Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Master so-and-so

We're reaching the moment in time where almost everyone who knew Gurdjieff when he was alive will be dead. This fact struck me while I was browsing through our book collection last night and came across Louise Welch's "Orage and Gurdjieff in America."

It recounted events that took place very nearly 100 years ago. So many of the books we run into these days about Gurdjieff fall into that category. We don't see that we are on the cusp of a moment where everything turns into history, and the temptation is to just look back at it reverently, and rehash it for the next generation.

Is that the best we can do?

Gurdjieff deconstructed his work over and over again, tore it apart and reinvented it for new circumstances and new people. After he died, Jeanne De Salzmann did that all over again. Yet with the departure of both of these teachers, the tendency seems to be to want to pour polymer acrylic resin over the form and the work itself, and preserve it "exactly" as it was. Squabbling factions confidently decide that they hold the “pure” form, and that others are deviant.

Sound familiar? You can watch it happening around you now. It's been going on for some time.

There shouldn't be a lack of respect for tradition, but we don't honor our form or our teachers by looking backwards and trying to slavishly imitate it, or them. We don't honor the work by trying to preserve it in amber. We are not here to serve the generations that went before us, but to serve the generations that are coming after us. There are children growing up now, young people in their 20s and 30s who need to discover their own inner work, for themselves, and these are the people to whom we must turn the face of the work today. I'm in my late 50s; “the work” as it stands today doesn't belong to me anymore. I must put it in their hands, and I must do so as effectively as possible, not so that they have Gurdjieff's work, on "his" terms, or my work, on my terms, but so that they discover their own work, on their own terms.

Many good tools exist for this. Gurdjieff brought us a form (which he repeatedly deconstructed and reconstructed over the course of his life, actually making it many forms) and it hasn't outlived its usefulness— but it can only stay alive by changing. He didn't have the Internet, for example, to contend with during his lifetime; yet we can be certain, if he had, he would have found intelligent and effective ways of using it, because he would've seen that the inevitability of its presence re-created the rules and requirements for the exoteric form of the work. So the means of transmission are tools that must be used in conjunction with current circumstances; and if new circumstances require a new tool, one has to make one.

The work must be intelligent in this way, not reactive.

I just finished reading a fine book on Islamic History, Destiny Disrupted (highly recommended.)  One sees that the forces affecting Islam today are divided between reactionary forces, that want to preserve some “perfect” version of it (an imaginary version of it, in other words) and those that understand it has to be in living relationship with the real world and move forward. This dilemma confronts every form, from the Catholic church to Buddhism.

We can't afford to look backwards. Everything must constantly be reinvented, and there is no meaning to a form that does not reinvent itself for the present and look towards the future. When one uses the present to repair the past and prepare the future, one must apply this to the form as well. Obviously, forms aren't perfect at any time—they always do some damage, and the past always needs to be repaired: not preserved, repaired. In the same way, we must prepare the future. If we don't see our lives as Beelzebub did, as a process of preparing the future by instructing our youth and supporting them with our insight—that is, after all, the whole framework within which the book operates, isn't it?—we don't see anything very clearly.  Our service needs to be turned towards a living work, not preserved under glass, which honors the past but lives in the present and looks towards the future. If I don't help my children discover their own work, I am criminally irresponsible, no matter how well I try to preserve the work I came from and the teachers that I had. My teachers helped me discover my own work; not theirs.

 A number of years ago, I made the remark that we stand in danger of becoming the Gurdjieff quotation society. One sees that tendency everywhere. one doesn't want to do one's own work; one wants to sagely quote Master so-and-so and pretend one is somehow stepping into his shoes, no matter how much bigger they are than one's own.

All of these pretensions must absolutely be stripped down and thrown away; the endpoint of inner work is always an inner experience, where one stands naked and alone, and one must confront the reality of one's existence and one's relationship with one's Creator.

 What else is this work about, anyway? Do you think it's about Gurdjieff?

Well, if you do, you have already misunderstood it.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A finer energy

At the time of writing—February 25—I'm in the business class lounge at the airport in Seoul, on my way back from China. This is the first time in some years I've had a layover of any length of time here, allowing me to write a post—something I used to do frequently years ago, when my layovers here were more routine.

There are many daily things in life, yet under the average set of circumstances, a relationship to a finer energy is not one of them. Yet an intelligent and conscious study of exactly this energy (not some coarser substitute) in action in the body is essential; and without a relationship to a finer energy, in many senses, there can be no study of energy. Studying ordinary tension and studying ordinary sensation, sensation as we invoke it and as it exists on average in us, we don't study much of anything. We find that we are tense; that's hardly news. We find out we don't have much sensation. But what do we actually know? Do we know that we are breathing, thinking, feeling beings, creatures in a relationship with this life and with the planet? Probably not. Without a relationship to some finer substance, these ideas, although entirely real, are at best one-centered.  The intellect is capable of killing higher ideas and curating them in a vacuum  where they stumble around, zombielike, looking for more brains to eat.

Only with a relationship to a finer quality, a more essential quality that rests in a kernel within the breast—in the heart—can anything real be sensed.

 We are definitely meant to be much more open to the higher, yet we can't do it. Nonetheless, the force of Mercy is enormous, and it constantly seeks us. It can be a daily thing. It can be an hourly thing, a thing of every minute.

Why isn't it? Why do we spend years going to groups, sitting in meditation, doing retreats, weekends and even weeks spent in intensive work to try and become more open, without much than a glimmer appearing in us, except under what we call “special circumstances?"

 Well, it's a good question.  The idea of a higher, or finer, energy may remain for the most part mythological in the average course of a lifetime. It is an aspiration—a wish to breathe—not an inspiration, that which has been breathed and incorporated. Yet it is possible to breathe; it is even necessary to breathe. And it is even necessary to breathe in order to breathe—to do so consciously, that is.

 My own hubris stands in my way, first of all and most of all, yet I can't get rid of that either. I recall distinctly the many times that Betty Brown remarked to us on how arrogant it seemed to her that we all thought we could work, that we could participate in something higher. She was getting at just this point; and yet, she knew precisely what work was, and what was possible. The idea of a finer energy was not a theoretical one for her. She, like me, ultimately came to the conclusion that it is our arrogance that prevents us from receiving what we need for our work.

