Meditations on the 23rd psalm: part 1
The title of Gurdjieff's "All and Everything," first series- better known, perhaps, as "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson-" appears to be about man and his intransigencies, or about the cosmos and earth's place in it. The title, however, subtly points us to a more comprehensive interpretation: All that Is, or, more specifically, God.
And, indeed, so it turns out to be: a book exclusively centered around the duties and responsibilities incumbent upon "all three brained beings of the Great Universe" to His Endlessness.
This question deepens as a man looks further, and deeper, into the extraordinary lens Gurdjieff sets before us.
Where are we?
We find ourselves in the House of the Lord.
In the last line of the 23rd psalm, the prayer reads, ..."I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
The House referred to here is life; more specifically, my own life. I am called to dwell within- to inhabit- this living circumstance, which is not just "my" life at all, but rather the very same House that the Lord dwells within: the House of the Lord and this circumstance of life are in fact one and the same.
When the Lord clothes Himself in Glory, that selfsame Glory is the Glory of awareness, the Glory of life incarnate; there is no separation between life and Glory, just as there is no separation between the House of the Lord and this life that I am called upon to inhabit.
This may seem theoretical to me, because there is usually no capacity in me to see, let alone understand, that within this life itself, I am not what I think I am, and life is not what I think it is. In every step, with every breath, within each circumstance and each action, I am the very embodiment of the Lord: not just an agent of Divinity, but Divinity itself, expressing its own will and its own action, according to both the law and the will of divinity.
To argue whether or not "I" am or am not divine is hardly the point: this is no more than an egoistic exercise in sophistry. I am called upon instead to understand organically- from within the depths of Being, from within a conjunction of centers and energy, from within a wholeness- and to embody the Divine awareness that both creates and manifests at every moment, in all Being- aware or unaware.
This same embodiment is the aim of Zen; the attainment of the dharma is no complex feat of skill; it's no more than the immediate inhabitation of life. This dwelling within is never later, and never a thought: it's not an idea, but an actual embodiment, lived through the body, seen through the body: sensed through the body, spoken through the body, for life itself in all its guises is indeed not just the visage of the Lord but even the Word of the Lord itself, as it emanates from every Holy Source of arising, and returns to it. Even inorganic matter participates in this embodiment- nothing can be separated from it.
As the prayer says, "Thou art with me." I am never even a step away from the Lord; I am called to inhabit His house at every moment as I pass through this incarnation, shadowed by the deep questions of life and death.
The Lord has embodied Himself in all places and all things; no consciousness or manifestation is exempt from inclusion. To dwell within the House of the Lord is simply and merely to Be; to be without the sound and the fury, the Sturm und Drang, of "my" life. This is to step into prayer, to step into the receiving of life, the acceptance of life into this vessel so exqusitely and carefully prepared for it: as it is, where it is and when it is.
I belive that I somehow have the right to determine the terms of this exchange, this transaction, but in fact absolutely no terms whatsoever belong to me, or even exist within my reach. Like the Being in the 23rd Psalm, all the conditions are already determined; no alternatives exist. Each condition and circumstance lies in the hands of God.
My mistake has always been that I presume to control the exchange, to believe in my own authority. This in sheer defiance of an ever-present and abundant Grace, which I very nearly dare not acknowledge; after all, to do so in any moment destroys every moment in which I entitle myself to appropriate that Goodness which is not my own.
Already under authority, I am obliged only to acknowledge it. Already within conditions, I am responsible only to see them. All of the struggles I invent to surpass my conditions are futile, for all conditions are already unsurpassable and infinite; every weakness and strength I seek to discard or enhance already has all of its limits and potentials set and realized.
I am only able to inhabit: to see. Beyond this, all is given; and given furthermore from a Generosity, and a Love, beyond my own capacity to comprehend.
May our prayers be heard.