Saturday, January 26, 2013
The Elements of Being
Being has many qualities. It has a gravity, which must become as serious as death in a man or woman. It has a call to service, which must become a sacred longing that creates an anguish and demand that causes the heart to seek nothing but God. And it has a seriousness, which dedicates a man or woman, in their lives, to the relentless and indefatigable use of energy in an intelligent manner to understand the nature of existence, and to compassionately help others do the same, both materially and spiritually.
But Being also needs to have a childlike quality. It needs to be able to have the freedom to express, to understand in a new way that does not contain the darkness alone. It must be able to laugh at adversity and absorb it effortlessly, just as it must be able to grieve deeply; it must be able to relax and kick its feet back on the living room coffee table. It must enjoy the positive things in life, just as it attempts to develop discrimination and not encourage the negative ones. It must value rightly, and this right valuation must include what radiates good, even if it's as simple as a crème brûlée or a silly pop song.
Being, in other words, carries the requirement for the real inhabitation of life within it. For those who want to do otherwise in terms of their sacred duties, there are monasteries and other forms that restrict the freedom of inner and outer movement. They have their merit. But for those who engage in the work that Mr. Gurdjieff brought to the West, and, of course, for those who engage in legitimate great traditions such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity, there must be a willingness to inhabit life as it is lived — not as one would wish to construct it.
This is not an inhabitation of denial and restrictions — it is an inhabitation of acceptance of what is. There are times when one must let the dog off the leash.
Deeming this or that bad, unless it is objectively harming others, and this, that, or the other thing good, from an external point of view, is pointless. This is what Gurdjieff called subjectivity. Life must begin from an inner quality, where there is an actual living essence. While it carries all of its sacred responsibilities within itself, secretly, actively, in the midst of ordinary life, and understands the gravity of its position, it also adopts a cheerful position, because one must have a right attitude — a positive attitude — in maneuvering through the objectively difficult conditions in life.
And it is the forming of this right attitude within essence, this essential trust in God and this irrepressible sensation of a kernel of joy in ordinary life, that is necessary in a man or a woman.
One of the sacred mysteries, I find, is that at the same time, one cannot just sense this kernel of joy. There is a corresponding and even deeper kernel of sorrow which must also be formed — but this must be treasured within, savored, and used to deepen one's work in one's connection to the Lord. The joy cannot form if this kernel of sorrow is not intact. They require one another, you see, and one cannot rightly form unless the other one rightly forms with it.
Instead of understanding the necessary balance, most folk generally end up getting identified with and investing in one or the other; and they usually do this from the most superficial parts of themselves, even though the emanations from these two kernels of Being are anything but superficial.
One is able, with attention, to cultivate an intimate sensitivity with one's inner life; and this is essential if one wishes to nurture and balance these two vital qualities.
May your soul be filled with light.
PS. Germaine's most recent post is great. check it out.