 We wish to make the effort of opening central to our work; we wish to receive an energy of a certain finer nature. It isn't just one energy; it doesn't enter us in just one way.  We stand at an intersection in a play of forces, and we have the capacity to both receive and transmit a range of influences and actions. These influences and actions have both horizontal and vertical characteristics. The work of distinguishing between what is of Essence and what is of Personality is a work of understanding and discriminating in these matters. There is not one single thing; there is no single work, no single state, no single energy. Not except at the level of the absolute, a level we're at a very great distance from.

 What is important is to carefully and intimately come into an inner relationship that cultivates. Finer energy seeks its own kind; like attracts like. If you have gold, you can get gold. The difficulty is that men love having gold, but for the most part only in order to squander it.

This idea of a precise inner version, an intentional relationship, an intimacy, is part of what is needed in order to recognize gold and help it be laid up in those most secret places of the heart, where it can help us.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The disease of tomorrow

Many will be familiar with Gurdjieff's reference to man's problems with what he called "the disease of tomorrow."

What did he mean by that? Perhaps it's a bit more complicated than just the general and rather ordinary idea of procrastination, which we are all familiar with. Is something more subtle going on here?

 Every human being has an inner clock. That clock ticks away with an extraordinary sensitivity to many different factors, some of which are environmental—for example, our circadian rhythms. Others are more personal; still more of them relate to what might be called extrasensory abilities, such as the ability to sense the future—intuition comes from this particular property of man's psyche.

The point is that the inner clock is an extremely sensitive device. If it isn't interfered with, it rarely, if ever, makes mistakes. The problem is that the inner clock in man has been fundamentally tampered with. One of the chief villains in this tampering is thought itself, which can't resist fiddling around with anything it comes to, including the breathing and so on.

Gurdjieff taught movements because, among other things, they provide an access to the inner clock.The movements, practiced over long periods of time, gradually affect and change the function of the cerebellum—the part of us that regulates the inner clock. I had an exchange with Paul Reynard about this a few years before he died, and he was greatly interested, because he immediately saw the relationship between this work and this very tangible part of the brain, which we need for our general functioning.

 We routinely interfere with the work of the inner clock. Our Being—our essence—knows exactly when things ought to be done. And when things ought to be done, it presents them to us. Generally speaking, the first instant that a thought that such and such or so and so ought to be done arises in us, that is the appropriate and exact time that that thing needs to be done. Not later. The inner clock knows these things, and unless we are well and truly messed up, it presents such things with an exquisite sense of timing.

The problem is that the rest of us, the part formed around personality, has absolutely no idea about such things. The usual reaction is to decide that such and such or so and so need not be done this minute. "There's more time," we say to ourselves. "I can do that tomorrow."

 What we don't sense is that the inner clock knows how long it takes to do things and when they need to be initiated. All our lives, it has been working and observing life on a certain level appropriate to its own type of work that we don't have access to, and it knows a lot more about when things ought to be done than we do.  It's so sophisticated that it doesn't even limit its action to the immediate; at various times of life, it knows in a gross sense what's necessary.  It has, in other words, both finer and coarser abilities and properties, all of them appropriate to both the general picture and its specific details.

So when we ignore it, we are asking for trouble. The moment that one thinks one still has time left, that is the moment that one is already called to action, and the moment when there isn't any time left. By the time our ordinary parts think we ought to be doing things, we are already late, because they don't work at the speed necessary to identify what needs to be done, and when.

Those who are interested in this question ought to study it during movements. It won't take very long for you to see that the movements illustrate these principles in fairly precise detail, all the time. It pays to have a sense of amusement and a certain level of objectivity in these situations, because frustration and anxiety ("I can't do the movement, damn it...") interfere with what one needs to see.

 In any event, it's worth observing in a quite ordinary way in ordinary life that one should, as best as possible, take action at once in the moment that action is called for. I have always raised my children, and told the family members and individuals around me, to do everything now. That is, take action at once. Never wait. There is never any time but now to do things, and everything must be done now, because there is no time for anything else to be done. 

It's very important to constantly go against the part that wants to do things later. Those interested in the aphorism "like what it does not like" ought to study it in this context, because perhaps above all, "it" does not like doing things right away.

I'll admit; this is a simplistic explanation, and there are indeed things we should not do now. The practice of discrimination dictates an exercise of intelligence in these matters; and one must not be an idiot about it. 

Nonetheless, one needs to see what arises and understand the immediacy of what arises. True freedom, which is discussed a lot but no one actually understands, consists in a very great measure of the ability to be free of the considering that interferes with what must be done now. In real inner freedom, what is done now is what needs to be done, nothing more, and nothing less. Nothing stops it; nothing more or less than what is done is necessary.

 It's true, a higher energy—a much finer energy—must support action of this kind. Nonetheless, in the effort to become available to such energy, we must first become available to the idea behind it, to an understanding that we don't know what is needed. And a sense of today—as opposed to tomorrow—can enhance that effort.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inner leverage

Trying to get an idea of how form affects us is similar to trying to describe the outside of the bottle from inside the bottle.

 One of the difficulties I see with form is that I almost unavoidably assume it's a fulcrum with which I can gain leverage over my inner work... over myself... or perhaps even over heaven.

 Form looks that way; if it's inserted and applied to my awareness, I think, it will have the force to do. Yet it doesn't. Only by inserting the self into the self and becoming the self can there be any action of the self. Form can't act. The difference between form and self is vast, very nearly unattainable to ordinary understanding. Original self doesn't have any form in it; it acquires it, a complex question which we are left asking, because we live within that problem.

Those who have been following the series of recent essays about essence will perhaps already understand that this question touches on relationship to essence; inhabitation of essence. To inhabit the self with the self is to abandon form, which grows in the soil of personality.

 Form is a property of the outer circle, a necessity, but it can't really provide any force of being. It's a framework to hang things on, not a foundation I can build on. It only looks like one. 

In imagination—which is the place it exists, from a perspective of being—form is an enormous force which actually has its own presence, its own power, and can dictate how things should be. I imagine that if I align myself with it, it can do work for me; yet form can't actually initiate anything, it can't begin anything for me. It doesn't unlock any inner doors; what it unlocks is my imagination about inner doors. Only the self facing the self can face the door and open it.

To go within and see directly that it's this organic relationship of self to self; to touch on the sensation of the self knowing the self, before the form and even without the form; this is the question.

