Monday, February 7, 2011

In search of the lost soul


Neal and I are in the Yucat√°n Peninsula,visiting ancient Mayan sites.There are so many cities here --the vast majority of them unexcavated --that it's nearly impossible to comprehend the scale of this civilization, let alone how completely and absolutely it disappeared.

They had their own rich esoteric spiritual traditions, their own symbolism, their own art, unique and distinct from almost every other art. Yet almost all of this is forgotten, unappreciated. Modern societies still marvel at the pyramids in Egypt,but for the most part, the equally or perhaps even more astonishing achievements of the Central Americans (after all, they moved their stone and built everything completely without the use of the wheel!) are a footnote to our histories. Nonetheless,they are absolutely a part of the whole--a part of what has made this planet, a part of what we all are as human beings.

It's a crash course in contrasting realities: last week at this time, I was in Dallas, Texas, a sprawling megalopolis occupying a depressing landscape, degraded by modern "improvements:" gargantuan shopping malls and and dehumanizing international chains. America's corporate megalomania is dismantling the heart of civilization to replace it with a bright, shiny, consumeristic nothingness.

This week I find myself in the middle of our "backwards" neighbor country, Mexico-- a place still populated with real human beings doing things that are not, from start to finish, orchestrated by corporations--traveling from one small, dusty, poverty-stricken town to another; eating modest but delicious local food; truly pondering the sense and aim of my existence, and of existence in general.

I see myself seeing Mexico; I see the endless dialogue of critique that takes place; a constant patter of inner commentary on everything and everyone, most of it mindless, banal, off-center. The machine is truly a machine; in the nature of machines, it has programs that emulate compassion and love, but it doesn't know what they are -- it just imitates. When Gurdjieff spoke of the need for real emotion to enter in order for any real inner work to begin, I believe he spoke of the need for this imitation to be seen and suffered, so as to issue an invitation for something more emotionally real to arrive.

This morning, I awoke in a relatively negative state, which is not unusual for me. I constantly find that my parts don't begin to see things in a more positive way until they have come up to speed with one another, allowing more harmony. The speed at which things work from center to center has a lot to do with this. Centers working at different speeds don't come into relationship with each other very well; there has to be a relationship in tempo in order for the negativity to lessen.

This disconnectedness, this lack of relationship, has everything to do with my negativity in general. I don't observe this accurately enough; there is an overall lack of seeing at the levels at which things need to be seen.

What I am speaking of here is a much more specific kind of seeing. Most of the seeing I do is superficial; I can be sure of that, because it is all mediated by language.That is to say, my associative parts are cataloging it, processing it, analyzing it. Perhaps you know what I mean.

This is not a bad kind of seeing--all efforts are indeed useful--, but it is superficial. It is partial. I can't really see anything in a deep way that is truly meaningful unless my parts are in relationship--and when that happens, what is seen is no longer susceptible to redaction by verbal descriptions and language. In other words, I begin to know what it is to truly see when I cannot describe it in words anymore. My understanding of what it is to see cannot stay in one place. It must grow.

This kind of much deeper seeing, a seeing in which the impression of the inner self is much more inner, is more connected and more whole, marks a rediscovery of that lost soul, that lost civilization, which has left its traces all around me in my Being, and which is nonetheless invisible to me.

In a certain sense, to talk about such seeing is dangerous. Seeing is a sacred activity, a form of prayer which ought not be made public. We live, unfortunately, in a world where the dilemma of helping one another to come to this action requires a form of outwardness which works against the work itself.

Hence I end up where I must speak of not speaking; and I must see that I cannot see.

The direction in which my seeing needs to go is in this much more intimate direction, which requires (among other qualities) a sensitive and gentle approach to, and embracing of, the actual fear that dwells within. I am, after all, afraid of everything: afraid of life, afraid of change, afraid of myself. Fear is the foundation of so much; fear, and distrust.

This kind of seeing becomes a most disturbing exploration. It doesn't become disturbing because of the "bad" things that are seen, no; it is not disturbing because of the uneasy emotions that are encountered.

It is disturbing, above all, because of the action itself, which brings absolutely everything into question. In other words, it disturbs my passivity towards my inner life.

There is a temptation to try and encapsulate this now, sitting here in a relatively more collected (I use the term liberally) state, by the side of a hotel pool in Campeche where the sun lights ochre walls, and grackles probe the water. There is a richness to the immediacy of the impressions that belies the inability of my personality and my mind to grasp anything.

It is only here, from within the context of receiving my life, that things begin to make sense, and they only make sense in the absence of all the baggage that plagues my ordinary lack of relationship.

I'm unable to encapsulate anything right now. I'm only able to be within the process, living the experience.

That in and of itself is rare enough, but it does at least represent a hope of consciousness.

May our prayers be heard.

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