Friday, May 9, 2008
It's easy to prattle about the fires of the soul, but much more difficult to give a voice to things less known.
In the game many of us used to play when we were children, an object was hidden, and we had to find it. If we got closer to the object, we were told we were getting warmer, and if we moved away from it, we were told we were getting colder.
In this way, we grew up associating warmth with the direction we are supposed to move in. And there is something primeval in that direction; those of us from northern climates understand that fire draws men in the same way (and perhaps with the same results) that flame draws a moth.
We usually associate warmth with life, and cold with death. So by default we assume that if we are warmer, we are more alive. To be enslaved by the heat of our passions is, oddly, considered to be a good thing from the ordinary point of view. We crave hot ideas, hot food, hot sexual partners.
More often than not, we instinctively move towards sources of heat, seeking to warm things up so that there is more agitation. And in an inner sense, we may see ourselves as crucibles which need to be heated in order for base metals to be transmuted into spiritual gold.
All well and good, as far as it goes.
But what if it is an addiction to heat, to the passions of the hot flesh itself, that distracts us? What if something else is necessary -- a movement in a different direction?
What if we actually need to be discovered by something which is not hot, but cold?
There is a clarity in icy coldness that cannot be found in the tropics. An invigorating possibility of penetrating through the atmosphere, to stars that cannot be seen when they are fogged by moisture.
Think of visions of the northern lights: points of contact between our planet and cosmic forces that eventually become invisible as one moves towards the equator. It is only in the arctic deserts, where the tumultuous distractions of organic life have been stripped away, that a man can experience this ephemeral view of contact with the absolute.
This is, of course, an outer allegory, but I speak of something mysterious within.
Can we discover a coldness within ourselves that feeds our search? Is there an ice that comes from somewhere else within us that can chill the passions that distract us and draw us closer to this moment--
What we live within in the ordinary moment is a surfeit of heat; we are consumed by it. Identification is born of heat. Does it not need to be frozen, by a new force that moves within the body in a different way, if we are to learn to separate from it?
Look within. Consider this.
This coldness I speak of is not dispassionate; it is, however, impartial and objective. It serves as a balance to that heat which draws us away from our self. It does not arise from us or what we are or what we know; it belongs to something more cosmological in nature, and reaches down into the roots of soils outside the reach of our own tree.
It is not intellectual; I don't speak here of a remove from real life constructed from formulated thoughts or clinical analysis.
One might say that this coldness--this inner ice-- is composed entirely of passion, but it is an Arctic passion, not a tropical one. Inner ice may bring us to a stillness--a crystallized silence--as opposed to the frenzied collisions produced by our usually overheated matter.
When I speak of this question, I don't advocate an abandonment of the passions of life, or the heat that drives us within it. I speak instead of a balance to that force, a second force to counteract and offset it.
At first, the idea may sound oblique, unlikely. Yet some of you who read this may of a moment remember Gurdjieff's contention that the sun is not hot, but freezing cold.
When he said this, he did not speak about the measurable physical manifestations of the solar entity that dominates the system we live in.
He did not speak of the sun's radiation, perhaps--which is demonstrably rather hot--but rather its emanations.
Mankind can measure physical radiation with his scientific instruments, but the emanations of the sun are not measured in an outer manner. Rather, they're sensed by man's inner organs of receptivity: the inner flowers, the apparatus designed to form a connection between man and the level above him. These organs do not necessarily operate on the premise of heat which drives the ordinary physical body; they are constructed in a different matter altogether.
Might one perhaps even say that their ultimate purpose is to exterminate the ordinary passion that drives us? That only when everything stops can liberation be attained?
In this work, we function as capacitors. That idea deserves a good deal of technical examination, but it lies outside the scope of today's discussion.
For now, I will leave you to the weekend, to ponder this question of how we become open to something other than the coarse forms of heat we are accustomed to. The next scheduled post will take place on Sunday.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.