It's not as though there is no form; there is. But that in and of itself has to become a question. I am completely identified with form. So much so that I don't even see it is an identification. Every iota of my understanding crystallizes around this kernel; and assigning it power actually takes me away from my responsibility to myself, to my Being, and to others.

In minding the form, never mind the form; what am I?

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Counterfeit Man

  I'm in China once again, and slowly recovering from the shock of jet lag, which disrupts everything... including one's illusions that one owns some sort of power, and is somehow able to work. 

I don't think I see how absolute my conviction that I can do anything is.

 Of course, on this level, I can do a lot. Despite the enormous amount of ridiculous and even shameful things I have gotten up to over the course of a lifetime, many of which would be an embarrassment to any truly responsible man, I have somehow managed to muddle through and to give the appearance of effectiveness, and even a bit of respectability. How that works, I don't know; I suppose that every human being finds themselves in this position if they step back, take a deep breath, and look. The deeper we look, perhaps, the more shame we actually feel; let's not forget that Gurdjieff referred to "organic shame," a phrase one doesn't hear much anymore.

The doing that isn't possible relates, of course, to a vertical doing, that is, a doing between levels. I see that I am perpetually convinced that somehow there is something I can do to come into relationship with a higher level. Even my own most secret confessions of inability eventually look to me like a subterfuge to trick the higher into taking notice of me. 

The only moments of true confession are when the higher enters and allows me to confess; those, it's true, are unmistakable.

In the meantime, I am a counterfeit man. I look a lot like a real man: I'm printed on the right paper, or at least a pretty good simulacrum of it. The lines appeared to be etched properly, and the colors may even look true under the correct light. There might even be a convincing watermark in here somewhere. But what I am is a reproduction of what a man ought to be; a reproduction, furthermore, derived largely from hearsay. I've spent most of a lifetime reading books about what real men ought to be like and how to become one; I've spent most of a lifetime sitting in rooms where people discuss the issue, all confessing (if they are ultimately honest) that basically no one really knows anything about this. And yes, I have imagined what it is like to be a real human being... it's not all imagination; as it happens. Through the action of Grace alone, I do know exactly what it is like to be a real human being— but this does not make me one. It is not under my control.

This is pretty much the situation Gurdjieff was referring to when he said we all show up with our best lie.Yet it's one thing to read about this idea, or talk about it, or even say it intellectually with great conviction, sagely nodding. It's quite another thing to know it in the marrow of the bones, in the flesh, in the blood, in the body—and it's yet another thing entirely all over again to know it emotionally. If we see how it is with all three centers at once—then, maybe, we see the truth of our lie for the first time. That is the moment when the fact of my lying becomes a whole thing—and this is in itself a small moment of transformation.  

One can only know it to the extent that the soul is mortified. One takes the steps towards being a real human being one small step at a time, and there are perhaps as many of them of the steps Dante had to take through Hell and Purgatory.

 No wonder many of us find ourselves victims of the impostor syndrome; we are impostors. There is no way to manufacture a real human being, yet all of us think we can do—that we can do that, exactly that—and thus we manufacture counterfeits that stalk around trying to impress others in one way or another. Careful observation—presuming any such thing is undertaken—reveals that almost everything, yes, everything, even one's treasured inner work—stems from ego in one way or another. If that isn't clear now, it will be revealed later. That is part of what the process of aging does to one. One can look back and see how many bills were printed with far more zeros than any currency actually comes in.

 The separation between what is done and what ought to be done is unmeasurable. When I find myself within the done, there can be no doing of my own. I can't even conceive of it. 

Yet for most of my life, there is little sensation of this.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beyond the technicalities

The whole idea of inner work can be confusing.

 The ordinary mind, the mind of this level, is dominated by our personality. It's an entity formed by outer events which orbits the inner core of our essence. Our essence knows something of a higher level; having been formed by it, and arriving on this planet at our birth, it still maintains an intimate contact with that higher energy that creates life and wishes to participate in it.

We are trapped in the orbiting entity. It hears about Being and non-Being; Love, Bliss, the attainment of nothingness, going beyond, enlightenment; it hears magnificent yet somehow cryptic remarks from masters such as Gurdjieff and de Salzmann, Dogen, Yogananda and Krishanmurti; and it is sometimes touched by something of the essence.

Yet so many mysteries always remain, and so much is obscured by the circus of this level, that the aim and purpose of work don't seem certain that all. This is where doubt arises; what should one actually do—or not do?

 The confusion collapses into disarray. There are sects, there are practices, there are arguments and philosophies, metaphysics and atheisms. As Gurdjieff once said to Ouspensky, people "...begin to break one another's heads. Everything ends this way with people."  ( In Search Of The Miraculous, page 26.)

What we don't see is that this process is not an outer process—it is taking place inside of us.

 Gurdjieff also said that "to speak the truth one must know what the truth is, and what a lie is, and first of all in oneself. And this nobody wants to know." (Ibid, p. 22.)

 We speak about lying sometimes as though it were many different things, ten thousand sequential conditions in us, when really it is one big thing. The entire situation is a single lie, in the same way that chief feature is all of oneself. Trapped within a single enormous lie, everything that can be thought about it is a lie. In the end, the bliss, the being and nonbeing, enlightenment, going beyond, and everything else are a lie. This isn't because they are bad; each one of them is in itself both an expression of the whole and a whole expression. But each one is partial. This is what we don't sense.

 Nobody actually wants to know—to really understand, to know in one's marrow—that we are under authority, that we must be obedient to the higher. We are willful creatures. If one spent 1000 lifetimes and ascetic disciplines and extinguished 99.999% of one's willfulness, the .001% would spring back to take over. Here is the ultimate impurity in us which keeps us in purgatory.

To become close to oneself in a sense of intimacy is to begin to make it possible to touch—and be touched by—the higher. It isn't confused by these situations. Above all, to be penetrated requires submission and humility. This force is able to bring these qualities home to us, at which point the sense and aim of existence becomes quite different. I speak here of the inner sense and aim of existence, which has absolutely nothing to do with achievement, success, being liked or disliked, enlightened or unenlightened, or whatnot. To be penetrated involves an action that is sacred and intimate, that becomes a matter that is only between God and a single man or woman in the innermost core of their being.

The kingdom of heaven is indeed a father; and there is indeed a mother who gives birth to a Christ child. This isn't a matter of mythology; in our solar system, it is an astral truth related to the sun and the earth. Humans are the expression of the entity that has the potential for the birth of this Christ child; and perhaps it is saying enough to remind everyone of what the destiny of Christ is in this story.

