Friday, November 30, 2012

Not an animal; not an angel

A question struck me very forcefully the other night when I was  pondering our circumstances. 

I had a very distinct impression of a higher energy, and how it takes us to a place that is completely unknown, informed, with an enormous amount of clarity, but also consists of what one might call "the void." 

I was infused by the contradiction between that and all of my efforts to understand. Why is there, on the one hand, a formless void, and on the other hand, a distinctive cosmology constructed, unambiguously, of countless forms? Here's the question. Is this blissful void where we are supposed to "go?" 

Intimations in Zen, and the cloud of unknowing, suggest that's "the goal." And the practices aimed at transcendent bliss are looking for "perpetual habitation" of a realm like this. Yet Gurdjieff proposes something, I think, quite different; a solid inhabitation of the conditions we are in. And I find it of great interest that al 'Arabi— who was certainly one of the progenitors of some of Gurdjieff's traditions — firmly insisted that that realm of transcendence is not where we belong, that the action of it, although available, is not appropriate to us where we are. 

Mme. de Salzmann insists we ought to strive to stand between. This is the action of consciousness, locating itself between this transcendent realm, which is formless, and the material realm (al 'Arabi's immanent) which decidedly has a form. If one looks at the enneagram, one may see that at every note (which represents the manifestation of the material in its lawful and inevitable separation from the transcendent) the agent that affects the note and increases its rate of vibration, no matter which note it is, no matter what influence it represents, is always consciousness; which, as a force, has a certain objective element to it. It has the ability to sense both cause and effect. (Both the transcendent and the immanent.) I suspect this is rather important to many Buddhist understandings, but they don't conceive of it this way, so perhaps they miss that question. Dogen, however, definitely understood that, I think. He insisted on cause and effect. He just said we should not be fooled by it. 

So the elephant in the room on the diagram is consciousness. One can't actually see it there; yet the whole diagram requires it everywhere. Conceptually, it's located exactly where Mme. would tell you it is: between the transcendent (the absolute) and all of the material notes, which need its action in order to evolve. 

In a certain sense, the conscious actions of labor and suffering are ubiquitous, rather than localized at the point of the shocks. All of us are compelled to inhabit the material realm, and transmit all of our efforts to connect with the transcendent using material properties. The contradiction is evident; yet somehow there is a belief that we should escape from the material realm, even though our point is to join it with the transcendent. 

There's a lot to think about here, but my suspicion and instincts, as well as my experience, lead me to strongly believe that the transcendent is so attractive that it tempts people to fail to do the work we are supposed to do here. All this talk of abandonment of form is only half the question. We don't just need to abandon all forms; we equally need to inhabit all forms. Abandonment of form is an abrogation, if pursued on its own, as insincere and incomplete as any equally exclusive inhabitation of form. Either one by itself leaves a man without his work and his purpose.

We are supposed to be a bridge; an Isthmus, a barzakh, as Ibn 'Arabi would put it. 

May your soul be filled with light.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Kessdjan Body

The earthly body is a vehicle for intelligence.

Bodies are believed to be material things, at least from the point of view of modern biology. The word body derives from an old English word, bodig, meaning trunk, or chest: a container. So bodies, generally speaking, are containers: for life, for intelligence. For consciousness.

(Swedenborg, incidentally, in Divine Love and Wisdom, refers to us as receivers of life... a very nearly perfectly stated analysis.)

Life, intelligence, and consciousness are ephemeral, intangible qualities that can be encountered in experience, but remain fundamentally inexplicable.

 Bodies, in the world of Ibn al 'Arabi, are to be considered as vehicles for expression of the names, or attributes, of God. Intelligence certainly serves as one of those attributes, and furthermore, in his hierarchy, Knowledge (~intelligence) is superior to any other single attribute. Intelligence, in other words, is the supreme realization of the knowable, before one reaches the threshold of the Essence, the Reality, where knowing becomes impossible.

 So when Gurdjieff speaks of the kessdjan body, the astral body, he speaks of a vehicle for intelligence. Man, in other words, is capable of forming a vehicle, a container, for a higher intelligence than the one he is accustomed to experience. The intelligence, we may presume, is electromagnetic in nature — as all intelligence and indeed all matter ultimately is. The difference here is that intelligence, an emergent property, can express itself in higher electromagnetic forms of organization that are independent of what we usually think of as bodies. And, indeed, in Beelzebub,  we see the sun playing exactly this role with its emanations in regard to man.

On the level that Gurdjieff describes, the kessdjan body is the planetary body, that is, a body on the level of the planets. In the salient passages from In Search of The Miraculous, he goes on to describe two additional bodies, one on the level of the sun, and one on the level of all suns. Each body confers a different level of what man refers to as "immortality."  Readers may refer to chapter 5, in which the subject is treated at considerable length.

 In any event, the question remains as to why Gurdjieff referred to the astral body as the kessdjan body in Beelzebub.

 The answer is actually not that complicated. Almost all of the unusual words in the book are in one degree or another derived from existing words and roots in Armenian, Russian, or Greek. This particular word, loosely translated, means "intermediate" body, or middle body. That is to say, a body that serves as a bridge between one state and another. And, indeed, Gurdjieff describes the astral body in more or less these terms, since what he refers to as real "immortality" — that is to say, existence after death for any lengthy period of time — is only conferred once one forms what he calls the mental body, which is on the level of the sun, and  can survive the death of the astral body.

 Gurdjieff's cosmology proposes nothing more than an extension of what we already know about bodies. Assimilating and organizing complex organic crystalline structures (molecules), which are themselves nothing more than electromagnetic relationships, bodies express emergent properties of God called intelligence, and (with more effort) consciousness. Consciousness, as I have pointed out many times, is measured according to level of complexity; all matter is to one extent or another conscious.  Gurdjieff merely proposes that this process of concentration of cosmic substances continues on an invisible scale and extends itself into electromagnetic realms that we cannot directly perceive from our level, creating bodies that are capable of housing greater emergent levels of intelligence.

 In this process, the astral body is only a stepping stone.

May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To accept is not enough

Today marks the sixth anniversary of this space. 

The practice of acceptance isn't enough.

I've spoken about acceptance for many years, and I hear others speak about it. Among Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and students of the Gurdjieff method, the idea that we must accept our life is widespread. It's spoken about glibly, and with confidence, as though we understood it; yet almost all of us resist our lives, in one way or another, with great vigor.

