Monday, January 17, 2011

the innermost aim

Many years ago, Betty Brown advised me not to mix levels. The context isn't necessarily important; the message is.

This level comes with an inevitable set of conditions. Last week, we examined evidence that Zen master Dogen-- like Gurdjieff–endorsed both the absolute materiality of this fact, and the inescapable consequences of cause and effect.

I would like conditions to be different; I would like materiality not to be absolute. Consequently, I spend a great deal of time dreaming about other conditions, and imaginary situations that transcend material reality. Typically, I refuse to inhabit conditions of this level in a legitimate way.

I am inadequate.

I am selling my work, and what I am here for, short. I've been put in these conditions in order to understand something; instead, like the Zen master who inhabited the body of a wild fox for 500 lifetimes, I indulge in denial of conditions and avoidance of conditions.

There may be many psychological reasons for me to do this; above all, my fear, but there are many other mechanisms–egoism, self-love, greed, and so on. It seems likely that if we took a look at the list of the seven deadly sins as expounded in Christianity, we'd see that they sum it all up quite neatly. In any event, I dream of other levels, while refusing to inhabit and make an intelligent use of the level I am on.

Gurdjieff called us to an extraordinary relationship within the level we are on, as well as relationships with both higher and lower levels. That relationship must begin here, on this level–organically, in this body–not in the clouds, and not in the underworld.He did not want us to wear white robes and be angels. The aim is to live fully–here, where I am.

I don't begin here, because I lack the capacity. Furthermore, I don't understand that I lack the capacity. I only think I understand that.

The organism has all the equipment necessary to be in superficial relationship with this level, and there is an assumption that that's enough. All I have to do is repeat the right prayers, and follow the formulas: pay the bills, get enough food, trade the right stocks, engage in some gratifying sex, and so on. I am built, in a sense, to be satisfied by that.

The parts of me that wish for a higher good are generally atrophied, even though they ought to be central to the organic condition.

Consequently, everything is perceived from this level–everything is measured from this level–all of my assumptions derive from this level. Every single thought I have about other levels is a product of this level; even the true sensations and experiences that come from above are contaminated by what I am, and how little I know.

This is probably the most difficult thing for me to see. It's only with the assistance of a higher energy–the presence, if you will, of the Holy Spirit–that anything real about this condition can begin to be seen. It is then that I see that this level is quite different than the level above me; that I have, in large part, almost nothing to do with it; that it is filled with Love and Mercy of both a quality, and a quantity, that absolutely exceed my comprehension.

For myself, I find this inner work--which becomes so specifically intimate and so specifically personal for each man and woman who attempts it–consists of clearly seeing, over and over, how deeply I lack any capacity in relationship to the level above me. If I don't see how small I am, how aggrandized my vision of myself is relative to that truth, I'm always tempted to think that I do have something to do with the level above me; that somehow, secretly, I embody its qualities. Right on the heels of that assumption, I believe that I can be a mediator; that I can manipulate.

There is, in other words, a part of me that wants to take what is God's, and own it for myself. The servant in me is a thief; he has no honesty.

Within the context of his--or her--own deepest inner work, a man or woman must make, and honor, a covenant with God.

Such work can only be--and must remain--secret; what God asks of one is not the same thing that he asks of another. According to his own lack, each must make a different set of promises; willing to be held accountable for how they are, secretly, within themselves, suffering their own nature.

Perhaps this has something to do with why Gurdjieff told his "adepts" that it was paramount to establish their own aim, and keep it... that aim need not be public... perhaps it must not and cannot be public.

It's likely, after all, that every aim that is put on display will be corrupted by the ego:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

May our prayers be heard.

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