Thursday, January 31, 2013

An intuitive sensation

 I often ponder the nature of intuitive sensation, which arises naturally within the organic sense of Being, as opposed to the many forms of sensation which apparently demand an extensive conscious participation, as discussed by Jeanne de Salzmann in The Reality of Being.

 Extensive familiarity with exercises and the many essential phenomena that manifest in the context of an inner sensation of Self have both a form and a language. This is a paradox, because anyone who reads the material she (or perhaps another) offers on the subject will see that the form of the language both recommends and embraces an understanding of wordlessness and formlessness.

While this position can seem contradictory, it isn't; because even though the sensation of Self leads through energies of a spinal, abdominal, or other organically specific nature, and forms natural magnetic centers related to an inner sense of gravity, it must—inevitably—enter that same realm of wordlessness and formlessness that lies beyond the explanations and instructions.

 At such a point, we cannot discuss energy as localized; neither the conscious sensation of it, its nature, or its implications are limited by the experience that arrives. One senses it entirely as inflow; and inflow is universal, cellular, immediate, ubiquitous—in a word, universal.

 The perceived division of the material into unique subjects and objects is a function of the body alone; as physicists have pointed out, at the quantum level— and, for that matter, even above it, at the atomic level–physical reality is composed of a kind of "energy soup," without any notable boundaries. I say that this perceived division is a function of the body alone, because it arises according to the sense limitations of the body. While we work within those lawful limitations on the whole, it's important to recognize the need to go beyond.

 An intuitive sensation no longer belongs to any predictable realm. It does not take its cue from expectation or physical form; and it does not express itself in any logically or rationally explicable way. It arises, in other words, within the context of mystery; because it derives its Being, its existence, from an intimate expression of the Reality. Functioning solely as support for Being, without needing a critical analysis or explanation of its nature, it is just simply there. There is no need to do anything but come into relationship with it. All else takes place naturally.

 The word "intuitive"  was originally derived from the Latin roots meaning “to look upon.” It has also, through the centuries, meant to teach, or to see unerringly or accurately. All of these various versions of the word help to indicate what an intuitive sensation consists of: that which sees, that which teaches, that which makes no error. In each case, it is an expression of a higher force that brings understanding, which is Truth unto itself.

 One of the reasons, I think, that Gurdjieff did away with all of the yoga diagrams that show the nature of the channels of energy within the body is that he was leading us towards this particular understanding. And I think de Salzmann formed a bridge facing backwards, because it turned out to be necessary to re-incorporate some of this material before moving further out into the unknown.

Yet in forming that bridge, she unerringly pointed us in the direction of that which arises as a living force; both in her language, and from her experience, she manifested a Grace that empowers us to embody that mystery.

May your soul be filled with light.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Living Connection

 When we say someone has a limited understanding, it sounds pejorative—as though the word “limited” meant "not enough." Yet this is not the meaning of the word. To be limited means to exist within boundaries; and to that extent, all understanding is limited, since no matter how much understanding expands, the human ability to understand is always limited.

There is a paradox between understanding within boundaries, and understanding that boundaries do not represent the end of understanding. Being able to discriminate and understand the difference here is a critical element. For the most part, our understanding that boundaries don't represent the end of understanding is theoretical. We acknowledge it intellectually; but only the experience of enlightenment, that is, the entry of the Real into Being, can ultimately make this clear. This action is not an intellectual experience; it is accompanied by organic and emotional realizations that are, for the most part, devastating to an intellect which has up until then presumed only its own authority.

In the search for Being, I always want it to take place within the boundaries, the limitations, of the schools, ideas, philosophies, or opinions I have encountered and adopted (i.e., imitated.) These range from extremely constricted to enormously expansive; yet my search always takes place within them. And I don't see this. Either I insist that the constrictions are necessary conditions; or I believe, in a form of what is actually very weak thinking, that the expansion is so vast it includes everything.

I model what I think Being ought to be within these parameters. I may sagely advise myself and others that I know the parameters aren't actually sufficient; but this is just a position I take. The ordinary self is not able to think, operate, or experience outside its own boundaries or limitations; and it attempts to do so almost exclusively by imitation, which sometimes takes on remarkable forms in its effort to project originality.

But there is nothing to imitate here.

I attempt to become open to a force that is quite different. It is possible to form a living connection to God from within the inner self; and all the bets are off here. Such a connection speaks without any words, and informs Being, in that it forms it inwardly, in an entirely new way. The ordinary self has a limited understanding; yet the Self is understanding.

And if so many who have been touched by this parse it out by claiming there are no words, who can blame them? It is a poetry understood only by what is not written within the form; the action of sensing what has not been said, what is missing, is the action within which the understanding arises, and it does not identify itself within limits, because it is not a location; it is a search.

This living connection has a quality of manifestation that creates its own rationale for action and Being. It is not mine; and I don't direct it. This inwardly formed connection to God forms the relationship to outward life, and the participant is nothing more than a mediator. An observer who should facilitate. Every action that attempts to interfere is one that degrades or lessens this influence which attempts to reach life; and hence the ego, which always begins with good intentions, becomes the great destroyer.

 In our modern world, and in our limited understanding, the ego takes the blame for this action; but it can't help it. Like the scorpion who wants to cross the river on the back of the dog, the sting is in its nature. With the action of God, this can be seen: even my own ego deserves compassion. A true seeing of this reorganizes the inner attitude.

Only a living connection that reorders Being can truly begin to bring this attitude of non-judgment toward one's own self. Such an attitude must become a permanent fixture, so to speak, within the self, in order to help facilitate the emergence of the real Self, which does not express itself in the ordinary conditions of negativity and adversity which prevail. These appear to be inner conditions; but discrimination will reveal that they aren't. They are outer conditions, expressed inwardly, and this is a quite different situation. Discrimination and intimacy help me to understand the difference.

 My original intent in this post was to explain the difference between focusing on energy within the body, and the inherent limits of understanding it in terms of channels in the way that traditional yoga does; but I didn't get to it.  Things take their own direction; I follow.

Mea culpa.

 May your soul be filled with light.





Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Different Wholeness of Being

 I spend a good deal of time studying this condition of inner energy. It does not have to go away; maybe my experience is that it comes and goes, and that it's rare, or can only be available under certain conditions, but this experience limits the question to what I know, and I must push past that into the territory that I don't know.

Everything is energy; everything is forces. The body is energy and forces; my impression of it is energy and forces. So with enough sensitivity, and a right understanding, a transformation of Being within this context can take place. And then there is a service that takes place to the energy itself, which is what creates everything in the first place.

This type of action is very different than what I want for myself. It's participation in what is wanted for everything; and there is a Wish that lies at the root of everything, which I ought to be responsible to. That wish is not a wish just for people I know, my dog, or the tree up on the hill. The Wish is universal; and this is what needs to be sensed, because in the end all wishes are one Wish, and the Wish is a Wish expressed by the entire universe, constantly, everywhere, at all times. Not just what I can wish in my limited way.

In a certain sense, only by extinguishing my own wish can I become open to this universal Wish. If we were speaking in terms of the enneagram, we'd call it Desire; the inevitable impulse of everything, the instant it becomes material, to return to its source.