 In examining this question in myself this morning, I see that to say "I should accept" or "I will accept" isn't enough. It's not just a matter of acceptance. The conditions I am in are real; they are inevitable: Meaning, they cannot be avoided.

 So in not avoiding, I accept.  Yet to accept is incomplete; because when I merely accept, there is a lack of understanding. It's insufficient; it lacks appreciation. I don't see and admit that the conditions around me are right for me; I don't see that this is exactly what I need. In point of fact, because God has created everything exactly as it ought to be, He has equally — as Christ pointed out in the sermon on the Mount — arranged things precisely the way they should be for me in order to experience His Grace. So life, as I encounter it, and as it is arranged, exactly as it is arranged, emanates from a higher principle and contains me within that principle in a state of perfection that I do not fully sense, and do not understand.

Yet I am assured that this perfection is incomparable and beyond my own comprehension.

If I sense and understand this perfection, I do not just accept my conditions. I embrace them; and to embrace is to wholeheartedly endorse, to move into with love. But I don't really feel that way about life. There are so many petty reluctances and failures to recognize the goodness around me — which abounds, even in the trials and difficulties — that I refuse to embrace. If I accept, I accept reluctantly, and to accept with an air of resignation is not to fully accept. I am holding something back.

This practice of holding something back is typical of me. Everything in life offers the opportunity for a full participation; and yet I want something for myself, so I hold back. I don't see that everything I need is already given. There's a secret, sneaking sense of paranoia behind every action, an imp that I can see subtly informing one circumstance after another.

I'm suspicious. And I want. Yet to want, in the midst of this abundance, is to lack gratitude; to lack appreciation, to lack trust, to lack love. So if I want to speak of seeing what I lack, here are some examples. And they all stem from the same root: a form of inner greed that refuses to appreciate the Compassion and Mercy of God, favoring instead my own narrow understandings.

A full understanding that everything is already given is implied. This is exactly the point that Jesus tried to impart to us in Matthew 6:25-33. It appears to be about an external conditions, but ultimately it reflects on the inner state, because the outer conditions only derive validity, if any, from the inner attitude.

 So. To embrace. This is not to be outward and effusive, and enthusiastically endorse everything that happens to those around us. There are many things which are grievous, and should not be trivialized by such behavior. To embrace does not necessarily mean to be happy or joyful; although it can.

What I mean by embrace is to take in the holy. To be intentional about life. Not to just let it happen; not to just accept it; but to have an intention to inhabit it.

This is to see and sense the sacred nature of all that takes place and to drink it deeply. It is a different way of taking in impressions; they must come in whole, intact, that is, untouched. Things which are intact and do not come into contact with my ordinary being can be embraced by my inner state because they fall much more deeply into me. This is a different order of experience and a different order of understanding. Every reaction I have is a way of touching things. The parts of me that need to be in contact with life are quite different than these reactive parts. Reaction is only capable of meddling; to embrace is to imbibe, to digest.

The joy that is experienced within the context of embracing life is an inner joy, not an outward one; and it expresses itself in many mysterious ways that cannot be written about and perhaps not even talked about. One can only say that they are truths. This is a matter between a man or woman and God Himself. It won't provide answers to outward life. None of the answers we seek live there, anyway, although our senses are convinced that they do.

 Once a year, on the anniversary of this space, I change the sign off for my essays.
 In keeping with that tradition, the sign off for the next year is below.

May your soul be filled with light.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The anvil of unknowing

  I've noticed that in spiritual works such as Buddhism and Christianity, there is an eagerness to know, to understand, to strive, as Gurdjieff put it, to understand the laws of world creation and world maintenance.

 Yet one of the most common observations I hear from Gurdjieff people is that we can't know, we don't know, and so on. The Gurdjieff work sometimes seems to have actively adopted a veritable via negativa of not knowing... Perhaps not a cloud of unknowing, but an anvil of unknowing.

 The last time I heard someone speak in this way, I almost interrupted them (I didn't,  because I was uncharacteristically being a good little doobie at the moment) and said, "Excuse me, but would it be all right if we knew one or two things? ...say, just two?"

 When I hear people speak in this way, perhaps they aren't actually seeing themselves—or anything else—very clearly...  I'm just suggesting it, mind you, because I don't want anyone to get the idea I think I know anything about it.

Well, we do know some things. To argue otherwise is, in the end, absurd. And there are things that we can know. God did not create the universe just to populate it with sensate, feeling idiots. (As it happens, He has all the two-centered beings you could care to wish for to do that for him.) It is the responsibility of all of His three-centered creations to make efforts, to ponder, and to understand. You can't do this without knowing a few things.  Gurdjieff's principal character, Beelzebub, evidently knew quite a bit. He made no bones about it.

If we perpetually harp on our inability to know anything, and how helpless we are, we will all just sit here in a quagmire. One can mill about endlessly in such a manner, proclaiming one's inability — which is emphatically not the same as one's nothingness — and look very humble indeed. But it doesn't increase one's knowledge, or anyone else's. It is, in fact, a form of conceit and vanity, if it is indulged in too much, and we all teeter dangerously on the edge of that sin when we indulge in this kind of nonsense.

Perhaps this is the confusion. Our nothingness is not the same as our ignorance. Nothingness has few remedies; ignorance has many. And if we ignore the remedies — the efforts that we must make to try and know more, both about ourselves, and the universe, with our ordinary parts – then we earn our ignorance, and deserve it. For those who are satisfied with such an action, let them be, but I am not.

Our ordinary parts are here for a reason. They can't be banished or denigrated; they must be inhabited and valued. Part of what the ordinary parts do is to know, as best they can, and within the context of their level, what's going on. Another thing that they are made for is to constantly strive to raise their level. One can't do this if one knows nothing. One should know as much as one possibly can, all the while keeping an eye on the fact that one knows very little. This is a practical approach, which Socrates applied in most circumstances. While it's true that he asked many questions — he may well have been the master of this art— he didn't shy away from drawing conclusions from them.

Did they lead to more questions? Of course they did. You will notice, however, that he didn't sit about with his pupils confidently proclaiming "there are no answers." An answer is a response. The idea of answer and responsibility are consonant.

Think about that.

