Thursday, February 11, 2010

One sacred moment

Our community is digging out from about 14 inches of snowfall yesterday. Since I mentioned the calm over the Hudson River before the storm in my last post, I thought I would include a picture of it here.

The picture reminds me that there are an endless series of sunrise images out there associated with sacred moments, and with God. For tens of thousands of years, man has associated the sun with God, and no matter how sophisticated religions get, this very basic and very early understanding of man remains intact.

Yesterday, when we were walking in the middle of the storm -- snow pelting our faces until we winced -- Neal was looking at the famous dog Isabel, exercising all the dog power that allows her to run around with nothing more than a coat of fur in the middle of a blizzard, and she asked me if all of Isabel's energy came from the sun.

Those who are interested in biology probably already know that there are some very few organisms on this planet (okay, well, relatively few) who derive their energy, the building blocks for their organic bodies, from non-solar sources.

These are the creatures that live around hydrothermal vents. All other organisms on the planet are, to the very last one, dependent on the Sun as the ultimate source of their energy, so we are all creations of the sun, and, perhaps even more pointedly, creations of a unique molecule called chlorophyll, with remarkable properties that allow it to bridge the gap between the quantum level and the level that we live on, that is, the level of classical reality. (Those interested in this subject can find more on it in the fine book reinventing the sacred, by Stuart Kauffman.)

So in a biological sense we quite correctly associate the sacred, the higher, with the sun, because it is the source of life.

Gurdjieff taught us that suns are sacred entities; they are, quite literally, higher beings.

All of this, of course, sounds dramatic, romantic, and wonderful, but in us "as we are," it remains an idea. Even if if we see the sun and impressions or impulses of awe and amazement enter us, they are, for the most part, taken in and mediated by our most ordinary sensory abilities.

In order to have a true experience, feeling, or impression of the sacred, one must develop a capacity for a finer kind of sensation.

This finer kind of sensation is talked about a great deal in the Gurdjieff work, but it is unlikely you'll find too much mention of it in other esoteric works, and the idea is nearly absent in most exoteric religious practices. One could think of many reasons for why that might be the case, but in the end, I suspect many other works are just not helping people to produce this capacity. If they were, the teachers would understand it and be talking about it. Instead, what we end up hearing about is a great deal of psychological and emotional material ( Please don't think I'm implying that that material is lacking. A great deal of it is certainly valid, and even helpful. My point here is that it is incomplete.) Even in Hatha yoga, where this kind of capacity clearly has to be an aim, it is not specifically addressed. At least, not in those terms... which are unique enough to the experience that one would imagine they would have to be expressed in terms of sensation... if there were any real experience of it. I speak, of course, of the organic sense of being, which is a term I have used many times in this space.

Of course, there is a great deal of talk about connection between the mind and the body out there, but exactly what kind of connection this is is, perhaps, rather poorly understood.

This business of sensation -- of a truly physically centered sense, an inner gravity, connected to both the mind and the feelings -- is, for most people, a complete unknown, and even for those who have heard about it -- people in this work, for example -- it remains, perhaps for many years or even an entire lifetime, mostly a theoretical idea.

The specific search for a connection to sensation--one of Jeanne De Salzmann's core teachings-- is central to the understanding of three centered work.

Only when the mind, the body, and the emotions participate can we discover what it means to have a truly sacred moment. It only is in those unique moments, which cannot be forced, but only prepared for, that the real capacity for man's sensory ability becomes apparent.

Man was created with the capacity, the ability -- latent in almost all of us now, of course -- to physically sense God, to emotionally sense God, to intellectually sense God.

When he does even one of these things, he understands that his place on the planet is a place of service, that he has a responsibility to something higher. But when he does all three of these things at the same time, when all of the centers work together and sense the higher simultaneously, a true experience of transformation takes place.

That sense is fundamentally unavailable to a single center. If two centers are participating, it creates a space where that sense might enter... given the participation of a third center. And the way that that process takes places is not subjective-- that is, it works in a certain way and always works in that way, and both the foundation and the effort necessary for it are consistent.

When we talk about "three centered work," in our ordinary way and with our ordinary associations, we talk about it as though we understood it and even understood its purpose; that somehow, we could stick it into ordinary life like you put a screwdriver into the top of a screw, and then turn it with ease and efficiency.

We fail to understand that three centered work is a sacred work with a sacred purpose, because we have so little real experience of it.

Real three centered work puts the sacred at the center of every moment and each movement within it. As such, chatting about it as though any of us truly understood it, or its purpose, is a disservice. A real three-centered experience is a taste of a higher level, because the harmonious functioning of the mind, body, and the emotions opens the capacity for the sensing of the sacred.

Drawing further on the biological analogy that I began this post with, we might understand it from the point of view of pores in a cell. There is a moment when all of the machinery of the cell is working properly, and an opening appears in the membrane, through which information from a higher level enters.

Suddenly, the cell senses its place. It communicates with its neighbors. It ceases to be an isolated entity, and forms a new kind of connection outside the walls that protect it. As a consequence, a new kind of nourishment becomes available.

One could certainly expand on this, but I have to wrap this up, because I have to get to work this morning. On mornings like this, after a heavy snowstorm, I feel gratitude for the fact that nowadays, my commute usually consists of turning from one computer monitor to another, rather than getting in a car and driving an hour down the Jersey Turnpike.

So, wishing all readers well in their search for Being today.

May the living light of Christ discover us.


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