Thursday, August 30, 2012
A Clear Vision
Broadly speaking, seeing can be put into two different classifications, “outer” seeing, which is the vision of the external world, its form, its structure, and the presumed material nature of life in the cosmos. Machines and instruments can verify some of this kind of seeing, so over the course of mankind's evolution, we have emphasized technologies. They get results of a specific kind, within lifetimes. We are accustomed to extolling those with a grand vision of society, humanity, achievement, philosophy, medicine, etc.
"Inner" seeing, the other kind of seeing, is intimate and personal. Over the course of a lifetime, this is what most of a man or woman's seeing consists of, and yet it gets relatively little attention. Some few contemplative types plumb its depths, but they are relatively unknown, mysterious, and not subject to the same kind of "take it apart and see how it works" analysis that the external world is. Unfortunately, terrible things go wrong inside men and women, producing disastrous results for many. We've had some stunning illustrations of that both over the course of history, and in very recent events.
Seeing—inner seeing— ought to be intimate, and ought to feed a value within ourselves. Yet we don't attend to it, and we consequently don't see that it is a food we need. We can feed ourselves, both inside and outside, with the wrong kind of impressions, which will produce the same kind of effect as the wrong kind of physical food. For example, there are some mushrooms that are good; others will make you throw up or die if you eat them. No one thinks much about the fact that there are ideas and impressions that have the same effect on a man's psyche, until some form of catastrophic event takes place.
I ponder the effects of inner vision frequently, because the question of what kind of food is arriving in me, and what my relationship to it is, is a daily one. Manna from Heaven is a specific kind of food, related to the Action of God. Yet it isn't always sent; for most of us, it seems to be an allegorical substance, not an objective one, and yet its presence is both legitimate and objective.
Why doesn't this kind of help arrived always, for everyone, and why aren't we immersed in a flow of Being that consistently and universally edifies?
It's clear there are currents and countercurrents. One doesn't know why one is caught in one, or the other. During the Second World War, as Max Hastings describes in his book Inferno, very nearly everything went wrong, everywhere, and individuals found themselves caught up in disastrous and tragic events, feeling that they had never done anything to deserve the kind of punishment—and even death—that they dealt out or received. No amount of technology (most of which was used to kill people at that time) can rationalize these events, and brilliant scientists of the mind and the body have no idea why things work out this way. It's quite clear it's because man's inner impressions are deranged, but we have no real idea of how to fix them.
As to the karmic questions, overarching philosophies may be able to answer them, but then again, maybe they don't. A person like myself, who finds complete satisfaction and even truth in the explanation offered by relatively obscure masters such as Gurdjieff, Meister Eckhart, and Ibn Al Arabi, stands at odds with the majority of humanity, who have no interest in such esoterica, preferring more public (and often vastly more destructive) forms of religious devotion.
And even though I am deeply immersed in both inner practice, the study of philosophy, and practical understandings of our nature, I can't claim to know the “right” answers either. Every understanding leads to more questions; every practical experience shows not how much I know, but how little.
As I grow older, I become increasingly certain that if if there is any clarity of vision, it must come from within—at least, it must begin there, but it can only be inwardly formed in a right way if it's received from a higher source. That is an action that feeds us with food of a different kind. It blends both with our ordinary outer and intimate inner natures and impressions, and produces an amalgam of what medieval philosophers would have called an alchemical nature.
Most of what we take in as impressions can be classified as lead. It's relatively inert; we aren't present to the arrival of impressions, and no higher substances active in us participate. It's only one a different force begins to act in us that lead can begin its long passage towards the refinement of quality referred to as gold in alchemy.
There is only one clear vision, and it is both emitted and received by a much higher source. We only see to the extent that we participate, and in participation, it is not we ourselves that see; instead, we join in a seeing.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.