 To lack understanding is not the same as to lack knowing. Knowing is not useless; but one or two centered knowing is partial. Only with three centered knowing can we begin to understand; and understanding is, after all, the aim of inner work. One cannot banish the intellect from this work and then expect to reach good results. One cannot banish the activity of the lower centers with a wave of the hand and expect to reach good results, either.

 The evolution of consciousness is the evolution of intelligence. This principle is demonstrated by basic biology alone. It holds true at every level of the universe. You can't have intelligence without an intellect; and at every level it manifests on, the intellect has responsibilities that must be fulfilled, one of which is to know some things.

It isn't a question of not knowing.

It is a question of what to know.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Two Purgatories, and Reincarnation

Walking the dog today, I was musing about the question of reincarnation, and it suddenly struck me that Gurdjieff  indirectly revealed a great deal about his belief in this principle when he spoke about the Holy Planet Purgatory.

Pondering this tendril, a few other things became apparent. I'll share them with you.

 Long before he gives us any details about this extraordinary cosmological location, he indicates that some terrestrial initiates are resident on this planet. These two individuals, Poundoliro and Sensimiriniko, are indubitably human as he presents them to us at the beginning of chapter 27. If they have some continued physical existence anywhere, the only way that we can understand this is through the principle of reincarnation; humans, after all, invariably die.  And since the holy planet Purgatory is distinctly cast as a physical location, in which material things exist, we must presume that if they inhabit it, they are inhabiting it in bodies. We can subscribe to this logic without taking an excursion into the obvious and not-so-obvious allegorical meanings of this chapter. The point is that it does give an indication that Gurdjieff did indeed believe in reincarnation.

The existence of the Holy Planet Purgatory itself underscores that belief. Its very existence implies the requirement of repeated lifetimes in order to purify one's highest being parts to a sufficient degree to reunite with the Most Holy Sun Absolute.

Lest some may argue that the highest parts of being bodies are somehow not incarnate in later iterations of their Being, let us cite the elaborate description of the holy planet Purgatory, which is populated with all manner of wondrous features familiar enough to us to require bodies to interact with them. By the time he bestows platforms upon them to fly around on at the end of the passage, I think we can dispense with any assertions that these purgatorial denizens are disembodied energies of one kind or another. It's a physical place, and the beings in it are in physical bodies. No less so than Dante's inhabitants of purgatory are.

 One major difference between the two Purgatories, of course, is that Gurdjieff's Purgatory is a very nice place, with people suffering terribly. Dante's Purgatory has far less appealing features; the suffering takes place far more outwardly, not inwardly, and has distinct outward causes. They have rocks on top of them. And so on. No one bothers piling rocks on the inhabitants of Gurdjieff's Purgatory; things are already bad enough there with the inhabitants just being who they are. That's what they have to suffer.

This is the whole point of the difference between the two: Gurdjieff's Purgatory is a place where one suffers inwardly, that is, intentionally, in the midst of abundance and beauty. The abundance and beauty may appear to serve as a factor to alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants; but it's really a device meant to indicate how very inward their suffering is.

This essential difference is quite important to understand. When Gurdjieff spoke of intentional suffering, it was an inward action, not anything that interacted with the outward.

This brings us—albeit excursively—to the fundamental cosmological premise that incarnation is a requirement for any creature or being that has not fully reunited with God. The consequences of material existence are lawful and inevitable, as all of Gurdjieff's cosmology — as well as Ibn al Arabi's — indicate. This is, incidentally, firmly tied into yogic understandings of the enneagram.

 Well then, my readers. Despite Gurdjieff's dismissive remarks on the subject at various times over the course of his checkered career, he appears to have built the premise deep into the infrastructure of his magnum opus; a place from which it cannot be easily extracted.

 All of this; and then an anecdote.

I happen to know someone who knew Gurdjieff personally; now deceased. But they told me that they were once in the room when someone asked him whether reincarnation was real.

"Something like that," he replied. " Is difficult to explain exactly. But true."

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Great Work

 When a mother's work is done, her children leave home. They spread out into the world and undertake their own enterprises.

It's not always certain, for mankind, when a mother's work is done. In nature, this kind of thing is more obvious; yet in spiritual work, when a teaching matures, achieves its aim, and it is time for something new to take place, a diaspora takes place. At times like these, many people cling; no one likes to leave a safe place where one has been well fed. Yet it's in the nature of things for children to leave home and to move on.

Gurdjieff brought us a great work. He had aims; he said so. They weren't published in books, but they lived in the hearts and minds of his pupils, not as fixed entities, dogmas, but as potentials that moved forward through time. He pushed students away from him to force them to begin to realize their own potential; how many masters are selfless enough to do that? And he expected his pupils to manifest according to their own aims; he practically insisted on it. What he was looking for was not a temporary result; it was a Great Work. He knew that all he could do was plant seeds.

The Great Work had specific conditions and aims, some of which have been met. Inevitably, under these conditions, new aims must be established and new schools must rise up to engage in new work. Exoterically speaking, I believe, Gurdjieff hoped that mankind might recover many of the lost sciences that he spoke about in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson; sciences that do not belong to a mindless, heartless, and unfeeling technology of materials, but sciences that understand what a compassionate attitude towards humanity would be. Sciences that understand what right action, what real religion would be. He truly wished, in other words, to see science and religion rediscover the ancient principles that gave birth to both of them.

 Those who now follow may each one of us feel we are not up to this task. But let's remember, Moses was quite certain he wasn't up to the task when he was given the tablets. The fact of the matter is that the servant is always in doubt about his or her ability to perform the task. It is their doubt that focuses their attention, increases their sensitivity, their eagerness to do the task well.

Is it too much to ask for those of us who follow this teaching and this system to try to undertake a work of this magnitude? Yes; taken on the entire scale of the enterprise, it's an impossibility. Yet collectively, if each man or woman does one small thing to contribute, pyramids can be built.

In any event, when it becomes clear that an octave has been completed, and a school slowly begins to disband — its strings unraveling naturally, because they know they have to, no matter how tightly those in the school who fear the new cling to them — there needs to be a natural grace, an acceptance, and above all, there needs to be a new resolve, a new vision, a new task. Each human being who has benefited from this moment when the master calls all of the servants in from the field and pays them the same generous wages that were promised, from the first who came to the last, is responsible next for carrying the effort onward.

