Saturday, August 4, 2012
This may be very difficult to understand, because we fail to distinguish between conjunction and discrimination, and we fail to understand that both are necessary. We live in a world dominated by discrimination—an outer world—and do not create the necessary bridge between the inner world of conjunction and the outer world of discrimination. Jeanne de Salzmann's admonition to place ourselves between two worlds speaks to exactly this issue; it is the same issue that the Zen schools and the Sufi schools studied and study, and you can find discussions of this in both Dogen's Shobogenzo and Ibn Al Arabi's Bezels.
Admittedly, the average reader doesn't have the time or the inclination to plow through these long and unfamiliar texts. Yet the message they bring us is compelling: God does not consist of this thing or that thing, any more than the Kingdom of Heaven consists of this thing or that thing; and, as Al Arabi so masterfully explains in The Bezels of Wisdom, to say that either God or the Kingdom of Heaven consists of either aspect—conjunction or discrimination—limits a limitless entity. (Note how Al Arabi's beautiful poem on the subject magnificently echoes Dogen's best work.) In both cases, the view is mistaken. The Divine, the Reality, is not an existing quality, it is an action, which by its nature cannot be limited, because it is constantly new and constantly in response. Astute readers may begin to sense some of the basic premise behind Zen if they get a taste of what we're speaking of here.
The perfect Will of God is eternal and ever present. The Kingdom of Heaven, likewise, is eternal and ever present, and each moment both contains and is contained by these qualities.
This may seem like an impossibly bitter and even irrational pill to swallow. I've been reading the book Inferno by Max Hastings, which recounts in agonizing detail many of the atrocities of the second world war. How can we reconcile these awful events with a perfect unfolding of the Will of God? It's a question that troubled spiritual seekers from all faiths have been seeking to reconcile for thousands of years.
In the same way that the presence of the universe itself is not accidental, but necessary, every action is not accidental, but necessary. In what may seem like a paradox, Gurdjieff's law of accident is not accidental; it is a law, and must conform lawfully to universal principles, like all other qualities. so even that what appears to be accidental is lawful; and in a lawful universe (which, all our sciences agree, is an absolute truth, not a relative one) all events are law-conformable... in other words, obedient. This subject has come up in recent posts, and it is far from casual, because the obedient nature of the universe itself is closely related to the task of man.
Every single moment is necessary. Moments cannot be separated one from another, with the preferential selection of this moment over that one. Yet discrimination specifically consists of this action—the very action that caused man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden. We have our own inner Garden of Eden, and we are perpetually and repeatedly cast out of it because of this action of discrimination. The state of discrimination is the outer; and this is where we live, primarily, an outer life. Yet, as Al Arabi so carefully explains in The Wisdom of Exaltation in the Word of Noah, it is necessary for us to also have an inner state of conjunction; and we cannot invest completely in either state, because each one is static, and merely represents a polarity in our position vis-à-vis existence. It is the action, the energy, of movement between these two poles that creates Being, and in a very real sense, this is where God creates, finds, and remembers Himself. He has built a house for Himself between the transcendence of His unknowable nature, and the immanence of His material manifestation in the universe.
If there is no consciousness, there is no inhabitant of the house.
If you sense a connection here with the classic Yoga concept of man's horse, carriage, and driver, you're being sensible.
Outer life itself is a carriage without a driver. It's a machine. The inner life is a driver who has to have a carriage to go anywhere. If the consciousness of the inner life does not inform the machine of the outer life, it's directionless. And it is the act of relationship—creating the connection—that gives a direction.
Every teaching is a map, but the maps are static things. It is only the action of standing between the map and the world that makes any difference.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.