Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Essence of Essence

It's striking to me, as I struggle through the insistences of daily life, how absolutely personality wants to assert itself as the authority.

If one sees it clearly is a separate part, one begins to see that it has all kinds of ideas that are, as Mr. Gurdjieff would say, “unbecoming to three brained beings.” Personality wants everything to be its own way, and because it is generally disconnected from any sense of conscience—except theoretical ones, that can serve its plans for world domination—it is willing to take, at least within the context of imagination and fantasy, any action whatsoever to control the world and make it the world that it thinks the world ought to be.

Personality, in other words, has nothing to do with reality. It's an abstraction, a cartoon, of reality, that lives inside us and tries to depict a colorful three-dimensional world with black and white outlines. It's really quite extraordinary to see how much of it arises and resides in imagination.

This part doesn't go away. Part of intentionally suffering is to live with it, allow it its piece of territory, accept the fact that it's just not the brightest light bulb in the pack—that, in fact, when screwed into the socket, it won't turn on properly, is feeble, and casts the wrong colors on everything.

 If the essence, that which is true in a human being, isn't present and accounted for—if it is too weak to express itself—there's nothing but personality there, and, basically, that means there's nothing there. When Gurdjieff referred to man as being a machine, he was referring by and large to this exact property. The machine resides in personality. The first and foremost thing that can put a spoke in its gears is attention, in context and relationship to essence.

We might speak of attention without essence, but it would be pointless. There is such a thing as a mechanical attention; and when we begin to work and first encounter the idea of an inner work, that's about all we have to work with. Eventually, a directed mechanical attention—that is, one manifested within a known form that understands how these things are done—may lead to the awakening of something essential in a man, and that is certainly and absolutely a beginning. But we don't understand this; we manipulate form and our own understanding from the territory of personality, and actually find ways to avoid the painful collisions that are required for essence to begin to wake up.

The idea of a golem, an animated simulacrum of life—in essence, an artificial being created not by God, but by man—is what our personality gives us in place of what might be real Being. It manufactures a mechanical Christ child, placing it in front of itself (us) and presenting this ersatz version of enlightenment, constructed through form, as the real thing. It's not the idols, the golden calves fashioned from silver or gold that we need beware of; it's our inner idol, which presents itself as a real human being, when really it's nothing of the sort.

 Gurdjieff pointed out that in most human beings, the development of essence is arrested in childhood, and perhaps even  fundamentally distorted. Essence not only needs to awaken; it needs to grow up.

Cultivating an intimacy with myself is the practice of nourishing essence. Every day, the first question in me, and the question that I carry all day long, is where I stand in a particular moment relative to essence. This is sensed presence, organic vibration, a plumb line that drops down through the center of Being as a reminder of a vertical direction. Connected to sensation, but not forcibly connected; connected by invitation. Grown, not manufactured; included, not compelled.

Nothing in personality can be relied on; it changes direction constantly, and is forever coming up with ridiculous plans to do this, that, and the other thing based on imaginary futures that will certainly never take place. The plumb line of essence, however—this fine, thin filament that may run from top to bottom through a human being—is real. It can be distinguished because it doesn't have the ludicrous imagination, the self-serving formulations, the inconsiderate and even sociopathic "emotions." It's simple enough to see the world as it is, and inject humility into what is seen.

 What is this thing, essence? Can we think it up? No. Does it have anything to do with all the noise in me? No. It stands in opposition to all the embarrassing manifestations I bring to my life. It patiently tolerates them, managing somehow—quite deftly, I certainly don't understand this—to see them without judging and forgive them.

I know it by the taste of it in me; and if this isn't the food I turn to first in an attempt to nourish inner growth, I can't begin.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.


  1. There is very little to comment on in today's blog except to add "Amen."

    But if I do not add my material to this action of your outer (and the blog is aimed outwardly even if it tends to your inner work) work, then I also have failed in an essential duty.

    I would only add that this Golum, which contaminates everything in a man and strangles essence must also take responsibility FOR the world, as it does not even exist except in personality.

    A mixture of men's personalities have "created" a "world" which has no more right to exist than our own warped concept of righting it, by having it follow OUR ideas of righting injustice and the ills of the "world".

    We forget that our being attracts out life, and thus the "world" is animated through and of ourselves. THIS is the great sham.

    Jesus reportedly said that we should love our enemies, but we cannot lest we are swamped by them, and so men modify this statement to include the "just war". We are told to "turn the other cheek", but when we do so it is with fists clenched.

    The only place I have found where this negativity abates and conscious love emerges is in long term work projects which allow the synergy of those who have undertaken to work only on themselves are brought into such close proximity that friction wears off the callous negativity that runs rampant through the "outer world", and when we retune to it, we return to it's general temperature, and the essence of peace leaves us.

    Can we carry this peace back with us into the imaginal "world"?

  2. Are we strong enough to understand anything, or is it fleeting and surface understanding. You have spoken of influences which must reach the bone marrow, and you may not know how close you are to the truth, as the bone marrow manufactures ALL the blood except for the immune warriors created in the glands.

    And when Gurdjieff teaches us that we must save our energy and not let it leak lest we simply heat up and cool down but never achieve a change of state and a permanent change in chemistry, we take it allegorically.

    This is where essence can help us, if we can widen it and bring breadth to it so that it becomes the ridgepole we can return to in the inevitable storms of life; otherwise we are doomed to a simple taste of spiritual consolation that fades, leaving us exactly where we were before.

    As we spoke yesterday, "I AM" is but a stage of structure building. I AM cannot live without something being entered into it. It is a vessel into which we must choose those influences that we allow to enter it. Only then do we have a chance to become real men, leaving quotation marks far behind.

    While it may be true that the disciple never surpass his master, the student must become a colleague and then surpass his teacher, or else we do as has been done countless times before. Build a pedestal and remain below it, worshiping the image.

    There is a phenomena in psychology which inhibits a man from surpassing his parents in success so as not to embarrass them, unless they can "live through the greater success of their progeny".

    Gurdjieff once called himself a ladder to be climbed and then kicked away. And asked if we could be as he was he replied: "Yes, but only if you suffer as I have suffered." He was asked how he could be found working and said "Come to my room at night, and you will hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth".

    How much do we really want to change the world or anything at all; after all, we are afraid both of change and of remaining as we are, so we defy both gods of the hindu trinity, shiva the destroyer wants and emends that we change and we resist; and vishnu wants to keep us as we are and we desperately wish to change.

    As there are no devotees of brahman in hindu thought, brahman being the rotational third force, we become subject to a perversity, which is a compound word meaning to turn without direction.

    Without an intimate knowledge of our own essence, which does appear from time to time through personality, we can only float in the first river, which runs to the caverns bottomless, and need reach the second river, where we have some degree of freedom.

    We must desire freedom even at the cost of ourselves. Gurdjieff said as much: "My work is not cheap, and the price you must pay is yourselves."


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