Perhaps my greatest weakness is that I always want today's effort to be brand-new, and at the same time, look exactly like yesterday's effort. I think I need to understand that every effort has to be completely brand-new, that the effort changes constantly according to the circumstances, and that the next effort may not be like the one I just made, but may be an entirely unfamiliar effort.

 I have seen this in movements for most of my life, but do I understand it? Can I have the presence of mind to be there, to make a new effort that is truly new, not something I already know?

 This question is in front of everyone. It never goes away, actually, whether schools open their doors or close them. In the end, the question is up to me, and what I am willing to participate in. If my vision is a small thing constricted by the fears and familiarities I have always carried with me, my possibilities are limited.

If I open myself to the unknown, they are greater.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The shadow of love

I have had these distinct impressions.

Perhaps one of my great mistakes is that I think I know what love is. I think I am able to love; and I think I can recognize love when I encounter it.

In point of fact, love is not a single thing. Because it is the creating force of the universe, it exists to varying degree in every manifestation of reality. There is love at the quantum level; there is love in material chemistry, there is love in minerals and in animals, just as there is love in people. This love reveals itself in a constant unfolding of God's will and God's glory. Yet because my sensation of Self is inadequate, I only taste but a faint shadow of that truth in my ordinary life. Love is the very fabric of things; yet I experience it as a fleeting quality.

 Only by freeing myself of what I think of as my own love can I become open to God's Love, which is transcendent. His Love has no specific qualities; it is objective and universal. Treating all of creation equally, it embraces everything. I'm not like that — I'm much more selective. Yet because I am created from this objective Love, I can choose, with some effort, to submit myself to it. This means I empty myself of what I am, within my essence — not my personality, which I need — and an open space is created, which can receive this universal Love.

 I need to submit myself to God's Love and be filled with God's Love, because I can't really understand any kind of Love unless I open to this force. Only by doing this will any of the love I express in ordinary life have real quality or be durable. My own love is unreliable and intermittent. It is, above all, fractured by the violence of my opinions. I don't see that, usually; if there is one thing I love, narcissistically, it's my opinions. I'm not suspicious enough of them.

I have the capacity to surrender and submit. It is not that far away from me; all I need to do is embrace the intimacy that is offered by an emptying of the soul in preparation for the receiving of God's Grace. That Grace will surely come, if I make room for it; and it will just as surely remain a shadow, for as long as I insist on being the one who loves.

If I become a vehicle for God's Love, what loves, loves through me; I become transparent. This is a high calling indeed; a rarity. Even when I am called through inner privilege to an experience of this kind, my understanding is lacking.

This has something to do with what is active and what is passive in me. What is passive in me thinks it can do things; this is paradoxical, because I think that my outer action is real action. Actually, it's a rejection of my inner force; it is passive towards my inner state, the inner Self, which is the origin of all of my Being.

What is truly active in me waits.

If I enter a state of waiting, this is active; I am attendant in an inner sense, awaiting the arrival of the Lord. I may wait a long time; but I accept this, and I wait. In this way, because I am constantly aware of the potential presence of the Lord, I don't forget my Self, even as I don't forget the Lord. In this way, I am an attendant servant, always waiting for the moment when the Lord requires me. In this way, I am active—attendant—instead of being passive, that is, distracted by all the things I think I ought to be doing. A servant of this kind is never present when the Lord needs him.

 Why do I wait; and why is this active?

I wait, because every vessel that exists — every material object, event, circumstance, and condition — they are all vessels — exists in order to receive and express God's Love and Mercy. The purpose of the universe itself is a vehicle to express Compassion, Love, and Mercy: these are the most essential qualities of God, and God created the universe as His body in order to give those supreme qualities a place of residence. In so far as objects, events, circumstances, and conditions receive and express these essential qualities of God, so do they serve the Lord, and in so far as they do not, they don't.

 The servant awaits the pleasure of his Master. I, as a servant, am blessed with a master of incomparable generosity; a master whose only attitude towards his servants is one of Love, because each of them is His own child, a veritable part of Himself.

 So in attempting to be in touch with my inner self, I am actually attempting to engage in a deeply loving action. It requires a new and different understanding of Love; not my love, but the Love of God, which passes all understanding.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Conscious or unconscious?

Today, a note on the question of consciousness.

Man does not exist in only two states — "awake" and "asleep." Maintaining that this is so contradicts everything Gurdjieff said about the matter. It furthermore completely contradicts all of the implications of both his chemical factory and the enneagram.

 Nonetheless, individuals studying the Gurdjieff ideas frequently invest themselves in an idea that there are just these two states of consciousness for man.

In reality, man's consciousness slides up and down on a scale — often, to be sure, quite low, but also capable of various meaningful elevations. This can happen, as Sri Anirvan points out, even in ordinary life; and to dismiss or denigrate such types of consciousness or such events is to miss the whole point of inner development.

 Inner development represents a unity of consciousness, a bringing together, another point that Gurdjieff made quite clear in his talks. It has little to do with the banishment of various lower states of consciousness—a mistaken, yet persistent, idea—but rather their inclusion in a tapestry or fabric of consciousness, something achieved primarily through Tantric practice. Tantra, you may remember, means loom in Sanskrit. The concept is that we weave the various threads of consciousness together through inner effort. Not that we dismiss ones we feel are inferior. If there are a few bad threads, okay, perhaps one throws them out. But one keeps weaving.

It is this weaving together of the inner and outer self that men and women must pursue in their inner work. The outer self is incapable of it. Only an action initiated within the inner self can begin this process. This is true not only at the beginning of an inner journey, but it is true in every actual moment of life. We must learn to be directly in relationship with our outer life, all of the parts of it. To restrain or control their manifestation does not help. To participate in them and see them can.

 It's all too easy to feel contempt for our lower states. Parts of us that we think are "working" — but which are actually deeply dysfunctional — may promote themselves onto haughty pedestals where they believe one need not honor the lower; but we must form connections between the lower and the higher, not discount that which is lower in us. This is what my teacher, Betty Brown, meant when she said we need to make friends with our mechanicality. She received this teaching from Mme. de Salzmann, who made similar remarks to her pupils.

 Let's not dismiss our efforts.  If others prattle on about how unconscious we are, ignore it. That is already a known thing; repeating it over and over is pointless. What I am interested in is how I might become conscious; and that is what I ought to be discussing. To sit around with others discussing how I am unconscious is like men in prison sitting around just discussing the obvious—how they are in jail. Well, they already know that. They aren't ever going to get out based on a discussion of that nature.

