Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the question of substance

The cotton wood trees are setting seed, and it is drifting through the air around the house like little snowflakes. People in the neighborhood have decided to mow their lawn this afternoon; because of the unique configuration of our households (built at the base of a rather large ridge) the lawns are tiny, yet it seems to take forever to mow them. The noise goes on and on.

I have been sitting here for almost an hour and made three or four false starts on the post. The fact is that there are so many things I could say; yet the wish is to say something of substance, something that comes from the heart, and that isn't always so easy. My energy levels are low because I was up late last night; there is material here, but it can't be squeezed out. It is in far more of a receptive state, and it seems fair enough not to provoke the situation.

What we attempt is material, not psychological. It's necessary to gain a firm understanding of that–an understanding, not a knowledge. The question of materiality has to become quite practical. With that understanding, the materiality of impressions needs to be appreciated, and the sufficiency of impressions must also be appreciated. There is nothing passive in taking in impressions, if they are understood as food. Approaching this question alone with enough attention can be a whole work.

As I have mentioned before, we were specifically designed to take in impressions of nature. That is our purpose; our entire organism is finely tuned to do that, using many different sensory tools. It's worthwhile to ask ourselves the question of why we evolved that way; it's worthwhile to understand, at least intellectually, that if we fail to do this work, we have in a sense done nothing according to the natural order we are supposed to serve–and we have also done nothing whatsoever in accordance with the divine nature which expressed us, as agents of its own wish.

These questions are intimately tied not just to religion, but biology. Man's mind has perversely decided that it can separate itself from our biological nature without any legitimate consequences, and the results are all around to be seen. These outer results are physical and disastrous. What is more difficult to see is that this separation has created an equally polluted and destructive inner landscape relative to the development of the soul. That is a much more subtle thing that can't be put on display on PBS specials. Yet it is a fact–the outer condition of our relationship with the planet is a direct reflection of the failure of our inner relationship.

Understanding ourselves as biological organisms can begin with sensation, but it must run through the entire range of sensory capabilities in order to become whole. This is one of the aims of three centered work–we are not waking up just to our mind, we are waking up to all of our parts, to the complete physical expression of our being, mediated through this organism.

In a certain sense, the majority of our activities are misplaced. We race about doing this, that and the other thing, with little or no attention to the fact that we are on a planet, breathing its gasses; that we are an integral part of what is around us, not separated from it. This most essential experience of life is being extinguished at our collective peril.

A real experience of nature–of our own nature, and its relationship to nature at large–a la Gurdjieff, not Thoreau ( although I do not have anything against Thoreau, far from it!) provides a very great deal of food. This is unsurprising, seeing how specific the sense and aim of our evolution has been. Like all of organic life, we are designed as sensory tools.

Some of these questions may well bear a relationship to the material presented in the chapter The Holy Planet Purgatory, found in Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson. This potential relationship, however, ought to be pondered carefully and experienced as deeply as possible, rather than interpreted or explained, so I will leave it to the reader to explore that on their own.

May our prayers be heard.

1 comment:

  1. Jim Wyckoff suggested that we always "test our work". When a question is raised, like the value and intensity and quality of impressions entering my organism, then prepare a response and don't be lazy.

    In that spirit, I would like to say
    that an event occurred at the Gurdjieff Foundation last Wednesday night, May 25, in the 7:45 Movements class which is worthy of comment/response.

    During the experiencing of Enneagram 8, the 25-person class
    seemed to find something new which I had personally never seen before.
    For about 5 minutes, this Movement seemed to do itself, to come to life, so-to-speak. The class all-of-a-sudden knew how to "do" this Movement. It was as if the class stopped being individuals and became something entirely different, a unit perhaps, but even more than that. There was a flood of new impressions for everyone in the room, I felt. The efforts of this class last Wednesday and probably as far back as last Fall were likely a factor in this extraordinary event.

    Michel deSalzmann said in "The Next Attention" on page 95 "Why is it difficult sometimes to listen to other people's words about work? This is because you still believe in the one who thinks she knows. You think it is yours, this experience. Like this little bit of carpet that needs to have a speck taken off. You still think it belongs to you.


    "It is complete identification.

    "Either one is identified with the body or one is in this flow, the true Self".

    The class last Wednesday night may well have been "in this flow", but we'll get another chance to see for ourselves this coming Wednesday night, June 1, when the night of Movements takes place on 63rd and Enneagram 8 is likely to be part of that program.

    Was this an illusion on my part?

    Thank you Jim Wyckoff!!


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