Votive bowl, Herculaneum
photo by the author, 2001
It's important to see that the good lies in personal relationship, not in things. A painting can't be good on its own; a bird can't be good, a flower can't be good by itself. A man or a woman can't be good. The good only exists in the relationship and the manifestation of meaning between consciousness and the object.
This means that human beings are personally responsible for creating the good. God makes a universe that exists; the manifestation of his conscious being within human beings —Ibn Arabi's vicegerents of God, his appointed representatives — is what creates the good. In other words, if you don't stand up within your self and take personal responsibility for the creation of the good, it cannot manifest.
Creation of the good never consists of forcing others, or harming them. It consists of finding a way to help them manifest positively, and to manifest positively with them. The Buddhists call this compassionate action; there is really no difference. But the point is that only by manifesting relationship and not making things bad can the good arise. When one finds fault, and is constantly griping, complaining, and attacking things around one is insufficiently good, one is actually making things bad. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness; and this is because we are responsible for making things good.
Of course the bar is set much too high. No one is actually good, and all of us spend plenty of time griping. But we don't take the ruthless look at ourselves that we need to. We don't admit that we are like this. As a friend of mine said some years ago (a good friend in the work, who has struggled with cancer and attained some insights that most people just don't get) we think we're not negative.
So it's this intimate moment where I need to be present — this moment with the other person, where I see that I should not reject them. And thereby hangs a short tale.
There is the possibility, in a human being, to reach a moment where everything changes. When every cell in the body changes. This usually can't happen unless there is a disaster that strips one of everything in life. Sometimes, then, if one has been engaged in inner work and one accepts it, this change can come.
Such a change is permanent. If such a change comes, one can't say exactly what will happen, but one can of a certainty say that nothing will ever look the same again, because a change of this kind cannot be undone. It's really just a stepping stone; all it represents, in the end, is a fundamental change in the receptivity of the physical body to the divine inflow. So much work remains to be done after that than anyone who mistakes it for enlightenment is subject to grave error.
If one reaches such a moment, one will almost certainly see that the majority of the personality is designed like the prowl of a vessel made to break through ice — an immense, armored thing that evolved and exists to crash through everything in front of it, to, in other words, reject everything it encounters. This is how we are made; or, rather, this is what we have acquired in the course of what we call "being," which is not actual Being, but a simulation that prevents us from understanding real Being.
This rejecting part, as I call it, deploys itself constantly. Its action is reflexive and mechanical. Gurdjieff often talked about men being machines, and Ouspensky reported it with what is very nearly a perverse enthusiasm; but they never talked about what kind of machine man is.
And this is the essential point: man is a rejecting machine.
What else is there to really see about oneself but this? Nothing, essentially.
Fear is the fuel, the gasoline, that runs the rejecting machine.
And the rejecting machine tries to crush everything in its path, because it thinks that it is the only thing with any real meaning, the only thing that has a right to exist.
Making things bad is a habit of the rejecting machine. Keep it in mind; because if you can see some of this every day, you'll change inside. And you don't have to make things bad. You have the choice.
May your soul be filled with light.