Wednesday, October 29, 2008

viruses, and other earthly delights

Today I find myself at home with a flu bug. This has created some extra time I did not expect to have.

I started writing a new novel last weekend, the first one in eight years, and it has occupied a good deal of my writing time. So my sincere apologies to readers who enjoy seeing regular posts. They will be a little less frequent at this point, because the book has an impetus of its own that needs to be honored.

Today I am lying in bed, though, surrounded by little technological devices that didn't exist when I was sick as a child. Computers, hard drives, iphones, portable phones, and digital thermometers are littered across a piece of technology from another era -- a patchwork quilt. It's a primitive and ancient technology, but quite frankly, it gives a much more feeding impression that all these little electrical devices.

The external aspects of life have undergone extraordinary change over the last 40 years. The inner aspects of man, for most people, have undergone no change whatsoever, and have probably even deteriorated.

To be sure, there are currents that flow in the other direction. The problem, I find, is that so few are interested in them. Some of my smartest and most able work partners agree with me on this; other equally deep people I work with are suffused with a tremendous sense of optimism about the next generation.

I'm not sure how productive the generalizations we apply here are when we don't even understand the question of partiality very well. The planet of our inner nature has attracted us, and we are vigorously in orbit about it, but few of us ever attempt a landing. We remain at a distance, up in the sky, studying the landscape as best we can with rather crude telescopes.

This isn't enough. We have to go inside and establish contact.

In particular, a contact with the body is needed. When I get sick -- as I am today, running a temperature of over 100° -- it never fails to surprise me how active the inner energy is in relationship to my ordinary being. I can't explain why that's the case. I can say that illness provides a good opportunity to study the nature of the body and its relationship to the mind. Of course, I'm not speaking of winner-take all illnesses where you live or you die. That's a different matter. I haven't had one -- thank God -- lucky me. Yet some of those I know who have had such illnesses (my wife included -- she had cancer) verify that it can be transformational.

That's a big thing. In order to land on the planet of the organism, we have to study little things. One has to dig into the details of perception of the organism. In particular, we need to keep studying the intimacy I speak of between the mind and the organism. We are called to a much greater intimacy with the work of the body if we truly turn our attention inwards in a sensitive manner. Even when viruses are replicating, this is quite possible. But it requires a sincere effort to be quite still and quiet. This is what is usually missing.

We all prattle on a great deal about being still and being quiet. We are unable to see how our mind seizes everything and uses it, and how we don't actually undertake the practical work that is necessary, which would begin with good posture, with a rather quiet attitude, and the sensitivity first to ourselves and our organism, and then to everyone around us. Instead of this, a good deal of talking takes place.

If we develop a good attention inside, it's quite possible to talk and still maintain this connection, but that doesn't seem to happen too often. If we get a taste for it, it will become much more available to us, but this energy doesn't want to waste its time. If we don't have enough interest, it seems to have other places to go, and other things to do.

The mind that we use every day -- even the one that is writing, or reading, this -- isn't the mind I speak of. That is the formatory mind, which works well for conceptualization and very little else. We actually have to be willing to abandon that mind and go to an entirely new place that is quite different.

We need to begin in that new place immediately, now. Not "get there" from the mind.

It is almost as though the formatory mind has to be encountered, included, and utterly dismissed in the first instant of our effort. The only way that that can happen is with the participation of other parts, principally, the moving center and perhaps, if we are fortunate, the emotional mind, which are capable of providing an entirely different kind of support for our effort.

In any event, let us all be called to develop a more intimate relationship with the energy of the body, to see it in action, see how the parts are not connected and how we resist what is possible.

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


  1. The best way, when looking to connect to the body, is yet again though the breath. Breathing raises oxygen levels which, in turn, create more energy in the body. Movement then spreads the energy to all areas. Many confuse this process with 'exercise' but practices such as tai chi and qigong do the work internally.

  2. that's quite true, but it's not oxygen that creates the connection. What you are referring to is something called prana, which is a higher substance.

    Gurdjieff spent some time explaining this to Ouspensky when he taught him about the chemical factory.


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