Wednesday, April 18, 2012
An impossible transaction
The ego—false personality, that which we think we are—doesn't exist. The entire construction is an illusion, so there is no trading to be done with it. One might as well show up with baked goods at a Las Vegas gaming table and try to place a bet with it.
“Here,” I say. "Here's my ego. I'm staking a bet on Higher Consciousness.”
"Nonsense," replies the croupier. “That's a biscuit, you idiot—not money.”
The question has been puzzling me since this morning, when, during my sitting, I saw that my eagerness to give myself up was essentially hollow. There isn't anything here God would want, or that "I" could give to Him. Nothing here is solid; the “I” I want to surrender, everything it is, bears no relationship to that which belongs to God, and wants to return to God.
What is of God already belongs to God, and doesn't need to be given back... however, can it be returned to, perhaps? The prodigal son comes to mind.
So in a peculiar way, a way that confused what I am and raised many questions, I saw that my search is, in a certain way, useless... don't take this the wrong way—I'm not saying we should all give up our search. I'm just saying that in essence, with all of what I believe is there of me, there is nothing there. There is not even, as Gertrude Stein said, any there there.
Readers will have to be patient if they feel that this explanation is clumsy, because it is. There is no definite way to express this question. I can only say that it seems to me throughout a lifetime, and endless pages of spiritual texts, conversations with other seekers, teachers, religious practices, etc., this idea of surrendering the ego comes up over and over again. Yet no one I know has ever seen an ego; and, as I pointed out in my last post, it is a chimera in both senses of the word. First of all, as a mythical animal, and second of all (in the context of surrendering it) as a thing that is hoped or wished for, but is in fact illusory and altogether impossible to achieve.
To put it bluntly, in a truly higher state, the ego and all the questions about it simply cease to exist, disappearing in a single instant, analogous to what the Zen tradition calls “dropping off.” There can be no question of enlightenment or non-enlightenment here; the point is moot. And, in some peculiar way, we already inhabit this point of intelligence, but we do so unintelligently. The consciousness that could clarify the matter is not present.
Perhaps this points us towards an inkling as to what Meister Eckhart was getting at when he said that in order for God to be present and for God's will to be done, not one iota of ourselves can remain behind in us. I think of myself as a blackboard that needs to be erased; but there is no blackboard. Even the "surface" upon which the script of my personality is written isn't actually there. Something else quite different is there; and I stand forever on the edge of it, suspecting—yet blithely ignorant.
Yes, the conversation leads us into convoluted texts and ideas that fold over one another like pastry dough. Yet it all comes back down to the masthead for this blog, which is been there ever since I established it:
“There is no "I", there is only Truth. The way to the truth is through the heart."
Some of my readers, notably Richard, will probably be inspired to get out the gridiron and start heating it up after that remark. But I'm making it anyway.
That which inhabits us which is real is already fundamentally of God, with God, and in God. All of that which is unreal never existed in the first place. In that sense, we can't "do" anything with it, since there is nothing to be done with nothing.
Perhaps this was one of the meanings Mr. Gurdjieff meant to impart to us when he said that man cannot “do.”
We think we have something we don't have. We think we can do something with it. We think it has a value that can be traded off for something greater.
And yet all of this is illusory.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.