He is crucified.

Within the acceptance and action of that crucifixion lies the heart of understanding what inner work is and why it is engaged in. Many of the essays in this space have attempted to bring readers closer to an inkling of why we work; and the intricate cosmological processes that caused our arising, and make work absolutely necessary, even obligatory. I suppose one could argue that pointing the finger directly at any of these things may be a mistake; mea culpa. Nonetheless, in the grip of a maelstrom of influences on this level, if no finger points towards heaven, men will most certainly forget it is there. Every single one of us who is able is responsible for a numbering that we have a compass, and making sure that our eyes are on the needle as it points North.

 Heaven is not a place of infinite bliss and perfection, a wondrous dawning of light where Flower Ornament Sutra blossoms will endlessly unfold. There is more to the question than this. Exotic philosophies and attractive disciplines (even austere disciplines can become quite attractive, because so many men, in their perversity, firmly believe that austerity is righteous) can't begin to explain the weight of responsibility on our shoulders, or what our organism is ultimately designed to do.

Even if a man is able to sense bliss and perform miracles, that would not be enough. The calling is a sober one that carries rewards, but tries a soul to the depths of its understanding. Gurdjieff was the only man who truly knew something of this; he alluded to it more than once in his remarks about the Sorrow of His Endlessness, and the gravity of our condition was remarkably outlined in his chapter on the Holy Planet Purgatory, found in Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Time, matter, and sensation

 What is the body for? Why do we need it? Is a work effort an effort to become free of the body and its limitations?

It may not be obvious at first, but there are clear implications and connections between the work of sensation and the creation of the universe.

The universe was created because God found himself in opposition to Time, the merciless Heropass. This was a world of only two forces. The universe, the world of material reality, was created in order to form a third force so that the law of 3 could come into existence and operate. That action was what made it possible to overcome time in the first place. There had to be a physical reality.

The physical body of the material universe was the necessary lightning rod, or grounding force, to resolve the contradiction between the intelligence of time (which forms information through successive relationships) and the infinite love, or emotional quality, of God.

 Time, Matter, and God are reflected in the three centers of man: Intellectual, Physical, and Emotional. In man, without a grounding in the physical, the intellectual and the emotional are perpetually in conflict. Gurdjieff addressed this fact in the chapter on Influences from Views From The Real World.

 How to resolve this conflict? A close reading of this chapter says a great deal about thinking and feeling, but very little about sensation—yet thinking and feeling can never resolve themselves without the grounding force of sensation. The universe needed a body in order to take in impressions (perceive or see), slow down the flow of time, and create a meaningful relationship that balanced time against  not one but two opposing forces. In the same way, man needs his body to support his work, or there is no balance.

Inner work is not about floating off into some astral space. That is, of course, possible—yet it is not the point of this existence.  Years of strenuous yogic exercises to allow astral travel? My advice is, scratch that off your to do list. The objective is to inhabit the body, not get away from it. Within the limited context of the sphere we find ourselves in, it is a gift we have been given. We need to work with it intelligently and actively.

 If you think about it a bit more, you will probably see that the creation and growth of our own body is identical in form to the creation and growth of the universe. We have been given custodial status over this singular universe of a body, with consciousness residing in it; it is up to us to create, maintain, and support this "limited yet universal creation" to the utmost of our own effort. If we don't do that, why would we think ourselves eligible for any further work?

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The price of creation

The Crucifixion, Rogier van der Weyden
c. 1460
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Why are there laws? And why is there sorrow?

We are told, in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, that the universe was created not out of desire, but out of necessity. There was simply no choice, if His Endlessness— God—was to overcome the inexorable influences of time.

Creating the universe out of necessity involves, by default, creating a universe where creatures arise and die. Suffering is an unavoidable byproduct of creation.

God knew this even at the very moment that He created the universe; and He fully understood the all the implications of this and the terrifying consequences He was taking upon himself, even as light first came into being. Gurdjieff gives us, unambiguously, a God of limitations; and in such as cosmology, even God has to pay—nothing comes for free. Christ Himself serves as the primary illustration of this principle.

 Creation put God in a position of responsibility relative to the universe—He became responsible for all of the suffering that was necessary. The laws governing the universe are, in part, a consequence of that responsibility. The relationship is governed by law, not by whimsy, and God has a responsibility to man—and every other sentient being—commensurate to the enormity of the position he has put them in. By law, he must offer help in this objectively desperate situation. And hence the laws that allow for the evolution of awareness. We are led out into the wilderness—but there is a thread tracing the way back.

God spends every moment of eternity pondering the struggle and suffering of his creation. He, like all the rest of creation, experiences remorse of conscience. This force, which Gurdjieff described at some length in his work, is another fundamental part of the universe. So the sorrow of His Endlessness is the fundamental and firmament of this remorse of conscience, which was born in God with creation, and can never be expunged. If freedom from suffering is, as the Buddha maintained, attainable—then the path to that freedom must lead through the remorse of Gurdjieff and Dante's purgatory.

 As particles of the divine, and mirrors of all creation, we are directly consequent and directly congruent to this universal property of remorse. In the same way that God is responsible for the birth and death of all creation, we become completely responsible for the birth and death of our own lives, and all of the action that takes place within them. The Buddhists would call this karma; it doesn't matter what name you put on it. It is a whole thing, and it belongs to the divine as certainly as the divine belongs itself. We are just as responsible as God. We are completely responsible; we are not just representatives. We are agents. We are sent here to take on our part.

 We forget the self; we forget responsibility. We are confused and stumble around, not knowing what remorse is, not seeing that it must penetrate a man, like his sensation, to the very bones. To the marrow. Only by becoming co-respondent, by corresponding, to the remorse of the universe within our own body, organically, can we begin to understand where we actually are.

Of course there is a horizontal action in all of this, and it encourages—nay, demands—that we participate. There is no escape from the horizontal action; but, as Krishna admonished Arjuna, one must never forget the vertical forces of which we are a part, and never forget that we have been invited to participate in them directly. We are not members of the audience in this passion play; we are the cast. And the passion play is not just a theater of man; it is a theater of planets and suns, of galaxies, and of the cosmos itself.

