—The Reality of Being, P. 185
When de Salzmann or Gurdjieff speak of developing a will, of having a will of the attention, it sounds, for all intents and purposes, as though this will is mine, something I acquire, which belongs to me.
Yet this isn't quite the case at all. Here, the idea of will relates to a higher force that informs me — that is, which forms something inwardly in me.
"I" don't have real will. Real will belongs to a higher level; and my efforts, my work inattention, is to open myself and become receptive — to prepare myself — for that will to arrive. I don't make it. I don't create it. And it doesn't belong to me. I am not a maker or a Creator; those properties belong to the very highest level.
Yet the instant that the ego hears these words, and begins to interpret them according to its (my) own understanding — which is, of course, both lawful and inevitable at the level we are on — the idea of will becomes mine; I think that I can have will, or get it, make it by my efforts.
This entire set of mistaken understandings is tied directly to my ego, and the idea that things are mine. Rather than understanding myself as a participator in what is created, and a receiver of life, I think that I am the thing itself.
So when she speaks of opening to a higher will, of developing will, what she means is developing a sensitivity, an inward receptiveness, to allow a new kind of will which exists in a much larger sphere to enter. In a certain way, I am already an active expression of that will, but I don't sense it, because my ego forms a barrier between me and this understanding.
This is why, at the end of the passage, she specifically cites the problem with the ego and the way that it forms itself in reaction to everything around it:
"When we can remember ourselves, be open to ourselves, for long enough, we are put to the test by the intervention of the subjective "I" in the face of other people's manifestations toward us. At the moment the impression is received by the mind, I react. It is with this reaction that the notion of "I" bursts forth. I identify with the form projected by my thought. So, if I wish to go further, I need to be shocked, shaken, by seeing the selfish reaction of my ego, defending itself out of fear of being denied. In order to be free from this fear, I have to experience it, to wholly live with everything it entails." (Ibid, p. 186.)
I live in a world of ownership. This is what life has sold me ever since I was a small child; it's all about getting things, owning things. Often by taking them from other people; but, at any rate an arrogation of everything to me.
Conscious labor, which takes place as the result of the appearance of real will, doesn't belong to me. It is done in me, as the phrase, "thy will be done" implies. This phrase is found at the beginning of the Lord's prayer because conscious labor is essential and necessary in our lives; yet that conscious labor is not done by us. We simply ask to be the receivers of the will of the Lord, that it may be done in us; and any idea we have that our own will, something we own or can make ourselves, might have this action, is a mistaken one. Yet this misunderstanding is a common one.
I must allow something new to enter me; and this is exactly what doesn't happen. For as long as I think I am going to make something from within myself, and this impresssion mills around in my thinking, my ideas, and my concepts in this way, I am blocked. Getting the idea of conscious labor tangled up with something I do is a deep mistake in this work. "Man cannot do," says Gurdjieff; and yet I think, when I hear of conscious labor, that I can somehow do it, don't I?
Already, at once, it consists of mixing levels in a way that prevents me from understanding the higher.
May your soul be filled with light.