The ones who sit around just asking questions aren't going to get out either.

Only the prisoners who share practical insights and advice with one another about their effort to become free have a chance of escape; And only in so far as they share what they know—not their speculations.

Remember that Gurdjieff said, if you cannot do something or be something, pretend to do it or be it. The effort needs to be there, even if we fail. If we are not compassionate, we can pretend to be compassionate; let others decide if there's a difference. We should make efforts in every area to reach the highest possible standard, whether we understand it or not. And we should never, never, beat ourselves with the whips of judgment over the idea that we are not conscious.

What matters is how conscious we are, not how conscious we aren't.

Consciousness has an inherent wish for some freedom and light and joy; if I make a dank prison for myself and sit around in it, moping because I'm not conscious, why would it want to visit me there?

Perhaps the door isn't even locked.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What is Attention?

The word attention originally derives from the Latin attendere; and etymological sources generally agree that this word means to stretch; in other words, to reach for.

 So attention is to reach toward something; to attempt to come into relationship with it. One does not reach for what one already has; reaching is an effort at contact. So we can say that our attention is an effort at contact.

But what contact? What are we reaching for, in ourselves, in our lives?

Men can reach for any number of abstract concepts, and this is what ideology and philosophy are based on — reaching for that which appears to be desirable, but which has not been attained or obtained yet.

Notice that I say that which has not been obtained or attained. Built into the idea of reaching, of applying and attention, is the idea that I understand I am missing something. That I lack something. And here I come immediately to Jeanne de Salzmann's idea that I must see my lack. Before I begin to have a wish for attention, in other words, I have to see that I am missing something. And it's not just the attention — the action that is necessary — that I am lacking. To go further into the question, ultimately, I am lacking the relationship that the action brings. So attention expresses a wish for relationship. To come into relationship — but, again, with what?

 I don't question this. I could be pressing up against the present moment at every moment asking myself where I am, but I'm not.

Reality, in the psyche and experience of human beings, is always expressed in the present moment. So our wish must be to come into the present moment, and be in relationship with it. That could mean any number of things; being in relationship with some present moments is not a pleasant experience. So I turn away. In fact, being in relationship with the present moment is, in general, not so interesting when compared to my recriminations of the past and fantasies of the future; so I retreat to my dreams, where things quite paradoxically seem more real to me than the present moment.

I could be reaching towards reality, but I don't want to be bothered.

It's a koan; why do I retreat from the present moment? Why do I prefer imagination? I have to reach towards the present to be in relationship with it; it's not a natural action in my usual state. This, too, is a question I have to ask. Why does it take an effort to be in the present moment, something that is freely offered and immediately available?

There are a lot of explanations for this. Perhaps I don't need to worry so much about the explanations. They end up becoming distractions and formulas. The organic experience of where I am and what I am doing— stretching towards something in the moment, engaging in an action that reaches towards the present from within me — this is an action of the inner, reaching towards the outer. It isn't the outer, bludgeoning the inner — which is how life is usually arranged in me.

When I say I have an attention, do I understand that it means I am reaching toward something — that it must come, actually, from feeling and from my wish,  and that it must also arise organically ( and quite naturally) in my body, not from some intellectual muscle I am flexing?

 I'm not sure I understand these things. I mean, I formulate them well. And I encounter the question constantly in life. It is there in every moment. So perhaps that's a beginning.

But there are moments when it becomes quite clear that a different kind of clarity is possible — one that has freedom, but isn't attached to my formulations, and where a dropping off takes place. A dropping off of my attitudes; a dropping off of what I think I am, which is replaced by a certain kind of emptiness that just receives what is, instead of being what I think I am.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No Form

I don't see the relationship between the inner and the outer very clearly.

Consequently, I have these ideas of form, and not having form. I adopt a form; then I question it. I'm told by teachers and masters that there is no form. Yet obviously, there is a form; I'm in it, or there wouldn't be any teachers or Masters.

The whole situation is just plain confusing.

 My attachment to form comes from my outer self. Not only is the outer self naturally attached to form, it must be. It is the inner self that must come to a place where there is no form. Over the course of a lifetime, what happens is that the outer self dominates everything, creating a form which it then artificially imposes on essence. Essence is pure, and free; it is the secret of secrets, an uncontaminated truth about life. As Ibn al 'Arabi says, There is a whole treasure of secrets in the pure center of the human being.

This secret of secrets is buried; instead of informing my life (inwardly forming my life, which then meets outward life) it is suffocating under the weight of this artificially imposed form. The whole of my essence, all of what could bring vitality and a higher level of vibration to my life, has been stuck — well, crammed — into a little box defined by the constraints of my practice and the limitations of my imagination. Even my wish to attain something spiritual becomes a crippling factor.

This is why a man's inner work must remain a secret even to himself; everything that I touch, I may damage. The inner work must remain intact, untouched. The heart of hearts and the secret of secrets know what is needed; and as to the abandonment of form, this abandonment must take place in the inner work, not the outer.

Paradoxically, while this takes place, the outer work may have a form more rigid than any one would imagine; great disciplines can be imposed. It doesn't make any difference. In fact, in some cases, it helps. But it only helps to the extent that I recognize that the inner is what creates the outer; and the outer never creates the inner.

 And this is what men, organizations, and societies often forget:

Only inner freedom matters.

This essential and transcendental quality of the no-form is the inner quality of all material things, which become manifest only because of the Essence. This is true on every level, so it's as true of a grain of sand as it is of a man's being. The grain of sand only exists because the essence that expresses it has come before it; then the intelligent properties of the energy organize themselves, emerge, and express what we call a grain of sand. Each thing is expressed first through essence; only then does it exist.

 A change in the center of gravity is possible. If the inner truly begins to influence the outer, my impressions change. My body changes. My understanding changes. But this is only through an inversion of everything I generally understand; and that inversion begins with an energy that clearly informs me, at the expense of my ordinary mind, that I don't understand anything.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Quantum enneagram

This particular essay is especially for those interested in the relationship between science and Gurdjieff's ideas. It turns out that the enneagram perfectly describes what's called the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, as long as one understands the forces that it depicts. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to demonstrate this.