The inner energy, which is actually just expressed in me — I experience it as inner, but it is universal, just like the Wish — is always vibrating, always singing. Every cell wants to sing with it at all times; every organ, every nerve, has the same Wish, on its own level, to be part of an unflagging expression. Yet mostly, I'm dead to it; and even though it is not dead to me — the music is always playing — I don't attend to a support for this. If I were just intimate enough, if I were willing to participate in the root of this action, it would be quite different.

The inner energy calls me to a quietness that is quite different from my interference. If I study myself within the context of this expression, at all times in life, I'll see that almost everything I do has an unnecessary element to it. There can be a different wholeness of Being that acquires its value from Being itself, not from this outer action; and the outer action must be dropped. The only thing that is necessary is to see how I am.

 But this abandonment is an abandonment within; a separation. It doesn't extinguish outer action. Outer action simply has its own realm of being, which is limited to the right action for outer nature.

So I see that there are two kinds of right action, right action for outer nature, and right action for inner nature, which must not be mixed.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Positive Impulse

There are those who think that inner work is too introspective; that we should by preference devote ourselves more to the improvement of outer conditions and circumstances, and that those who fail to do so "don't understand the world."

Yet if our positive impulses don't come from our inner world; if they aren't informed by the inflow of a higher principle, from an actual energy that has  the ability to effect a transformation of our inner attitude, then they are subjective. That is, they are in constant reaction to the outer world, developing both their being and their impulse from a lower level.

So I wish to have an effect on something; and in order to have an effect on anything, it must come from a positive impulse of Being, a wish to Be in a right way. If I don't have this wish to Be in a right way, and it isn't informed by a higher principle – not a theory of something higher, but the actual action of an energy — then ultimately it goes nowhere.

 This is very difficult to understand if I haven't spent years carefully cultivating an inner sensitivity, and I don't understand what  by a higher energy is, or how it's received. Even if I do have some understanding of this, if it lies within the narrow confines of a system or a form that has been imparted to me, for example, the way that yoga conceptualizes it, I don't understand how deeply it ought to penetrate or how ubiquitous it is. It's not that the forms are bad; but they are partial. This is the whole point of the teaching which is not a teaching.

 I must deepen myself so that the entire Being receives these influences; not just the Hara, or abdomen. So ultimately, although sensitivity may indeed involve taking energy in from the top of the head and bringing it down through the spine into this area, something much larger must grow from it. The entire body and all of its centers must be included; and it must be an activity that takes place in ordinary life, not just when I meditate.

The positive impulse must grow from this inner life, this receiving, which becomes a part of the entire body, until there is no body, but just the energy. The body is an adjunct, it is nothing more than the vessel that receives the energy, which is the initial and fundamental principle of life. This must express itself as a point of origin for all action; and that is an action in life, not sequestered in meditation.

All of the action I undertake is lawful and correct; I need to have a job, make money, and enjoy ordinary pleasures. Rejecting or refusing them is pointless, because they don't have that much to do with my inner life. On the contrary, it is the inner life that is life itself; and if it informs the outer life, the outer life aligns itself without too much interference. The difficulty is that I am always upside down and backwards; the outer life attempts to do violence to the inner life by making efforts to arrange it in ways that it thinks are correct, when that is actually impossible.

 So to be active. This is something we hear a lot; Jeanne de Salzmann often says we are too passive. But being too passive is, actually, being active in the outer parts. They seem to have force, meaning, and substance, but this is simply because I am so deeply invested in them. Actually, in regard to higher energy, they are totally passive. This may sound baffling, but a careful investigation reveals that it's true.

 Perhaps this helps to explain my curiosity about the idea that I'm passive. I run around a lot and do many things, don't I? How could I be passive?

It is the inner relationship, the inflow, that I'm passive about, and that's exactly what I don't see.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Elements of Being

 I work in life to discover a relationship that senses all the elements of Being.

Being has many qualities. It has a gravity, which must become as serious as death in a man or woman. It has a call to service, which must become a sacred longing that creates an anguish and demand that causes the heart to seek nothing but God. And it has a seriousness, which dedicates a man or woman, in their lives, to the relentless and indefatigable use of energy in an intelligent manner to understand the nature of existence, and to compassionately help others do the same, both materially and spiritually.

But Being also needs to have a childlike quality. It needs to be able to have the freedom to express, to understand in a new way that does not contain the darkness alone. It must be able to laugh at adversity and absorb it effortlessly, just as it must be able to grieve deeply; it must be able to relax and kick its feet back on the living room coffee table. It must enjoy the positive things in life, just as it attempts to develop discrimination and not encourage the negative ones. It must value rightly, and this right valuation must include what radiates good, even if it's as simple as a crème brûlée or a silly pop song.

Being, in other words, carries the requirement for the real inhabitation of life within it. For those who want to do otherwise in terms of their sacred duties, there are monasteries and other forms that restrict the freedom of inner and outer movement. They have their merit. But for those who engage in the work that Mr. Gurdjieff brought to the West, and, of course, for those who engage in legitimate great traditions such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity, there must be a willingness to inhabit life as it is lived — not as one would wish to construct it.

This is not an inhabitation of denial and restrictions — it is an inhabitation of acceptance of what is.  There are times when one must let the dog off the leash.

Deeming this or that bad, unless it is objectively harming others, and this, that, or the other thing good, from an external point of view, is pointless. This is what Gurdjieff called subjectivity. Life must begin from an inner quality, where there is an actual living essence. While it carries all of its sacred responsibilities within itself, secretly, actively, in the midst of ordinary life, and understands the gravity of its position, it also adopts a cheerful position, because one must have a right attitude — a positive attitude — in maneuvering through the objectively difficult conditions in life.

And it is the forming of this right attitude within essence, this essential trust in God and this irrepressible sensation of a kernel of joy in ordinary life, that is necessary in a man or a woman.

One of the sacred mysteries, I find, is that at the same time, one cannot just sense this kernel of joy. There is a corresponding and even deeper kernel of sorrow which must also be formed — but this must be treasured within, savored, and used to deepen one's work in one's connection to the Lord. The joy cannot form if this kernel of sorrow is not intact. They require one another, you see, and one cannot rightly form unless the other one rightly forms with it.

Instead of understanding the necessary balance, most folk generally end up getting identified with and investing in one or the other; and they usually do this from the most superficial parts of themselves, even though the emanations from these two kernels of Being are anything but superficial.

 One is able, with attention, to cultivate an intimate sensitivity with one's inner life; and this is essential if one wishes to nurture and balance these two vital qualities.

 May your soul be filled with light.

PS. Germaine's most recent post is great. check it out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Standing between two worlds

Jeanne de Salzmann repeatedly tells us, in The Reality of Being, that we must stand between two places.

Between the inner and the outer; between the higher and the lower.

In the last post, we explored the fact that the material is manifest through the inflow of higher energies, forces, and influences.  Furthermore, everything that is manifest is continuously affected by the inflow of higher energies and their quality. So in living organisms, especially man, the inflow of higher influences is what determines the quality of manifestation.

