Friday, January 6, 2012
A definite moment of intimate practice
Some personal notes.
Epiphany is at hand; this is a definite moment of intimate practice.
Intimate practice cannot be put on the table and served. It does not fit in dishes, and is never seen in the grocery stores where we exchange goods and services. The truly esoteric aspect of work is the quiet work of the inner self. It remains ever hidden; as it gains intelligence, it conceals itself naturally.
To hide naturally is to understand. All of the outward self is naturally unhidden; this outwardness is in its nature and is entirely right. The open nature of outwardness is a true nature, just as the hidden nature of inwardness is a true nature. So we have these two natures, and they are both true natures. There is no need to judge them; we need only inhabit them.
To discriminate is to see the difference between what must be outward and what must be inward. Outwardness and inwardness belong together; each must know its own nature and be whole unto itself. Perhaps the great difficulty is that we are confused about this question. To be inward and to be intimate is to practice and to pray in secret. This practice and this prayer belong to the inner nature, and are a matter strictly between God and a single soul. The relationship of the soul to God is like the relationship of a wife to a husband, or a mother to her child. Nine tenths of it need not be explained; it knows itself and does not need the knowing of others.
We live in an age where the outward display of everything is routine and expected. Men have forgotten what inwardness is, and don't understand what it is, as the parables say, to drink wine instead of water. Nowadays, men drink water and declare what wonderful wine it is. We compare vintages.
But there is no wine here. There are many glasses, and bottles everywhere, but this wine does not come in glasses and in bottles. Today's glasses and bottles are filled with snake oil.
To be intimate is to be precise. It is to put one's attention on a single very fine point, perhaps something that is very nearly insignificant and cannot be seen at all by anyone else. It is at the heart of the body and the heart of the mind and the heart of the feelings; it is a single, small thing, like the eye of a needle. The soul is a thread that can pass through that eye, if enough love and attention is paid to it.
So there is this opportunity to be intimate and to be precise, but it can't be squandered. It mustn't be advised or advertised. It needs to take place as though one had one small grain of sand between the thumb and the forefinger; it is an act of love that is found only in the details, and not in the gross movements of life.
It is here–immediately here.
One practices as though one's hair is on fire without anyone else ever seeing it. Practice is like this; it is always within, never coming, and never going away. In the same way that the left hand and the right hand turn away from one another, so that one does not know what the other is doing, eyes look in two directions at the same time. Prayers live in the midst of sin; and hearts are open even though it looks like the doors of the house are closed, and no one is at home.
Men believe ten thousand things, yet nothing we believe is intimate. To understand one thing that is true is to become intimate. To have one thing that is intimate is already ten thousand things and more. There is no limit to intimacy; yet every object, event, condition, and circumstance is limited.
I respectfully ask you to take good care.