Monday, February 6, 2012
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.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.