Saturday, May 10, 2008
creation and experience
I met with a good friend Saturday to discuss our personal work, and eventually got onto the subject of how we create ourselves.
The thinking mind--the formatory apparatus, as Gurdjieff would call it--manufactures a tremendous amount of the so-called "inner dialog" that takes place. This inner dialog instructs us as to how we are, how things outside us are, and makes a seemingly endless series of value judgments about the world around us--
and, yes, about ourselves.
The ego, or what Gurdjieff might term "false personality," is just this construction. It tends to have two polarized modes: either it aggrandizes situations, aggressively inflating the value of the individual, or it devalues situations, running an inner dialog that finds fault with everything and everyone, but perhaps most particularly with itself. Hence its two main modes are either positive narcissism, or negative narcissism.
Our formatory inner barometer is detached from any real, integrated work of centers--after all, its activity springs from a fraction of a center or at best a few fractions-- and is consequently almost unerringly inaccurate. We find ourselves in the unfortunate position of perpetually referring to a faulty instrument in our effort to assess where we are.
This ongoing assessment is an act of self-creation that re-creates us in our own image, rather than the image of God. Another way of seeing this is that we set ourselves up as our own Gods-- and, more often than not, tyrannical ones. We are consumed by our own creation: the image that pops into my mind is Goya's painting of Saturno devouring his son. A disturbing image, to be sure, and perhaps a little too close to home for any real comfort.
So if we invest in the conceptual activity of formatory apparatus, the process of thinking and psychology creates what we are. We analyze life; we confuse this analysis with truth, and all our experience is filtered through this mechanism. We aren't living the life we encounter; we're living our analysis of the life we encounter. The activity is reflexive, because analysis begets more analysis of the analysis.
The alternative we seek is to experience what we are, which does not require the mediation of the conceptual mind. Living within the immediacy of the moment is an act of participation, not analysis. And that act of living springs not from an experience of the mind, but an experience of the organism. That is to say, it is rooted in the organic sense of being, in the sensation of our cellular matter, and the sensation of the living energy that animates our body.
So we find ourselves betwixt the possibilities of creating ourselves through thought--and thus serving our own will, such as it is--or allowing oursleves to be created through the immediate experience of our lives.
Both are acts of creation, but in the one we are slaves to ourselves, and in the other we become servants of something higher.
When we allow ourselves to be created there is, indeed, no "I"-- as another friend, rlnyc, commented on yesterday's post. (Great comment-well worth reading.) There is, instead, "something else."
Whether we choose to call it "Truth" or not is perhaps immaterial.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.