The force of materiality occupies the note Re, or the position 1. This particular note represents material reality, in our case, a particle. This is equivalent to mass, or, physical existence. The analogy is useful in understanding the meaning of the note overall, since its meaning is consistent across all the levels  of the octaves it applies to.

In physics, roughly speaking, a particle has two other properties that can be measured: position and momentum.

The note Mi, position 2, represents urge, or desire. In physics, this is represented by position.

The note Fa, position 3, represents power, motive force, or will. This is the equivalent of momentum.

As we know, once one understands particles mass, position, and momentum, one has achieved a summary of its material existence by describing it, more or less. And it is this description that determines what else one can know about the particle and its behavior; without this description, further experimental analysis is impossible.One might say, again roughly speaking, that a particle that has not been described is a stupid particle; but one that has been described has acquired another level of intelligence, or meaning, because a higher level of intelligence has scrutinized it.

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the observer affects the outcome of any experiment to measure the second and third quality — position and momentum. One can know position, but then the measurement of momentum becomes uncertain. And if one knows momentum, position is an uncertainty. Roughly stated, the quantum state folds these three qualities together into an unresolved set of probabilities. Only when these probabilities "collapse," which Gurdjieff would have described as reconciliation (third force) does what we call the standard model of physics— reality as we know it — arise.

The diagram shows that the observer occupies a place in this exchange, and that the place is specific.  That particular location is what Gurdjieff called the first conscious shock. The observer is necessary in order for the collapse of the quantum state to take place in a whole way. In other words, no meaning can be imparted to the system without the observer, and without meaning, the system is less intelligent. So intervention from a higher level is necessary in order to impart meaning; and we can actually infer the entire structure of the cosmos and the Gurdjieff system from this one point.

At this level of reality, which is the most basic and foundational building block of the universe, an observing intelligence—which one might say is far more refined, immediate, and radical than that of any human intelligence—is present. This is the inherent intelligence of the universe, which increases itself according to emergent principles during the organization of matter on different scales.

At this level, it functions more or less automatically, and invariably discriminates by inserting conscious labor directly from the emanations of the Absolute. This is because it is a force that exists immediately and only because of the tangible proximity of the Will of God. In this single instance, the Observer is what we would call a given. In the emergent condition of reality from the quantum state, however, the will of God has entered an extremely diffuse ( physics would call it a "weak") state, in which it can only have an effect on the quantum level and its emergent phase. This Will consequently has to be concentrated in successive levels in order to have an action.

What the enneagram tells us about this relationship is that mass and velocity can't acquire intelligent direction without the intervention of the observer. If the material does not have an observer, it has power, but no aim; or, rather, the aim is aimless, in the sense that it is an urge, or, an unintelligent force. 

Physics calls this tendency entropy — the tendency of everything to wind itself down to the lowest energy state with the least amount of order. It's the force that dominates everywhere without the further intervention of a conscious influence— an observer. This is because of the interactions between these three forces, which are perhaps best visualized by looking at the diagram and attempting to intuit what happens with and without the conscious shock.

Consequently, we divide what is called Einsteinian, or conventional, reality into two classes: one side which is dominated by entropic forces, and another which is dominated by emergent, or intelligent forces.

This tells us something interesting, because it shows that the natural tendency is for the majority of manifestations in reality to be dominated by entropic forces; and this is, indeed, what our physicists see. It explains that the condition man finds himself in, where entropy seems to dominate and conscious direction is minimal, conforms to a lawful arrangement that can only be counteracted by the action of an observer, which inserts an intelligence into the activity.

The iteration 1428 furthermore demonstrates that as soon as this triad completes itself, a new level of intelligence — a higher vibration — can insert itself in the form of the note Si, position 8. Consequences which can be left up to the reader to discern ensue.

 If, after reading this essay, you are left with a subtle but distinct impression that the act of self observation is somehow actually a matter related to quantum physics, and the nature of reality itself —

well then, you have understood something.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Universal Principles

 The names of God are universal principles, that is, forces which lawfully act in every octave, regardless of level.

The principle of action within any octave is always the same, because development must follow a lawful path that does not change just because a level is different. The path always recapitulates the same struggle, depicting the expression of matter as it emanates from the divine, and its wish to return.

Each octave is, in other words, a circulatory system with a set of specific demands placed upon it. The demands always begin from the lowest level of vibration, where the forces exerted upon them are primarily mechanical, and as they evolve through successively higher rates of vibration, and interact with one another, they evolve into an expression of less mechanical, or more conscious, forces.

 The development of each octave is a dialogue between these universal principles. The two conscious shocks are what one would call "unique principles," since each one of them introduces an agency from a higher level into the equation. They alter the interaction of the universal principles.

Al 'Arabi, who well understood the principles but may not have been directly familiar with the diagram, describes the system in this link.

 The universal principles thus go under other, but analogous, names within different levels, And their subordination to names at higher levels of vibration is inevitable. Nonetheless, their essential properties remain the same. Each of the universal principles has subordinate principles related to it; and since each principal is the do for an octave of its own,  taking into account the fact that each octave (and each position occupied by a shock) has nine notes under it, we can iterate 81 names, or attributes, of God.

 Intriguingly, al 'Arabi indicates that God has 99 names, but none of the known lists are reliable. He consequently sites that only 83 of the names can be known with certainty. (ibid, p.44.) If one adds the iterated names in known octaves to his own two "supreme" names, the Essence and the Divinity, we would reach his number.

 Ranked in order of vibration, the names of God  in the form of the universal principles are as follows:


  This represents the first order of vibration at its lowest level after emanation from the absolute. All matter, animate and inanimate, arises from this foundational principle, and everything that is fundamentally material, that exists objectively is something that is (incorrectly) perceived as separate from divinity originates  from this universal principle and at this lowest level of order. At this level of awareness, there is no understanding of the separation from the divine, So the wish to return to it has not arisen.


 This second order of vibration represents a higher level of awareness, which, the moment it becomes aware of its existence, inexorably manifests Desire. Although the essential (and esoteric) wish of Desire is always to return to its origins, the moment that it realizes it exists, Desire at this level remains attached to Material, and thinks that it desires itself. This peculiar situation creates a paradox; for both Material and Desire are, in fact, a part of the Essence, and thus have no absolute need to return; they are already there. Nevertheless, the consequence of material manifestation is the perception of separation,  due to the lowering of the order of intelligence by decrease in the rate of vibration, and it is this perception that must be overcome.

