Friday, October 14, 2011

A personal sense of gravity


To inhabit the body, to have a true connection with the body, not just the idea of a connection with the body, one must have a personal sense of gravity.

This is not a condition I create or manufacture; not a condition I will. It is something that can be discovered: encountered unexpectedly, arriving without explanation. All true things arrive without explanation; they don't need explanations. So it is with gravity.

Gravity is, in general, understood as a theory, a force that affects objects and their relationships between one another. It's easily understood in terms of material action: fall down, and it hurts. A personal sense of gravity, however, arises from within the condition of life and is part of the condition of life. One could say that life itself is a form of gravity, since Being, if it manifests in any degree above the ordinary, has a force that attracts life itself. It does not attract events, circumstances, or objects; it attracts impressions. In this way, life attracts life, and makes itself more whole. Under ordinary circumstances, life has no force of attraction. It can't be seen. It isn't experienced. There is an intelligence that floats around here in me, but it isn't really a living intelligence. It is an abstraction. As with Plato's prisoners chained in a cave, I mistake the shadow for the substance, because I don't know any better. Equally, when I see an apple falling from a tree, I think that is gravity, because I don't know any better.

There is a difference between life as an idea or a series of perceived experiences, and life as a perceived and experienced force.

Life and gravity are closely related. This is not an Einsteinian phenomenon we speak of, at least not in the conventional sense. When life is lived, it has weight. Weight is sensible; it is tangible; it speaks for itself. It does not need to take a position because it is already in one. It doesn't need to have an opinion, because it is impartial: it contains its own wholeness, and there is an objectivity that does not get mixed with what Gurdjieff called inner considering. Weight does not have anything to consider. Gravity does not have anything to consider. These things are just facts when they manifest. Nothing needs to be added; nothing needs to be subtracted.

A connection with the body isn't thinking about the body, or having a sensation of thought. In some senses, speaking of the connection between these two centers is already misleading, because if the two centers are "connected," they interpenetrate one another and become a simultaneous expression. Although one could speak of distinction, there is no distinction; and in the same way, if one experiences what Gurdjieff called "three centered Being," already, it is a single whole thing, not a division between three different things. There are some subtle implications about the meaning of the holy Trinity here, but we will leave it be.

It has been said before in the Gurdjieff work that your level of Being attracts your life. It's important to understand that this is not about events, good or bad. Those who want to understand it from this point of view misunderstand the point of inner work in general. Inner work has little or nothing to do with improving external circumstances in one way or another to increase one's comfort. It may have that effect (or not) but that is beside the point. The point is the quality of Being.

What is my quality of Being? How do I stand inside myself in direct relationship to the force of life? By force of life, one means, the energy that arises.

Over the years in this notebook, a number of concepts have been developed that are in a language slightly different than the conventional language of the Gurdjieff work. This is not to say that the language, as it developed over the decades, is deficient, or inaccurate. It is just to say that individuals must find their own means of expression within the context of the forces we live in and work with. Anyone can repeat the words of others. What are my own words? It's important that this question be active, because to repeat the words of others too often opens one to the real danger of becoming hypnotized and believe that one is actually understanding something. There needs to be a constant striving to discover what the words are now. They may not be the same words that I have already heard from others.

In work like this, one just has to be honest and do one's best. Some things are going to be wrong. Some things will be said badly or not properly understood. I find this to be so in my own way inside myself every day. There is a requirement to re-examine the question over and over again, in each moment. To be baffled and uncertain is a good thing, because that is almost certainly a little bit closer to the truth. When Socrates said, in his apology, that he would rather be stupid in the way that he was stupid than smart in the way that others were smart, he wasn't kidding.

Some of the contexts and expressions I've developed, and which regular readers are probably familiar with, are the organic sense of being; a sense of intimacy; the need for generosity; and now, this idea of a personal sense of gravity. I'm distinctly reminded of the Zen masters, who refer to flesh, blood, bones, and marrow- an expression close to the heart of what I am examining here. In Zen, as in Christianity, references to the body and to blood are not casual metaphors, as so many assume them to be. They refer to the organism and its state, its physical expression of force in an inward sense.

All of these concepts and questions are linked. The organic sense of being includes an intimacy of attention and a personal sense of gravity. These forces may not manifest together at all times, but they often follow one another, and are brothers and sisters in experience.

Together, these experiences give birth to a sense of generosity, both towards our own Being, and that of other people.

May our prayers be heard.