Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Close to Kindness

I think it's a natural impulse, in all of us who have right attitude, to act with kindness.

Yet we don't.

One can't act with true kindness unless one is close to oneself; in the same way that one can't speak any way other than automatically, unless one is close to oneself. Without this direct quality of relationship, of intimacy, with the immediate fact of our Self—unless we see ourself within our Self—there can't be anything other than a reflexive reaction. And reflex does not truly know kindness.

Kindness is a property of intelligence. Intelligence is a property of intimacy. If we don't have intimacy with ourselves, we don't have respect for ourselves; and if we don't respect ourselves, why would we respect others? It isn't possible. It's important to see this, because what is automatic in us—what Gurdjieff would have called the machine in us—is not just habitual, it is ever present, and it is this very presence that takes away any presence we might otherwise have—an unknown presence.

So I need to stay close to what I say, be aware of it. I ought not speak mindlessly or without attention; it's the attention that I bring to this immediate moment that determines my possibility of kindness. I have to acknowledge the other, acknowledge relationship, acknowledge that I speak, and how I speak, as I speak. The minute that the cruise control is switched on, it's over.

No doubt, many good things can emerge when cruise control is switched on, but they don't have an intention or a direction. They have tremendous momentum, an impetus imparted by the whole of events that cause them to arise, but they lack intelligence. This means that they veer off in any old direction, and crash into things. Perhaps you know what I mean; one gets up in the morning, intending to be loving and kind towards others, and halfway through the day one discovers oneself yelling at a child or a partner for some relatively minor thing, instead of intelligently coming into relationship with the compassion that attention can engender. The purpose of life is to manifest this intelligence. It's our task, our obligation. That is what our wish is for.

Yet this attention doesn't come from forcing; it doesn't come from trying, of making some big effort to work. It comes from being in relationship, which is a loving action that begins within the Self, and asks for the Self to be with the Self. If we say “I am—I wish to be,” who is? Who wishes to be? If there is no intimacy, no gentle effort at relationship, no one is there, and no one wishes to be. Then the words are just a chant.

I have nothing against chanting, but chanting isn't enough. Life can't just be a chant; a repeated formula which is applied over and over until some magical breakthrough occurs. There aren't any formulas; there can be, however, active relationships, which are a constant process of discovery.

So I need to be very close to myself, and see this constant process of discovery. What is that tree? Maybe I can experience it differently; forget about what it is. Just see it. Maybe bees stings are interesting instead of painful; maybe love involves just stopping and being there for a second.

In the end, everything is kindness, within attention. It's possible to discover that kindness is an attitude that permeates everything in life, and that there is a part of us that actively rejects everything that is unkind, petty, destructive, or demeaning. There are also, to be sure, parts of us—all of us—that prefer that kind of behavior, those kinds of news stories, that kind of an attitude towards this, that, or the other coworker, neighbor, or even pet who annoys us.

I think the point is that going against these negativities in ourselves, going directly against them, is hopeless. We can't go against anything negative in this direct way (although this is how we always try, isn't it?) Instead of going away from the negativity, we need to go towards ourselves, and see ourselves.

In the discovery of the Self, kindness itself is discovered. It comes; it doesn't need to be sought, or called for, it simply arrives, because when it sees that the Self has a wish to know the Self, it wants to be there with it.

This is one of the properties of God.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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