We must ponder the price that was paid for creation. The question is not apart from us and is not a theoretical one; we are living this question in these bodies. It is a question that we can ask with consciousness and love; we can ask it with compassion, with remorse, and with sobriety. It is an easy thing to be drunk on life, or drunk in bliss; it's more difficult to see where we are and how much it cost.

We might take things more seriously if we understood that properly.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Significance of Death

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for Rena Bass-Forman,  a friend and client of my wife's.

Rena died not too long after my sister in November 2011.

 This space serves, as it always has, as a public window into what are often private thoughts on work and life—my own notebook, as it were. Consequently, readers are offered glimpses into places where I ponder, largely for myself, inner questions that aren't so easily resolved. One can barely say what a deep personal contact with death is like—it opens inner parts we simply do not understand.

I don't appreciate how terribly difficult it is to get this body I am in. I take it for granted, as though it popped up out of nowhere, belongs to me, and is mine to do with exactly as I please. I treat other people and the planet in the same way. I have no idea of what it costs to get here.

The Buddhists certainly understand this question; Dōgen used to remark that the body is very difficult to obtain. And Gurdjieff said that man must be perpetually aware of the fact of his own death.

Do we see that our very existence depends on trillions upon trillions of deaths? Our arising has come about only as a direct result of an uncountable number of organisms that arose on this planet and have gone before us, from the first proto-cellular organisms up through a chain of evolution that is still being unraveled. (Recommended rereading: Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale.)

 Every one of those organisms was a real creature, no matter how fantastic and removed from us they seem when we see them as skeletons in museums. And every single one of them had a real death, a death that, for them, was no less painful, difficult, and no less of a struggle that it is for any other organism. Death is real for every creature, and it is always the very highest price to pay—and it is always paid.

So what right do I have to take the fact of this life so cavalierly?

 When Gurdjieff spoke of the sorrow of His Endlessness, and the responsibility of every living creature to take on a portion of this burden, he was not speaking lightly. God fully understands the temporal nature of his creation, and feels in its entirety the pain and suffering of every life and every death in the universe. Indeed, because God encompasses everything—because everything emanates from the Dharma, exists in the Dharma, and cannot return to the Dharma, because in fact it never leaves the Dharma—God's pain and suffering is as universal, real, and eternal as death itself. Conquering the merciless Heropass did not come free. Death is the price that was paid for creation.

Take a look at that idea and keep it alive the next time you see the image of Christ on the cross. That image is no casual image; instead of seeing it as an unpleasant visual manifestation of a negative religion in a pained world, try to take it in as a fact. A plain fact. This image is trying to say something to us that we are collectively ignorant of. Many people squirm away from it—no one likes to be reminded of reality.

The universe is created out of love, and supported through mercy. Nonetheless, in the midst of these enormously positive forces, which have a compassion beyond absolutely anything we could possibly imagine—it's quite impossible to overemphasize this—a deep and abiding grief which can never be assuaged penetrates everything.

It is not just the grief of sorrow and loss; it is also a grief of joy and creation, because all of these forces must exist together. We cannot have just one or two of them; sorrow and joy can't exist without one another; neither can loss and creation. And consciousness is what unifies them.

 The sensing of all the parts, if it is infused with what is necessary for man's development, can bring a moment in a human being that helps us see this in a real and organic way, not just according to philosophies.

 Then maybe a true respect for this life arises, but until then, there is nothing there except an underlying, unstated, and egoistic contempt, that lurks underneath everything, poisoning it—

no matter how vigorously we assert that we are not like that.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


"The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man."

— Jesus Christ, from the Gospel of Thomas

Why do we need to remember the self?

 It's odd. We think we have a self; we think we are the self. I am myself, I think, and yet already I know it's not true.

I am nothing. And I have nothing. Everything begins in God, and ends in God. There can be no absolute separation from God, separation from the Dharma. Every separation is actually a conjunction misperceived.

The self comes from within God, emanates from God, and returns to God. The lessons of the enneagram make this clear. Yet I catch myself up in a work of philosophy and analysis, an exercise of the same intelligence that is already not separated from intelligence, and I think that I am intelligent, not knowing that intelligence is just intelligence.

Everything I have belongs to God and originates in God. There is not a single instance, not a single object, condition, event, or circumstance that is not already God. Yet because I think I have the self, I have already forgotten the self. In acquiring belief, I lose understanding.

The forces that wish to have right influence over me are enormous and could change everything, but I don't want them. I say I want freedom, but I don't want it. I say I want truth, but I don't want it. Do you wonder why Gurdjieff said we all lie to ourselves? It's not so complicated. There it is in two sentences. There is no need to break down the myriad behaviors or analyzed the thousands of attitudes. Only a few things need to be seen clearly, and it perhaps isn't even that difficult. Maybe it's even as simple as the alcoholic who finally admits to himself, in three words, “I'm an alcoholic.”

There it is. There's no way of avoiding it anymore; this is true, it is what is true, and all of the other tens of thousands of arisings and disasters that come from it mean nothing, because the only meaning is in the simple and direct truth.

So I'm lost in belief, and I have these two big lies. I don't want to be obedient; I don't want to submit to authority. I have even erected a massive cathedral I call my inner work which helps me to avoid facing the truth. I don't even have shame about that; it's my cathedral—I built it, come and look. See how big it is and how beautifully decorated. I made it out of good deeds, and painted it with humility and compassion. Good job, huh?

Come on, I'll show you how to build one yourself.

 In the Genjo Koan, Master Dōgen  reminds us: “To study the way of enlightenment is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self."  If I want to remember one self, I have to forget another one. I can't stuff a new self into the skin of the old self. If I am just trying to remember what I am now, there is nothing to remember. Everything I am now is what has already forgotten. When I study this, all I am studying is the inside of an empty container.

  None of this can be understood until I see that nothing belongs to me. The self that sees and the self that doesn't see are both part of the Grace that creates.

Three tasks for today: inhabit, inhabit, inhabit.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Questioning Doubt

There's a significant difference between having a question and doubting.

Doubt belongs to the outer circle of our being—in other words, to the realm of personality.  It's a powerful force, one driven by engines beyond our control. Mankind's preoccupation with theories, philosophy, and matters of the intellect are a doubt creation machine; it leads to endless battles both within individuals, and between cultures.

Our own doubt belongs to our own level, subject to the law of 7, and it circulates around the perimeter of the enneagram—that is, it perambulates through the octave. It can't go any further than "mi" without a shock. Generally speaking, when considered in relationship to inner work, it's consequently aimless and destructive.

