Thursday, February 14, 2013
The action of breathing in life
But the action of understanding these questions of breathing, as I've explored them in the last three posts, are not meant to just remain resident within a meditation practice. The sensation of breathing and the action of Being at the root of the spine are necessary within action in ordinary life. Where we began this discussion, with the fact that everything is constantly in movement, there was a question present, which is how I come into relationship with this movement. Awareness of Being begins with a rootedness of presence that can help bring me into relationship with movement in life.
This is referred to in the Gurdjieff work as having a center of gravity, and Jeanne de Salzmann has devoted a number of highly intelligent and sensitive essays to this question in The Reality of Being. The point I want to make here today is that the center of gravity exists within ordinary life.
I can't work if my work doesn't take place in the day-to-day. Any ordinary moment is the moment where all of the issues I have discussed regarding and attention to the breathing need to be explored. Not the moment of stillness at home, in the morning or the evening, when I am meditating. Those are just practice; that is, I am practicing, trying something so that I can gain a dexterity in relationship to the question.
That dexterity must then be brought into life and applied. If I make efforts within the action of attention under special conditions — whatever those might be — and then don't have a real action under ordinary circumstances, what good are they? I am not developing skills with attention to bring into life, only to let them remain in the cave. They are only functional when they begin to act in my every day intelligence.
Of course, you will say to yourself, they don't. And this is the exact problem. What I call intelligence is intellect; what I call consciousness is an automatic reaction to my life. But if the breath is rooted, is Being discovers a foundation that connects it, with a fine thread, to the base of my life, it can become more and more permanent, of presence to which one can always return.
If I understand and cultivate this practice, I will discover that it anchors me into life in a completely different way. Manifestation cannot take place in the ordinary or automatic way anymore if this happens. That doesn't mean that there is a certain "special," precious, or preconceived understanding of the way manifestation takes place. In fact, it's the exact opposite — manifestation comes, as de Salzmann says, free. This means it is unattached and doesn't emanate from my ordinary self. Its quality becomes quite unexpected; and my own quality becomes my own quality, instead of being the quality of all of my associations and the nonsense that I generally pack in my bags and bring into life.
So the action of breathing in life is a way to gain dexterity in life; and the dexterity is a dexterity allows me not to manipulate, but to respond appropriately — to correspond, to co-respond, to what takes place around me in an active and unconstructed way. This question of response is why we use the word responsibility.
In the next post, I'll talk about the unconstructed way.
May your soul be filled with light.