Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It's raining today.

I woke up this morning to the usual–and endless–sets of challenges that life presents: the anxieties, the concerns, the emotional reactions.

At the same time, there is something else present. There is a living force that animates the situation, which the self inhabits. This itself is not the same as all of the parts that make it up; yes, there are reactions, there are concerns, there are anxieties and challenges, but they are not self. They are not the force that animates. They are simply the results of interactions with that force.

The force is powerful, so the results of interaction are powerful. If there is some awareness of the force, then there is some separation from the reaction. It's important for me to remember that I am--that being here in relation to this force can change the situation.

We sometimes speak of grounding ourselves. This is not just discussed in the Gurdjieff work, of course–ordinary psychologists talk about it, as though it were a process of thought. But even in ordinary psychology, we understand that that grounding takes place not just with the thinking, but with a connection to the body–for example, the breathing, or sensation–that is, more than one part has to participate.

Grounding has a slightly more esoteric meaning from the Gurdjieff point of view. This force is a current. It flows through us. We are mediators of it–not authors, and not controllers. If the force does not have a ground wire, so to speak, based in sensation of the body and the organism itself, the current runs the risk of short-circuiting or overloading. Grounding in the organism–the sensing of the body in an active way, not a passive one–is not only desirable but necessary.

I can't maintain a sense of equilibrium without some grounding. This requires a constant coming back to the sense of the body, not with the thought or with theoretical techniques, but with an active investigation that asks what is here now, and what is available now. I don't, for example, try to force the situation by using the breath to “make” a connection possible; I just ask myself, what is possible?

I don't know what is possible, and furthermore, what is possible may not be what I expect. To expect this and that is to be dependent on the past. It can work, but it is not always reliable.

I don't use predetermined techniques because I need to remain active in the face of this question. The question itself is what helps impart life to the search, and a formulated approach to it–one that assumes I know what is necessary–is already too rigid to respond to the constantly changing forces that are at play in the body, the mind, and the emotions. An active stance involves being prepared to see what is possible, which changes from moment to moment.

This doesn't make anxieties, concerns, reactions and challenges go away. It changes my relationship to them. My constant impulse to do something softens. I begin to remind myself that without being passive, there are many situations that could do quite well without my interference–inner situations as well as outer ones. The trick is to identify what is needed, and not to interfere, but to be present in the center of the action prepared to respond in whatever way is necessary.

Perhaps my chief difficulty is that most of my responses come out of fear. I don't see this; I am generally afraid of almost everything new that arrives: every change in circumstances is a potential threat. I make fun of my dog when she acts like this: a bus comes down the street, something she has seen many times, and yet she is terrified. I don't see that in this regard I am just like her.

I am a coward. I lack the courage to face life honestly. Just a little bit of grounded presence can help me to see that this fear of mine is actually a significant part of my chief feature. I believe in it and let it decide things for me. Because it's a rigid entity, it's prone to failure.

Well, there is no way that all of this will be fixed this morning. Or even this afternoon. All of these aspects of my being are true things, and there's no use in criticizing myself for them. They are just true. It is, however, helpful for me to see them.

Above all, being in relationship with the force that animates this life is a support. I may not have a good relationship with it, I may not be able to invoke its presence, but I can prepare-- and I am able to invest within it to the extent that it is available.

May our prayers be heard.

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