Friday, August 23, 2013

Inner secrets, part II


The series of photographs accompanying these posts on secrecy are all a night blooming Cereus plant which graces our household with its blossoms on an annual basis. These photographs are from the recent flowering of Aug 11-12.

Some folks wish to believe that certain inner exercises are secret, and this is to some extent the case, in the sense that some learn special exercises from masters and then dole them out to their own students. Gurdjieff's pupils learned a number of classic tantric exercises from him which they jealously guarded for many years, right up until the "old guard" realized that they were dying off one by one and hadn't passed much of the material on. (The exercises are, by the way, recognizably yogic exercises, and thus not at all unique to Gurdjieff's teaching.)

But inner exercises are actually like objects or things, and are infected with the perpetual danger of becoming fixed objects which produce a particular result—beyond which one cannot go without giving up the exercise. Exercises thus become inner attachments; and only an unfettered and dynamic inner environment which is capable of constantly responding to the inner condition as it presently exists can ultimately lead me where I wish to go. So this isn't to say I don't do exercises; but rather that I must know what the limits of exercises are.

It's important to understand this question of exercises because all of the exercises that can be taught by others are only preparatory. The nature of esoteric secrets is such that when real exercises arrive, they are sent by God and entirely unique to the individual, so much so that to show them or teach them to anyone else might actually do harm; because each truly esoteric exercise, or inner manifestation of God (for that is what all real exercises express) is meant only for that particular individual in communion with God. Each is idiotic, in the sense that it is intended for that particular instance of communion with that particular individual. As such, attempting to repeat exercises that one receives is often not only unnecessary, but counterproductive.

While there can be commonality in the overall thrust and nature of inner exercises—this is self-evident from the vast number of tantric and yogic practices that have been externalized and codified over the centuries—what's necessary for a particular adept is always so unique, in a certain sense, that even a master can only bring them up to the threshold of real inner practice and release them there, hoping that they will be able to open their inner eye and take the next step on their own. Even then, so much is up to God that nothing is certain. But what is certain is that all the great teachers have never taught anyone anything except, in this selfsame manner, how to teach themselves. This involves opening the heart to God so that the Lord becomes the teacher; in other words, it is always, ultimately, a practice of Islam, or submission.

I have friends who have mastered complex and extraordinary yogic exercises, only to say to themselves "so what?"

I think they're right about that; to the point, developing magical powers of various kinds is in a certain sense just one more temporal attachment of ego to achievement of one kind or another. In the same sense, devoting inner energy to the healing of the body (a very popular pastime nowadays, it would seem) is possible; but inner energy is there, first, foremost, and always, to heal the soul, and healing the body is essentially meaningless in relationship to this inner healing of the psychic being. Remember Gurdjieff's old aphorism from Beelzebub: "hope of body is disease." (p.361.)

The attachment to the development and exploitation of powers (siddhis)—whether for good, evil, or benign purposes—is demonstrably a function of the right-hand side of the enneagram, most specifically the note Fa, representing the acquisition of power. It's an important point of work, but it actually belongs to the material, as opposed to spiritual, part of the path, and should not be mistaken for or mixed with the higher levels of inner Being, which are to be strictly devoted to the inner shearing-off of such adornments.

May your soul be filled with light.

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