 Questioning, on the other hand, belongs to our inner self. In its purest form, it emanates from essence, and thus comes under the law of three. Those who have studied this subject through essays on this site over the course of the past four months should understand why this is a completely different action: a stabilizing one. Looking at the diagram, and assigning it its proper place, one can see that questioning arises from a position of balance, in which three forces interact equally. Question isn't partial; it involves the whole presence.

 We may see doubt and questioning getting confused with one another in ourselves. The reactive engine in us (us, in other words) is rooted not in questioning, but in doubt. To complicate matters, doubt and fear are inextricably linked; together, they're capable of inflating one another in a negative reciprocal relationship (if you think the law of reciprocal feeding doesn't also apply to our negativity, think again.) If you want to seek the roots of war, look here.

In particular, doubt in relationship to the higher—and to one's own work—is a destructive force, yet we all have it in us. It's good to have questions regarding faith and regarding higher influences, but to have doubt about them won't serve.

Yet it's there, isn't it?

When Ouspensky first encountered Gurdjieff,  as he recounts in In Search Of The Miraculous (chapter 1, p. 23), he was searching for facts. He sought facts because facts dispel doubt; they're incontrovertible. Gurdjieff promised him that there would be facts; and there are facts, but until one encounters them in a concrete and essential way, they aren't facts.

I might, for example, assure each and every reader that the existence of God is an absolute fact... Let's suggest I then claimed I know this because of a personal experience which permanently erased all doubt from me, and that I furthermore announce I'm not capable of doubt anymore. People ask me if I believe in God, and I say no, because belief does not rely on facts—it's merely a supposition or conviction. I know absolutely and for certain that God is real, so I have no need to believe.

But that does not do others much good.

Take a look—presented with this hypothesis, you are already suspicious... already doubting.  Perhaps rightly so; you don't want to play the fool, now do you? How could anyone truly know such a thing for certain?...  Ridiculous.  If I came up to you on the street (or in my blog) and said such a thing, you would have the same reaction I would—you would turn away from this lunatic— undoubtably some dubious fundamentalist— who was accosting you.

Now you see what I mean. Even if a man knows the truth, truth is not transmissible. I can't give you a pill that will fix what is wrong with you and your doubt. You have to make your own pill, and swallow it yourself—or, at the very least, find a better doctor than me.  

 It's absolutely necessary to learn to distinguish between question and doubt. It's absolutely necessary to go against doubt, because doubt comes from a part of us that wants to destroy our work. All of those demons that tempted St. Antony? They were doubts. The force of personality often dedicates itself to the rape of essence. That can, in some cases, lead to insanity.

 The parable about Jesus healing the Gerasene Demoniac (Mark 5:1-13) may help illuminate this a bit. The man is among the tombs—a sacred inner place where the soul enters its final communion with God. He is terrorizing the passersby, breaking his shackles, howling and bruising himself with stones, disrupting the sacred silence of this place. None is able to restrain him. When Jesus asks him his name, he says he is legion—that is, he is the many "I's" of personality. And Christ casts them out, assigning them to the place where the "I's" properly belong, the outer realm of personality—the place of swine. (readers will recall from an earlier post the suggestion that the swine we must not cast our pearls in front of are within ourselves.) The swine, furthermore, promptly run to the lake and drown themselves, symbolically (and voluntarily) undergoing a ritual purification of baptism and cleansing by water. In this way, the doubt that was trying to destroy the sanctity of an inner communion with the Lord is purified.

 One of the reasons we cultivate a contact with the higher is that only the purifying force of a higher influence can, in the end, truly dispel our doubt. This erasure of doubt doesn't lie within the sphere of our own abilities; in the end, it only arrives through divine Grace.

Work efforts, conforming to obedience and under law, can earn that—that is itself a law.

I respectfully ask you to take good care.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A glass of water

Paul has recently made some comments about his experience with Mme. de Salzmann, and reports that she rarely, if ever, worked on theory or the ideas, mainly emphasizing the inner action of receiving a higher energy.

I suppose perhaps it puzzles us; yet in another way, it makes perfect sense.

Mme. was a towering genius in the Work for what she brought us, and filled a critical interval with a shock that could never have been passed without her efforts.

Furthermore, she is not gone—she is absolutely and very much with us, and every one of us who follows in her footsteps is actively participating in the work she and Mr. Gurdjieff grounded us in.

The work is like a glass with water in it. The glass needs to be filled; people line up to help fill it as best they can. Some people come with a liter, some people come with a cup; there are others who come only with an eye dropper. There are times of 1,000 men and women with eyedroppers; there are other times of someone having a liter. In the end, if what we have is 1,000 men and women with eyedroppers, then they can do the work of one woman with a liter. Either way, every one of us contributes as best he or she can.

A theoretical understanding can't be achieved before something real is understood in the body. Until that happens, theories don't quite fit together, and they end up smacking up against each other impressively like bumper cars. Everything is in the head. After something real is understood, theories begin to fit together properly, and one truly begins to see that the work is a whole thing. Those who have the ability and the vision to help others see that then become important, but they can't do this without standing on the shoulders of giants.

 Furthermore, your work needs to be strong enough that you know for yourself when something is true. If you can't taste for yourself what is true, work more.

This work is not a solo effort. All of us are working together for something quite extraordinary. None of those who made efforts and died are actually gone; their being and their existence itself is woven into the very fabric of the Work and the planet itself, and can't be lost. This is part of what Krishna meant when he told Arjuna "The unreal has no existence, and the real never ceases to be." Mme. is actively with us and counting on our efforts... don't ask me how I know this; I just know it. A great deal rests on our shoulders... there are cosmic forces helping us that we can't speak to directly, and don't understand. This is where the question of faith comes in, and we have to be strong in our faith when our weak parts begin to doubt.

In the same way that a glass of water needs to be filled, sometimes there are kings that come to the church with rubies and offer them. Then a poor man comes who is hungry and has nothing but a thin copper coin which he puts in the offering plate.  That man will never have what the King has, but God values his contribution in exactly the same way as what the king gave.

