Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shame and Worship

 Gurdjieff referred to contemporary man as having lost his sense of organic shame. One rarely hears this discussed, yet he called it a fundamental being impulse, and the main lever of objective morality. The fact that this concept was not elaborated any further than the expression itself in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson leaves us without a lot to hang our hats on in attempting to understand what was meant by the expression.

I was on the street in Manhattan today, observing many different people, and it occurred to me that all of us perpetually pour ourselves outward into ourselves; and in this way we have no organic shame. We don't know what shame is, because we are not aware enough of ourselves to feel shame.

If we could see ourselves, the first thing we would feel is shame. Not shame for what we are, but for what we've become. The reason I say this is because what we are, fundamentally, has a goodness and purity to it which is endowed by our sacred property as a microcosmic representative of God. This, in essence, is what we are; and perhaps we see a glimpse of it in the innocence of children. But what we become is quite different than what we are; we pour our Being into the vessel of our ego, and it sits there on display for all to see.

 We feel no embarrassment; we are completely blind to ourselves. The idea of organic shame doesn't connect for us.  Men and women who ought to go through life quietly and with respect go loudly, and with arrogance. The Earth will have no inheritors, because no one is meek.
Shame doesn't do a man any good, though, short of providing an impetus. If the impetus is towards guilt (as is so often the case) then the impulse, which appears noble, is actually egoistic.

 Shame should never move us towards condemnation, but always towards worship. This is true of all things, but most especially of those born of true insight. If what we see does not draw us towards prayer, it leads us away from it, because nothing can remain static in regards to prayer.

We can see how we are, and the degree to which an impression has been taken in and understood, by the measure of whether or not it draws us towards prayer.

If the response in us is familiar, and in accordance with what we already wish, desire, or understand, the response is of this world. If the response is otherwise, we can be sure that impulse is from a higher source; and in these matters only what is unknown can be trusted.

So real shame ought not, ultimately, to stain us, but to elevate us, because every sacred impulse (feeling, bestowed by God's Grace) is meant so. It becomes, in other words, an organic impulse to turn our faces towards the Lord; to admit our iniquity, and submit. 

Is there an element of confessional in it? I think so. Yet are we willing to take what we are to the confessional? Perhaps not; anyone who considers this will begin to understand why it is said that we must fear the Lord. 

We don't fear the Lord because the Lord isn't merciful or compassionate; we fear because we are not merciful and compassionate.

We see, eventually—well, perhaps we see—that everything we are, as we are, is lacking. What we fear is ourselves. And only a higher power can help us to overcome this deficiency.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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