Saturday, January 12, 2008

What is "inner?"

I'm noticing this as a consequence of e mails and discussions this week with friends in various lines of work: we all use the word "inner" a great deal.

Like all words, it's so readily "understood," comes so easily to the tongue, that we believe we do understand it.

As with most words, though, there is more to it than meets the ear.

The majority of people understand this word "inner" primarily from a psychological point of view. Of course that's about the best we can do, initially; it's all the "ordinary" or formatory mind is capable of. This understanding is chiefly formed from the assimilation and comparison of world-data- an activity deeply related to the practice of self-observation.

Such data is gathered through the five ordinary senses.

This, of course, is good-very good- and yet even as we gratefully savor the rewards of travelling this path, we must eventually find the crossroads of the soul. Thereby we may deepen our practice and turn it in a new direction.

At this crossroads, a new understanding of the word "inner" arises, not where we began--from analysis--but experience of life, as gathered by the six extraordinary senses. It arises from being clothed within not "a" body "of" experience, but "the" body "and" experience.

Understanding of this kind has to be born from the mind of the organism, a different mind than the formatory mind. It does not emerge within intellect, but supports it; it does not maintain aloofness from the body, but is intimate with it. Not clinical, but sensory; not formed, but always in the process of forming. Not autocratic and judgmental, but inclusive, and-in contrast to our ordinary mind- deeply loving.

Each moment within this "other" mind's experience of mind is organic, that is, rooted within cells and resident within the blood. It arises from the very pulse of the body, the intake of oxygen, the vibrations arising from the work of world-creation itself. It does not think about Working; it is the Work. It is mindfulness itself: not to think, but to be organically filled with mind.

To become inner is to taste, to touch, to dwell. To inhabit this creature and this creation physically, to contact the hard wood of being with the deft tactile abilities of sensation, rather than the slapdash, sticky varnish of intelligence.

Here we encounter the "greater mind." A mind less partial.

..."Ah, yes," you think now. "But Lee-you are always thinking! Look at all the stuff you write about. Isn't there a contradiction here?" And, perhaps, the satisfaction of a clean bust fills you. There's nothing left to do here but read me my rights, you think, with perhaps just a wee bit of extra emphasis on that part about remaining silent.

Before we slap on the cuffs, however, consider the following.

I spent some time this week with an extraordinary young woman from India named Gurpreet, about whom you will probably hear more. She asked me why, if the crux of understanding is- as she rightly comprehends it-experiential, do I spend time analyzing and expounding on structure?

It is quite true- to understand the greater mind requires the experiential, not just the intellectual. Nonetheless, we must also use the ordinary mind-as I said to Gurpreet-

if we do not use it, we will lose it.

Much of the depravity we see exercised in today's world stems not just from a failure to be in contact with the inner, with the organic sense of being and the greater mind- it also stems from a failure to integrate, to incorporate, so that our several minds work in conjunction, rather than solo, or in opposition.

The ordinary mind has a good purpose, and real work before it: it is there to help develop comprehension, not usurp or impede it. The mind, the body, they are our tools. Let's remain mindful of the adage: a bad workman always blames his tools. Worldly intelligence is not a casual proposition, to be easily maligned or lightly discarded. There is little enough of it to begin with.

One of Gurdjieff's five "obligolnian strivings" is to constantly work to understand the laws of world-creation and world maintenance. In this Work, structure and formlessness both have their vital place, as do inner and outer. The process of development is a process of integration, not elimination.

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

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