Friday, February 28, 2014

Eckhart, Essence, and Personality part II

Ostia Antica, Italy

I spoke recently of the gate through which God melts outward, which is goodness. But essence is that which keeps to itself and does not melt outward - rather it melts inward. But that is unity, which remains one in itself, apart from all things, and does not communicate itself, while goodness is where God melts outward and communicates Himself to all creatures.

—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, p. 212

In the last post on the subject, we examined the connection between Gurdjieff's ideas of essence and personality and the way that Eckhart treats the subject.

Essence — that which keeps to itself and melts inward — is, in and of itself, a representation of the transcendental aspect of the Lord, that is, the aspect which is forever unknowable. From this unknowable and transcendent aspect, there is an outward melting which creates the universe.

We are, in fact, perfect mirrors of the nature of the Lord in this regard: we have an inward aspect which is forever hidden to the outward and forever unknown to it, such that we can never truly show another human being how we are inside. This hidden, intimate part is what Gurdjieff called essence; and it is what makes the outward truth of every life, for the outward truth of every life is completely formed from the flow from essence outward into life.

The inward flow — which is, in man, connected to the divine energy that flows into him, that is, the influence he is under — is the creative force from which, in the case of God, the universe emerges. The outward flow is equivalent to man's personality. In this way, we understand that the universe is the outward melting or outward flow of God; and thus, the universe in its entirety is God's personality, in the same way that the outward melting of our inner being into life creates our personality. This is another aspect whereby we can understand Gurdjieff's (and Swedenborg's) contention that man is a cosmos in miniature.  And, I think, readers may agree; it's quite interesting to think of the universe as God's personality.

In any event, one of the key ideas here is that the outward melting is a form of goodness.

Because God is essentially good, all of the outward melting, all of His personality, is from goodness and of goodness and expresses itself as goodness. This is where everything begins; for to Be is good. Because we are mirrors of God, and ought to exactly represent Him in a microcosmic sense, the outward expression of our personality, our outward melting, ought to also be of goodness. This means that our personal expression ought to always be outwardly good, that is, of service to the inward, of service to others, and positive in its nature. Of course, we are not like that; this is part of the problem. But today we are discussing the nature and meaning of this question.

The nature and meaning of this question is important to consider in the sense that personality is the vehicle whereby the inward goodness of Being can be expressed. That is to say, personality is the partner of essence, for without it essence would be unable to express its inherent goodness (or whatever inherent quality it may, in more unfortunate cases, have.) So personality is a very important feature in the landscape of the soul; without it, no outward goodness could be expressed.

We are pretty confused about this; and although parts of us well understand that things ought to function in this way, we deviate from it frequently. The reasons for that are complex and cosmological. I will take it up in an essay in March.

 One of the signature points about this quote from Meister Eckhart is how congruent it is to Swedenborg's understanding. Swedenborg had essentially the same understanding of the relationship between the inward flow of the essence of God, and the outward flow of goodness, including the way that it creates the universe.

Swedenborg insisted that outward service on behalf of one's inner essence—not the following of an outwardly established form of goodness — was an essential duty of man's; and we can well imagine that Gurdjieff saw things in quite the same way, if we absorb the lessons from Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, which is, at its heart, a search throughout time for that lost quality of goodness which mankind ought to serve and express... but doesn't.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Inward Flow

 As I pointed out in my book The Esoteric Bosch, many of the things that Hieronymus Bosch painted are not at all obscure, if one has an understanding of the esoteric meaning behind the images. These meanings are universal; one can recognize esoteric imagery and its implications in artworks all over the world if one understands the divine inward flow and nature of the way that the Word becomes flesh, which is what Bosch illustrated in the left panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights. 

The previous post, which quoted Meister Eckhart's Sermon 29, details this question of the Word and how the inward and perfect expression of the Word manifests outwardly. Make no mistake about it; what Eckhart speaks of in the quote and what Bosch painted here are one and the same thing.

The inward flow of energy from a higher source has been discussed by many masters, including the teaching I have preferentially followed, which originated with Gurdjieff and was further expanded by Jeanne de Salzmann. In reality, this teaching differs little — if at all – from all the other great esoteric teachings. de Salzmann called the inward flow influence— a word which means exactly the same thing, if one understands the way in which she used the word. But this particular understanding is only tangible if one has the experience, organically. 

At that point, many things become obvious. One can know for certain what a great deal of esoteric art is saying. And this particular illustration by Bosch beautifully details what Eckhart was saying in sermon 29. The Divine Word, which emanates (as the universe originally emanated) from a single point — exactly as illustrated here — descends into the material world, creating a perfection and magnificence — the bed of gemstones and jewels — which is only afterwards corrupted by the mind of man.