What I mean by this is that the way things are is determined by the expression of the higher within life. Mankind is designed to serve as a conduit or mediator between the higher and the lower, and only his conscious intelligence can effectively move higher or divine influences from their esoteric center, from the higher level from which they emanate, out into the world.

Nothing good can come of a man who does for, or of, himself. Many things can happen; but all of them will be subject to the full 48 laws on this level. That is to say, things will be accidental, random, violent, and uncontrollable, because material by itself, uninformed by the divine, exists without an objective morality. Things just happen any old way. This is obvious and proven, yet by a means of collective agreement that we will lie to one another, the world doesn't admit it.

Only the influence of the inner, the essential, the truth and the good, the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom of the Higher, can what is good be achieved. So if men do not participate in the receipt and transmission of the Holy Spirit, of higher energies, and their force into ordinary life, ordinary life will be Hell. It cannot organize itself any other way without better influences guiding it.

You probably think you know what some better or higher influences are. So do I. This is part of the problem. We think up a million different things that we think are better than this or better than that, but none of them emanate from higher levels. We try to apply them to life, and although things may go rightly for a time, they always collapse. They don't have the right kind of energies supporting them. Gurdjieff explained this in some rather technical terms with the law of octaves, deflections, and so on, but the simple way of understanding it is that man does not take in right energy from his inner part, that spark of the divine that is meant to receive, and if he doesn't take right energy in, it won't come out and express itself anywhere.

It's kind of like expecting water to come out of a hose when it's not attached to a faucet. Sure, a little water that was left over in the hose may trickle out; but that's it.

Because of this condition, men have an objective responsibility to do the work, the inner work, that is necessary to open themselves to divine influences. When they turn towards the material, in the pursuit of the material, these divine influences are weak, if they are present at all, and none of them can reach the individual, the society, or the planets, the solar system, in order to create a rightly ordered condition.

 We have this Divine part, this Essence, this spark of Divinity, within us.  Our material being itself is formed around this core of heavenly emanation. Gurdjieff openly grappled with and illustrated this principle in his third series.

But if we don't open to it, there can't be any good results.

The literal understandings based around human action and morality that we see from fundamentalists in every religion are clearly useless; they not only result in dogma and rigidity, they ultimately intensify violence. Only real inner work can change our outer conditions. And yet this definitely isn't understood. Even by those of us who think we know what it means.

 It is above all essential to seek constantly, as Mme. de Salzmann advises us, to become open to a higher energy. This changes everything in us; the nonsense ends once that begins.

May your soul be filled with light.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The inflow of heaven

 The question of how Heaven manifests, of how the divine exists, and how the material is related to it, is the essential question being explored in the Gurdjieff work, Swedenborg's work, Ibn 'Arabi's writings, and Meister Eckhart's teachings. This is also what Bosch was trying to convey with his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights; It's one of the essential messages and central questions in the painting.

Perhaps the best description of the process is what Swedenborg calls an inflow of the spiritual into the material. The material cannot exist without the divine; all of material reality arises from instant to instant due to the constant inflow and influence of divine material. Gurdjieff explained this property  in considerable detail in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, when he described the action of the omnipresent Okidanokh.

 So, completely unaware of it, everything around us — and we ourselves — exists only because of the constant inflow of this divine material. Reality is transcendent divinity, manifest within the boundaries of the immanent. This is not a process that took place once, when the universe was created; it is an ongoing process that takes place at all times, everywhere. You might say, in terms of physics, that it represents the collapse of the quantum state into material reality. This is how our modern science would describe it: sadly bereft of any understanding of its sacred nature.

 The inflow of divine consciousness into material reality does not stop with the creation of matter. Human beings were designed to be receivers of this divine influence of the truth and the good. The divine influence which flows into matter, informing it —  forming it inwardly — is what all goodness in the universe depends on. That which is aligned with and participates in the influence of higher energies is of the good, and is true, and that which refuses to participate and refuses to align is what we would call "the bad," although we could equally call it the selfish, the unfeeling, the uncaring, etc.

All of the energy that man attempts to receive in spiritual work — spiritual work of any kind, whether it be meditation, prayer, yoga exercises, the eight fold path of Buddhism, and so on — is energy from this divine flow. In yoga they call it prana; in Christianity, it's referred to as the Holy Spirit. Of course, these terms are generally understood to be some kind of superstitious force; yet they constitute a material reality that exists even now, as you read these words, and is active in you.

When we say we want to be "open," what it means is, we want to come under these higher influences, open our bodies, our centers, to receive them. And mankind does not know how to do this, because he cannot do. The material cannot open it self to the heavenly; only the heavenly can open the material to itself. So, outer and material things cannot open a man to the inflow of divine substances or influences; only inner action, the efforts that a man makes within himself, can prepare him to receive an inflow of higher substances.

 Which then, as the Sufis point out, takes place according to the Will of God, and not the whim of man.

The mistake that we all constantly make is to believe that we can somehow deploy material circumstances, things, or practices to open ourselves to the inflow of something higher. In every case, these practices make the unspoken and often quite subtle assumption that we can control what happens. That we are in charge. Every ritual, every exercise, dogma, format, magical incantation and so on that we invent presumes that there is a way for us to do what is necessary. Make no mistake about it. I do this. You do this. Your teachers do this. It is a ubiquitous issue. And it takes an enormous amount of effort to get down to the bottom of what is taking place and root it out.

What is necessary is in fact a complete act of submission, a complete surrender of any idea whatsoever that we can do. This is what Gurdjieff meant, ultimately, when he said that we must realize our own nothingness. He wasn't talking about an intellectual conclusion. He was talking about a three-centered understanding of our nothingness.

 This is a deep practice that takes many lifetimes to achieve. And perhaps it's too much to ask for us to think that we can make much progress now. But we must, at all times, make ourselves available, make an effort to open ourselves to the inflow of the divine. The divine wishes to express its Self within the material, and it can only do so through our agency — but without our interference. We are mediators, channels through which the influence flows. We cannot be actors who control it. The influence of higher things at higher levels is under its own control; all we do is participate.

 It's all well and good to believe that we can affect outside, material circumstances, but the reason they are collapsing around us and that violence rules man's world is a failure of us to open ourselves to this inflow of heavenly influences.

May your soul be filled with light.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Esoteric Bosch

 My commentary on esoteric meaning in the Garden of Earthly Delights is now (for the time being) complete, and can be seen at my new web site, The Esoteric Bosch.

More commentary on esoteric meaning in Bosch will follow as time permits.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Divine Force of Heaven

 Anyone who thinks that Tantric imagery was not part of European medieval and Renaissance tradition should take another look.

 The Divine Force of Heaven.

 We always think of this as something outside of us; something out there, which is a fantasy, conceptualization, and idea, a concept. It belongs to philosophy, it belongs to metaphysics. It belongs to religions. But it's always out there, belonging to something else, to someone else, somewhere else. It may be out there in books, music, or art work; it can even be out there and dance. But it is always out there.

Except it isn't out there.

