The question of establishing direction in work came up the other day.
This question of direction is interesting. As Chris McManus pointed out in his excellent book “right hand, left hand,” there isn't any absolute directionality in the universe. Up and down, North and South, left and right–all of these things are arbitrarily assigned relative to a presumably (but not actually) fixed location.
The problem with this question of directionality is that nothing is fixed–everything is constantly in motion. The only way that one can assign a direction is relative to something else.
As such, there is no directionality. There is only relationship. And it isn't a direction that we attempt to discover when we try to establish an inner work: it is a relationship. in this sense, my question is not, “where am I going?” but rather “what is my relationship?”
The difficulty is that I am not here. That's a question of location, not direction. I can't go anywhere if I can't Be in myself, and I do not know what Being is. Yes, after all these years, I have some inklings–there are experiences. The question of actual versus theoretical inner relationship may no longer be completely obscure. Yet in spite of this understanding, my work in this area remains largely theoretical.
I can't afford to flatter myself with the idea that my smidgen of understanding has lifted me above the theoretical realm. I need to come back myself again and again, all day long, seeking active relationship. The difficulty is that I am passive in regard to this question. There needs to be an intention in me to be actively related, and that intention is weak.
How can I be in myself? It is this question of being rooted, being firmly planted in life, with a flexibility, an intelligence, a freedom that does not depend on external circumstances. This is definitely possible, yet it calls on an action in me that I am not familiar with. I'm always forgetting it. There are times when I suddenly rediscover it–or, more properly put, it rediscovers me–and it is always a surprise. After all, this action is entirely natural, entirely right, and the birthright of the organism and of consciousness itself–yet I am not in relationship with it. I have forgotten what relationship is.
Some elucidation about the question of exactly what self remembering is can be discerned here. The rediscovery of relationship is self remembering. There isn't any self without relationship. It is the relationship that disappears–the relationship is what I do not understand, and what I do not in fact have. To be sure, I have established an ersatz relationship–a construction which substitutes for actual relationship, a machine that provides a set of automatic responses. But if I am ever truly present to what I am, I see that while I have a truly remarkable–miraculous–e ven amazing machine, the human element is missing.
I remind people of this often in relationship in ordinary life–I am dealing with a clerk, or a bureaucrat, or so on, and they are reciting the usual rules about how the regulations for the insurance company, bank, corporation, and so on and so forth, only allow a thing to be done in such and such a way, and I have to remind them that we are human beings. We don't have to apply cookie-cutter solutions to life. We have the freedom to make more constructive choices than the ones the machines provide for us.
It is increasingly important for us as human beings to come to this moment over and over again, because we live in a worldwide society that seems determined to crush humanity simply by applying various rules to it. Amazingly, most of this crushing is being done merely so that a mostly imaginary substance called “money” can be extracted from individuals.
It's surprising how comfortable we all are with that.
My direction-oriented thinking is perhaps another example of this transactional nature I often speak about. I want to go here, to go there, to get this, to get that. I don't see that I need to be here, just to be here. It isn't about getting from one point to another. It is about being within the point that I am at.
It is not that I abandon direction completely. What needs to happen is that it needs to be subordinated to an understanding of my inner location. If I am not here, I can't go anywhere. Only by establishing the root of my being, of where I am, can the question of any direction whatsoever be undertaken. Trying to understand direction without beginning at the root is like being lost in the forest and thinking that I know the way out, when in fact I'm not even sure where I am in the first place.
In a sense, my inner work is constantly taking stock of this question of location. It reminds me once again of that classic and internal question that my teacher and mentor Betty Brown so often used to pose:
What is the truth of this moment?
May our prayers be heard.