Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lamb of God/ Joy and Sorrow

The Lamb of God

The subject of the Lamb of God has been much with me over the last three or four days. This phrase is, of course, taken from the Gospels–John the Baptist's pronouncement, Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, John 1:29–yet it has a more specific esoteric meaning than the rather obvious symbolic value we habitually assign to it in the context of Christ, in his sacrificial role as the savior of mankind.

The sins of the world can be taken to mean my ordinary mind, my ordinary being–along with all of its attachments. I wish to become self aware, to self remember, because I need to develop a firm understanding of the nature of my attachment and my conditions. Only by making the awareness of my life and what I am whole can I possibly begin to understand it in a larger context, and see it as something that belongs specifically to this level... there is, after all, a tremendous dimension to my life through time and through space, and I don't understand that dimension. I see my life in fragments... and without seeing its wholeness, there is no possibility of acquiring enough humility to understand my true nature, or, as the Buddhists might say, the "face I had before I was born."

The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world is also an inner state–not just a symbol for an action that takes place outwardly in the material world. It represents an immense deepening of practice; a higher energy that we can become available to. It represents a real moment in the inner life, not an abstract principle. In relationship to that moment, one might say, the ordinary ("sinful") self becomes transparent. This expression is, of course, entirely inadequate as a description. But there you have it.

The phrase has found its way into the Christian liturgy and is used in many different prayers because it has a power well beyond the words. To invoke this prayer in a whole way, to deeply offer our selves–all of what we are–to the Lamb of God is to submit to a higher authority that comes from beyond our ordinary experience. If this prayer is made whole within a man, it may call to us that force which is called the peace of God which passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7.)

One can hardly lay out any formulas for this type of prayer. All that can be said is that a prayer must become a whole thing, not a partial expression, and that it must live and breathe until there is nothing but that prayer.

Those who have difficulty with overtly Christian practice may resist this understanding and fail to see that it is not actually a "Christian" practice after all; it is a fundamental practice; a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu practice. It's an esoteric form of the deepest kind of yoga, if you will.

The Lamb of God is a force. Jesus Christ was a direct representative of that force, and embodied it, but the force did not belong to Christ, nor did it die with him. It is still available: it's created on and emanates from the level above us, and it is forever available to help free us from what Christians call “sin:” attachment to the ordinary mind and all of what we are on this planet, and within this level. That doesn't mean it removes what is in the ordinary mind or eliminates anything; rather, a transformation takes place. This is a transformation of relationship between higher and lower, where the lower knows its place.

Treating the truly esoteric phrases in Christian practice as abstractions, formulas, or ideas with strictly symbolic content is a grave mistake. Most of these forms, like Gurdjieff's own Lord have Mercy, represent actual inner action. Esoteric monastic practices understand this quite well, but have little or no contact with the modern world. Yet if that understanding remains hidden behind closed doors, it cannot serve in the way that is necessary now. I sense that we find ourselves at a critical juncture in the history of mankind and the planet, where certain doors must now be opened.

It occurs to me, as I say all of this, that I get a bit uneasy when speaking in public about these things, because they are so difficult to convey, and there is, categorically, no reason for anyone to believe that what I say is true. On top of that, I have no overt wish to be didactic; the intention is simply to share my own perspectives, understanding, and insights. As such, none of what is offered on the subject is intended as a teaching: it is a set of observations of my own, not really anything more. So one might say, when one encounters the material in this space, that it is nothing more than a notebook made public. Take it as such.

Joy and Sorrow

Pondering the question of the Lamb of God over the past few days led me to the question of joy and sorrow, which I interpret in such a narrow way on my own level. I have touched on this subject before, in the context of explaining that the universe is composed of a perfect balance of joy and sorrow; a physical and temporal experience of this truth is what produces religious ecstasies.

I only understand the words joy and sorrow in very relative terms. Everything about them is related to my experience on this level. There are some few works of art and music–I will not attempt to classify them as objective or subjective–which lead close to the edge of a higher experience of what these words mean, but they are extremely rare. Even then, they cannot possibly produce such an effect in someone who is not prepared. For the most part, we don't know at all what joy and sorrow are.

