Monday, December 9, 2013
Doing within Being
To Do within Being sounds like a tall order. Gurdjieff said, after all, that man cannot do; and although one cannot quite take this literally (another subject I'll have to discuss in the future) there is truth in it on many levels.
The bottom line is that we have a responsibility to make an effort. Within the limits of our ability, this is to do. And we must make that effort entirely within the conditions of our ordinary life. It doesn't matter whether we are a taxi driver or a slum dweller or a billionaire; if we engage in right effort and right Being, we meet the life we have been given and the life we are in with right attitude (acceptance, stoicism, and compassion) and do the best that we can to make good with it, to serve.
That service needs to take place on three levels: service for oneself, service for God, and service for the community. The service for the community represents that reconciling factor that creates the bridge between the isolated fragment of Being (a fraction of God) that our manifestation represents, and the unity of Being embodied in God's transcendent truth. So it is giving ourselves up unto others that creates a bridge that can bring us back to heaven in both an inner and outer sense.
The force of selfishness — which is often called ego in the modern world — has no understanding of this. And there is always some belief that one has to rearrange the outer circumstances in order for anything inner to be properly aligned, when in fact the exact opposite is true. The amount of energy that is poured into outward circumstances worldwide is so vast that if even one billionth of it was turned inward, humanity would undergo a major transformation. The conditions aren't arranged to allow this, at least not now.
The sacrifice of selfishness in an acceptance of one's condition and place, along with a steadfast effort to do what is good and what is right, must accompany all inner work. Relativists and apologists who believe that low kinds of behavior can be excused and that low standards are acceptable are not qualified to do inner work. They live in dreams where they believe that they can act in a wrong way and still reap a reward; when in fact this is forever impossible. Or rather, it is entirely possible — but the "reward" that is reaped will not be anything one wants.
We must live generously; we must live wholeheartedly. We must accept the life we have been given and find out how that life can be turned to the good, not the bad. We must look within ourselves and try not to harm others, always and everywhere not to harm others. Yet this is a terribly difficult task, because the evil commanding ego — that was Ibn Arabi's label for it in The Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom — is, well, an evil commanding ego.
In any event, we need to see how we are, but we cannot then just sit there and do nothing. One cannot, for example, practice de Salzmann's seeing and see that one is, for example, a murderer or rapist, and then just go along and say to oneself, "oh, that is so. Tra la." One is expected to do a little better than that, although with all of the talk about how one need only see, one might begin to believe that we Gurdjieffians are one of the most amoral organizations on the planet when it comes to the contrast between our spiritual talk and our actual actions.
Beware of prevarication of this kind. One cannot put off the effort to improve one's inner and outer state.
They are in a reciprocal relationship, and to underestimate this is a grave spiritual error.