Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In this moment

I get the dangerously mistaken impression that I know what my inner work is.

I have an experience and I write about it; or I just remember it, and carry it around. In any event, these experiences begin to look like fixed things that express a truth that is not changing in every moment. But in fact, each moment is different, and each moment requires a unique response. There wouldn't be a need for inner freedom if there were a fixed response that worked in each situation.

So what I write down, and what flows through time and life, is always changing. What I say now is true for now; and yet it is only a single instance of the arising of truth. Truth has an infinite quality, and everything that arises is a part of truth; each truth is unique; each truth is a name of God. So if I attempt to use my predetermined form to interpret the truth constantly, instead of adapting at every moment to the truth of that moment, then the form turns life into a fixed thing, and it cannot find a relationship with truth.

This aspect of eternal unfolding, with a unique quality to every instance, every object, event, circumstance, and condition, is inherent. That is to say, it is the condition

There is a difference between interpretation and inhabitation. Generally, because I always use my thinking to try and understand, I am interpreting. Yet what would be far more helpful to my inner work is to inhabit, which means to live within, not to apply a form to.

Interpretation brings with it a kind of agitation. Once it begins, its fixed nature causes it to become instantly out of synchronization with the active and living nature of the Dharma. Every action after the first act of interpretation becomes one of adjustment, in which I try to fit everything into my interpretation. These events multiply over time, because the more that time passes, the more that my interpretation is out of alignment with the truth of the moment. It veers off the tracks and goes further and further off, until it disappears into a distance where I am frantically scrambling to adjust everything to fit it. Does that sound familiar? Maybe, for example, what the experience of life is usually like?

Inhabitation is quite different. 

I am just here. Everything is simpler. There are a lot of questions, but they are attached to what is happening now, and I can see that I don't ever really know what is happening now. I can be with myself now; but I can't know what now is. I can be still, because in the face of this unknowing, the need for agitated adjustments of one kind or another falls off. It becomes apparent that I can't adjust anything.

But I can be here. 

In my imagination, I frequently fantasize about having control over things, but although this is an amusing way to occupy the mechanical mind, it doesn't lead anywhere compassionate or loving. A real feeling relationship with my inner self begins to understand that there ought to be a relationship with, not control over, life. One of the classic bĂȘte noires of science fiction, horror novels, and ancient myths is the desire of the magician or scientist to have power over life itself; and yet, in the end, this always ends badly, even in the cartoon superhero movies of today's world. Somehow, there is an instinctive part of man that has not atrophied yet that senses how wrong this is. Yet although we can understand it within the vehicle of our popular culture and our storytelling, we only understand it outwardly. When it comes to the actual institutions that drive our society, we don't see that they are consistently falling prey to the very weaknesses our storytelling warns us about. And because these institutions are a reflection of who we are within our inner life, they can be no better than we are as individuals.

There is an interview on film with Jeanne de Salzmann in which she comments about the groups in two different countries which she worked with over the course of her life. She said that one nationality was easier to work with than another, because the first was always trying to understand how to work, whereas the second one thought that they already knew how

So she understood quite well — and left as her gift to us — an understanding that the inner work must be a flexible one that changes constantly in response to its surroundings. 

This change must be a sensitive change, rooted in sensation, which uses intuition and feeling to respond. In essence, this is exactly what Zen masters were trying to teach — and she, although she was born in France and the product of her culture and her times — was a true Zen master in this regard.

May your soul be filled with light.


  1. can you give the link to this interview?

  2. sorry, I don't know that it's on the web anywhere. The only copy I know of is in a private archive belonging to a friend who filmed many interviews with prominent figures in the Gurdjieff work.

  3. thx anyway. I have a suspicion that many in the foundation hang on to a v. fixed conception of the work - and mme was kind of responsible for that. No new movements e.g. She was ultimately v. 'zen' tho, as you say, and as I mentioned once there was really no 'theory' at all. I never heard the word enneagram mentioned in 5yrs in paris. She did ask me what was in the 'apple crumble' I made once for a 'sunday'. Apparently the hazel nuts were not crushed enuf :)

    1. however, I should say that there was a big enneagram permanently marked into the large movements hall floor...


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