Thursday, March 13, 2008

"enlightenment"

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:

1 re
2 mi
3 fa
4 sol
5 la
6 si
7 do

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.

4 comments:

  1. Indeed, as we become more sensitive as a result of our work, it becomes more painful, but also more rewarding, to witness our shortcomings. This week my sleep has been particularly awful, and the negativity is so all-pervasive it's almost impossible to escape.

    As for the octave/man numbers, I've had similar thoughts in my more theoretical moments. But I'd differ with you speculatively - perhaps Man #1 is the DO note, while Man #7 is SI, because while he is "perfected" he still "stands under" the next, divine octave. It stikes me as similar to how Beelzebub was given the greatest honor at the end of the book, and yet was still two (IIRC) degrees removed from HIS ENDLESSNESS after even all that.

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  2. You're correct- we would disagree.

    If you study the essay on the enneagram, you'll see why the "first position" for work WITHIN an octave must be at re. A more extensive understanding of the multiplications can also help in this matter.

    It's a very common error to believe that "do" represents the first position in the octave. "Do" clearly belongs to the law of three and has properties quite apart from the progressions evolving from 142857.

    A lot of misunderstandings derive from this assumption. For example, if you assign the root chakra to "do," all the positions in your ennegram are incorrect and known essential relationships--such as the connection between sex center and third eye-- cease to exist in the diagram.

    We might say "Do" represents birth. That is, a starting point from which man can MOVE to positions 1-7.

    Christ was man #7. At this point of development he no longer stood under the level above him-- union with the divine was achieved, as represented by do.

    It's a good thing to be in a position where negativity is inescapable. Stay there!

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  3. I forgot to mention.

    If there were any doubt at all about what note "1" represents: "re" is the note this number is assigned to in the original work on the diagram, as given to Ouspensky by Gurdjieff (see "In Search Of The Miraculous."

    In order to assign 1 to do we'd have to subvert the entire original teaching on the matter.

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  4. Thanks for the clarification Lee. I think you've proven your case conclusively! Now to try and bring this back to practical use whenever possible - the second chakra awaits...

    David

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