What if it is not possible to Be, in all my doing-to-be?
Gurdjieff famously advised his pupils, “Man cannot do.” We generally believe that this is a descriptive: it defines a condition we inhabit.
What if it is, instead, an imperative: a command? What if what he means is that man must not do?
Doing, after all, emanates wholly from my own ego and my own will. I stand within life, at the helm of what I see as my own vessel, commanding each situation and action as though I were in charge, I knew where I were going, and I knew what to do. The doing emanates outward from me. I am radiating my energy into the world, making it do my bidding.
Of course men endowed with the capacity of reason (not all of us are, you know) understand that this is ludicrous. No one makes the world do his own bidding, even though our psyches perversely try to convince us on a moment to moment basis that that is not only exactly what we ought to do... but what we do do.
Lo, world! Be as I wish you to be!
Perhaps the entire dilemma arises from the fact that this is my will being done, in direct contradiction to the Lord's prayer, Thy will be done.
I must do nothing. I should do nothing. In fact, only when I begin to do nothing do I do anything. And in the middle of life, no matter where I am, and no matter what inner or outer actions are taking place, perhaps it is possible to do nothing. Perhaps it is even imperative to do nothing. If I do nothing, something else can be done.
And in fact, the Lord is incredibly generous in this effort: the moment that I do nothing, the Lord does everything.
Everything is exactly as it was. All of the events are still taking place: I am walking, I diligently tote my camera–the famous dog Isabel is behind me or in front of me, I am surrounded by trees, reeds, and catbirds. The Hudson River is still there.
Nonetheless, everything is different: I am not doing anything. Everything is already sufficient, already complete, and I simply walk forward into life, without any need to do. Each moment is sufficient unto itself, without my interference.
Every one of my efforts stands in the way of real effort.
Real effort is the abandonment of effort, but the abandonment of effort in a new way, from a new gravity, with an openness that defies the opaque nature of my personality.
Grace is only one heartbeat away.
Seek it by doing absolutely nothing.
May our prayers be heard.