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I labor under the perception that my life lies outside of me, and is something that happens to me.
This perception arises because of my partiality, that is, because my inner connections are not well formed. If they were, I would always see that my life arises within me, and is something that I both contain and inhabit.
We are vessels into which the world flows. We contain our lives within this organic state of Being, this state of Being which we are asleep to. In order for us to understand this question of vessels, something entirely new needs to begin to happen in us. This is what Christ was referring to when he said:
"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:17.)
It's an irony that we live in what we call the information age. This is an age in which so little is formed inwardly. Our bottles are old and they leak, and what gets served as wine so often turns out to be vinegar.
I usually don't see that everything that takes place in life is received by me within the organism, and that all of the responses to it arise within the organism. If I saw this, something real would begin to form inwardly. I would understand that life is not just what happens to me, but much more importantly what I am in relationship to it.
I need to learn to take an active responsibility for the inward formation of Being. I must meet my life differently.
This understanding relates closely to the question of inner and outer sensation, of inner and outer perception. My inner world is disorganized because it has lost contact with the organism. The first touchstone in an effort to correct this is sensation of the body. Of course that begins as a somewhat mechanical exercise, but it becomes a deep and living in experience of the fact that I inhabit this flesh. The body receives the impressions that arrive; with attention (the practice in which we bring the attention to the point where impressions enter the body) the impressions can form something more whole inwardly.
This question becomes particularly important in the current environment. We are all awash in an atmosphere of fear. Instead of offering messages of hope and courage, our leaders worldwide are spreading the panic, with the eager assistance of the media. If all of mankind just turned off their television sets and stopped reading newspapers for a few months, this insanity might stop spreading. It's a disease of the emotions.
So I need to make an inner choice of my own. I'll give an example of that from yesterday.
I read a very depressing article about how the housing market in Florida has collapsed. I was taken by it; there was a strong reaction that I saw arising. Yet nonetheless, this article was not the immediate truth of my life in that moment. And I needed to step up and take responsibility for what was taking place in me. Because of my passivity, I saw, the words were actively forming something negative in me--they weren't just attempting it, they were "mechanically succeeding" -- and the only way I could change any of that was by taking active responsibility for my inner state. By being more aware of where I was, who I was, and what was happening.
In other words, I have to become more clearly responsible for what comes into me. It is not what arrives at the doorstep of my awareness that determines what is formed inwardly at all. It is the manner in which I meet it and the way in which I take responsibility for it that determines the state of my inner life. One excellent book on this subject is Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning."
So for all the information that cascades into us -- this cacophonous avalanche of supposedly important material gathered, documented, and regurgitated by these machines we inhabit and the machines we have invented called, respectively, bodies and computers-- we end up with garbage. When I am not present to discriminate amongst my impressions, and I am not present to digest them , nothing of any permanence forms inside.
Back, once again, as always, to this question of sensation. I can't stress this to myself, or anyone else, enough:
Without a connection to the organism, without the clear and present knowledge that I inhabit this body in this life, nothing can form inwardly.
This is because it is only when connections between the centers become more whole that the organism can begin to digest this food of impressions properly.
Of course, there is no way to "achieve" a connection with sensation. If it is invoked mechanically, it will remain mechanical. It needs to become a living thing that arises and meets me. I can seek this; I can prepare for it; but the forces that make it happen are not susceptible to control by the parts that I usually inhabit.
This is why I need to continue to search, continue to cultivate a pointed, intentional, and specific inner intimacy, and remain open to the possibilities that will, with diligence, arrive.
May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.