 The descent of the divine energy and its manifestation in the material is a universal language; and this explains the similarity in imagery from widely disparate cultures who could not possibly have had contact with each other. While we were in Mexico (see yesterday's post) we visited Palenque, where we saw the entire complex of temples, including the Temple of the cross. And in the Temple of the cross, there is a fine esoteric masterpiece which encodes a great deal of imagery that reflects the Maya understanding of the divine inflow.

 This image,  a drawing by Frederick Catherwood, shows the Mayan world tree, which appears in the shape of a cross indicating both the horizontal  (earthly, or personal) and vertical (heavenly, or essential) nature of reality. The cross rests on the skull or face of a great demon, representing the Mayan underworld, and corresponding in Western terms to the collective unconscious of mankind. It also represents the root, or essence, of our animal nature, as well as the base of the spine  which receives the energy that flows downward from the top of the universe. At the top of the tree is a spectacular bird, representing the divine energy in all its magnificent and unknowable iterations.

As I pointed out in my essay on Mayan yoga, the Maya had an enormous amount of spinal imagery and serpent imagery in their art; in fact, the founding King of Palenque — a king whose exact origins are lost to time —was named Snake Spine. One suspects that the city was one of the key Mayan schools for esoteric practice, which may have been what marked it as a gem that the city of Calakmul could not resist putting in its crown.

Aside from the specifics of yogic and Tantric art and Maya art, a subject which deserves far more investigation and treatment — not because of purported (and dubious) cultural contacts, but simply because of the similar esoteric content — the general tendency of the Maya to depict this divine inflow in their own terms and understanding is striking. As I said at the beginning of this piece, anyone who knows the effects and influence of the inflow will immediately recognize it in spiritual arts. There are times when it is obscured; and times when it is lost. But the world's great esoteric masterpieces all share this in common, and, as unlikely as it seems, both Bosch and the Mayan artists who created this image (as well as the other images at the temples of the cross group and Palenque) were painting the same thing; and all of them had experienced the same understanding of this energy and its divine creative force.

More will be said on this in the March 3rd post..


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

All Being

Orchids, Calakmul, Mexico

I took this picture on a nature walk in Mexico earlier this month, and wasn't quite sure what I would do with it. I just knew that the plant was beautiful, flowers or no flowers, right here, in its present state.

Now I will see what this plant has to offer us.

All Being ultimately has its roots in the mind of God. This is something which many masters have tried to explain, but there is no way to explain the organic sensation and understanding of this idea. It remains a thought for us.

Yet the thought is in fact a reality, which is forever in expression.

Eckhart puts it thus:

When the word is first conceived in my intellect, it is so pure and subtle that it is a true word, before taking shape in my thought. In the third place, it is spoken out loud by my mouth, and then it is nothing but a manifestation of the interior word. Thus the eternal Word is spoken inwardly, in the heart of the soul, in the inmost and purest, in the head of the soul of which I just spoke, in the intellect, and therein the birth takes place. (The Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 29, page 177.)

 He goes on, helpfully, to advise that those who only have a firm hope and conviction of this may be heartened by its truth, as it is expounded by him.

  Let us think of it, today, like this picture of an orchid. It begins from something tiny and invisible; orchid seeds can barely be seen with the naked eye. Yet from this invisible beginning, which is in itself a precise and exact emanation of all that life is, our plant grows— extending into myriad directions, each one manifesting itself specifically in according to the way it feeds off the light, which is emanated from an incredible distance (92,955,807 miles) and higher source.

In its entirety, the plant is one plant; yet it appears to be many different plants. The whole concept and thought of the plant is contained within the seed; everything that it can and will be is contained in its beginnings and its origin, yet as it unfolds itself into life, through time, it becomes something quite different and far more magnificent than the tiny seed where it began.

Even now, the roots of its Being are fully hidden from our view; and we cannot see the sweetness that it will eventually give birth to when it flowers. This does not happen constantly, but only rarely; and it's only then that we see the completeness of the secret and magnificent beauty that was always hidden within the genetic code of the plant. The genetic code, in itself, contains the entire idea and understanding of the flower the plant will eventually produce; yet who could look at a crystalline strand of DNA and predict that this has anything to do with that flower, when it appears? All the science in the world can't explain this mystery, how life, photosynthesis, leaves, roots, flowers, and time itself are folded up into a small set of molecules that are ready to encounter completely alien outside forces and so fully express them, in relationship.

