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.