Monday, July 22, 2013
If I have any honest moments in which the inward formation of something new participates in seeing how I am with others, I see that my ordinary personality is barren in regard to a right attitude towards others. It's like a desert; it has features, but they are rocks and cactus, things you prick yourself on and stub your toe on. I watch what goes on inside me, what arises within the associative flow, and it's really pretty pathetic. The automatic parts of me are not producing anything worthy of what Gurdjieff called a "three brained being."
It's strange to me, given my apparent intelligence and supposed good attitude towards life, that there is so much inner machinery devoted to this appalling pettiness, stupidity, and reaction. It's true, little of this dominates my outer action — little enough, at least, that it is nowhere near as damaging as it might have been when I was younger person — but the continuing presence of it reminds me of the lack of compassion in my lower parts. Each one of them is like a small animal that wants to scratch, bite, and nip things around it, tearing small chunks of flesh from situations and devouring them.
Then a moment when some higher energy is available comes along, and my condition — knowing where I am, as I mentioned in an earlier post — is just downright depressing. Depressing not in the ordinary sense, but in the sense of a deep kind of remorse and despair about who I am, the inescapable ability of this awful human condition, which is, objectively speaking, not compassionate at all.
This comes down to the fact that we all talk a good game, but, as all of the spiritual greats have reminded us, are actually minor-league players. At best, trainees.
In what may be irony, what may in fact be justice—or even right action itself, it occurs to me, how would I know? — I draw on things I learned over 30 years ago in Alcoholics Anonymous. I see that I have to turn these things over. God knows I'm like this much better than I know it myself. One of the great sources of anguish in inner work if one reaches this particular point is seeing how infinite the mercy of the Lord is, even knowing how absolutely petty and unworthy I am. The only way to deal with this is a complete surrender in which I turn myself over to the Lord in an inward sense, an organic and intimate sense, saying, "Here I am. I don't know where this is; I don't know who I am; I don't know how to reach you or become open. The only thing I can actually do it all is be honest with you about this, and I'm not even very good at that."
This is the point at which there are very few prayers that can apply. The inestimable "Lord have mercy" is never out of place, but there are also moments when nothing more than "Lord, Lord, Lord" need be said. I'm distinctly reminded of the times that Ibn Arabi said that the most efficacious prayer is nothing more than the repetition of the word God, or Allah, whatever word one's own culture uses for the Lord.
I don't have much patience with clever or complicated prayers anymore. This kind of praying, the intonation of God's name—or even just an intonation that includes God's name within it in the implication of its vibration—seems like the only real kind of prayer. And it is only when I reach that point within myself in a sitting that I begin to feel I am anywhere near presenting myself at the level of humility that is necessary.
May your soul be filled with light.