It's not like I go every day with wonderful new understandings dripping into me like golden honey.
Most days are a real struggle. Even with the dependable support of sensation, I am not available enough most of the time. Oddly enough, the development of a more muscular inner facility has the paradoxical effect of making one’s deficiencies ever more glaring.
It reminds me of something that a guitarist friend of mine recently said after playing my Froggy Bottom guitar. The Froggy Bottom is an exquisite instrument, possibly one of the finest, cleanest sounding steel string guitars made anywhere in the world. Demian, an adept musician, pointed out to me that playing an instrument this good reveals every weakness in the artist’s execution.
If our inner organism improves its work, so that we see our mistakes in an ever clearer light, we probably ought to be grateful. I don't always find it that way, however, and I say that with a twinge of wry amusement.
I see that there are many parts of me -- perhaps of the majority of them -- that want to be fabulously, fully, shockingly enlightened, filled with the universe until whatever it is that "I" am bursts under the pressure, leaving nothing but irrevocable union with God. And that, of course, is nothing more than crude desire, tempered by the fact that I struggle every day with every effort towards greater awareness.
Mercifully, in the deepest moments of connection, all of that goes away.
I got up at 4 a.m. this morning and flew to Qingdao to attend a business meeting. On the plane I was overcome with a very deep connection that settled everything--for a little while. Within it, it was clear that my work is submission, and that in the midst of this type of work, I am not really capable of offering much to anyone else.
My Chinese office liason-- a cheery, quick witted young woman with an unexpected depth to her own inner questions -- was next to me, asking me quite ordinary things, and I had to offer her the best that I could from within this moment of stillness, which I much would have preferred to nourish in silence. In responding, I felt a sense of resignation, even exhaustion, as I allowed whatever force was at work to penetrate me.
Above all, then, I saw how incapable I am of offering anyone anything real, when the real absolutely has no words to convey it.
Later today, Joyce -- that's her name -- and I began to talk about remarkable experiences she’s had, dreams of the future that came true, shocks that she had that made her realize there is something more to this world and this life than what meets the eye. This time, I was able to meet her with a bit more, but all through those moments together, I once again saw that it takes years to convey anything sensible about the ideas.
You can slam anything down on a sheet of paper, and people do. Go to a bookstore and check out the spirituality section. You will see hundreds of books by supposedly developed and enlightened people. Alive and kicking today, cranking out audio cd’s and whatnot.
Many appear to undergo “enlightenment” by stepping on the inner equivalent of land mines--which is admittedly very impressive and exciting.
Even the slightest taste, however, suggests that real Enlightenment--without quotation marks--is like a nuclear bomb. I'm not sure the landscape that it leaves behind it produces popular books you can buy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
For me, increasingly, it is the things that cannot be written or explained, the things that are as sacred and private as our most intimate sexual congress, that lead me deeper into my own work. I read less and less contemporary spiritual books as that takes place. If I'm going to read anything these days aside from Gurdjieff's Beelzebub, Meister Eckart or Dogen seems to be more my cup of tea.
Perhaps that's because I prefer stones that have stopped rolling and gathered a respectable covering of moss.
Green is good.
…An addendum to yesterday’s post: In considering man as a note in an octave, perhaps it makes sense to view Gurdjieff’s man numbers 1-7 as individual notes.
Hence we’d have men numbered and “noted” as follows:
We might surmise that man number seven--“completed” man—is found at note do, having completed the process of his inner octave and become whole. This allows him to function as a participant note in the octave above him. Oddly, all this would mean in a certain sense is that man number 7 becomes nothing more than fully human.
It might also be interesting to compare this idea to the description of the divisions of the society of Akhldanns.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.