 In any event, the interval that was filled with the correct shock after Gurdjieff died has now been passed; and we are within a new moment, where a new kind of effort is needed. So "new"  investigation of theory is necessary, even as we firmly remember that nothing is really new, and remember the limits of theory itself. We are tasked with exploring a new and organic understanding of theory—one that transcends the technological limits of Ouspensky's day—rendering the ideas in a way that meets the needs of today's world, using today's media, and today's communication techniques.

 I remember that when I was a child of 4 or 5 years old, my mother had cigar boxes from her graduate school entomology class. Each of the boxes was filled with the most extraordinary (to a child's eyes) insects, killed and pinned down with labels explaining what they were. Every single one of those bugs was the world's most miraculous treasure to me; I would stare at them for hours, trying to understand how it could be that something so incredible could be produced in this new and unexplained world I was growing up in.

 The bugs, unfortunately, were dead, so although they looked incredible, and inspired my imagination, they had already lost their most miraculous properties.

The Work is always in movement, and—like the bugs—one cannot pin it down without sacrificing its most essential properties.

 With some effort, some luck, a bit of intelligence, and the support of Mme., Mr. Gurdjieff, and the other extraordinary and even more powerful forces which support this work, each one of us must continue to try to add at least one more drop of water to this glass.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Monday, February 6, 2012

sensation itself

What is a connection to sensation?

One can spend years working on this question without right understanding. There is sensation, and then there is Sensation. One is invoked; one is alive. One is mechanical; one is intelligent. A person can spend an entire life invoking this question and not understand it properly, all the while assuming that there is  understanding.

Zen Buddhist masters alluded to this question frequently, and quite clearly. Because of the contemporary theoretical weather, their words are not understood today. The expression is “skin, flesh, bones, and marrow.”

Sensation must go beyond skin, go beyond flesh, go beyond bones, and reside in the marrow of the body, in Being. In this case sensation itself is going beyond.

If one's connection to sensation doesn't become permanent, critical elements of work, essential understandings, will remain theoretical and obscure. Jeanne de Salzmann certainly understood this, and emphasized it frequently. Yet those who nowadays aspire to a grasp of inner work prefer to spend time in debates about feeling or thought. Sensation is the forgotten stepchild of inner work. Everything ought to begin there, but for the most part, the attitude is that one will just get around to it— if one has time. This is a house floating in the air.

A tactile, sensate plumb line needs to run through the body, with a solid weight at the bottom;  then Sensation will align itself and remain as a gravitational current that is constantly present.

...Is that enough? Be clear on this, it is not enough at all; it's just a beginning, but this force must be present in order to understand what an inner alignment is, and what it means to experience an intimate connection with one's essence. One can talk all one wants to, but without the help of this force of organic sensation, it's all just talk.

Our intimate attention needs to be intentionally turned towards this question. Sensation is born through such intimacy, and particularly in an observational intimacy of the impression of breathing in air. Now, this is not something one wants to undertake misguided exercises in, or manipulate, but a concise and precisely placed attention is necessary, especially at first. Our development depends on it.

Substances in the air are what feed the connection between the mind and sensation. These are some of the "finer particles" that Gurdjieff describes to Ouspensky in the famous chapter about the chemical factory. Reading about it isn't any good, though; one has to know it and understand it directly, in the body. Essence and personality easily fall into partiality if sensation doesn't support the effort.

In particular, feeling can't be experienced unless sensation first grounds it. There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between any ordinary emotion and feeling rooted in sensation. The mind and the body—intellect and sensation—must come together, and wait patiently. It is only under these conditions that feeling may choose to arrive. The taste of it, if it does, is not like the taste of life the way we know it. One can sense and feel the roots. If there is no understanding of feeling the roots, there's no understanding.

Solar influences are specifically important in this work. When we say that we seek to come under new laws, some of the laws we seek to become available to are uner the influence of the sun. This has a powerful effect on inner work; the sun routinely sends help to the planet and the organisms on it. That particular energy is quite different than what the moon does—which, as I have pointed out before, is not at all, by default, inimical to work, but is quite different than the sun and can't produce the same effect on work.

Energy from the moon, if it is returning up through the ray of creation and we are available, can support our work, and that is very important, but it cannot provide the kind of help that the sun can. So not only do we seek to obey the laws on our own level in order to become free enough to come under other, specifically planetary, influences, we need to understand what the other influences are and how they affect our work. This can't be undertaken as a theoretical prospect. And once again, there is only one ground-floor tool to undertake this investigation. It begins in sensation.

 Don't think we can't know these things. That is what our work is for. To see our place. Not just horizontally, but vertically.

 Why, then, so little contemporary emphasis on this question of sensation, which is so vitally important and yet almost forgotten? Perhaps it is because those who understood this point of work in any depth are, for the most part, dead. We stand as witnesses to a collective and gradual decay in standards of attention and effort, which can be seen taking place almost by the day. We want to have a loose, uneducated work where everything is done through the rather sensory allure of the feelings, and the demands are kept easy. It's all terribly attractive; and it is conforming itself quite exactly to the conditions of our outer life, because that is what is influencing it. We forget that we need that vertical plumb line in us, and that it must stand firm against those influences, even while our outer part accepts those conditions— and obeys them.

 Sometimes that demand is as simple as knowing that we are standing or sitting, and remaining silent when we could be talking like the others. If we do that, maybe we will have a moment where we see the inside and its connection, and the outside as well. One must stop to do that— stop and remember where one is.

 It's quite peculiar, really. Not so difficult—and all right in front of me. Not even not complicated—in fact, quite the opposite. Yet I don't pay attention in this way.

Why not?

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The most intimate part

"Please cherish your skin, flesh, bones, and marrow.
 Knowing each other, intimate friends grow
      even more intimate.
 When someone asks the meaning of coming from the West,
 [Bodhidharma] faces the wall for nine years,
abiding at Shaolin."

—Dogen's extensive record, Eihei Koroku, p. 313, Leighton & Okumura, Wisdom Publications 2004

I speak about intimacy because unless this question is understood, an inner work can't develop.

 What is it to understand intimacy?

First of all, we need to get away from all of our ideas and attitudes. We mustn't think about intimacy. Intimacy has to be sensed; it is tactile, textural, organic. Our essence—the innermost part of our being, the part that has not been contaminated by the outside world—is intimate. It has delicate connections to the higher centers in man. If essence develops, these connections express themselves more readily.

