Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Yesterday, a friend of ours in the work died of cancer. I found myself walking the Famous Dog Isabel up the driveway, thinking about my sister, who died last October.
I thought to myself, what would I be doing if I knew I was going to be dead a half an hour from now?
None of us live as though a catastrophe of this nature were possible; yet it is, without any doubt, absolutely possible. It's not that we ought to be morbid and sit around depressed about dying at all times; understandably, no. Yet at the same time, in the face of this irretrievable fact, we have no sense of urgency; we seem to blot out what we are and where we are.
We might care about what we are doing; but we don't. There is a lot of earnest blather about caring; everyone engages in it. One may occasionally end up in a room where lightning strikes, but don't count on it.
Do I see that everything I experience is filtered through what Mr. Gurdjieff called “fictitious consciousness?” I have more than an inkling of this by now; through grace, I have some ideas about what real consciousness is, and more than a passing contact with something real in life on a daily basis.
Yet it is not enough.
We all think that what we do is enough. Yet it isn't. Everything that we experience, our entire inhabitation of life, takes place coming largely from this fictitious consciousness which we so firmly believe is real consciousness. Even 99.9% of “our” work comes from this fictitious consciousness. It's a machine that manufactures illusions from dawn to dusk.
The contrast between our higher and lower nature could not be clearer; yet there is no resolution. Increasingly, I find, daily activities seem to be somewhat pointless. One does them, yes; one can't just sit around. Yet I sense how futile most of my rather childish efforts to be recognized and to achieve something are... I realized today that the only thing I ever actually wanted to do in life was to perceive; I knew this quite clearly as a child, but I couldn't articulate it, and even had I been able to, of a certainty, no one could tell me how to do it. Ultimately, this wish to perceive drove me to become a visual artist; I mistook the process of recording perceptions for the act of perception. I still do that. I think perhaps we all do.
As children, most of our consciousness isn't fictitious. It is uneducated, but real; it perceives. In a supreme irony, the “education” of our consciousness is what causes it to become fictitious in the first place. The reverberation of the living, breathing, vibrant quality of the world, in which everything is extraordinary and even magical, is gradually extinguished, until only a vestigial remnant echoes in us.
In my own case, the sound of that note survives in any number of places, even though the sound of the bell faded long ago. My interest in the creative arts; my appreciation of music, my fascination with the natural world. Even the simplest things like trying to get tasks done in a responsible manner, or my relationship with animals. All of these small things—and it is, irrevocably, the small things—remind me of the fact that life can be real. More real than all the machinations I go through in conducting business, fixing dents in cars, and so on.
Maybe death could give me a sense of urgency about this; but given the track record, I doubt it. It is by now indubitably clear that only influences from a higher level can truly help bring about transformation, and even the thought of death does not call these down to me by some act of magic. The higher is available according to its own rules and laws; I don't know them. Fictitious consciousness can't know them. And when consciousness is no longer fictitious—that rare moment we impatiently await—one does not need to know rules and laws.
Consciousness is the rule and the law.
One must question everything. Absolutely everything. Every dogma, every idea, every assumption, conclusion, instruction, person, and saying must be questioned. One must question until everyone else gets upset. If other people aren't upset with our questions, we aren't questioning. The surest sign of a situation where everyone has decided that they can agree on everything and go back to sleep is one where no one is irritated. I myself, like almost everyone else, spend a lot of time trying to adjust everything around me so that irritation is minimized and sleep can proceed accordingly.
Do you see how we do this?
Perception—perception unattached to all the verbal garbage—lies beyond all of the fictitious elements. It can be real. Sometimes it is real. And an unadulterated perception is the gold of the alchemists.
A continual return to the organism seems to be necessary, because the taking in of impressions and all of the attendant sensation that can accompany it takes place here. Perhaps taking in impressions alone can, if one is active, produce the stillness in centers which is needed in order for us to gain some real food in our work. Certainly, Henry Brown intimated this to me many years ago; every decade or so, I think I understand what he was getting at, and then, a decade later, I see that there is yet another layer, yet another depth within this truth that I need to penetrate.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.