Saturday, August 6, 2011

Technique and feeling

My friend Douglas and I were most fortunate to be present at the emergence of this swallowtail from its chrysalis yesterday.

The last group of posts have focused on various questions of structure, technique, and cosmology, the study of which is rewarding in any inner search.

I embarked on studies of this kind many years ago, and from time to time, when meaningful insights present themselves, I occasionally return to revise or otherwise expound on the material. Nonetheless, in what has to be considered an exquisite irony, the insights never come from an assiduous practice of technique.

Knowing how things work doesn't make them work. Things just work, and we just observe them working.

As the Muslims say, everything is actually in God's hands, and any other opinion is false. Events only take place in so far as God wills them. We can see from the studies as presented over the last 3 days that even when men feel that they are willing their own inner work, the lessons implicit in the involutionary and evolutionary forces of the enneagram demonstrate that everything ultimately arises from, and returns into, the will of God.

If a man acquires will–an aim which Gurdjieff said was in fact quite necessary–we will discover that it isn't his own will. At best, he will acquire a will that is an incarnate, or fundamentally limited, version of God's will–and the only action he can take with that will that ultimately benefits him is to surrender it back to God. So in the end, as Meister Eckhart says, after we have acquired it, our aim must be to completely empty ourselves of our own will... until nothing but the Will of the Divine is left.

We come back to that question–what is it to open the heart? Well, certainly, we have inklings of what it means on this level. And there are certainly external, societal, familial and social understandings related to this. After all, there are myriad horizontal actions of the law of octaves (Dogen's myriad causes) as well as the verticals ones we're usually more interested in. But we put the idea of opening the heart firmly within our mind, where it does not belong. The mind cannot open the heart, and the body cannot open the heart. We can prepare for opening the heart with what Mr. Gurdjieff referred to as intentional suffering, but even here, we are not quite sure what that means.

The only thing that seems certain is that opening the heart requires the touch of a force from above us.

All of our efforts, all of our prayers, within the tiny sphere of our own eternity, are turned towards a hope of consciousness and a hope that we may develop enough depth of feeling: enough sensitivity to feel our way forward through the blindness. This is what it takes. The constant attitude of prayer; a constant feeling of sorrow. Not sorrow for the small things that our ego throws in front of us; a sorrow that arises from the fabric and texture of life itself, that lies at the root of every beauty and every sensation. A sorrow that is breathed in with the air and that clings to the edge of every leaf.

It's only with the awakening of our feelings that anything can take place. Techniques, to be sure, are interesting, and formulations may be informative. Nonetheless, skillful means never open the doors of the heart. They belong to the Lord, and only He holds the key, or knows when He might turn it in the lock which we ourselves, in our blindness, have set there.

Go gently into sun and shadow, sky and the rain
In the midst of the noise of life
Be with the voice that does not speak.

May our prayers be heard.

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