It's clear enough — Jesus Christ Himself told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. But this Kingdom of Heaven is only created by the inflow of the divine, the higher energy that Jeanne de Salzmann, Sri Anirvan, and other great yogis remind us of. And only by coming into relationship with it, by making it a living property of the spirit that dwells within ourselves, can any such Kingdom arise or be expressed.

 It is a domain, indeed, but it is a domain of the inner self, not a domain that we locate somewhere other than here, where we are, and now, when we are. Its existence, which is eternally expressing itself through all of the matter that exists — every single manifestation of matter begins, on and of the instant, with an emanation from the divine that literally creates its existence — is dependent upon the expression of Being.

What is the reality of Being? All manifested reality is Being; and yet conscious Being, which is what mankind has the opportunity to express, is Being that knows itself in a new way.

This is the responsibility of mankind — to become available to a higher force, which can express itself through him. The whole point of understanding levels is that there are higher forces that influence material reality as we experience it. Everything related to the sacred, the holy, something bigger and more meaningful to man, is actually an intuition of this fact. Mankind ignores this fact at his peril, which is why things go so terribly wrong on this planet. When men live only at the level of the material, the self-reflexive nature of the action causes it to consume itself.

A man or woman who recognizes the living nature of this question within their own lives already acquires a responsibility to it. If one begins to know that something higher ought to be expressed in life, and one does not work hard to make that possible through one's efforts, one commits a sin. It is, in fact, criminal to abrogate this responsibility if one sees it; it is a betrayal not only of one's self, but God.

The Divine Force of Heaven only manifests through the conscious efforts of beings who work to receive it. Anywhere that this Divine Force is not received, things automatically slide downwards towards Hell. Hell is not anything more than a place without the influence of divinity; it isn't, in point of fact, a place of punishment.  Unfortunately, things tend to go in that direction just by doing nothing. No actual evil action is necessary; just a failure to make effort. More bad things happen by passivity and accident than will ever take place by conspiracy.

If one ends up in Hell, one has done so not only voluntarily, but in a certain sense, intentionally, since any intention that does not go towards the Divine automatically slides away from it. You'll note that Gurdjieff himself said to Ouspensky that souls go to hell. Swedenborg noted that souls end up in Hell because that's where they want to be; not because God has rejected them. In fact, God cannot reject souls. Souls can only reject God.

 The only reason that there is weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell is because that is the way souls who reject God prefer to behave. They create their own conditions in Hell, not conditions imposed upon them by devils or an uncaring God. The weeping and gnashing of teeth exists simply because that's how people carry on when they have no influence of divinity, or the good, in them. Their action produces terrible things, and they tolerate these conditions, because it is the way they believe things ought to be. They are even willing to take action to keep conditions around them this way, because in their mind, those conditions are good and right.

 It's fairly easy, if you think about this for a minute, to identify people like this all around you, living life in exactly this way, today. These are the exact individuals that Gurdjieff referred to as Hasnamuss individuals.

 The need for divine influences is evident to every right-thinking human being, and we will be exploring this question in the next series of posts. It is probably one of the most important questions facing mankind today, which makes it deserving of extended treatment.

May your soul be filled with light.




Saturday, January 19, 2013

Inflow

The whole point of all inner work, as every esoteric master from Meister Eckhart to Ibn Arabi and Swedenborg makes clear, is the receiving of the divine within the vessel of the body.

No wonder Gurdjieff called what blocked this the organ Kundabuffer; Kunda, after all, means vessel in Sanskrit, and the organ blocked the vessel. Divine influences could not flow in; man was cut off from God. The word that he chose was in fact quite perfect.

Sri Anirvan's Inner Yoga is a fairly contemporary source that discusses the matter of receiving divine energy within the cellular structure of the body; and certainly, Jeanne de Salzmann was acutely aware of the need for this action in order for an individual to develop. The Reality of Being is the most contemporary source we have available for teaching on this; and every age receives the teaching it needs from people of that age.  The authorities of de Salzmann and Anirvan hence offer the most appropriate work in this area for our own generation.

In Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg— a largely unrecognized but entirely extraordinary master to whom the world owes a very, very great deal— called this process inflow. Like Gurdjieff, he explained that everything is material; and the receipt of divine influences by the material — the penetration of the material by the divine, another fundamental principle of Gurdjieff's cosmology — was the essential necessary action in life, according to his views and understanding.

We exist in order to receive this inflow. Reality is created by the divine; and unless the material that we consist of is influenced directly by it, by the inward receiving of the material, we cannot change, because only this force can produce true change. Matter, and everything that arises, exists, and takes place as a consequence of it, is fundamentally unable to affect itself, because it is not its own source of origin. It originates in the divine, and only the divine can influence it.

This means that a man who has no inner connection, who does not have real information in him — that is, that which is inwardly formed by the divine — can do nothing. This is one of the many esoteric meanings of the saying, "Man cannot do." Man, as he exists, exists only as an expression of the divine. He is not himself; as Ibn Arabi would say, he is no more than a manifestation of one of the innumerable names of God. Man, in other words, is an effect.

 The material cannot affect the material; they are of equal value and force. It's the same thing as a man trying to lift himself up off the ground with his own hands. Only the inflow that creates the material, the influence of divinity, can change what takes place in the material world, because it is an original cause, not an effect. Bosch's painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, which I covered in an earlier post, was all about divine influence and what happens when it doesn't reach man in the right way. What we are left with looks like hell to us, but, actually it's just earth, the way it is now.

 We understand from the above that the divine influence can, with inner work, be expressed through the body, and thus emanate from the action of man; this is what Gurdjieff meant when he said that there were those who could heal with the force of their magnetism, and so on. In each case, it is not man's action that he was describing: it was the emanation of the divine, finding expression through a vessel properly prepared.

 This question of preparation is critical. Ibn 'Arabi,  Swedenborg, Gurdjieff, and de Salzmann  all empathetically insisted that a man can only receive of divinity what he is prepared to receive; nothing more. Gurdjieff reminded Ouspensky of this when he told him that people always wanted to have Jesus be their teacher — but no one was ready for Jesus to be their teacher, they were not at that level.

 One must carefully attend to the material de Salzmann offers us on the question of how to prepare ourselves. Without this work of preparation, there is no possibility of receiving the influences of the divine within us.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bosch and Swedenborg

The Bosch resource page has been moved to its own web address at www.esotericbosch.com

The Esoteric Bosch

A number of additional essays on Bosch and his esoteric symbolism are underway. Today, you might want to check out the essay on Bosch and Swedenborg.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Drawing maps

It might be said that everything that is written, all the territory that one tries to cover, is drawing a map of some kind. This piece of territory called life arises before me, demanding that I inhabit it and explore it.

Yet it's terra incognito; and what defines it as an unknown land is not a space that it occupies — which, paradoxically, can be known, since it is geographic and physical — but time itself. The unknown is not rendered in space, but in time; and although time forever pivots at the cusp of the known, which has already passed, it is poised forever on the edge of the unknown.

