Thursday, June 28, 2012
The First Step
Where we are is what we cling to; that's all we know. Yet if we are on a path, already, the moment we set out on a path, we are departing. The very acknowledgment that we should be on a path is the beginning of a departure, a leaving of the known. And this is a conflicted place; because above all, we fear the unknown, and we want to stay where we are.
If an inner work is to become real, ultimately, it must depart from what is known. And the recognition of one's own nothingness is absolutely necessary, otherwise, one will never become willing to leave the known.
It's very difficult to see how firmly everything in one's inner work clings to the known. Every condition within the mind is already a condition of attachment, of identification; every arising of mentation that forms connections to daily events is already fettered, already too involved with what is. There's a way to not be involved; it's possible to depart, and yet it is impossible to depart from here, from where we are. Paradoxically, we can only depart from a place that is one step away from here—we have to have already begun to leave home in order to leave. And it is that first step that is so supremely difficult.
If we could truly take one step away from our lives, and towards God, truly and fully take that single step, already, we would be across the threshold of where we dwell, and the rest of the journey would become much easier. But that first step is nearly impossible. Lifetimes can be spent in preparation for that one step.
There is a point where inner work departs from the known; it departs from the cosmologies, it departs from the books, it departs from the conceptions, ideas, beliefs, and plans, and it physically—not conceptually—steps across this threshold into territory which is truly unknown. At this point, it becomes a secret work; impossible to share. From a certain point of view, everything we have ever read about inner work can be boiled down to a single statement, that is, a report that there is a secret work. Beyond that, one can't go; all the reports that purport to "reveal" what that secret work is cannot convey that work. The true inner covenant between man and God can't be put on display, because it is an action, not a thing.
And it is this true covenant a man seeks, in the heart of his heart and in the soul of his soul. There is no other covenant; there is no other way to be, and no other path. The true covenant dispenses with all arguments and philosophies. It has a sacred property of light that falls everywhere, but the illumination is perceived, always and only, between one man or one woman themselves, and God.
One property of this secret work, this true covenant, is that it must belong only to the man or the woman who discovers it, and no one else. Despite all the apparent teaching to the contrary, no other person can ever bestow their own true covenant, and the true covenant of another can never be adopted. The relationship is individual and unique, which is why Gurdjieff referred to idiots: a word that originally took its meaning from the Greek root idios, meaning "private;" and this word, interestingly enough, is related to the Latin privatus, “withdrawn from public life," also, “single, individual."
So there is a single thing, and it is private, withdrawn from public life. A man or a woman steps away from life; forms a secret covenant with the Lord from within; and to make this an outward property already betrays the relationship.
The trappings of organizations, hierarchies, politics, and teachings all appear to be the place in which work is vested, but work is only vested in the heart and in the soul. If it is not vested there, there is no work. Work is a living thing that cannot be attached to the world; when it is attached to the world, it does not take the first step.
To take the first step is one of the properties of God.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.