Monday, May 21, 2012

one small thing

Tallman State Park, Palisades, New York

It may seem obvious to state that life is assembled out of parts that come together—materially, this is obviously true—and yet we don't have much of a sense of this, even though our psychology and spiritual nature depends on it. It's taken for granted, like so much else around us.

Subatomic particles make atomic particles. Atomic particles assemble into atoms. Atoms make molecules; molecules form complex structures such as proteins; proteins form organs, organs form animals.

 Out of animals arise a series of responses, interactive reactions to the environment which are all, at their smallest scale, the interaction of subatomic particles. Ultimately, it is the arrangements between those smallest particles of reality that keep changing. All of the macroscopic changes at the levels above them ultimately serve that lowest level; and the lowest level equally serves all the levels of it in a reciprocal manner.

This may seem excessively technical or biological, but it places our consciousness in a context. We, too, and all of what we are emerges from this process.

When I wake up in the morning, my parts have been disconnected for some time. Each one of them has a separate and unequal state; they are not in a dialogue with one another. This has all kinds of physical and emotional consequences. If the right energy is present, there can be an immediate sensation of the body upon awakening, a deep one, one that can provide a foundation for assembly of a Being which is more connected. That isn't always there; only after years of inner work can one legitimately hope to start the day on a foundation like this in any reliable way. Nonetheless, there is always an opportunity of one kind or another upon awakening. 

We re-create ourselves each day. 

In the morning, the various parts or centers must come into synchrony of one kind or another, a relationship to themselves and each other. It's particularly important to try and be sensitive to this, to see the process, and to understand that I arise out of it and that what I call “I”: this self, such as it is, higher or lower, good or bad, arises out of the process of reciprocal relationship and the reassembly of the connections between these various parts. This must be actively seen.

Centers and parts are rarely in any good kind of synchrony throughout the average day. It's as though there were a delicate machine that were assembled to be exquisitely sensitive to a wide variety of situations, which is then subjected to an environment where it is constantly battered, thrown off of its equilibrium, having its energy drained and parts damaged. The machine needs to become tougher; but we don't know how to do that. We probably think that reinforcing one part or another will do the trick; but it doesnt. In reality, all of its strength derives from its interconnectedness. It's very much like a wooden structure. If one connects just three or four boards, one has a wobbly frame, but as more and more boards are added, a three-dimensional rectangle is formed, supports are inserted, all of a sudden there is a durable  and much more stable structure. It is the dimensionality that adds the strength.

 I need to see this process and participate in it in the morning. So I need to acquire dimensionality; be more aware of my body, my mind, the relationship between the parts as they arise. It's this attention to the small things that matters.  The sensation, one might say, of being within a dimension.

This morning, I was eating a piece of dark whole grain bread, what the Germans call Bauernbrodt. It was a half a slice of the bread; I'm on a Spartan diet these days. The small quantity made me appreciate much more the exquisite taste of this bread, and the butter on it. 

Taking in this impression, and understanding how the body forms relationship to food, is an important part of my work in assembling myself for the day. It's only one small thing, but that's already a lot in a life where very little attention is used. One small thing may make the difference between a good awareness later in the day, and a complete lack. So it's worth investing in at least one small thing.

 It's helpful to our inner work to see how we assemble. Little of the divine can express itself through fragments of ourselves. There is always something of the divine present, to be sure; nothing can fully separate itself from the divine. But the awareness of God, God's own awareness of God Himself, can only be present up to and within the measure to which our parts are in relationship.

This means that this reassembly of ourselves into life, an action where the parts are brought together, is a sacred responsibility requiring our attention and our understanding. It's not an abstract philosophical discipline that will lead us to enlightenment later, where we will live in a groovy state of bliss forever. It is a task, a piece of work, that needs to be engaged in actively during the day. 

This is the labor that the Lord has given us. 

We must consider this as part of what Gurdjieff called Being- Parktdolg Duty, that is, three kinds of duty. We are responsible for becoming the architects of the sacred within ourselves, beginning with the small things, like a piece of bread.

I respectfully ask you to take good care.