Folks in meditative disciplines enjoy meditation because going inside helps these connections to develop. Nonetheless, just being silent or entering the stillness isn't enough. There has to be an organic process that feeds one's work. Jeanne de Salzmann spent years emphasizing the need to receive a higher energy because she knew that this was part of what fed essence. If essence is not fed from a higher level, if it is only contacted from what sees—from the bridge between the inner and the outer, which is another essential part of this question—it isn't properly nourished.

The nourishment must come from our conscious effort, the part that sees, and it must also come from above. One can say that essence stands in relationship between the higher centers and the lower centers— in the same way that what sees stands between essence and personality. The similarities are more than a coincidence; essence acts as a bridge in this case. This can be directly studied, but only if one receives influences intimately, understands how they function, and sees the role played by essence.  It is this living, immediate quality of work that needs to be experienced. There needs to be an urgency, but an urgency born of affection and even love, not desperation and grasping.

 To receive intimately is to consciously submit and intentionally suffer. By now, if you are in this work—or even just interested in this work and starting out—you have read a great deal about intentional suffering. The difficulty is that the words themselves produce an impression that is at best inaccurate. Intentional suffering does not have anything to do with our conventional understandings of suffering. It is related to this action of allowing, which is in turn related to developing a part in the feelings that has the capacity for humility.

 There has to be a much greater attention to the feelings—not to the emotions and to sentiment, which regulate the vast majority of our impressions about these questions. Those two functional parts are firmly attached to them and belong in the realm of personality. Attention to feelings, which is part of this question of intimacy, resides in the organic sense of being, in essence.

All of the actions related to essence and intimacy relate to the Kingdom of Heaven. It's worth considering these words, which Christ used on a number of occasions. I ponder them frequently, because they do not allude to some ephemeral or ethereal realm out there in the cosmos somewhere. The Kingdom of Heaven is an inner quality that a man can know. He can't know it, however, without working for a long time. Cases where it is understood spontaneously are very rare. Yet even if one receives something quite high, this inner quality may not be understood. A material transformation has to take place.

When one attends in an intimate manner to one's inner being, one lays up one's treasures in Heaven. The places where "rust and moth corrupt" are located in personality; the outer force of being. The intimate attention—this very fine, very precise attention, which is not some grand gesture, but rather the tip of a very fine sewing needle, applied with care and love to the smallest but most alive of inner places—is where a man begins to form a connection to the Lord, the Ruler of the Kingdom. The essence is where this action begins; this is where we string pearls of understanding which should not be shown to others.

There is one other very important point in regard to this question— the inner meaning of one of Christ's aphorisms.

The swine that we must not throw our pearls in front of live within us, not out there in the world of others.  And some who think they'll become lords of the estate have not even learned to be swineherds.

Only an intelligent action of being present in the body, sensing the inner self, and inhabiting the outer self at the same time will help. Such inner work is eminently practical, and it needs to be practiced at every moment, beginning not with a thought about practice, but with the intimate sensation of practice itself.

 I respectfully ask you to take good care.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Law, Obedience, and Freedom

Christ and the Virgin
c. 1430-35
Robert Campion (Master of Flemalle)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

We say we wish to be free. But we don't know what freedom is; so to say we wish to be free is like saying we wish to live in some city we've never been to, and know nothing about.

Gurdjieff speaks a great deal about obedience. He does not always use the word, but if one understands this question, one sees it crop up repeatedly in his teaching. It's one of the central concepts in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

There can be no freedom except through obedience. Man is under laws at this level of the universe; cosmological laws which cannot be violated. True, man can come under the influence of different laws than the ones he usually encounters—but this is not by avoiding or discarding the obligatory laws that affect his existence. The reason that Gurdjieff introduced obligatory movements was, in part, to illustrate this principle. And many of the movements illustrate the inexorable action of law, which penetrates everything, no matter how we would like to imagine it. Every movement, every position, properly understood, demonstrates a law. The study of the movements language in anything other than an immediate physical form has, regrettably, been almost completely abandoned, even though it is quite possible to understand the ideas and even laws behind many of the positions.

In our imagination, somehow, we can get around the question of obedience and be free according to our own ideas. In reality, there is no intention whatsoever in us to do the will of God; we may express the idea in prayers, but our actual intention is to do our own will, and for anyone who truly examines themselves, this point will eventually become quite clear. If you look around you in the world you will see this fact expressed on a moment to moment basis; and if you examine your inner state with any honesty, you will see that the entire action of lying consists of exactly this action—one excuse after another for why we need not obey.

 Above all, as we manifest outwardly, we overly emphasize an outer obedience. Obedience becomes an habit and an identification, and takes on the forms of theater and pride; asceticism, conformity, the unintelligent adherence to rules that we don't understand or perhaps even agree with. The entire practice of adopting and following form—endemic in every religious practice, esoteric or otherwise—is part of the outward expression.

Yet this is absolutely not enough.

What is necessary is an inward obedience. This obedience is an obedience that a man learns within himself in relationship to God. Any effort to put it on display in any way is already a corruption and betrayal. It is the practice that must be undertaken in secret. And it is a deadly serious practice, because it is intimate—it goes right to the heart of a man's essence and helps to spin the thread that can connect his soul to a higher influence. This action is so hidden that unless a man is working, he will never see it taking place—and even those who work may see it rarely, or only after years of effort. Part of what we work for is to see this so that it becomes clear to us that there really is a higher influence at work in us; one that depends not on our attitudes, but on the material in us.

Outward obedience, like outward compassion, has no force, no power, no conviction, and no truth without the proper forming of an inward obedience. All of the questions of discipline in religion begin here. If we do not attend to an inward obedience, if we do not attend to and inhabit the laws that govern our rising, there can be no hope for the slavish pursuit of outward obedience. Outward obedience must arise from and begin in essence. In all of us, however, outward obedience has its center of gravity in personality, and this is exactly the problem.

One of the reasons we are given intelligence is so that we are able to discern the laws and choose obedience. As was mentioned in the comment on the post humility and compassion,  we must trust and question in equal measure. One might say our trust must be directed towards our inner work—and our questions towards our outer.

 Freedom is born within obedience. And one must forget, for the time being, the outer obedience. It's a good thing, but it's simply a mirror in which the real action of inner obedience is reflected. If there's no inner obedience, outer action is empty. It's good to put the outer house in order, but the outer house needs to be put in order from an understanding of what order is, not by following rules someone posted on the kitchen cupboard centuries ago.

I respectfully ask you to take good care.