question of doubt.
In the last essay on this subject, I mentioned a loving doubt. This may seem odd; doubt usually seems either threatening or arrogant, doesn't it? In the one case, we fear it, because it challenges our cherished assumptions; in the other, we use it like a cudgel to demolish someone else's.
Yet doubt ought, I think, to be treasured and respected; taken into the heart and used lovingly. The ways in which our ego uses doubt are destructive; but this is the way of anything that the ego gets its hands on. Ego is, after all, essentially a demolition crew dedicated to the dismantling of anything that stands in its way... even doubt itself.
I said recently that any tool can only be as wicked as the hands that wield it; and this remark was meant to be seen as an inner understanding (not that my friends took it that way.) And doubt need not be wicked, that is, it need not constitute a threat.
If we observe the action of doubt, we may see how we try to interfere with it the instant it arises. Yet letting it alone to take its quiet inner action off to the side, so to speak, it acts as an informant and reminder. It is a significant part of the inner action that questions everything; for it doesn't take our routine manifestations for granted. It is not there to question the outer world, in the end, but our reactions to that world; and it ought to be present and functional at all times. One of the characteristics of the form of inner hypnosis Gurdjieff referred to as sleep is the inactivity of doubt; when it is dormant, the vivifying properties so necessary to engage with the outer world are stunted and passive. Doubt represents a form of action, an element of vivifyingness-of-vibration, that enlivens all of the events we experience. What is this? it asks; why is it this way? What is happening here?
In this way doubt becomes an instrument for a science of living: a probing element that does not, as in the material and biological sciences, conduct its investigations outwardly, but inwardly. And we should make no mistake about it: perhaps this is the essential point of inner work; it is a science. Doubt represents interest; it represents hope, it is actually a representative of our wish.
As long as it remains active, we can trust ourselves: and, paradoxically, we can trust ourselves exactly by not trusting ourselves.