Trying to puzzle out the meaning of one's life circumstances as one perpetually inhabits this place where one confronts an unknown future, if one is honest with oneself, one doesn't know. I'm forever limited; and my limitations arise just as much from what I have already known, and assume will be true from here on, as from what I don't know. I'm constrained on either side.

Yet here I am, trying to understand who I am and what I am.

Is it any wonder that I spend each morning in prayer, asking for help? Each day I awaken to my own helplessness. It's initially discouraging; I never know whether I will have the capacity to meet the day in a right way. I don't know whether I have the capacity to be a good person or not. That's always a question. I don't know how to treat other people; I don't manage my relationships well all the time. So I see all these things about myself which I document; and yet, in the end, they don't answer my question either.

This isn't a personal condition. The condition is not only common to all human beings, it is an essential and fundamental condition for all of material Being. Ever since it was created, the entire forward movement of the universe through time has stood always between the known of its former Self and the unknown of its future Self. It is said, by Ibn 'Arabi, that everything is already known in the mind of God, even the future; and this is true, so far as I can tell. Yet it's small comfort to a man who does not trust.

Epictetus maintained that the only thing I can have an effect on is my attitude; that, in general, external things are not within my power. In a sense, he argued, like Ibn 'Arabi, that everything is the Will of God alone. Only alignment with that Will can bring proper sense to my condition.

Yet something radical would have to take place for such a true alignment to exist; and I see that this penetration to the root of Being is not in me. I am not prepared enough; and a man can only receive what he is prepared for. So this work within time, this mapping of life, is a perpetual state of preparation. Yet even that insight becomes a mystery to me; because I don't know exactly what I am preparing for.

A few glimmers of light come in under the door; but what lies beyond it is unknown.

In the end, I only pray to understand.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The wholeness of life

It's difficult for me to convey this understanding of how the soul is made of the wholeness of life, and all of the action in it.

The sacred cannot be segregated; yet everything we do arises from the understanding that the coarse has to be separated from the fine, and the sacred has to somehow be segregated and made "special."

 I think perhaps this is because our understanding of coarseness and fineness is an outward one, and is not understood in relationship to the question of the inner Self and the Soul. Inevitably, everything that is born in our minds segregates outwardly; we classify, we sort things out, we pop them into little boxes marked with their names. We do this self righteously, presuming that we are protectors of a tradition, or understanders of it who understand better than the rest.

 It almost doesn't matter who we are or which tradition it is, does it? Always, this outward action and outward understanding gains strength, while the inner understanding, the separation of the coarse from the fine which pertains to the soul, is neglected. Our attachment to outer things is so strong that we believe in this life as though we would be in it forever; when actually, everything it has in it is very temporary. Only the information — the inward formation of the soul — really matters; and yet who attends to that, in this age of magical technologies? A small thing like the leaf of a plant, which might bring a great understanding if it were seen in the right way, means little or nothing to us these days. We know much about finances, but little about wealth.

The wholeness of life forms the soul; it is everything, not the parts that are segregated by us and set aside as special. The idea of Gelichgültigkeit, equanimity, all things being equal, should apply to outward life and its influences; yet this is just a theory in me. It's only with contact arising through finer forces, which are the only mediator of true understanding, that I can see how theoretical I am about this. Only if the actual higher substances that are needed enter and find correspondence in my psyche do I begin to understand properly. These enter physically; they are vibrations from a higher level. They arrive uniquely, specifically, and without announcements. They are a matter between God and man as unique individuals, not institutions.

In a conversation with a good friend (who is, coincidentally, a professor of philosophy) yesterday, we discussed the question of the un-manifest — the investigation of that which lies beyond appearances. Somehow, the search for the inner Self, the creation and nurture of the soul, all move in the direction of the un-manifest, what lies beyond the cloud of unknowing. Attached to the wholeness of life in its outward sense—unconscious, unmindful, thoughtless towards a higher principle—movement in this direction can't take place. Yet, paradoxically, it's only the wholeness of life that even makes movement possible — creation itself naturally serves the uncreated, acting as a crucible in which manifestation made conscious attempts to move towards the unknown which gave birth to it.

So without the wholeness of life made True through what is manifest, there is no path towards the un-manifest.

Ibn 'Arabi states that the un-manifest, the Transcendent, the Reality can never be known; it is a law. Yet at the same time, he cites knowing as the highest principle within the manifest. Knowing, in its highest form, does not segregate; it just knows. Perhaps we might call it seeing. All of the outward action exists objectively; it is the inner action of the unique subjective that resolves the contradiction between  the ego and the soul, separates the coarse impressions of the ego from the finer ones of the soul, and draws distinctions not in the value of the outer world and its material, but the distinctions of the inner world and our perception of life.

 Discrimination arises through the ingestion of all of life, and of the separation of my own attitudes from themselves. This is a sacred action; it involves a fineness of attention and an active intention of the moment, within.

 If this doesn't happen, outer action and the outer world mean nothing. The greatest events with the largest amounts of force are insignificant in comparison to a man or woman's responsibility in this area of inner action.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

On the meaning of created things, and the emptiness of numbers

The fallacy of both science and atheism is that they believe created things can impart meaning to themselves.

Meaning is not a relative thing; it either exists, or it doesn't. Already, when we use the word, we know that it exists; it is an a priori question, much like Heidegger's question of Being. In both cases, we know that there is such a thing; but we don't understand it very well. Heidegger appreciated such problems; he investigated the question of Being at great length in order to try and understand it. In the same way, one can question meaning; it occupies similar territory.

 To argue that intrinsic meaning begins and ends with physical laws is not enough. Physical laws are rooted in mathematics, which is in itself a system of meaning. Although it may explain the logic behind interactions in the known universe, it can't explain their implications. It cannot, furthermore, explain its own implication. Meaning thus occupies a piece of territory that is higher, perhaps, than any other property of the universe besides Being itself.

 One might argue that it is of an even higher priority to human beings, since every man searches for meaning in one way or another, although not every man searches for Being. Men assume they have Being (an assumption, it turns out, that is true only within limited parameters) as a given; the struggle for meaning is another question, never taken for granted, and leading to all kinds of interactions, both good ones and bad ones.

Essentially, my argument is that meaning cannot be imparted by the things themselves. Meaning emanates from a higher level. Meaning, in other words, is invested within God, within a higher set of principles at a higher level. Swedenborg argued that this particular set of higher principles, substantial forces, had at its pinnacle the force of Divine Love and Wisdom, which are congruent and simultaneous forces. Al 'Arabi, working many centuries earlier and within an Islamic, not Christian, theosophical and philosophical matrix, reached very similar conclusions.

 Gurdjieff indubitably believed that man had the capacity to sense these higher forces, a capacity he implied was resident in man's higher centers. (This is not just hypothesis; it's a fact.) The lower forces of ordinary love and knowledge which pervade every aspect of human life (even scientists and atheists  seek to know things, and fall in love) are reflections of those higher forces. Each manifestation on a lower level is, in fact, a mirrored proposition of an equally true thing on a higher level. (Swedenborg covered this subject, as well, at length in his fascinating chapter on levels in Divine Love and Wisdom.)

