Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Good and the True

 In Swedenborg's world, the search for the good and the true is essential.

 When we speak of alignment, and we speak of the need to open, perhaps we think that these terms are vague and that it isn't quite definite what they mean. But Swedenborg does not hesitate to make it clear:

 "Lastly, let me disclose a particular secret about the Angels of the three heavens that people have not been aware of until now because they have not understood levels. It is this, that within every angel — and within every one of us here — there is a central or highest level, or a central and highest something, where the Lord's divine life flows in first and most intimately. It is from the center that the Lord arranges the other, relatively internal aspects within us that follow in sequence according to the levels of the overall design. This central or highest level can be called the Lord's gateway to the Angels or to us, his essential dwelling within us." ( Heaven and Hell, 39, page 107)

 Now, the understanding of the search for the good and the true has always been central to the Platonic philosophical sciences. And the Gurdjieff work is also a search for the good and the true. We can examine this from the point of view of attention and intention, the two essential qualities man needs to develop according to Gurdjieff's ideas and principles.

 Intention is an action; a movement in a direction, an intention towards a state. If we wish to have an intention, the intention must be towards something positive, something of value, not something that dissipates. The intention, in other words, must be aimed at a higher principle, not a lower one. Put in other terms, we can say that the intention to pray in a church or temple or mosque is a higher intention then the wish to watch a violent movie.

 What do we have an intention for? We have it towards our inner work. But what is our inner work; it is an effort to reach towards the good. Intention, in the end, can only serve one right purpose in man, and that is to do good. No other intention is worthy; and if we wish to develop intention, the intention must be towards the good.

Attention, equally, must be in the service of a higher principle, and that principle is truth. We do not wish to attend to that which is false; the best Gurdjieffian example one can reach for, and it is immediately at hand, is false personality. If we devote our attention to this part of ourselves, our attention is dissipated and wasted. Our attention must be aimed towards this central or higher level in us, this point where the Lord's divine life flows into us. So if we intend—without obfuscating it with Ouspensky's ( or anyone else's) technical terminology—we intend towards the good, towards the Lord, and if we attend, we attend towards the Lord and towards truth.

These two qualities are also unambiguously the aim of Ibn Arabi's Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom (which everyone on the path should definitely read at least once in their life.) Both the truth and the good emanate from the Love of the Creator for his creation; what else do you think we are receiving if we receive a higher energy? One can use these technical terms such as higher energy, but what it is is Love. Why we beat around the bush about this baffles me at times.

 In any event, it is important to understand that when we speak of intention and attention, we speak of intention towards the good and attention towards the true. The action of conscience in man (Ibn Arabi also discusses this essential question in the aforementioned book) must be awakened so that we intend and attend in this manner.

Again, what else is it for?

Let us remember that this is not something technical or philosophical. This is an action that takes place within us in every moment. It is not connected to time, but to state; and it can't ever happened later. It must happen now, because now is always when our state is determined.

May your soul be filled with light.

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