Saturday, March 6, 2010

Overgrown

It strikes me this morning that modern existence is a continuing process of deeply dysfunctional relationship which consistently views itself as functional.

In "Beelzebub's tales to his grandson", Gurdjieff lays this proposition out in black and white. Man's consciousness has deteriorated -- it no longer works properly -- only one part, conscience, is intact, and it has submerged into the subconscious, covered up by thick layers of ruined psyche.

If we look around us, we see that everyone -- including ourselves -- carries within us this stubborn and completely delusional insistence that, somehow, we are functional. Individuals do it. Societies do it. Governments, incredibly, do it. And when there is dysfunctionality around us... well, hey there... it is always someone else's dysfunction, isn't it?

Even if we begin to acknowledge our own dysfunction, as some few of us do, we tend-- probably largely as the result of the influences of the supposed "science" of psychoanalysis -- to try and outsource the blame for it. We do not see, as we eventually must, that the root of it--and the responsibility for it--lie buried deep in our own being.

I was sitting this morning and examining this process of mind, which has absolutely and ultimately overgrown what is real. The potential for reality exists within me -- the taste of reality is tantalizingly close to me -- the organic experience of reality is indubitably buried deep within my being. But it is overgrown. It is covered by an endless series of associative thoughts and an entity which is not real, yet cleverly calls itself "mind." This entity is what I usually refer to as "me." Yet, upon careful examination, it is a layer of vegetation. As mindless, in its own way, as plants, which are capable of receiving the sun, but do so in a strictly mechanical manner. Certainly, they serve a purpose and create food, but they lack intelligence and independence.

So here I am, within this life, and within this body, overgrown with this vegetation of an associative mind. This is a thick jungle with many resilient vines; it's populated with an incredible variety of colorful creatures. And it is, undeniably, attractive. I am so attached to it and attracted to it I am unable -- fundamentally unable -- to see how much has to be given up to discover that there is more in the jungle than vegetation and animals.

This is the dilemma we are presented with. This irrevocable conviction that the mind as I know it is a "real" mind. The knitting together of the three centers which could produce something of a higher order is no more than a theory, and my methods of working towards it remain largely untested hypotheses. The reason for this is that all of the approach to these questions is owned by the very entity that stands between me and the organic sense of being -- this ephemeral, artificial "mind" which is my principal tool for interaction with life.

I've been reading Ravi Ravindra's fine commentary on the Patanjali sutras. The book is to be recommended not just for his concise, insightful, and eminently practical interpretation of these yoga texts in relationship to our ordinary life, but also for the many quotes he offers us from Jeanne De Salzmann. Pending the upcoming publication of "The Reality of Being," scheduled for May, Ravi's writings -- most particularly "Heart without Measure," which much of the readership will of course be familiar with -- are one of the few legitimate public sources of material from her. In relating her understanding to the Pantajali sutras, he offers us fresh insights and underscores the immense value of her approach to inner work.

Again and again, she stresses to us that the body is here to receive a certain kind of higher energy. In order to do that, we must get rid of the tension that blocks us -- a deep inner relaxation and a certain kind of posture is necessary. To interpret that as a physical action alone is too limiting. There is no doubt, our bodies are much too tense. No doubt whatsoever. We do not, however, see (except superficially, and then only with the very parts that are tense) how tense our minds are, and how tense our emotions are.

The type of relaxation she calls us to has to be global in nature, and all three "minds," that is, centers, have to learn to engage in a much deeper letting go. It's safe to say that when we finally encounter real relaxation for the first time, we understand once and for all that we have always assumed understanding--yet remained utterly unfamiliar with what that term actually means.

The dense overgrowth of ordinary personality over essence, of mechanical activity over intentional being, has covered up the temple inside me. This takes constant study both in meditation and in life. I don't really believe there is any overgrowth -- I'm so busy marveling at what it has produced that I don't see it is obscuring what is real. And every time I come back to myself, I am astonished by how much is actually lacking, how little I notice it, and how many opportunities to be in relationship in my life just fall by the wayside, willy-nilly, right, left, and center, as I proceed relentlessly forward like a juggernaut.

As always, I see for myself that a connection to sensation is the only lifeline through which I can grasp the beginnings of this work.

And here I am. Well over 30 years into efforts centered around the teachings of Gurdjieff, and-- as usual, as always --

just beginning to understand that maybe, with enough effort, I may understand something.

May the living light of Christ discover us.

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