Monday, February 18, 2008

First thing in the morning: Yaxha


First thing in the morning, the dim outlines of an unknown temple emerge preternaturally from jungle, fog, and mist.

There is a silence interrupted only by the drawing of breath and the beating of the heart.

It's at this very moment, perhaps, that our inner mysteries can be sensed most readily, touched most tangibly, tasted most fully.

How do we come to ourselves when we awaken?

What is the very first sense we have as we emerge from ordinary sleep?

I will offer here a set of impressions fresh, as it were, written just as I get up today.

In proper sleep, Gurdjieff advises us, the centers disconnect from one another, allowing them to rest. Investigating, verifying, I find that there is, indeed, an inner disassociation upon awakening from sleep. The inner parts are not related to one another in the same habitual or automatic manner that they are when we have been awake for an hour or two and the usual daily connections are reformed.

This means other kinds of possibilities--less habitual possibilities- exist.

In particular, for me, it is interesting to examine the exact state that I encounter upon awakening. Because the other centers are more or less quiescent (they have not "gotten up to speed," as it were) the sense of the work of instinctive center, particularly the breathing and sensation, can be examined in more detail.

This is well worth scrutiny, because in relationship to the many questions about food, how we feed ourself, and the organic sense of being which we have raised over the past year and more in this space, more is often accessible immediately upon awakening. Unlike the rest of our discombobulated parts, the instinctive center generally knows what it is doing.

If it didn't, we'd already be dead.

It's worth lying in bed at the instant upon which one awakes and checking to see the precise nature of sensation of the body. How much is there? Where is it located? Am I able to sense the body in a more complete manner? What exactly does it mean to immediately attain a complete sensation of the body?

Is that possible? Can "I" "do" that?

These questions can be raised within the context of the breath. How is the breath as it enters the body? Can I experience the manner in which it feeds the connection between the body and the mind and stimulates sensation?

The gift of air entering the body can be appreciated in a different way when the associative mind is less active. Even a fleeting sense of what this means can help provide an avenue into deeper examination of these questions.

In order to do this, as mentioned above, it is necessary to be precise. This is related to Dogen's frequent instruction to the members of his zendo to "take good care." To take good care is to examine with attention: to be interested in the details and to bring the attention to the details so that the question being examined can be examined from within, using the facility of the body and sensation itself to examine awareness, rather than the ordinary mind and the conventional associations we bring to life.

So upon awakening I invest within sensation; I invest within breathing. I examine the nature of these two fundamental principles of my existence. I see how the foundation of my being rests upon the inhabitation of the organism and the relationship between its parts--from the ground up, beginning not with the ideological constructs, but with the mechanics. Stripped of my typical associations, perhaps I can find a new appreciation for this body I inhabit.

This is not done for satisfaction or for pleasure; it is work. Experience of the body in the manner we discuss here takes us one step closer to the acceptance of our mortality. It is a sobering factor, rather than a step into the divine intoxications of a more wholly functioning spirit.

It is a way of deepening for ourselves the question of always sensing our mortality--an action which Gurdjieff cited as perhaps one of the few things that might yet save mankind from itself in its steady deterioration into spiritual oblivion.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of singing and dancing on the way to the grave, but it pays to keep our destination in mind,

...lest we act a bit too much the fool.

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

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