Unfortunately, the development of the octave — the lawful interaction of the forces—complicates the matter, before it resolves it, because lower levels of intelligence are unable to perceive, or sense, in the manner necessary to effect a return.


  The third order of vibration represents the acquisition of the means to return, existing independent of the will, or wish, to do so. Power can thus be turned towards egoistic purposes, rather than toward its true purpose, service of the Essence.

 These first three universal principles, representing the mechanical, or material, side of the enneagram, have an ego, but no real "I." They are separated from the Essence  by the very nature of their interaction itself, but cannot see its existence. Hence seeing is essential in order to correct the situation, and the forces must furthermore be of an order where the forces see themselves and see where they are. Sri Anirvan placed great emphasis on this seeing of Self. (cf. the indispensable Inner Yoga.)

This is where Gurdjieff's entire practice of self remembering comes into play; the shock of conscious labor — the universal principle whereby Being recognizes, that is, re-cognizes itself for what it is: a fragment of God — being necessary in order for the manifestation of the names to acquire real Being. Real Being represents a return to a recognition of position as that which serves, the servant. This is the position that real "I" must always rediscover itself in before any further work can take place.

The lack of awareness of position is the lack that Jeanne de Salzmann asked her pupils to stand in front of, and it occupies its position on this side of the enneagram because of the described  consequences and interactions of the forces, or names, of God in the mechanical portion of the diagram.


The fourth universal principle represents the first manifestation of conscious forces, or, awareness of one's actual position. This level of intelligence develops what Gurdjieff called "real will," because all of its will, once it sees where it is, is dedicated to returning to its origin, the absolute, by raising its level of vibration to the necessary point. All of the sacred individuals and societies in Gurdjieff's Beelzebub  who reached this level inexorably turned all their efforts toward salvation.

Until this development takes place, all the efforts aimed at salvation, returned to be essence, are false ones, manufactured by the interaction of mechanical forces to keep possession of the energy at their own level.

Indeed, Al 'Arabi also well understood this principle, which is described in some detail in The Sufi Path of Knowledge, in the chapter entitled The Divine Roots of Hierarchy and Conflict.  In it, he specifically says that the levels of vibration compete with one another, in the same way that tones can either harmonize or disharmonize (see page 55.) The argument is brilliant but complex, and I will not repeat it here; suffice it to say that when a manifestation which appears to contradict an attribute of God, for example, a lack of compassion, appears, it is exactly because of this phenomenon.


  This is perhaps (to me, at least) one of the most interesting characteristics, since its subordinate forms include the vitally important elements of speech and language.

 Being, the fourth note or Sol, is a level that can exist in an unsullied state, so to speak, one without mind or language. It's an exalted state; but an inherently limited one, since, without language, it can't form conscious (as opposed to mechanical) relationship in community. The emergence of language, which confers a different level of meaning, takes place on this next level, which is what the yogis call the throat chakra. Prayer, expressed through speech, including all mantras, hymns, and chants, are all forms of purification, and well understood as such in monastic, dervish, and yogic disciplines. This is the physical creation of vibration, the initiation and emanation of a fundamental divine principle which has now been turned to the use of the aspirant in order to refine their vibration in order to make it acceptable for return to the fundamental source.

 There are, to be sure, multiple forms of purification, but this primary meaning becomes intelligible when one sees that it is subordinate to wisdom, or, what al Arabi called Knowing, the highest level of intelligence before returning to the Godhead.


 This universal principle reigns over all of the other principles. Each principal, whole unto itself and meaningful in the hierarchy, must be informed by knowing, or wisdom, in order to function properly; and indeed, in the iterations of octaves, each other attribute of God needs to complete itself to this level of understanding. Gurdjieff made direct reference to this near the end of Beelzebub, in the ceremony in which Beelzebub's horns are restored.  We can infer, from what we know of the enneagram and the notes, that the reason Beelzebub has five points on his horns is that they represent the completion to the stage of "knowing" for the octaves of Material, Desire, Power, Being, and Purification. Only one stage is remaining:  the knowing of the knowing, referred to as the sacred Anklad. And the stage is, indeed, precisely appropriate for him, since he has purged himself of the factors that caused his rebellion and fall from heavenly grace.

It falls, in other words, exactly where one would expect it to in the diagram.


 There might be a tendency to presume, because one attribute is subordinate to the other attributes in terms of rate of vibration, that one is inferior to another, and this is decidedly not the case, as Al 'Arabi explains. This is no more the case then the inference that Yogic chakras represent a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority. In the end, they are both inseparable systems where each element has an equal, though different, value. The paradox of apparent inequality is an incorrect perception.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Essence and Personality in Gurdjieff and al Arabi

There is a distinct relationship between al Arabi's concepts of Essence, Attributes, and Acts,  and Gurdjieff's use of the terms essence and personality to describe man's state. the distinction, as I will demonstrate, is largely one of levels.

Al 'Arabi explains God as being composed of two different qualities: the Essence, which is forever incomparable and unknowable; and the Divinity,  God in "His" or "Her" knowable form, in contact with material reality.

 Although the Essence is irrevocably unknowable, the moment It emanates from Itself and creates material reality, It has  altered its state (we might say, lowered Its rate of vibration, although this, like any other description, would not be quite correct) to create a knowable universe. In doing so, two parts of Itself interact intelligibly with the created universe.

The first of these parts is Acts, that is, things which have been created. The second part is Attributes, that is, aspects (al 'Arabi calles them names) of God which exert influences on the Acts. The three of them, together, create a holy Trinity directly analogous to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or, in Gurdjieff's system,  Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, and Holy Reconciling.

 Although the dynamic nature of the teaching allows different elements to assume the same role, in the strictest sense, the right side of the enneagram  always represents Holy Denying, the left Holy Affirming,  and the transcendent note "do," from which all force within a given octave becomes manifest, Holy Reconciling.

 All of what Gurdjieff referred to as personality occupies the outer portion of the diagram, that is to say, circulation around the perimeter, passage through the notes. Even though the notes actively exchange energy in an inner action, their visible manifestation always takes place in the realm of personality, that is, externally.

Two domains are created: one which can be known, that is, is redactable and subject to understanding through thought, whether or not said thought is classified as rational.  (In this case, we include any form of sensory experience, including sensation and feeling, as thought.) This domain is the outer portion shaded in blue on the diagram.

