Today we were, once again, in Grace Church in Nyack, New York, for the Sunday service. You can see a photograph of the interior on the easter Sunday post, or here, should you wish.
The practice of Christianity is much larger than the practice of Christianity.
The Gurdjieff work was referred to by Gurdjieff himself as esoteric Christianity... yet we see that the thrust of Gurdjieff's work, like the thrust of Dogen's Zen Buddhism or Yogananda's Hinduism, was much larger than the confines of the practice itself.
Real work transcends all form.
In taking in the sounds of an Episcopal service--the haunting plainchant at the beginning of the service, the invocations, blessings and prayers--the uplifting voices of the choir--we hear echoes of services that, no doubt, reach back through time to places and eras so remote as to be unimaginable. Worshippers in ancient Egypt, for example, probably followed forms not too different.
And in the images that sing--yes, the color is another form of song-- from the exuberant stained glass of high Gothicism,we see glorious echoes of Hinduism's cosmic visions of Krishna, and Buddhism's wildly colorful pantheon of Gods and Demons.
So when we enter a Christian church to worship, it's not about Christianity. It's about the universe. It's about every religion, every search, every form. If we relax and open our hearts to Christ, we find that the act must by default include every Muslim, every Sufi, every Hindu and Jew and Buddhist.
Everyone is discovered together in Christ, just as Dogen expounded Buddhism as a collective inhabitation of the dharma: everything has Buddha-nature, everything is one thing. And indeed, Gurdjieff himself tried to explain this, although in my experience it's not talked about much in the Work these days.
There is--there can be--no real religion of exclusion. If we are not all brothers together in our work, we're not working.
For myself, in the present time, I find myself ever more drawn into a path that calls for relationship, search for the effort to compassionately support the other.
I feel we must each seek within ourselves--down to the very tips of those mysterious inner roots I so often mention--for a deeply physical, emotionally feeding understanding of the nature of our being and--yes--our mortality.
To me, it is only here, in the myriad, scintillating, smallest and finest spaces within myself, within each tiny crack and crevice, that I discover--day by day and hour by hour, digesting the food of my life--the intimate associations that teach me of how tiny I am, and how deep and all--pervasive the sorrow that permeates all of creation is.
This material sorrow I speak of arises not only from my own lack, which is serially profound, but from the struggle of existence itself against the merciless depredations of time.
To assume part of the burden of this sorrow is, paradoxically, joy--because in assuming a portion, however tiny, and carrying the sacred sense of that sorrow within me, I am rewarded in ways that cannot be expressed using words. Outwardly, it manifests in a quite different kind of appreciation for my life and those around me.
In becoming organically willing to suffer, to receive, my life, I become much quieter both within and without.
This stillness is not the fearful stillness of withdrawal, but rather a process of engagement.
Love to all of you on this second Sunday in Easter--
may your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.