Sunday, October 13, 2013

The roots of practice

Sarcophagus, Museum of Antiquities, Cairo
Photograph by the author

It's easy for people to mistake the roots of practice because they don't understand the  molecular nature of transformation.

 All practice that leads up to molecular transformation is just practice — that is, it's preparatory work. Unfortunately, the attraction of physical work leading up to this, ranging from the Gurdjieff movements to Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Hatha Yoga, becomes an end in itself, because most of the forms have an aesthetic beauty and create interesting physical sensations that are ultimately enjoyed for their pleasure (and the "wow" factor) rather than the foundational nature of their manifestation.

This leads people to engage in emotional attractions to such work, instead of understanding it objectively. I can't tell you how long I've spent listening to people enthuse about how they "love" the Gurdjieff movements or Hatha yoga, as though these things were an end in themselves.

These practices are utterly pointless unless one understands what they are aimed at creating in the body. Once the body understands this, and once a new level of sensation in connection is formed, these works take their proper place in a range of inner work so that one understands one has to take them objectively, and can't be attracted to them as some form of lifestyle. They have, in fact, only just so much use in the end, because the end is not the practice, the end is the inner transformation. Ultimately, in a certain way, the whole point of them is to reach a point of inner work where they are no longer necessary. Every exercise is like this — but everyone forgets it.

This mistaken path of believing in the aesthetic rather than the experience, the beauty rather than the fact, is a dangerous one, because the aesthetic and the beauty definitely need to be included — they just can't be assigned priority, which is the mistake we constantly make due to the allure of their appearances.

I remember a rather dry friend of mine — I genuinely liked him, but he seemed to be (and probably was) excessively intellectual in many ways — who had, objectively, many more years of experience in the work than I did back when I knew him, nearly 20 years ago. He tried to make this point to me and I didn't like it much. It's only now, remembering it, but I see how clearly he knew what he was talking about, at least in this instance. At the time, it seemed perverse; now, it seems nothing more than sensible. Sensible, as in, rooted in sensation and understanding, not in clinical analysis.

We should be quite cautious about falling in love with our attractions. It is just as dangerous as falling in love with our suspicions.

Perhaps this is what Gurdjieff was trying to remind us of what he said "I love he who loves work."

 May your soul be filled with light.

Note to readers: a new post at The Microbial Octave.

1 comment:

  1. and the challenge is knowing how to work in the circumstances of one's life...(rather than in a swiss retreat with x), not always easy, but possible.


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