Thursday, August 13, 2009

Family Fights

It's in the nature of relationships to discover and re-discover conflict. My kids are at home, tense, awaiting the onset of college, and of course we've had a few fights.

In the context of the sacred and the question of relationship, conflict is inherent. Ancient religious texts are packed with conflicts not just between men and other men, but between men and angels, men and God. There is a struggle, at least on the surface of things, that cannot be transcended no matter how far "up" or "down" one goes.

And there is fallibility, too, at every level--in Gurdjieff's Beelzebub, higher Beings keep messing up in absolutely spectacular ways, leading us poor old humans deeper and deeper into debacles we never should have been privy to in the first place. Hell, it isn't ever fair-- it is in fact so unfair that men, Beelzebub says, would have just about killed themselves out of sheer protest if they had seen the position that they were put in vis a vis the moon--leading the wise powers that be to implant the organ kundabuffer in man. Which left him, unexpectedly, in an even worse position after it was all over. (Apparently good foresight isn't a default characteristic of higher Beings, either.)

One wonders. Where's the accountability?

Well, it's right here.

The way Gurdjieff presented it, in a certain sense, cosmologically speaking, no matter how bad things go elsewhere, it's mankind's job to try and help "fix" them. In other words, no matter how wrong things go--no matter how bad they get, no matter how unfair they are--it is the job of the one who is "on point," the one who is there when it is happening, to be willing to pick up the pieces, take on the responsibility,

to sacrifice themselves--

in order to help put things right.

To sacrifice one's self is to make one's self sacred, that is, to enter into a relationship with God (an effort at consciousness)-- whether real or hoped for, implied or actual-- and to act as though one had not only the responsibility, but also the ability, to help put things right.

As Paramahansa Yogananda put it, we have to cast ourselves in the role of heroes in the events of our own lives. Christ said it even more succinctly: Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13.)

In a certain sense, then, my role might be to take the initiative and intervene on this level, to be willing to assume responsibility to do the right thing--an impulse that can only spring from an organic moral imperative, as has been discussed recently in this space. The bottom line is, it doesn't matter whose "fault" it is when things go wrong, it is my job to step up to the plate, and do the very best I can to put whatever I can right.

The fact that the inner moral compass of man has gone awry is no excuse: I am still obliged to try and find a way to reconnect with a higher inner impulse, and act from it.

So here we are on a path where we discover that the higher includes the lower, rather than ethereally transcending it. There are no white robes, but there are many piles of crap to step directly into. I have to face my own humanity directly--come to terms with it--be honest with myself about my inabilities, admit to myself that I cannot do, as Gurdjieff put it-- and carry on, without inner judging. I must learn to suffer how I am, rather than judge it. And that action cannot take place without help from another level.

It's only within the context of facing and including these truths, including the ones which reveal my own shortcomings, that anything real can be approached from an inner point of view.

From time immemorial there has been, in the esoteric Christian tradition (as well as many others), an implicit call to inner and outer action, along with a concommitant acknowledgement that it is in our nature to fail. We are called upon to feel remorse, and also expected to be courageous about it. And there is no excusing us from the responsibilities of living.

So I take heart from the fact that meeting the conflict within life as honestly as I can--admitting to the situation, my own culpability, and that there is a path to be navigated through the midst of my various inabilities within relationships--is indeed an opportunity to use the present to repair the past, and prepare the future.

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

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