Friday, December 5, 2008
negativity and intention
I've been taking a practical look at this question of my negativity over the last couple of days.
The question relates to broader investigations, including the investigation of what it means to be intentional. And of course, inevitably, the question of negativity arises in the context of our inner partiality, that is, the failure of the centers to be in proper relationship, and the consequent leakage of energy which then "goes bad."
My negativity is an active force. It actually arises with a wish for itself. How clearly do I know this? Not very clearly. Because I am so often identified, I take my negativity for granted. I don't see it as a force; how I see it is, in a real sense, by believing it is what I am. And for as long as I believe in it as what I am, there is no escaping it.
It's only if I have a separation from this experience and understand it as an arising phenomenon, rather than an inescapable premise, that I have a chance to go against it.
And this, of course, is one of the few places where Mr. Gurdjieff said we could "do." We are able to go against our negativity. He advised us to oppose our negativity through an act of non-expression of negativity. Not non-experience of negativity; no, he expected us to experience our negativity quite fully. The point was not to lose the negativity by expressing it outwardly. In other words, negativity has a value for us, if we see it and keep it contained. There is a close parallel here between the idea of non-expression of negativity and the nonattachment of Buddhism.
All of these understandings, placed in relationship with the negativity I see arising in me, especially in the morning, caused me to ask myself several things. One of them is whether or not it's possible to go against the negativity by seeing it and simply saying "no" to it.
Is it possible to be in relationship to the organism in such a way that there is an active intention to oppose my negativity?
And does Jeanne DeSalzmann's admonition to us to make an effort to "see our lack," and thus attract a relationship to something higher within us, bear a relationship to this question?
I find that it does. I need to be prepared within myself to encounter the fact that I am negative, and to suffer it.
In that encounter, I have to understand that negativity is a force of its own that has a wish, a wish that I must make an effort not to be taken by. There needs to be an active effort to create a polarity in Being that is positive, that is, to consciously know that both ends of the stick are there. [And here, perhaps, I begin to discover a constructive use of that force called imagination.] Unless both polarities are simultaneously present, the opportunity for a reconciling force -- and, thus, the transubstantiation of my negativity -- cannot exist.
This means, in my own experience, that there needs to be an effort to be more intentional in relationship to negativity. That intentionality actually does include an effort to be positive, only not an outward effort.
Furthermore, the intentionality and the effort must seek both their origin and their support in a relationship between the mind and body, that is, within the organic sense of being.
It's absolutely possible for a man to become aligned with forces powerful enough to eliminate inner negativity. This is an extremely unusual state, and cannot last long with us the way we are. Only with Grace does it truly become possible, because here we speak of a level where man truly cannot "do."
It is, however, this constant effort on our own to oppose our negativity that may lawfully attract the attention of a greater force that sees our helplessness, and is willing to intervene.
I am reminded here of Matthew, chapter 6, 28 -- 30.
"28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30: Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
If I am willing to go against my negativity with an active intention, a faith, that something greater than this mechanical and destructive impulse in us is possible, I begin to work on a possibility that can clothe me in an inner glory, rather than the squalor my negativity seems to prefer to dwell in.
May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.