There are an absolute Joy and an absolute Sorrow, which together create the emotional center of gravity of the universe.

These two separate forces eternally seek to recombine, without losing their own essential character, into a single force. Of course, there must be a third, or reconciling, force that combines with Joy and Sorrow in order to realize the wholeness of the experience of Being and Emotion. This action represents a contact with the divine. (Gurdjieff might have called it contact with higher emotional center.) That third force is Consciousness, because Consciousness is the only medium through which such an expression can be recognized by an intelligence. Man's moving, emotional, and intellectual center mirror, on our own level, these three forces: Joy, Sorrow, and Consciousness. Here stands revealed one of the most essential aspects and actions of Gurdjieff's Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, and Holy Reconciling forces.

When I say Consciousness, I don't speak here of having some special kind of attention, some exercise, some yogic effort to storm the gates of heaven. I speak of a direct and unmediated Consciousness in a sense that transcends our understanding–a Consciousness that cannot be taken or created, but that simply is. This is original consciousness, not constructed: begotten, not made, in the sense that it is born in man, but never created by him.

Mankind originally evolved to be able to mediate, through material embodiment, a direct contact between absolute Joy and absolute Sorrow, so that they can become whole again, but the condition of our organism has deteriorated so greatly that to truly encounter this type of contact is essentially unbearable, and might even prove fatal in the absence of the right kind of preparation. One thing that it would, in any event, most certainly prove fatal to is our sense of egoism.

The absolute qualities of Joy and Sorrow that emanate from what Gurdjieff called the Most Holy Sun Absolute reach all of the material parts of the universe simultaneously, and perpetually. They are eternally present in all of creation. We are given life within the direct context of these conditions: the tragedy is that we cannot sense it.

We stand forever proximate to this truth, quivering on the edge of a radical understanding that could change everything for us, and yet we carry on as though the only thing to worry about were whether or not there is enough money in the bank.

There simply is not enough submission in man. That is the fact of it.

May our prayers be heard.



1 comment:

  1. Reading this essay, it appears you took your toe off the shore and pushed out into the unknown. Bravo and thank you for this effort.

    I was struck deeply by the comment "quivering on the edge of a radical understanding that could change everything for us" but my experience is that we cling for dear life to the safe known, the leading edge of which is the virtually impenetrable view that I am my image of myself. I am convinced that I am my occupation, my drivers license, bank account (as you say), my knowledge, especially my education, my upbringing, my cleverness, my talents, my circle of friends, my size, shape, race, sex, and more recently, my Facebook page, cell phone, Blackberry..

    Many have said, including my own original guide in the Work, Jim Wyckoff, that we were driven into our heads as children. And maybe this would be as good a place as any to thank Mister G.I. Gurdjieff for his superhuman efforts to allow us to extricate ourselves from this ridiculous situation (living in our heads alone) and informing us how to re-inhabit our body and feeling by way of the Sacred Dances/Movements and by listening and absorbing the Gurdjieff/DeHartmann music. The Music and the Movements can (and do) inform these parts of ourselves that have been nearly (but not quite) starved to death. We can also thank him for All and Everything (which informs the mind and feelings) and the Harmonium music (informs the feelings and possibly more) and for every aspect of his teaching passed on to Jeanne DeSalzmann, most of which survives to this day,6/16/11.

    And while he did not do all this for me in particular, but for some only partially-comprehended planetary and cosmic reasons, one can still say thank you.

    Is this where the radical understanding has it's home?

    And then one can say, Lord Have Mercy..............

    Then one can say, I Wish to Be Always, Everywhere.......

    Followed by, I Wish To Be For The Good........

    And then one can say,

    Remorse,

    Suffering,

    Effort,

    Hope,

    Yesterday,

    Today,

    Tomorrow, Always!!

    ReplyDelete

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