Here's the basic principle: Meaning cannot be imparted by lower forces, only by higher ones.  A quartz crystal cannot impart the meaning of "quartz crystal" to itself. It takes a human being, a creature of a higher order, to do that. So if a man wants to search for meaning, he cannot search for the meaning of things within the things themselves; it always lies outside of them, as should be evident. The exact location of meaning, furthermore, is always in the perception of the conscious individual or force perceiving the thing— which lies at a higher level.  perception, it turns out, is at a different level than that of what is perceived.

This conscious force of perception is actually an expression of the divine.

God sees.

 This means that every instance of consciousness, be it bug or be it Einstein, is actually the determinant of meaning; meaning arises as an inevitable consequence of the intersection between material and consciousness. If we take material as the ordinary world, and consciousness as God, perhaps it gives us an inkling as to why the universe was created: it was intended to create meaning, which is a property only earned through relationship, that is, a reciprocal exchange of substances.

Al 'Arabi plumbed the depths of this question in his exploration of the names of God; meanings, it turns out, are definable and consistent throughout the universe. The attributes of God (he claims there are 99) operate universally, and cannot be changed by arbitrary imposition of new systems. They are, in other words, roughly equivalent to our understanding of mathematics and physics; in a nutshell, they represent Gurdjieff's laws. The difference is that they impart not only a value system regulating physical forces; they also impart a set of emotional qualities to the universe.

These emotional qualities have, for us, familiar names: mercy, love, compassion, knowledge, wisdom, wrath, and so on. Each one imparts a different level of meaning on physical reality, which cannot be measured by instruments or numbers alone.

There are never going to be any instruments that can measure how much mercy has been expressed in an individual, a situation, or society. This is where science and atheism fail; and why they will never be enough to describe the meaning of created things.

The only instrument which can measure such things is consciousness.

May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Garden of Earthly Delights


The commentary on Bosch's use of symbolism is now available.  Click on the link to go to the main page.

 Some readers  may wonder why I've put such great effort into offering others my insights into this painting.

When I was nine years old, my parents took me to the Prado in Madrid, where I first saw the work (The Garden of Earthly Delightsin person. Absolutely stunned by its imagery, I spent over an hour in front of it. As a matter of fact, this piece of art is definitely what launched my inner search for Self, although I didn't exactly know that was what it was called when the painting fell deep into me as an impression, and began to work on my psyche in mysterious ways. It began, in my essence, a process of questioning: what does life mean? Even at the age of nine, I could see, we don't understand that.

This artwork made that question a living thing inside me.

Above all, the painting represents a challenge to what we believe to be true. And those with the patience to go through all of my commentaries will understand why I say that. Some claim that it's not possible to interpret all of the symbolic elements in a coherent environment and timeline, but that is patently untrue, as I prove in my commentaries. This painting represents a single, whole thought — not a series of disjointed images. The trick is that one has to understand the overall thrust of esoteric philosophy in general in order to understand its message, which has a universal meaning pertaining to our inner lives.

Art critics, historians, and academics don't study these questions, so of course for centuries they have been unable to interpret the painting properly. In terms of explanation, it probably would have fared better had students of metaphysics and philosophy tackled it much sooner.

 Here's the background story: Last Christmas Eve, in an unexpected epiphany, it suddenly struck me that the painting bears an unexpectedly close relationship to Gurdjieff's magnum opus, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

This impression entered me in my deepest parts, of an instant, and I knew at once that the question deserved much closer investigation. The result is my extensive analysis of the painting, including a detailed examination of the symbolism the artist employed.

The two works have similar aims; each employs an elaborate, unexpected, and challenging approach to convey their message. Above all, both works display an intense intentionality; each is a work of sheer genius that required the creation of an internally consistent world of its own. And each is of course not only a tour de force of esoteric lore; each is rightly regarded as a unique masterpiece with few, if any, precedents.

Gurdjieff's stated intention, in the book, was to "to destroy, mercilessly and without any compromise whatever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world." When I first saw The Garden of Earthly Delights, it produced just such an effect in me: nothing in it was as I expected anything to be. Everything was mysterious; and, evidently, it was about what goes on inside of us. Although the images are externalized, the actions are about our inner life and its consequences.

 The painting takes the form of great religious art from many cultures, notably the stained glass of cathedrals, and Tantric Buddhist and Hindu art, with their exuberant color palettes and over-the-top imagery. Typically, the most intense religious art forms hallucinogenic landscapes, brightly colored vistas populated by a vast range of improbable deities. Such artwork mimics the type of experience induced by chemicals such as LSD; but, more importantly, it also reflects the action produced by what yoga schools call Prana, a higher force of life, which, when it is active, can produce visions of this kind without any ingestion of drugs whatsoever.

Prana, in other words, can induce a bridge in man that inspires a different understanding of the world; in the case of painting, it is visual, but Gurdjieff gives us the literary equivalent, in a book as elaborate and extraordinary as any group of Tantric paintings or iconographic representations of Biblical stories.

 The triptych, when closed, shows us the earth in its primeval state, without any animals. It is a picture of essence: pure, unmapped territory, without any actively conscious beings to imprint their presence on it.  A perfect tranquility prevails. Only when one opens the altarpiece is the action that takes place within this wholly prepared world revealed.

 In the absence of any definitive interpretation of this painting, we are left to our own devices. The painting becomes a mirror of what we understand; and the obscurity of its images and subject matter allow us both the latitude and the longitude to create our own world of interpretation; a world that must of necessity reach down into the subterranean levels of our own consciousness, in the same way that Gurdjieff advised us his book would. It can be argued, in fact, that the intention of the painting is to serve a similar function; an iconic reformulation of our psyche, undertaken from the ground up.

A thorough analysis of the painting reveals a rich, dense world of symbolic allusion that certainly bears comparison with the enormously complex allegory of Gurdjieff's Beelzebub. Each work represents an abstract of man's inner world; each one recapitulates a fall from Grace, with a critique on man's behavior. Bosch, it's true, may not offer us any remedies, as Gurdjieff does; but they are implied, if not explicit. One might say they are built in by inference alone to the challenges he presents us with in his extraordinary visual narrative.

Each of these works emerges into the world from an equally mysterious and magical place of origin; they share, in other words, a common esoteric parentage. Each sinks into deep, secret places in the psyche of those who encounter them; and the effect is transformational, as their images, symbols and questions go to work beneath the conscious mind, undermining our assumptions about the world, and calling us to an ongoing examination of our Being.

There are few such works in the world; and they are very great gifts to us, indeed.

The brings us to one further note.

The reason that Bosch is the least known of all the greatest Northern Renaissance painters is that he was a member of an esoteric school, and not interested in public notoriety. His major paintings were inner teachings, not works to aggrandize the ego or objects of art appreciation.

Men of this kind are prone to stay out of the public eye.

I'm currently at work on commentaries on The Haywain, Bosch's companion piece, which depicts the outer life of man. The two paintings are intimately linked, share common visual architecture and symbolism, and form a symmetrical pair of story lines about man's nature. When completed, the commentaries will fully explain Bosch's aim and intention in painting the two pieces, which were originally meant to go together.

