Window from the Sultan Ahmet, Istanbul
photograph by the author
The real effort of life lies within the deepest contemplation of Being.
As I have explained many times, this is impossible without the participation of a higher energy. The lower parts are perpetually preoccupied and identified with nonsense of one kind or another, and nothing can be put in perspective without the assistance of a higher level.
That assistance comes in the form of an energy that enters the body.
Frequently, Jeanne de Salzmann referred to this as an energy from the top of the head, and that is indeed very important—perhaps all but paramount. But as I have also mentioned, this energy can enter the body from anywhere, because it is ubiquitous and moves according to its own laws, not the ones we impose on it by interpreting it through form.
Our sensitivity towards life in our ordinary state, the state of this level, is completely blunted. We have an enormous amount of knowledge which we think is understanding, but absolutely none of it understands. Only through relationship with a higher energy can one understand. Only the manifestation of the energy makes understanding possible. Until one reaches this point in one's work, one is theorizing.
I'm fascinated by The Reality of Being, because it is one of the few roadmaps in existence from an individual who understood this question in detail and attempted, in her own way, to bring us to it. This was a heroic effort, and continues to be one: before he died, Gurdjieff charged Mme. de Salzmann with the task of living 100 years, and doing everything possible and impossible to bring the work to people.
The book, and, really, all her efforts, fall into that range of doing the impossible, because the form in which the teaching is given always attempts to do the impossible. Those charged with such tasks undergo great suffering, because the task is undertaken with the understanding that it can't be done.
I don't think it's possible for most readers of this book to imagine the personal sacrifice that was necessary in order to take these notes and create this record of effort. It was an effort of an order that we will not see on the planet again any time soon.
Yet the book isn't the point — not, in the end, the answer.
It's a book.
We are charged ourselves with the task of conducting the inner search in order to align ourselves with this energy, and that will take many different forms, as many forms as there are human beings to pursue it. The way that the energy manifests for one person will be different than the way that it manifests for another; this is lawful, because the expression of God, as Ibn al 'Arabi explained it, is infinitely arising and never the same twice. The reason that the description of the path is, for all intents and purposes, impossible is because the path is a path into the unknown. All of those who arrive there can only give indicators; each of us must do our own work to discover what the inner way is for ourselves.
This is a living work that cannot be found in any book. The abandonment of all presumptions and prior knowledge includes the presumptions and prior knowledge that Mme. brought to us; she exhorts us not to go beyond what we know, but to also go beyond what she knows, and what everyone knows. This is an act of courage so terrifying that to come to the threshold of it brings an understanding one cannot encounter in any other way.
If one comes to this threshold, one will see immediately that one is not able.
Those fortunate enough to come to this moment may be blessed with enough Grace to grow from it.
Perhaps it is only the greatest and most intolerable anguish of seeing our insufficiency that can take us further into that unknown.
Note to readers: a new post at The Microbial Octave.