 The second domain, the light green shaded triangle, can never be known, although its influences are both vital and necessary. It is the domain of the Essence, the unknowable, and it occupies the inner triad which forms the support for the entire enneagram. The contact of the Essence with the knowable takes place in the locations Gurdjieff would have called conscious shocks, which, logically enough, represent Christ and the Holy Spirit in Christianity. We  can deduce from this that this particular model encompasses Islamic, Christian, and Gurdjieffian understandings within a single diagram — in other words, the enneagram is able to perform its expected function of unifying apparently distinct bodies of knowledge under a single intelligible principle.

 Gurdjieff frequently referred to essence and personality in his teachings. Because man, in his system, is a microcosmos who exactly reflects the metaphysical structure of the meta-cosmos,  we should expect that his concepts of essence and personality translate to the meta-cosmic scale, and, in fact, they do. The understandings are similar enough that we can hypothesize Gurdjieff drew this portion of his teaching from Sufi understandings, and it is certainly plausible, furthermore, that he drew them from al 'Arabi himself, since it seems impossible he could have had the extensive contact with dervishes he indubitably had and not have encountered al 'Arabi's teachings on many occasions. Although  his name is obscure to Western minds, it is anything but in Islam.

 The question brings us to an interesting piece of territory, because the distinct nature of inner and outer work become evident in the picture of the diagram, and the nature of essence at its highest level raises some questions.

Inner work — the type of work which Gurdjieff (like Meister Eckhart) insisted was the only type of work that could affect a man's being — is understood, quite literally, in the context of this diagram and al 'Arabi's concepts of Essence and Divinity, as being a secret or Gnostic work. Secret in the sense that the work remains a work hidden even from the man himself, as he conducts it, because the work, in its absolute essence, is unknowable; it emanates from a domain that cannot be contacted by the known or the rational.

We certainly have enough allusions to this circumstance in Christ's teachings, which dovetail quite neatly into this picture. Esotericism, in other words, is not a secret work in which one person knows the secrets, and another person does not; it's a secret work in which the secrets cannot be known. Only their effects can be known: and they emanate from a mystery that can never be penetrated by Being,  even though Being owes its existence to them.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

Friday, November 9, 2012


My professional work is in textiles.

My inward work is also in textiles.

The word Tantra means loom. This textiles term is closely associated with inner practice.

 The word indicates an inner action.

Human beings, generally speaking, don't understand that there are both inner and outer actions. They get lumped together in a mish-mosh. But they are distinct from one another, they are not all the same, and the practice of discrimination can help one to understand the difference.

It's quite easy to form a connection to an outer action. Almost all of the experiences we have consist of such connections. So, for example, a loved one dies. We grieve. We experience this as suffering; but perhaps we don't understand that this is not at all suffering in the sense of what Gurdjieff called intentional suffering. Or, let's take another example. We put ourselves under a difficult physical discipline, such as assuming a sitting pose for hours in meditation. Yet this, also, is actually a connection to an outer action. It does carry potential; it could form a connection to an inner action, but the reason that meditation takes many years to master or produce any results is that for the most part it is connected to the outer action, which thinks that this effort, also, is intentional suffering.

Once again, generally speaking, the difference between conscious labor and intentional suffering is poorly understood. The terms are used so frequently and so many assume that they know what they mean that a careful examination of the question often falls by the wayside.

Much of what human beings perceive as intentional suffering is in fact conscious labor.

Outer action is connected to conscious labor. Intentional suffering applies to an inner action, and it does not have the same meaning as suffering in ordinary life. It relates, most specifically, to the practice of dissolution. All of the ordinary suffering we go through, and our efforts to meet it responsibly, are actually part of conscious labor.

One might want to become clear about this; it is the difference in and the distinction between inner and outer qualities and inner and outer effort that creates confusion.

Consciousness—attention, mindfulness— is the bridge between inner action and outer action; the reconciling principle. When we are unconscious — asleep, inattentive, unmindful — outer action attempts to inform the inward, with poor results. It ought to be the other way around: inward action should inform the outward.

 Now to the point about the living threads of inner action.

 Inner action is a quite different thing than outer, and the formation of parts that are related to inner action is uniquely distinct from outer action. Parts related to inner action have a living quality of vibration that is not related to the parts formed by and connected to outer action. One can tell the difference.

In each case, that which arises from inner action has a living thread that connects it to outwardness.

 These threads, furthermore can be sensed as active agencies.  There is no mistaking the sensation of an inner action. It has a different quality of vividness to it. Gurdjieff called it vivifyingness of vibration.

The threads  connecting inward intelligence to outer action arise because of the formation of a real intelligence in man or woman, not the ersatz intelligence that one's outer life is conducted with. As threads connecting inner action to outwardness slowly form in a human being, they need to be woven together into a whole.

 First, a man or woman must sense these threads. This is not a simple task that just happens. A great deal of conscious labor, of immersion in and acceptance of, outward action must take place. If this happens, eventually, some threads may appear and become tangible to the practicing adept. This is the point at which real inner work begins, since there is now a living principle that informs outer action — or, at least, has the potential to do that. And in every case this living principle is connected to the idea of prayer.

 Very often, human beings who begin to form these threads don't know what they are. They seem magical... and one wonders what they are, what one should do with them. All kinds of incorrect thinking are applied to them, because the understanding of their nature is poor, and so much mythology — so many fairytales — are connected to both their existence and their manifestation. There are some teachings with a pretty good idea of the situation, but they don't receive much attention. Many of the more bizarre theories and approaches to this are more interesting, simply because of the embellishments.

 In Tantric practice, the many threads — and they are innumerable, because they arise as living principles within each moment — need to be gathered together, exactly as a weaver gathers threads together. They need to be organized on a warp of Being, much like the warp beam that a loom uses to carry the threads. And then they need to be interwoven with one another so that they create an integrated, whole, experience of life.

 One would think one might read about this more specifically in the many esoteric texts that cover these subjects, but one doesn't. (Odd, perhaps, because even the word text means, in Latin, woven. So words and looms are also, perhaps, more closely related than we think. They, too, form a fabric of practice.)

The idea is not clear, even to those who have encountered it directly. But it's the sensitivity to these threads that connect to the inner life to the outer life that makes the difference between the work one has heard about, and the work one undertakes.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.