May your soul be filled with light.












Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Announcement

My commentary on the right panel of the garden of earthly delights is now available.
Garden of Earthly Delights- Commentary, right side.

Also, announcing the publication today of a commentary on the use of symbolism and metaphor in the painting. Scroll to the bottom of the Bosch page for the link.

Tomorrow: a post exploring the relationship between this painting and Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson.

A matter of substance

Readers will recall that Gurdjieff said everything is material.

 This remark is interesting in light of what Swedenborg had to say about the subject. He had substantially the same understanding about the material universe, although he elaborated on it in more detail. His view — like that of Ibn 'Arabi— is, in essence, that the material universe is created in order to receive the essence of God. It emanates, in a concrete sense, from the essence of God, and dwells within it. Although the universe is not God, it is within God.

Both Ibn 'Arabi and Swedenborg arrive at the conclusion, very much like the Buddhists, that the ultimate nature of material reality as we perceive it is illusory; it doesn't actually exist. It is a reflection, a mirror, of a higher principle, a reflected image of God within God.

 Leaving that metaphysical principle aside for a moment — perhaps we will return to it at a later time — let's take a look at a few of the comments Swedenborg makes in Divine Love and Wisdom.

"Divine love and wisdom is substance and is form. The everyday concept of love and wisdom is that they are something floating around in, or breathed out by, thin air or ether. Hardly anyone considers that in reality and in function they are substance and form." (Divine Love and Wisdom, Swedenborg Foundation, 2003, p. 65)

  In previous essays, I've repeatedly made the point that Sorrow is a substance, not a concept. So it is, as well, with all of the six universal principles, and with love and wisdom themselves. Love and wisdom are material things with material properties, at least insofar as they are manifest within the physical world. Swedenborg goes on to say:

 "...the only difference being that the substances and forms that are love and wisdom are not visible to our eyes as are the organs of our external senses. Still, no one can deny that those matters of love and wisdom that we call thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are substances and forms. They are not things that go floating out from nothing, remote from any functional and real substance and form that are their subjects. There are in fact countless substances and forms in the brain that serve as the homes of all the inner sensation that involves our discernment and volition." (Ibid, p. 66.)

 Readers who ponder the implications here will understand that Swedenborg's understanding of these questions — which was born of an acutely prescient scientific mind— is in substantial agreement with Gurdjieff's. And as to understanding, he said, "thinking from the eye closes understanding, but thinking from understanding opens the eye." This, coming from a confirmed student of the scientific method, indicates that he well knew and drew the same distinctions as Gurdjieff between knowledge and understanding.

 It's also worth considering the questions raised by this understanding that such forces are in fact inner substances, connected with our inner sensation. Here, Swedenborg raises questions that are investigated at great length in a practical manner by the work of Jeanne de Salzmann.

 Swedenborg, like Gurdjieff, Ibn 'Arabi, and Dogen, understood that the action of the universe is substantial — that is, completely material, within the limits of our actual perception — and that cause-and-effect have inexorable consequences at every level.  What we do matters; and it does not matter so much in terms of how it affects the material world we perceive with the eye, but, rather, it matters in regard to our understanding, and the nature of our soul. We may not see that every thought we have has a material effect; yet no bullet is ever fired without a thought preceding it, and it is not the bullet that fires itself; it is the thought that leads to the bullet that kills.

So thought itself kills; and what it kills of the outside world is less than half of the problem. This is the message Bosch encoded in The Garden of Earthly Delights. The outer world, in every detail and instance, is nothing more than a reflection of the soul; and if this does not cause us to step back and gravely reevaluate our condition, what will?

 May your soul be filled with light.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Admission


Guardian Angel: icon painting by Chantal Heinegg

Life is a question of what I obey.

When I get up in the morning, there is a higher force present. It is always available in one form or another; during the night, the energy needed for the following day arrives. I search for this first thing in the morning; the need to acknowledge the presence of life and invite a relationship with it can be touched more easily at this time, in my experience.

I will forget my life hundreds of times today. But if I acknowledge this seed, this essential core of presence, it will always be there with me when I make an effort to come back to myself. I need to cherish and nourish this energy which is given to me in the night.

 There are always forces watching over me that I don't sense. I am under instruction, and always have a task in front of me to perform, even if I forget it or have never really sensed it in the first place. It's a question of what I submit to. If I begin the day by trying to submit only to myself, to my own urges, I can expect nothing more than what usually happens. There is a need, instead, to recognize how I am alive, how I am breathing, how I am in this body, to see that clearly. The inner Self, the essence, cannot acquire a form to support my life if it is not admitted.

 I say this word, admitted, because this is exactly how it ought to be. There must be an opening, an admission, in which the door is quietly left ajar so that something more essential and vivifying can enter. It is already within the innermost Self; but generally, it stays hidden. If there is obedience in me, if there is respect, then the presence of the higher forces will come.

I often ask myself why these forces are not always available; why they don't always just guide me. But I was given a body, a mind, and feelings because there is a requirement that I come to life and meet it  on my own. I am offered the opportunity to stand up and walk without any crutches. In fact, it's expected that I make this effort. Sacred beings have more things to do, I remind myself, than just hold everybody's hand and lead them onward. I am expected to make efforts on my own, because I can. The servant who works on their own, without having to be told that burdens must be shouldered, simply shouldering them, is the one who earns the most respect. The respect they earn, of course, is first and foremost for themselves — and perhaps this is what's most necessary. If I don't respect myself, respect higher forces, respect the presence of life in me, why should the Lord respect me?

 The life in me is calling me to a sense of intimacy that changes everything in the day.  My obedience to this call and my effort to come into relationship with this question of intimacy is what I ask myself, organically, day after day, week after week, month after month.

The months turn into years. This is not a work that I get up and do one morning to proclaim success. Every day is an effort that must be carried inside me.

I must attend.

 May your soul be filled with light.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

On abstinence


Abstinence is an action of ego.

I have many attributes of desire. Some are sexual; others relate to power, money, food, or various physical sensual stimulations. Taken together, these desires operate as a field that attracts my attention, and causes me to identify with the objects of desire.

Although each has, within a limited set of parameters, a legitimate validity relative to the requirements of life, each one, ultimately, takes my vision away from my instinctive, inborn, and intimate desire to return to the Lord. Having been born from the Lord, and knowing the Lord in the face that I had before I was born, this wish ought to be primary; yet I forget it.

Even so, the echoes of that primal wish oscillate lifelong through the layers of my personality. Eventually, they reach the levels of my ordinary being, causing me- perhaps- to see my attachments. This is particularly true if my Being becomes more spiritualized.

There is a twofold dilemma here, because not only do my attachments contradict the inborn holy impulse to turn towards the Lord and return to the lord, my attachments are equally not “me”- and yet I identify with them. Whether from an egoistic (lower) or spiritualized (higher) perspective, I begin to sense a need for freedom fom these impulses: selfish or unselfish. And abstinence seems to offer that path: a path of sacrifice.

