Monday, June 18, 2012
The taste of life
Certainly, it's not the same upbringing most American children received. But there is something distinctly different about my memory of life, and what it consists of. When I roll the taste of it over on my tongue, when I remember how life was, what it was like, for example, to hear The Who play Tommy for the first time—or the sound of cuckoos in the park on a spring morning in Hamburg, or a fossil I found on the banks of the Elbe River—in every case, life had a taste. There was a solidness to it, a flavor, a distinct impression of impressions, a tactile relationship with Being.
At the time, I'm not sure I realized there was anything unusual about this—how can a child know what life should be?—but as I grow older, and spend the majority of an adult lifetime immersed in an inner work, I begin to understand that this quality of perceiving life as an inner taste, of perceiving impressions as food, is unique and remarkable. Truthfully, we forget life is like this; and perhaps we don't realize until much later that an impression left a deep mark in our psyche. The only ones we seem to recognize as doing this kind of thing are traumatic; yet even the gentlest of impressions can carve a pattern in the bedrock of our soul, if we but knew it.
Look back, inside yourself, and trace the marks. Perhaps you will see what I mean.
The taste of this—all of the life that I have ingested—is what I carry in me, all what brings me to here, and now. With all of my questions, uncertainties, and the relentless presence of a fundamental, organic truth that forms a foundation for all of the largely pointless intellectual activity and imagination that takes place.
It's a task, every day, to bring this entire life together to this point, within the organic sense of Being. A gathering has to take place; an inner gathering. There needs to be a conscious collection of forces. First, the forces need to be experienced as forces; anything that takes me away from this direct experience of the inner state as a group of forces is already a collapse into imagination, and that is a regular event. Watch for that.
Second, there needs to be an investment in this force. If I am in any way, shape or form going to encounter or experience what Gurdjieff called the second body, I need to understand that the body is something I inhabit. If there is more than one body in man, it is an inhabitable entity. A tangible understanding of this needs to be acquired.
It's terribly difficult to “tell” anyone how to “do” this; one can't write a set of instructions. To live in the body is to live in the body. One can engage in exercises that are supposed to teach one how to live in the body, but they are exercises. One must just live, in the same way that when one eats food, one must just taste.
You can't teach someone what an orange tastes like.
In any event, there needs to be an investment in the force within the body, an intentional investment in force, a conservation of force, a comprehension and intimate encounter with force. Force may not be a big thing; it may be small, delicate, and yet contain a universe within it. It's the sensitivity that matters here, not how much power there is. Often the greatest power is in the smallest part of something. It goes unnoticed; in the rush to the coarse, which is easily perceived, we race past the fine. But we need to stop and examine the small things carefully.
This could be where we need to begin our collection, our bringing together, of inner forces.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.