Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Arrogance

The plant pictured here is Lobelia Cardinalis, a native wildflower currently blooming in upstate New York.

Today Annie reminded me--in the heartfelt way that only a deeply Christian woman can--of Christ's active demonstration of service, in which he washed the feet of his disciples.

What better possible example can we find of a reminder of where we are, and what our role is?

In today's world, where religions have (as they always do) turned against themselves and produced suicide bombers, and where "scientists" argue that we don't need religion anymore -- as though science were a reasonable substitute, LOL-- it's most important to turn back to the truly great lessons of religion, and this is one of them.

I bring all this up because of a current perception of arrogance.

Governments are arrogant; religions are arrogant; scientific disciplines are arrogant, societies are arrogant, corporations and leaders are arrogant, and individuals are arrogant. And we hardly need mention the politicians, including our own political parties here in America.

The entire planet is being engulfed in a wave of attitude. Against it stand a very few public bastions, such as the Dalai Lama.

All of us in the work -- in every spiritual work -- treat this subject as though it was someone else's arrogance that were the problem. Krishnamurti ran into that attitude in an exchange in Amsterdam, I believe in the 1960s-- and he promptly set his listeners straight by explaining that we are the problem.

We always want to blame these problems on someone else, to outsource arrogance, to outsource ego. We, of course, are fine. We have it all together, and we know what we are doing.

Well, obviously that itself is arrogance. It takes the impact of real self-knowledge, of real seeing, to slap us back to reality. And that reality is that all of us proceed directly from arrogance, and to arrogance.

Betty Brown brought this up many years ago when she said to us that our very effort to engage in an inner evolution--our assumption that it is even possible--is arrogant. None of us have developed enough humility to offer the kind of nakedness I wrote about yesterday. Those of us who think we have are simply missing the mark.

It is only a constant and humble awareness of exactly how tiny and insignificant we are, and how harmful we are both to ourselves and those around us, that can help to transform our inner state so that we can perform those vital tasks that serve something higher than ourselves.

This is an extremely bitter pill to swallow.

That phrase reminds me of something that was said many years ago at St. Bartholomew's church on Park Avenue in New York. The rector there at that time, Tom Bowers, announced one morning to the congregation -- which included some of the wealthiest Episcopalians in New York -- as follows:

" It will be an extremely bitter pill for some of you to swallow, but the richest man in this congregation and the janitor who cleans out the toilet in this church are equal in the eyes of God."

That equality stems from the nature of the work we are sent here to do, which is a leveling factor. It doesn't matter how much money you make, or how "successful" you are in life. Those are not bad things, but they are treasures laid up on the earth, where moth and rust corrupt. What matters is how much one works. And to work is to be willing to suffer.

Above all, today, it occurs to me that one thing we really need to suffer and sacrifice is our own arrogance. Arrogance brings every misery this planet sees from man. It all starts there.

One man on the doomed Franklin Expedition was buried with a tombstone, crudely carved in a board of wood from the ship, that said:

"Consider your ways."

Wise words, I think, for all of us in this age of supreme and all-encompassing arrogance.

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

2 comments:

  1. This may not be the rite place to place this comment, but I couldnt find an approrprate blog to place this question.
    The fifth note Sol - which is the Third Stopinder as per Beelzebub seem very intriuging. It appears to be the point of balance between the two other mi-fa and si-do. Interestingly the disharmony in Sol seems to 'flow by itself' from the 'assymetry' of the other two stopinders in relation to the completing process. And somewhere else Sol is said to be in the cerebellum - the point where we balance our body. Fascinating isnt it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy Thursday -- Jesus brought his disciples together and had a pail and cloth brought to him and started to wash his disciples feet.

    The disciples bolted, pulling their feet away. Still to this day in India, you pay respect to your guru by touching or kissing his feet.

    The disciples declared that they should wash Jesus's feet, but he insisted, saying that he that should be first must be the servant of all. And he washed the disciples feet, against their protestations.

    The feet have a very special esoteric meaning -- they're the only part of the body that are in constant contact with "the world." Therefore, when the disciples said "if you insist on washing our feet, then wash all of us." And Jesus replied, "I need only wash your feet, then the whole self is clean."

    This has a special esoteric meaning, because washing the feet symbolizes separating the person from the dust of the "world". Thus he who has clean feet is completely clean.

    Mr. Gurdjieff said "I have good leather to sell, for those who wish to make shoes."

    This has practically the same meaning, in fact, I would delete the word practically. The only difference is that when Mr. Gurdjieff makes his declaration, he is telling us that we, ourselves, must become the cobblers -- we must shape his ideas so that they protect our feet from the "world". Then we have achieved what is called "levitation" or "elevation", where although we have contact with the world it does not sully us.

    God always makes those who approach him take off their shoes and stand with naked feet on holy ground. In that instance, the shoes stand for the personality -- that protective sheath that protects us from many influences.

    If we take off our own shoes while in the world it is a very dangerous matter. Then influences will reach us that otherwise would not. They might be good -- they might be evil, we cannot tell, at the worst possible condition is for a man to walk around with holes in his shoes. He then might get trench foot and his feet might have to be amputated. What will he walk with then?

    What on earth does this have to do with arrogance, your subject of today? I will let you and your readers figure that out. You already know.

    Blessed are the pure of heart and the poor who cannot afford shoes -- they see God. A disciple of Gurdjieff once asked a woman to visit their table and take a meal with them. She was a nun, but did not wear her habit. Afterwards, the woman who brought her and asked her what she thought of Mr. Gurdjieff. She said, "I am not sure what to make of him, but I can tell you one thing: THAT man has seen God!"

    --rlnyc

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.