coherent, supportive substance which can be brought into life. Marrying this mystery to the ordinary content of life in real time eventually becomes the work.

Realization is knowing that things are possible. Relationship is living within the possibilities. From this point of view, to realize the self is to see and understand the potential; to be in relationship with the self is to take the risks that are necessary for growth.

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

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