Monday, February 21, 2011

"Forward" movement, and contradiction

Readers, it is said, generally read blogs because they are forward moving; the regular posts create a momentum that takes things forward, and this is something interesting to people. Bloggers lose audiences if they don't post regularly. So, static conditions are not that interesting to today's audience.

Maybe static conditions are not that interesting, in general. Human beings are always in movement, as is the entire cosmological environment we dwell within. We are naturally drawn to movement; and we usually describe “positive” movement as "forward" movement. There is an impression of progress.

This question of forward movement and progress is, once again, transactional. Time appears to us to be linear, but maybe it isn't; what appears to be progress may just be change. In any event, what more appropriate venue to bring up discussions about the Gurdjieff work than in a blog? It has characteristics that published books cannot share: it has the potential to be in movement, and, if it is attended to, continually updated.

It doesn't "progress;" I don't write, and you don't read, along some magical line that will lead to our higher development and save our souls. It is more than anything about being here, in the moment: and it is this moment, the one in which we first encounter what we write or what we read, that the interesting things take place.

I am here. I had no idea of what I would write when I began this. It emerges from what might be called nothingness; and, yet, clearly, there is something here.

This is how all of life appears: it is a process that emerges from itself, into itself, constantly.

With those musings in mind, I need to mention that I have been pondering all of the distressing news that reaches us these days: unrest and death in the Middle East, earthquakes in New Zealand, economic difficulty, rising prices of food and other commodities. Damn! The whole world seems to be falling apart–doesn't it?

I contrast this with the contradictory state of being here. Being here-- right here, right now– has nothing whatsoever to do with all of these external events that are, at almost a 100% level, delivered to me by electronic media. They are, in large part, imaginary, relative to the actual immediate experience within my own environment. To a certainty, they are real in a much larger context; but that does not have, in the end, that much to do with this instant of experience and being.

My breathing in and out right now–this isn't imaginary. The sensation of my body? That's not imaginary either. The associative thoughts I am having, on the other hand, are in large part imaginary. They seem to be a burden. It might not be such a bad thing to see if it were possible to forget about all of them, to just go outside, watch a cardinal or a blue Jay at the bird feeder, sense the temperature of the air (it's cold again here in New York.)

There is a contradiction, in other words, between the reality of what I am, who I am, where I am, and all of the "information" -- that is, the “thought facts”-- that flow into me here as I encounter the various devices that “feed” me with all of the stuff going on all over the planet. I sense, from within the organic state of my being, that I would be much better off just limiting my hearing, my vision, my sense of smell, my sensation, and even my thinking to where I am right now–

yet all of this outward information has a definite attraction.

I doubt I am going to sort this one out. I can, however, make some kind of an effort to be a human being–to feel, to sense, to ponder–instead of being one more paranoid cog in the 7-billion plus piece "disaster machine" humanity has built for itself on planet Earth.

It strikes me now that there aren't any easy escapes in being a human being, either; all kinds of difficult choices have to be made. I am very reactionary; I get angry at people for abstract, theoretically ethical reasons, chew on this kind of negative nonsense for weeks and months, and then I finally come to a moment where I have to be a human being and do the right thing, regardless of all the garbage I am filled with.

A moment like that came last night when I took care of a financial matter I had been resisting for months. In the scheme of things, it wasn't that big; and, in fact, there was much right on my side, measured objectively. Nonetheless, in the end, I had to write someone who I have a very close personal connection with-- someone who I have, you might say, a love/hate relationship with–a rather large check. At least one more zero than I like on a check, unless it is made out to me.

How did it happen?

There was a moment when I actually discovered, to my own surprise and perhaps even bewilderment, that I was not in emotional reaction over this matter any more... praise Allah!-- and I said to my wife, "I'm writing this check and bring it next door now." I put the pen to the paper without even a whisper of the four months of angry ruminations my various "i"'s had devoted to the matter up until now.

I marched over and presented the check, and I didn't have all the garbage–the fear, the anger, the reaction–in me in that moment. There was just the simple fact that I was being a human being, in relationship, and it was possible for me in that moment to dig myself out from under all of the crap I fill myself with and just do what was, in the end, both necessary and right. There was, to put it in shorthand, a moment of inner presence that made the action possible.

What a magical moment. What a relief. I don't have to be a bastard, I thought to myself. There are ways for me to get around that.

Does this relate to higher work? Or is it just more ordinary nonsense on the life level... a little bit of self-pity, a dash of bogus humility, a smattering of egoistic self-congratulation?

In my experience, it is exactly this ordinary kind of real human moment that does relate to higher work. In the instant that I surrender the baggage of my negativity, which I have been so carefully nursing, watering, and pruning for months at a time, I actually experience a real moment of freedom. There aren't any heavenly lights; no angels descend. It is just me, experiencing what one might call a quite ordinary and absolutely leveling moment of humility.

Yet this simple ordinary moment is the moment where I discover that I am human, and that to be human means something much more than to be petty, mean, vindictive, greedy, grasping–

Well, it means to discover that I have a heart, and that it is possible to use it,

if I am patient enough to wait for the moment when it's possible.

I think we will leave it at that for today.

May our prayers be heard.

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