Thursday, December 16, 2010

transaction and gravity

One of the things that I've noticed lately, as I study the way I am and how my reactions take place, is that I prepare what I am about to say before it is said. That is to say, I see myself forming the words, and then out they come. I always have a question about this; is there any possibility of true spontaneity, or are we always pre-formulating the way we manifest?

I have stopped here and I'm trying to find an open place, a place from which to speak that isn't pre-formulated. Yet with every hesitation, the formulation enters. There is an inability to be truly spontaneous, to be within the moment.

We speak a great deal about being in the moment, having attention, being free, and so on, but this appears to be rare. We are for the most part imprisoned by our formulations and what is already here. How to escape from it?

One of the observations I made earlier this week is that most of what we do in life is transactional. Ego-based manifestations are transactional. That is to say, there is a giving, and a receiving; I offer this, I get that back; you say this, I say that, and so on. All of these are formulated; they take place within a framework of commerce, a place of what Mr. Gurdjieff might have called “reciprocal feeding” (although this is perhaps an egregious misuse of his term.)

Evidently, the transactional basis of relationship is necessary; it does, after all, run most ordinary affairs, and I'm not sure at all where we would be without it. Nonetheless, the transactional basis of relationship is mercantile; it presumes we will do such and such or so-and-so, and make a profit. (Let us remind ourselves that there's no shame in this– Mr. Gurdjieff said to his followers in Russia during the revolution, “no matter what happens, we always make a profit.” Although once again, I'm not using the term in quite the way he meant it.)

There is a tacit acknowledgment that this transactional way of being is more or less inevitable, and that we have to participate.

Nonetheless, there is an existential and experiential reality that lies beyond the transactional. One might say that this is the noumenal of existence that lies behind (or beyond) the phenomenal of transaction.

Those of us who search forever hunger after this more sincere and deeper truth, yet we are chronically separated from it by our attraction to, and immersion in, transactional experience.

In order for me to approach the noumenal, the existential, a different center of gravity needs to appear. I don't use those words “center of gravity” allegorically; I mean, literally, a new center of gravity, a physical center of gravity, needs to appear that is quite different than my ordinary experience, which lacks any such center. I can't say much about that that really explains it; there isn't an explanation for such phenomena which "lead to" (or open to) the noumena. They are mysterious; and perhaps that is their foremost and most essential character. The only way to experience them is by experiencing them–I know that sounds stupid, but how else can one say it?

It reminds me of telling people that there is no conceivable way of comprehending what the architecture is like inside the Great Pyramid until one has actually stood there physically in person and seen it for oneself. At that moment, one understands that one is in front of a great mystery, an extraordinary fact that does not fit into anything one knows, and a new kind of awe and respect is born that could never be born from the pictures, the books, and so on.

There is nothing transactional in a moment of that kind; one simply experiences, and is overwhelmed by both the simplicity and of the complexity of the moment, which blend together into a seamless whole that transcends all previous formulations and associations.

It's like that–but of course, it's not like that at all, because we are talking now about something that is outward, and when I speak of the need for a new center of gravity, I speak of something that, in terms of its sensation, may have all the solidity and weight of those huge granite blocks that the pyramid is made of, yet is of nothing more than flesh and blood, and the immediate experience of it.

The availability of a different center of gravity shifts the place where things arise in Being-- and that is, of course, exactly what we are looking for, a different Being. Yet because we are so thought--oriented, and so utterly transactional, we don't suspect that this different Being may not be psychological, in the sense that we understand that term from where we are. It cannot, in fact, be psychological. There is no psychology here; psychology is “the scientific study of the human mind and its functions,” and there is not one human mind at work in this instance of gravity. There are three minds that must participate, and each one of them is quite different.

The blending of these three parts already lies outside my formulations, because my whole life has been led in a partial state, where I don't appreciate, understand, or even conceive of the possibility that exists here.

I am called to a new place within the center of myself, which interacts with a different energy and contains itself within a different understanding of what life is. In a certain sense, formulation as I usually know it–mechanical formulation, which perpetually arises and drives life forward–is disabled. It ceases to be in the driver's seat, even though it is still real and does not go away.

There is no doubt, life can change completely if one works. Living in this tiny corner of the esoteric world called the Gurdjieff work, I often wonder why it is so small, and why so very few of the people I know have any interest whatsoever in discovering that they are not in any way what they think they are, but rather, creatures with a completely different set of sensory possibilities.

It's almost as though we come from a species who was given the ability to drink ambrosia day and night, and chooses instead to drink mud.

Oh, well. Bottoms up!

May our prayers be heard.

1 comment:

  1. Lee, The term "center of gravity" is always an important one in the lexicon of work, it seems. For myself, it's important because it shows me, if I try to discover it, where I spend most of my time, and energy. Associative fantasies take up so much of my energy, that the center of gravity questing is left alone until I'm reminded to wake up. But if I allow that kind of raw unvarnished openness, something can hit home, to eventually help Being.

    Last night, in reading more of "The Last Man on the Mountain", nonfictional account of a team's attempt to scale K2 during WWII, the quest had metaphorical implications in terms of general approach to life and to work. And that resonates for me.
    The K2 team members were sometimes uncooperative, belligerent, bored, lazy, etc, --In general, selfishness wreaked havoc with the overall common aim. In contrast, we in work spend alot of energy in precise oral tradition/transmission as an integral part of dharma. . .Whereas the K2'ers really had no common ground for singular, unitive purpose. ..And thus it was imparted in a fascinating little realization, enabling me to see how clueless I sometimes am, about huge things in life, that then later, can loom large.


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