Yet in the belief that I can abstain nestles the belief that I can do- that I have the power over such things. Again, to a limited extent, this is true; yet the sacrifice I can make on my own is never enough, because I think I own the sacrifice. And even the sacrifice, if I make one, ultimately belongs to the Lord, although of a certainty I will think it my own sacrifice.

In reality, the only true sacrifice is acquiesence in the Lord, and this requires not that I surrender my desire through my own will; which is what intentional suffering sounds like it ought to be; but rather that I embrace the sacrifice the Lord brings.

What this means that I deliberately (mindfully) allow- intentionally suffer- the experience of my Being, as the Lord takes my desires from me (which can only be achieved through much tribulation and prayer, asking to be relieved of whatever burden of desire God sees fit to remove) or, conversely, that I embrace and accept that which is taken from me by the Lord -- most especially those things I do not think need to be let go of, but which the Lord in His wisdom takes gently from me, as a father would gently take away a dangerous thing a child should not be playing with.

Absitinence is, when born of ego, in this way a vanity; a most insidious one, because it presumes that I can know what sacrifice the Lord requires; when in truth and patience, should I wait, He will discover and uncover the sacrifces needed.

If I trust.

May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Commentaries on The Garden of Earthly Delights


Announcing my commentaries on the famous painting by Bosch, in slide show format.

Commentaries on Bosch

This page is part of my ongoing effort to provide quality web browsing experiences for people tired of soundbites and dumb things.

I'll have more to say about this painting, including some comments on the connection between this art and — yes, believe it or not — Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, at a later (but not too much later) date.

As Bosch would have wanted it to be:

May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

We are the Breath of God


God is here, is always here, and is inseperable from the here and now.

The action of God is forever to both breathe the here and now out of Himself, and then to breathe it back in. The universe itself is the breath of God; and each Being that arises is an active manifestation of that breath, emanated- created- in order to gather and then breathe the substance of the universe back into God.

To Be is to gather in this manner.

Being, then, is to be with God, and to be God’s breath. In living, the substance of impressions enters us; the impressions exist both within us and outside of us, and can so be said to exist not in the body but, rather, in consciousness itself, which simultaneously perceives both body and not-body. This is what we are and how we are; wittingly or unwittingly.

We might suppose a predisposed discrimination of impressions, a preference; but perhaps this isn’t the case. Instead it is the presence of consciousness itself, an inner action, which breathes, and not the particularities of what is breathed in, that make the difference.

When Presence itself is the root phenomenon, then the objects, events, circumstances and conditions are  moot. And this active Presence, which pervades all things, becomes the sustenance of God.

This means we are with God and in God in all things, and that we are the breath of God, as it moves inward and outward in the rhythmic oscillations defined solely by the parameters of our experience. The question becomes one of our wakefulness in God; for we breathe in on behalf of God, as His agents, through both sleep and wakefulness, just as our own bodies continue to breathe, whether we are asleep or awake.

This breathing in of the material experience, which is both the substance and the action of God— they are actually indistinguishable, because all substance is actually action— is the Being of God; we inhabit it blindly, because we’re not awake in the Lord.

Yet the body can know the Lord; the mind and the emotions can know the Lord. All of our parts can awaken in the Lord, if we wish.

Then we will see we are not apart from Him.

May your soul be filled with light.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Every good wish


People often ask how I know this and that.

How can I know there’s a God? How do I know we have a higher emotional center? And so on.  The question of verification is forever in front of us. We’re told this, that and the other thing about both the outer world and about inner development, about the cosmos and our psychology, and yet we may still ask ourselves, “where’s the proof?”

The proof, the saying goes, is in the pudding... and although one might argue whether or not there’s a God, there’s definitely pudding.

So how does one know?

You can be quite sure you have been touched by a sacred energy when you Know.

Knowing does not require explanations; knowing comes by itself, quietly, wordlessly, and imparts understanding unmediated by the intellect. Knowing arises through intelligence, not intellect; it does not arrive with brokers, and has no arguments attached to it. It needs none of that.

One can know angels in just this way; and when an energy arises and arrives, God is there with us; there is no need to have a discussion about it, because the true experience of the Lord is without measure, and needs no justification. It knows itself; and I am known both with it and within it. The Presence of the Lord, if it is known, is intact, untouched.

So either one knows this presence, or one does not. For as long as one finds one’s self still arguing, still searching, still challenging and verifying, one has not known the Lord, for the Lord arrives with Authority. If one reads such words and doesn’t understand them, then the Lord is not known yet; but don't worry, with work, it is possible to know the Lord.

One must become quite clear about the difference between intellect and intelligence, because they are not at all the same thing. The first is a clinician’s tool; the second, a compassionate force of understanding. So discriminate in your inner action, and don’t allow intellect to become a ruler; remember it as a subject of your own inner authority, not the originator of it.

Sometimes the presence of the Lord is mediated by assistants; angels, or perhaps even (if one is unusually blessed) Mary. Teachers who have moved on into the astral sphere can also appear from time to time to lend assistance; one may not always know of them. Yet their presence is always there, although this secret isn’t often spoken of openly in the Gurdjieff work.

So there is plenty of help out there; we’re surrounded by heavenly forces that have every good wish for us.

May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A sacred energy

I flatter myself all the time that I somehow know what is going on.

99% of this emanates from ego, which presumes an authority it does not have.

The fact is that I live in the midst of mystery. None of us know what will happen next, and we stand forever, if we admit it to ourselves, on the cusp of uncertainty. It’s this place of balance between inner and outer life where our sensitivity ought to be directed; and it is in this intersection between the known and unknown that Being arises. The known is the past; and my personality, what I know of myself, resides here. The unknown is the future; and it is also the place of my essence, which touches not just what has already happened in me and outside of me, but rather what is happening, and what may happen next. Unlike personality, it has the capacity to appreciate the unknown, not just from a theoretical perspective, but in terms of actual practice.

 Within me, an energy arises. I can’t say I know the energy, although it is familiar and even intimate; for it belongs to a level of life I don’t have a clear relationship with in my day-to-day state. It is the energy of the true Self, perhaps; that is what is said, yet I have to explore this for myself, because I don’t, from here where I am, know what the true Self is. Only by inhabiting this energy, by admitting a full and subservient relationship to it, can I begin to explore what it might mean.

This means I have to avoid resisting it, and avoid trying to categorize and classify. Everything I bring of myself to it must begin with respect. The energy can bring a sense of gravity; and it imparts a poise, a finely tuned and balanced attitude that does not rely on outward influences. I am able to reside within this state, which presents everything as a question, but does not demand an explanation. It simply sees. 

Life flows inwards here; and there is nothing more than life itself present, no embellishments. I usually don’t see this, but everything I think I am is an embellishment; an embroidery that adds many unnecessary things to what is already rich enough, and under-appreciated.

Generally speaking, I’m attracted by my own illusions, rather than what is real. This is my usual condition. But when life flows inward, only the depths to which it reaches matters; a new and purposeful Being arises, one interested in what is natural, rather than the artificial. It sees that the natural resides not in whether or not something is man-made, in a physical sense, or not- it resides in an unfettered perception, as opposed to my presumptive attitudes.

 May your soul be filled with light.