Saturday, June 1, 2013
The heart of the practice
The yoga schools called sensate points of Being nadis; and of course, the principal sensate points of Being, where higher energies are concentrated, chakras. The numerous complicated systems of study for these energy systems may not be entirely useful in understanding their function from a practical point of view. The system is not supposed to function under a manipulative direction; it is a naturally arising system with natural functions. The intuitive understanding of this system through practical experience is more useful than any intellectual study of it; yet there'
s a great fascination with the intellectual studies.
Of all the sensate points of Being, one stands apart. Every one is necessary; every one is valid. Yet there is a central point to understanding. In the Gurdjieff system, there is talk of the magnetic center; there is talk of the inner center of gravity. This is not just abstract conversation.
The physical location around which all of being ultimately forms its kernel is the center of the spine, which is also called the heart chakra in yoga. The inward flow of higher energy, although it certainly manifests in other key locations such as the abdomen and the top of the head, is essential at the center of the spine. In a certain sense, an esoteric sense, the actual sense of my individuated Being is located here, where the inner flower of the heart can open. One needs to sense one's Being in this exact location, quite precisely, according to the inward flow of the divine which is intended in order to inwardly form the entire Being- what Gurdjieff called real "I."
Each of the chakras has the ability to mediate the inward flow of the divine; and they all center around the heart. So from a quite practical, instead of abstract, point of view, there is this understanding of opening the heart from a sensate point of view to the higher energy that can flow in here. This is the work that needs to be done on this level, as opposed to the help that is received through energy that flows down through the top of the head. The magnetic center, in so far as it is real in human beings, also forms in this area. It's the magnetism that draws life itself into the center of Being.
The transformation of impressions takes place to the extent that the center of being forms rightly and draws life into itself. This is a manifestation of divine intelligence, acquiring the energy and material that it needs to re-form itself on this level. What Ibn Arabi called the acquisition of knowledge — a sacred duty, as he explains at great length in the Futuhat-al-makkiyya- is the action of self remembering and the re-formation of the divine within mankind. So the heart of the practice centers around the acquisition of knowledge through impressions, the fusing of this knowledge into a greater whole, and the remembering of the divine nature of Being.
Most of inner work effort is an effort to open the heart to this divine influence. So it's important to try and make an effort to gather one's energies and sense one's Being from the center of the spine: to truly obtain a sensate experience of this location and the inward flow of energy but helps to form the magnetic center and Being. Drawing one's life in the form of impressions in is the inward breath; sensing them wholly within the center of Being constitutes an outward breath.
A true outward breath results in a number of feeling – experiences, that is, specific manifestations of higher energy that would, if we were using ordinary words, be called emotional experiences. The nature of the experiences is much deeper, which is why we use the word feeling experience. Feeling experience arises to the extent that one participates in the sensate points of Being within the body; and all of these points must become active at various times and to varying degrees in order to balance and harmonize the inner system of energy.
The difference between Gurdjieff's teaching and the yoga schools is that the yoga schools attempt to understand this from a technical point of view and create a form that manipulates the process. It is, of course, possible; but mostly in the same way that it might be possible, if one were an autistic genius, to direct the digestive process in the body, instead of allowing it to do its own work. This would take a unique and laserlike kind of focus that is not available to ordinary human beings.
That isn't to say that Gurdjieff's teaching isn't a form of yoga — of course it is. But it's a balanced yoga that avoids manipulation, in favor of discernment and intelligent insight. It puts a set of flexible and intuitive demands on the practitioner.
In the next few posts, I'll examine the question of acquiring knowledge from the point of view of Ibn Arabi's teachings; and I'll speak a little about objective grief. Both of these subjects relate to the points brought up in this essay.
May your soul be filled with light.