Tuesday, September 24, 2013
the immediate instance of Being
What I don't see is that sin is actually quite casual. I think that sin must be some special thing, some particularly bad thing I do, a specific instance of something that's morally wrong which I express outwardly. Yet this isn't quite the case.
Sin is an everyday thing; it is day to day, in fact, it is immediate. It is now. And it is active within me in the way in which I lie. I say one thing outwardly; I pretend to be this and that kind of person. But if I am watching carefully to see exactly how I am, how my thoughts trend, the selfishness and egoism which actually permeates every aspect of my Being, I begin to see that I am actually nothing like what I project outwardly — and in fact, I'm not even anything like what I think I am.
Because, fundamentally, I somehow excuse myself and think that I am good.
We're not talking about big, obvious things, like being a murderer or rapist or whatnot. We are talking about the minutia here. In what Gurdjieff called sleep, it's the minutia that gets missed. The immediate instance of Being which expresses itself in a lower way, from a lower level, is flawed and sinful.
This is something that the Christian saints tried to get across for generations. The holiest of them were perpetually confronted by their own sinfulness and talked about it; this may seem puzzling to those of us to understand them as individuals who were less sinful than the majority of others; but they were confronting their sin, and saw how ubiquitous and bone deep it is. Marrow deep, in fact. And when I speak of the deepdown, that part in us which is most sacred and closest to God — touching God — I speak of a part that ought not be touched by such wrongness — yet it is.
In the case of sin, what begins at the surface goes deep, and the surface here is not a surface of the intersection between the inner and the outer — although that is where the interaction takes place. The surface is the surface of time, of this immediate moment, where sin takes place. When Jeanne de Salzmann asks us to be in the moment and confront our lack, she is asking us to be in this immediate moment where sin takes place and to see how the mechanical action of ego and selfishness automatically thrusts us into the dark territory of personal sinfulness. This is where we actually live, not in some imaginary playland where we are nice to people and take care of them properly.
I struggle with this question every day, because I see the action of sin within me constantly, and invariably want to squirm away from it. I watch it manifest in ordinary situations; it rears up like a maggot. In this sense, Self-observation is actually a horrible and most unpleasant task, because it comes up against this question in every moment, and raises the question in every moment of who I am, how I am, and how I got this way. There isn't any unity; in addition to the part that sees, there are so many parts that want to drag the inner condition downwards, not towards the deepdown where there is something sacred available, but towards other, darker crevices in Being where only corruption can be found.
This is the antichrist; this is the polar force that opposes goodness and what is sacred, and what I forget is that it is active in me — and in everyone — constantly, because the universe was created to contain and manifest this conflict. It's only a constant effort to see that can bring this question and this issue into awareness in such a way that at least I know I am fallen.
It is an art, not a science, to carry this question alive within oneself and not destroy one's own self-esteem and self image. There is goodness here; we are not all bad. Yet I need to see the badness in me, and understand how much of me is selfish. I'm not going to clean that mess up by myself, no matter how much I may think I can. Only a much deeper contact with a much higher energy can bring me to moments where that might be possible... and in those moments, I discovered that very little, if anything, of what I usually think of as my Self are involved.
May your soul be filled with light.