Tuesday, October 4, 2011

judgment and experience




Readers familiar with my routine will know by now that occasionally I am in Shanghai; as I am now; and that when I am, I am unable to post the customary photographs which accompany my blog entries. My apologies for this; new photographs to accompany posts will be added at the end of my trip, some 2 weeks from now.

I find that with me there is often a confusion between experience and judgment.

I have experiences; I presume that somehow this collection of experiences–impressions–that has filled me over the course of a lifetime (resulting in what amounts to a single small universe of forms, images, and ideas) gives me the right to judge not only the world, but other people. My assumed right to judge ought to be superseded by that higher authority of the Lord, which does have the right to judge–but it isn't. Everything is in me and of me, in my will and of my will. I think I know something; it almost doesn't matter what it is, the point is that I think I know something.

Only the presence of a higher energy in the body–it can't express itself in any other way, remember that–has the capacity to remind me that I live within unknowing. This is an organic quality, not a mental one; and yet the mental faculties that function persistently insist that to know my unknowing is mental.

Yes, I see that that sounds a bit convoluted. Yet please try to follow it. Only a certain rate of vibration in the body brings us to humility; without the expression of that hydrogen, the existence of that rate of vibration, the only condition we can exist within is that of our own arrogance.

No collection of experiences, of impressions, within any being is "wrong"–each one represents a sum total truth of what is received, a fragment of the Dharma. The Dharma may be received and collected in fragments by conscious entities, but it always and forever exists, and is expressed, in a single whole. The individuation of truth into separate entities with egos [that's us, in case it wasn't obvious] creates this situation in which Grace is lost, and personal judgment begins.

No man is excused from this act of judging–whether unfortunate or fortunate, the action is necessary in order to navigate life. To be necessary, however, does not mean it is sufficient–it is far from the only thing that is necessary. Much more is, in fact, necessary. A transparency can enter in which the act of judgment itself is transformed. We could call this unattached judgment; call it what you will.

Each man will ultimately judge only from the context of his own experience. Ultimately, if enough impressions are received in a certain way, and the organism begins to work in a different manner, what Gurdjieff called a state of "objectivity" begins to rise. Unfortunately, my delusional state frequently insists that I am being objective–that I know something about this idea–when exactly the opposite is in fact the case. For example, I think that I know what the word "Love" means, and that other people don't–when in fact perhaps I have everything quite wrong. This is not an unusual state, in anyone. Those who presume that such states exist in others, but not themselves, commit the gravest of errors. These are the pedestals we erect for ourselves so that we can stand on them.

There are what one would call objective truths. There is a bottom line. But that can only be experienced through an inner rate of vibration, not by the expression of thinking. It gets translated into the clumsy tools we call words; even in the act of doing this, the quality of transmission deteriorates.

[As an aside, one of the characteristic errors in judgment that arises from experience in mankind is the differentiation between religions. Religions compete with one another in claiming that they occupy some higher ground of truth that the other religions don't; yet this clearly can't be the case, as is conclusively demonstrated by Mr. Gurdjieff's explanation of the chemical factory.

All human bodies are essentially the same in the way that they work; all of them produce the same substances, higher or lower. True, what Mr. Gurdjieff called a "more developed" man will produce some substances that a "less developed" man cannot; nonetheless, potentials and the chemistry remain the same regardless of the person. This means that in the expression of religious experience, it must be objectively the same across the entire range of human experience; the only differences that arise can be ones of terminology. For example, we have the Holy Spirit, Chi, and Prajna; the body chemistry that produces these states can't be different from person to person. It's not as though mankind has separated itself into different species with entirely different body chemistries.]

There are moments when a man's inner work with experience and impressions crosses a line from which there is no going back. I suppose that Mr. Gurdjieff would have called this a moment of "crystallization," in which the results of a series of so-called "higher" impressions (I qualify this, in order to leave open the question of what that might mean) create a result in which both understanding and the work of the organism itself change in a certain way, and something new enters daily manifestation of the Being.

These moments are possible. They aren't psychological; they are not mental. They are, rather, physiological in the concrete sense of what Mr. Gurdjieff would have called "three centered work;" and they create new polarities in the body. As one close friend of mine pointed out the other day, polarity need not mean "polarized" in the context of having a positive and a negative charge; it can also mean, organized around the center. So what I am saying is that a change in the work the body can create a new center around which one's experience circulates. All experience in mankind circulates within; there are differences, however, in the order and quality of circulation. In almost all human beings, circulation is disordered, sometimes in the extreme.

Polarity–in the sense in which we are using the term today, the organization of inner energy around a more definitive center of gravity– creates a new order. Without that new order, a man cannot and will not see the deficiencies in his own reason; he will not see the flaws in his judgment. He will continue to interpret his experience in a wrong way.

Living can harden a human being, or soften them. Being hard has its merits, as regards the horizontal expression of force, but it locks out much of what is needed to soften a person and allow them to receive the higher influences so vital to inner development. There is little doubt that many–perhaps even the majority–of people on the spiritual path (no matter which path we speak of) acquire a great deal of experience, material, and insight, harden in their convictions as a result of it, and close themselves off from many of the influences that they might receive if their own opinions and judgments did not have so much power over them. One of the reasons I have been stressing the need for Love as a conscious force in one's own inner effort is because this is one of the only influences (per Christ's teachings) that can counteract this otherwise grave danger.

What is needed in order to receive something higher is a softening. It is not enough to come to this late in life, with a terrible shock, as so many do, and see that one has squandered one's inheritance and that it is too late to change anything.

The pilgrimage towards a new kind of inner poverty must begin now, while there is still time to hand life over to a higher authority.

May our prayers be heard.