Thursday, December 11, 2008

our intentions towards others

I continue to be interested in how we experience our intention towards others.

In point of fact, we have very little intention towards others. We just let everything that takes place between us and other people happen more or less by accident. Each one of us shows up at the meeting point of our mutual exchange with a set of assumptions about the other person and then reacts based on that. We have little point of contact with any real perception—by this I means perception within the moment—of the other.

This particular point is striking to me in my own work, because I continually find that there is at least a willingness to be within the moment with other people more of the time. Every time this happens—and it is frequent—I find that I manifest entirely differently than I would have expected when I measure the situation against my previous, automatized assessments of others, before we stand face to face.

Being face to face, in other words, appears to call on something different in me, and causes me to react in a much different way than my conniving associative parts pre-formulate.

This leads me to propose that having an intention towards other people before we get there in front of them might have a powerful effect on our experience of both ourselves, of other people, and of life. It would involve a willingness to be open to the moment, rather than dealing from a deck of cards we have already stacked.

This proposition leads me to another question which I pondered while sitting this morning. The question relates to exactly how we behave in groups—how we value the group and the individuals in the group.

In “In Search of the Miraculous,” Ouspensky mentions an exercise given by Gurdjieff in which everyone in the group tried to be completely honest with one another. The experiment started off in a grand manner, but everyone quickly saw that it was absolutely impossible to be that way with one another.

The problem here is a very real one, because a group can’t really begin work together until a certain degree of honesty is possible. This is because a real exchange of our inner work that could help us actually support each other—as opposed to just talking about the idea of support—can’t begin until we are willing to trust others with very intimate parts of ourselves.

We all quite rightly avoid that. We’re all too aware, collectively, of how we bash each other, keep accounts, of how everything becomes an occasion for opposition and competition. We know that if we truly begin to show the most intimate and sacred parts of ourselves to one another we run the great risk of having others—yes, even group members—actually abuse that. We abuse chiefly because we all act with no conscience whatsoever, and are prone to bastardizing and cheapening anything that is given to us.

And we know that precisely because that is the way we are ourselves.

Perhaps we come a wee bit closer here to what Ashieata Sheimash called “the terror of the situation,” eh?

So how do we change this state of affairs?

First, I think, we ought to try and make a pact with ourselves to take responsibility for how we are. It begins there, with seeing what we are and how we are. At this point, we need to take a vow to make a conscious effort to oppose this tendency in ourselves: to change our polarity of attitude. ( This goes back to what I mentioned in the recent posts “An ongoing enterprise” and “Negativity and intention.”)

There has to be an active wish to value the other differently.

I can’t imagine a proposition more radical. Never mind, for the moment, ordinary life, where everything seems to tend “downwards with enthusiasm.” In the Gurdjieff work--though we may flatter ourselves with how "real" we are--few of us really understand this practice. People are set against one another in oppositions that are entirely unnecessary.

True, it’s endemic to humanity; true, the conditions of work are meant to rub us up against one another until the friction generates insights.

If the very point of the insights, however, is to learn to develop trust, to respect the other, to learn how to love,--as I myself contend—then why wait twenty or thirty—or fifty—years? Why not begin to take responsibility now for a more tolerant approach?

Perhaps we need to re-evaluate how we see not only ourselves, but the other people we work with. There could be a radical re-evaluation from an inner point of view: based on forgiveness, based on compassion—

based on a willingness to accept the other regardless of how they are.

Here we have Christ’s turning of the other cheek: It is one of the actions that must inevitably follow Ashieata Sheimash’s “realization of the terror.”

Of course, you are thinking to yourself-- we can’t do that.

And we can’t.

But a man’s wish should exceed his circumstances,
else what’s an effort for?

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

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