Saturday, May 19, 2012

Something Like Being Bitten by Many Fleas

Daisy Fleabane
Sparkill, NY

Thursday night it occurred to me—as it has more than a few times in the past—that I hate this work.

All of my ordinary self doesn't like working. I don't like meetings; I don't like work days; I don't like movements. Like everyone else in this work, there is an outward part that nobly professes an affinity with all of this, but in fact, 99.9% of me resists this work, as it resists everything else in my life. I am, in other words, a pathological liar about this situation, lying not only to everyone else, but also to myself.

 The fact is that most of me is an opposer. It starts out saying “no” to everything, and I have to overcome that in order to take even a single step forward. This week, for example, I got up on two different mornings and watched an inner dialogue insist for the entire day that I needn't bother going into the city for my meetings and movements class. It was only by assiduously ignoring this insistent clamor that I got myself out the door. Stuff like this goes on all day long, in a dozen different areas... well, a dozen is probably conservative. It probably takes place every ten seconds, but a man can only spot so much when there are this many incoming rounds. Know what I mean?

This may seem like a paradox in a man who seems to "do" so much, and who appears to have so much drive, but all of that comes about almost exclusively as the result of overcoming passivity and negativity. In a certain sense, I agree, as Jeanne de Salzmann once said, that all of my energy comes from my negativity. It's this powerful, negatively polarized element in me which I have to go against that provides me with all of the motivation I have.

And there is an even further paradox: because I am naturally oppositional, I suppose, I am naturally predisposed to oppose this "inner-oppositional element."

It's an odd and inexplicable inner construction, I'll admit it. Somehow, negating the negative ends up being a positive, as it does in mathematics, and here I am—strangely functional, although everything in me apparently tries to prevent that. And, as I tell people, anything good in me only arises because of my efforts to overcome all the bad, which over the course of my lifetime has seemed to predominate, usually by a very wide margin.

I think that just about everything we tell ourselves about wanting to work is a lie. The ordinary self doesn't want to awaken; it loves sleep just the way it is.

Think it over. Why do we want to see ourselves? It's a distinctly uncomfortable experience, isn't it? And isn't the organism—the animal—naturally dedicated to seeking its own comfort? We all talk a good game, but when it comes right down to it, all of the resistance, all of the “no” in us—that's where the action is. If I'm not invested in that, seeing that, and saying no to that—then what am I doing?

Gurdjieff said “like what it does not like.” It's a famous saying; it gets repeated a lot, but how often do we really discern the action of this question in us? As in, right now? There is always a part that says no. That doesn't like what is going on. That part is powerful, and it's strongly connected the ego, which wants to control everything. It is so ubiquitous and so relentless that we perpetually inhabit it without even seeing that it's there. It's so well hidden that it disguises itself as a yes. There's the essential problem in a nutshell.

And the minute we see it—well, then, now we are really in trouble. We are messing with the fundamentals, all of the machines that keep us comfortable.

Perhaps this is why it said that if we stay in front of ourselves: in front of what we are, in front of this perpetual “no”—then, and only then, do we suffer.

We suffer because we have to confront this inevitable fact. Otherwise, we are just trapped in this circle drawn around us, the circle of our comforts—the circle of our imagination. It's the same circle that the Yezidi in Meetings with Remarkable Men can't escape from—an apparent barrier that exists only in his imagination. The only thing that can break the spell is something real that comes from outside the imagination. When the circle is broken, when reality intrudes, that is the shock that allows an escape from imagination.

We rarely think about the counter-proposition which logically follows from Gurdjieff's original aphorism: Do not like what it likes. There is no doubt whatsoever—in either example of this formulation, it is what I am.

For the most part, then, surely we must go against ourselves—oppose everything we are. After all, all of what we believe in—including this work—comes from a part of ourselves that cannot really be trusted. 

If the part that says no is the devil, then, at least I can trust that.

It, after all, is being honest about the situation, instead of pretending to work.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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