Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Big Yes
In general, human beings think they have some kind of bargaining power with God. Every single spiritual discipline is a kind of marketplace, in which one presumably trades effort for recognition, or enlightenment, or so on. Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (which, in order to avoid an inherent irony, probably ought to have been entitled Steal This Spiritual Book) certainly addressed this question in its own way; yet there is some kind of fundamental or ground rule here that is consistently violated because of our ego.
Everything in life is a transaction of one kind or another. We assume we hold something of value, and that we can exchange it for something else, of equal, or perhaps greater value, or, at any rate, greater utility. All of human commerce — both personal and material – is based on this premise.
Yet when we come to the Divine, we have nothing to bargain with. Everything already belongs to God; what can I give God that He/She doesn't already have? Swedenborg went straight to the heart of the matter without mincing words and declared that God needs absolutely nothing from us, even our prayers or worship. Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart surely saw the question in exactly the same way.
So why is there this persistent desire and perhaps even craving to construct a transaction of one kind or another? I see this in me consistently, and I don't have an answer to this question.
Submission doesn't consist of asking for something; it consists of saying "Yes" to whatever comes. And it's this inner "Yes" that interests me, whereby everything that takes place is taken in as the reasonable and correct condition. I feel certain that even at the moment of death—and perhaps especially at that moment—this "Yes" may arise which is an unbrokered Yes, a Yes without quotations marks, a yes which takes the whole of the truth of what is into itself and agrees. It is the Big Yes; a surrender that abandons all of the transactional premises.
I think the human orgasm is a microcosmic replication of this action; it is itself at the heart of an ecstatic action. The Yes I'm thinking of, however, is not an ecstatic action one seeks so much as acknowledges; not the ecstasy that belongs to the organism and its natural craving, but the ecstasy of giving egocentrism up and standing outside of one's Self, which is what the word originally meant.
To stand outside of one's Self: to become an acknowledged and accepted part of this much greater whole.
The transactional nature of Being cannot be denied; but every transaction that appears to be an outer transaction is in fact an inner one. Because the experience of the Self fundamentally delimits all possible human experience of Divinity, all transactions that can be undertaken (if there indeed are any) are transactions that are not only initiated by me; they belong to me. In this sense, the nature of transaction with the Divine is self-referential, and transactions involving the Divine are transactions, ultimately, with one's self.
The situation definitely carries echoes of Gurdjieff's candid realizations about his own inabilities in the Third Series; and the very nearly abject humility of those comments circumscribe not only his own condition, but the human condition itself. Gurdjieff was a great believer in empowerment; his work, a work of what he called Will, seems to lean consistently in that direction, that is, directly into the oncoming gales of life. Affirmation lies at the heart of his practice: I am, I wish to Be.
And yet, as we consistently ask, who wishes to be?
It is God who wishes to Be.
As His personal assistants—Ibn Arabi designated us as the Vicegerents of God— it is up to us to say "Yes" not to our own existence, but to the existence of God within us.
This question is, I think, connected to the question of generative ability; a subject for a later post.
May your soul be filled with light.