Tuesday, June 3, 2008

what comes to us, and why

Today, after over six weeks of low energy, struggle against disease, and confronting a wide range of negativities, inner assistance has arrived several times.

This leads me to ask the question of how much is up to me.

From this perspective -- that of my singular and relatively powerful ego -- it's because I have worked. In other words, I did something. I am meritorious.

I stop here, because I recognize that that is not true. What I have been doing for all these weeks is asking for help. I am asking for it in many different ways by my various efforts, but the point is, I know I cannot go it alone. I need help both horizontally and vertically.

The horizontal help comes from my efforts with my wife, my family, at my office -- where conditions are quite difficult because of the economy -- and from struggling against the adverse circumstances that I find myself in. My negative attitude, which I have had to suffer face on and quite directly for weeks now, is giving way in large part because it keeps being seen, and it can't tolerate that. Unfortunately, from experience, I know it will go underground and pull a sneak attack. That's how we are. I will just have to live with it and deal with it when the time comes.

The fact is, I don't like any of this horizontal work. I have seen again and again in myself for the past 30 years that a large part of me consistently wants to run away. I have a horse in me that keeps trying to get away from the battlefield, and a great deal of my inner work consists of turning the horse around and pointing it back towards where the shells are exploding.

It gets tiring after a while, believe me, because the enemy seems to have an endless amount of shells and an endless amount of energy to fire them.

The vertical help comes from places I know little or nothing about. It doesn't come when I want it to; it doesn't come when I expect it to. It doesn't come because of clever inner exercises I have developed, or energy I intentionally take in. I do do those things; it's a fact. But being proficient in the acquisition of prana does not, I find, make us "worthy."

Yes, we may acquire some power that way, but I think it's temporary. And yes, it probably falls under the heading of a kind of work we ought to be performing. It's not, however, what we are here for. And it reminds me of something that my friend rlnyc has shared with me more than once: you can do all the exercises you want. Very cool things can happen with sex energy and other kinds of energy. None of it leads anywhere unless a man is already a master, and if he is, the place it leads to is not where it will lead us.

In fact, he does not even want to go to the places we could.

Before anything else happens, we need to submit. This is why Islam puts that word at the introduction of its practice, by naming it such. As I grow older, I increasingly see that my path is indeed a path of submission.

In the end, it's only in the asking for help that the help comes, not in the permutations that I cleverly design for my work.

Mr. Gurdjieff famously said that every happiness in life is experienced only as the result of some other unhappiness already experienced. In other words, in this supermarket called life, we pay for what we get with very hard coin.

And, as Christ said, a man cannot get out until he has paid the last penny.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.


  1. Your post this morning is so personal, so without wax ("sincere"), that to comment on it would be a kind of sacrilege, so please consider my little offerings as exactly that, little offerings, as you tack through the storm.

    Your declarations show that you are in the right place at the right time are under the correct pressure and temperature in the alchemical laboratory for a true change of state. The conditions under which you find yourself both outer and inner, are devoutly to be wished for, even as we look desperately for a means of escape from them.

    I pray for you that there is no escape from this agony (I use the word agony in its technical and original meaning -- Greek for "heroic struggle").

    As I have told you before, I have only smelled and aperceived sanctity coming from those who have gone through this agony, which is a combination of external events and inner work, whether by volition or intention. Those who turn away from the agony end up with nothing.

    I am reminded of a story about Gurdjieff. He heard that one of his students was dying -- a certain Luke Dietrich, and Mr. Gurdjieff, although not that well in health himself, left his apartment in Paris and ventured out to the hospital. When he arrived in Luke Dietrich's room he had brought him an orange, and as he laid it in the trembling and dying out reached hand, he said "This is the most important day of your life."

    Mr. Gurdjieff received a lot of scorn and derision for his insensitivity -- the audacity to bring a dying man an orange and to make such a statement, but if one thinks a little (a very rare thing indeed) one might say that this was itself the flower Sutra. Not similar; the orange given by Mr. Gurdjieff to Luke Dietrich WAS THE FLOWER SUTRA ITSELF.

    Certainly I am not "jealous" of you and your agony, as I have my own agony to face, as each of us will have -- to face or run away from or deny, but I am proud of you. Very proud. You are looking deeply within at the same time that you are looking out, up and down, and you have reached the extraordinary and rare understanding that help does comes to those who ask for it. As Carl Jung put it, the alchemical formula is: "spiritas contra Spiritum."


  2. For me, a much needed confirmation in your post.

    I've been dead fast asleep for quite a while and help arrived from outside earlier this week, causing remorse of conscience and motivating me to actually Work.

    Then I realized how weak I was, that I had to rely on such a shock. But that's just how it is. And on the "positive" side, if I were not in a place where Work could reach me, I wouldn't have utilized this shock at all--I would have ignored or entirely buffered it.


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