Friday, August 12, 2011

The house of the Lord, part 2

Meditations on the 23rd psalm, part 2

Originally, I planned to continue with what amounted to a technical analysis of the Psalm, but it seemed to be completely out of context with the first post–some kind of fancy and annoying intellectual exercise–so I erased it.

Instead, I'm just going to speak about my own experience candidly. This is more in the moving spirit of the Psalm, rather than the analytic content.

There is a Grace that comes within the abundance of life. Now, I have spent a great deal of my life experiencing it through fear; I think we all do. Many times, my reaction to fear is so visceral it seems to swallow all the alternatives.

Nonetheless, I find that this isn't entirely necessary. In the wholeness of life, in the sensation of the body, in the grounding within the spiritual centers of gravity–the abdomen and the heart–it's possible to discover a condition that does not have so much fear in it. If fear begins anywhere, it begins in my lack of connection with myself. The moment that I begin to attend in a different way, there is less fear. I can even look fear directly in the eye and know that it is not the master.

Grace never leaves me, even in the midst of doubt. My misappropriation of life itself, my mistaken perceptions about who is in charge–even this does not stop Grace, which the Lord bestows according to his own laws, not mine. As Brother Lawrence so eloquently pointed out, even if I remind the Lord that I am not worthy of Grace–and I truly am not worthy–this is not my decision to make.

Mr. Gurdjieff surely knew that a man who works will find Grace–or, rather, that Grace will find him. His emphasis on responsibility and service–linchpins of the efforts he calls on us to make towards Being–are nothing more than the foundation, the fertile earth, in which Grace can be received.

I find myself moving through life asking myself how I can discover, through attentive practice, a way to offer compassionate support–not only from what I think, or what my emotions tell me, since these alone are not enough. Compassionate support begins with my sensation of myself, grows roots from the interaction with the mind and with feeling, until there is a more whole approach to life. It is grounded in gravity, it dwells within gravity. This is not the gravity of the planet, but the gravity of the soul, which binds us together enough to see life a bit more for what it is.

Day by day, and hour by hour, and even minute by minute–I don't know anything. I dwell within this eternity created in each day, attempting to serve, hoping for the consciousness which transcends my own, and praying for the mercy that is necessary to open my heart. Without this prayer, I'm not sure there would be anything meaningful going on in me, since it appears to me that above all I am required to constantly offer prayer and thanksgiving for this life I have been given.

That all may appear to be in rank contradiction to the realities expressed by my outward manifestations–a man struggling with himself, trying to earn a living, saying snotty things to his wife and children sometimes, yelling at the famous dog Isabel when she misbehaves.

I catch myself ten thousand times a day like this: these are my conditions. Yet even they are not separated from the Lord; even they are exactly part of what He is, and cannot be denied or separated. The ordinary tribulations and the questions are as much a part of His Being as the glory of an August day.

It may sound strange, once again, to speak of Gurdjieff's work as a religious practice; yet there is nothing but religion in it, and if a man finds his soul, he will see that this is the only thing Mr. Gurdjieff ever wished for any of us.

Every human being who undertakes this work must find it for themselves in their own heart, and speak of it in their own voice. This is not just a romantic calling; it is our duty.

May our prayers be heard.

2 comments:

  1. yeah boy. that got me pumped. i love it. in my experience with gurdjieff groups many people get "tense" when god, or any real religious feeling is mentioned. the lord is with thee.... you spoke for me and my wife with your latest posts, thank you....

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  2. Religion for some is rigid structure, for me -- I'll take the ecstasy of the Logos. :-)

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