Monday, November 4, 2013

The fact of our own inhumanity

 Excavation area, and underground spring, accessed with the kind permission of  Francesco D'Andria,
Chief Archaeologist
 photograph by the author

 Regular readers will know that  I climb the Palisades almost every morning with the famous dog Isabel. This is often, these days, done before the sun comes up; and somehow one never looks at one's self in quite the same way when alone and surrounded by darkness. The night sky gives a place to the universe; and that sinks into the marrow of one's bones... where it finds relationship.

I've been watching the arising of thoughts for several years now, and am intrigued by how independent ordinary, day-to-day thought is from any integration into Being. It functions automatically; and it contains elements that are, if seen clearly, entirely selfish. These thoughts sometimes come up with the most revolting attitudes and opinions one can imagine; and yet, without any participation of Presence, would be taken for granted as facts.

Thought isn't "alive," as it appears to be if we are identified with it; it is exactly what Gurdjieff said it is: entirely mechanical.

What this means is that it has none of the human or lifelike qualities we so routinely ascribe to it. It can describe the human qualities by using words that apply; but it is unable to come into relationship with actual human qualities, or manifest them, because this isn't the function of thinking.  It's the function of emotion; and the feeling part of emotional center, that is, its intelligence, rarely functions in us. The parts of emotional center that we are routinely familiar with are the physical and emotive ones, leading to quick, intense reactions that are not tempered by emotional intelligence.

Thoughts, in other words, are incredibly clever automata that have the ability to perfectly mimic a whole and properly functioning Being.  And we dwell within the experience of these entities almost all of the time, unable to see that they aren't human at all, but just automatic functions. 

This means that for all our protestations to the contrary, we are generally inhuman in a functional sense; the parts that are supposed to integrate in order to deliver a whole and compassionate human Being into the present moment are dysfunctional. Almost all of the thoughts that arise in us, disconnected from emotional center, are inhuman; and our physical actions are just as automatic, because no real consideration can come to (or of) their functioning; it is always the theory of consideration that we apply, not actual consideration itself.

Seeing how inhuman this part of one's self actually is is quite horrifying; not because it makes us a "bad person"; no. We're not bad people. These inhuman parts are not what we are; they are malfunctioning components, which is a very different question. But we need to become separated from them in order to understand what they are.  If we identify with them, we do think that's what we are; and in a certain sense, without efforts at understanding the situation by seeing it, that is all we can be.

Impartiality—a word that one doesn't hear so much in the Gurdjieff work any more, unless one is reading Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson—is the condition of being human. But our lower nature is by its nature partial; it isn't capable of anything more than this. This is how I am, within this aspect of nature.

Seeing this is interesting; and seeing the difference between thinking, as it exists on its own, and thinking in relationship to feeling and sensation, even more so. 

May your soul be filled with light.

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