Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aim now, for now

Gurdjieff made a great point to Ouspensky about the importance of having an aim. This subject was covered repeatedly in the early days of the work, and discussed almost exhaustively. It was viewed in technical terms, and aims were conceived of as being targeted towards some task, or some desired result. Examples such as wishing to know the future were given.

In any event, aim has been formulated, traditionally, as something related to a life task, a desire, an overarching goal, and so on.  If it's not  conceived of in these macroscopic terms, it applies to some task we intend to perform later—such as remembering to sense ourselves while we are washing the dishes, or to listen more carefully when we pick up the phone between 3 and 4 PM, and so on.

In other words, it is something we wish to do, and we want a result.

 There's no doubt this is quite useful in ordinary life, and indeed, motivation for work—and forward movement, if there is such a thing, in work—needs this. We can't bumble about aimlessly like idiots, can we? Although that's what we all seem to think we do most of the time, and I think our perception on this point is accurate. When we look at ourselves objectively, we see that we do bumble about like idiots most of the time.

 And why is this? It comes back to something Gurdjieff said in the quote at the above link. "The best formulation of those that have been put forward is the wish to be one's own master." Yet we are not our own masters, and no amount of wishing to know the future, or help other people, will help us become our own masters. Forward motion in life will not help us become our own masters. We don't need to move forward—we need to go deeper. Forward movement is quite different than deepening our relationship. And our aim, if we wish to become our own master, is to deepen our relationship, not just move the soccer ball down the field towards the goal.

Jeanne de Salzmann changed the emphasis of the work, I think quite rightly, to turn our focus towards this deepening of work, because without it, all the other aims are just about worthless. We must become whole within ourselves first; only then do things begin to make sense. Without a less partial state of being, there can be no real aim.

Aim, in other words, needs to be reformulated in the context of what is practical now, for inner work now. We always think that the ideal time for working will be some other time, in some other set of conditions. But there is only one ideal time for working, and that is now. It wasn't ideal yesterday; yesterday is gone. It won't be ideal later today or tomorrow; they aren't here yet. We can't “work in” yesterday or tomorrow; we can only work now.

In fact, even the idea of "work" is probably a bad idea. We think we can work; and we think that working is doing something, moving towards some goal, achieving some aim. We may protest that we don't think that, but the associative process of the word unavoidably brings us to that, even if we are unconscious of it.

What we ought to seek isn't to “work;” what we need to seek is relationship. And this is a very different thing.  I believe that anyone who reads The Reality of Being will see that JDS repeatedly calls us to a work in which we focus on the relationship within ourselves now.

Our aim, in other words, has to be an aim made now, for now. It is now that we can have an aim, and the aim can be to be in relationship now. It's not later; it's not some abstract task. It is an intimate attention of relationship to sensation and the organism.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.