Beach at Kitty hawk, NC July 2013
To the extent that God reaches into my heart, and I become a part of His presence, I become real.
Yet this isn't the way things usually go.
People generally think that religious practice is some kind of technical discipline, involving rituals, prayers, and intellectual understandings. This is, mostly, what I am capable of, and I cast the range of action and possibility within what I am capable of — that is, I work from what I understand. Yet the understanding of the Lord is a different understanding; and it lies outside my capacity and capability.
It's possible for God to be a part of my presence — insufficient as I am — at every moment. This is a humbling factor that continually reduces me and helps me to see how small I am. This is the kind of help that God sends me: He helps me to see my own nothingness. This is not a sacrifice; to discover that I am a part of God Himself is the greatest gift, and there is nothing more wonderful or glorious than surrendering myself to the inward authority of this infinitely greater good. Somehow, instead of doing this, I cling to what I think I am—rarely seeing what I actually am.
Faith is the action in believing this is possible, but more is necessary. I want to receive God most intimately, most deeply, and experience His presence within that sacred place where He flows inward, the source of life itself. I am, after all, created from this inward flow, this influence, and everything that I consist of it is actually an expression of God Himself. How thick I am, that I usually can't see this! And how generous God is, to forgive the fact that I constantly overlook Him.
Spiritual work is never anything more than opening to this Presence. It is not an opening to my own presence; and, you will notice, I don't capitalize the word in this instance. It is opening to Presence; and in doing this, there is an acknowledgment that we are, as Ibn Arabi advises us, vicegerents of God. In opening to Presence, we become representatives, receivers, expressions. There is no self in this; instead, there is Self.
All of this takes place within the confusion and misdirection of ordinary life, and most especially the intellect. But it's my intelligence itself, my automated or, as Gurdjieff would call it, associative intelligence that forms the obstacle. There is a thick layer of artificiality between myself and this absolute and essential expression of Being.
My search is a search for an opening to this Presence, to this force. Because it is merciful, kind, and loving, it keeps close to me and is always offering an intimate relationship. If I reciprocate; if I am willing to let go little to what I am, if I am willing to die within myself in order to offer room for what might arrive, then new possibilities arise.
It's almost useless to recite words about this. The expression of Being is a living quality that suffers in every translation. Yet somehow the words are necessary, and I have the task of writing them. Perhaps it's in the hope that others may understand that we are not in a technical discipline, a ritualistic discipline, a form with predictable interpretations. We are alive, and that life does not come from us. We do not own it. In the very fact of our life itself and of the fact that we live, we are already an immediate and inescapable expression of God.
By the time I use the word God — which is one of the shortest and most abbreviated words one can think up to describe anything — I am already off the mark, because despite the concise minimalist brevity of the word God, I have deviated from this experience of the living force of Presence; I have diluted it, rendered it helpless.
Yet this is the only word that I have to describe this force of Being. We are Life and Being itself, yet don't know it. Put in other terms, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life of Christ are not a calling to outward action; they are a call to an inner quality of Being.
The only real inner work is this perpetual and organic discovery that I am an expression of this life and Being.
Every question I have, every action I take, and every consequence I experience needs to be examined within the light of that discovery.
May your soul be filled with light.