 Perhaps it seems a bit of a bridge, too much of a span, to marry a medieval Christian monk's ideas with an orchid in Mexico and the ideas of biology and DNA; and yet here they all fit together seamlessly, because every one of them is born from a wholeness. There is a unity that binds these things at their root, in the same way that the plant's many leaves are bound in their root, even though each one is unique and pursues its own destiny.

The idea of the way that the word gives birth to material truth as it manifests outwardly is very much the same as the idea of the DNA and the plant. Swedenborg said nearly the exact same thing about inward birth of the word and outward expression of truth that Meister Eckhart says here; outwardness is always born from inwardness, and inwardness always begins, originally, with the eternal word, which is a mystery that penetrates everything — even the sciences.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love and desire

Hydraulic Organ, Villa D'Este, Italy
Individuals speak of desire and love as though they knew what these things were; and, to a certainty, every man and woman knows what desire is, because we live with in it.

But to speak of love; well, this is a different thing. The first thing a man who has tasted real love, the love of God, will admit to is that he does not know how to speak of love; and yet, we try. Because to speak of God's love is to speak of the most vital principle in the universe, something so vital that we can barely even breathe it in and out, yet that is the only way we can take it in within the body.

This breathing is not a breathing of the lungs; it is the breath of the soul that takes in the love of God and exhales it. This is what sustains us; if we live in an inward sense, if there is any touch of grace within us, we breathe it in and out through the soul, and the air that we take in is this love of God which suffuses us.

We are always perpetually confused by our desires, which we think to have something to do with love. All the things we want; every material thing that sustains material existence; we have our desire for this confused with the love of God, because we are trapped within the cyclical relationships of materiality, desire, and power. These are the three great forces that rule over our bodies, our will, and what we think we are as human beings. Yet — no matter how absolutely valid and necessary these conditions and circumstances are — we do not realize that there is a much greater sphere, a higher triad, which can affect us, that of Being, purification, and wisdom. The breath of God's love, as it flows through the soul, can sustain our search within this higher realm of effort, but only if we sense it and come to it on bended knee.

Throughout the ages, one of the traditional ways of coming to the love of God has been through the denial of desires, yet this is at best a flawed path. We cannot banish desires; on this level, they are necessary. But we shouldn't confuse them with love.

Here is the difference between sacred impulses and impulses that rule the ordinary. It takes a transformation of organic sensation to understand the difference between these two; and it requires a new relationship with feeling which we don't usually have, and more likely have just heard stories about, without ever actually experiencing it.

These things can change; but it's impossible to just think about changing them, nothing changes through thinking. It is impossible to change them through doing things about it, either; we can't do anything in this sense, it is like hitting iron with iron. It makes great noise, but the forces are equal, and nothing actually happens. Even if the iron bends itself and takes a different shape, both sides are still iron.

Think about this. Iron cannot breathe the love of God in and out. We are like iron; but we don't see that. Iron is the best that we can achieve; and yet it isn't gold. Something much greater is needed for gold to appear, in the same way that an ordinary solar process of fusion can only produce iron. The sun has to give itself up in order for gold to be produced.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Love and sexuality

 Gurdjieff saw a distinct difference and separation between love and sexuality, which he expounded on in some detail with his groups.

Sex, he explained, is a function; and love is a different thing.  The word function is derived from the Latin fungi, to perform. It is, in other words, a natural action that takes place in order to fulfill biological requirements. The fact that it is deeply tied to pleasure is, so to speak, immaterial to its purpose and place in the scheme of life.

It might seem demeaning to separate sexuality from love and reduce it to a mechanical function; yet, by way of analogy, drugs and alcohol are also deeply tied to pleasure and act mechanically on the body,—yet we don't make the mistake of connecting them to any ideas of love... except in the crudest sense of love for the needle, the pill, or the bottle. The very idea sounds absurd.

Although, broadly speaking, objects, events, circumstances, and conditions originally arise from the sacred impulse of Love (all things do), because they have  become separated from the transcendent by their manifestation in the material world, they become, in alchemical terms, coarser. The material world is, at its heart, mechanical; and perhaps this is something we can take away from Gurdjieff's teachings about man — and the universe — as a machine. They perform functions.

Yet Love is a higher, or sacred, impulse, a finer substance, the true gold of the philosopher's stone; and at its root it provides a connection between God and His creation. As such, mixing it with sexuality, although it is possible and can at times be desirable, is not in the least necessary.

 Human beings oft have these two qualities, sex and love, confused. I think we can all admit that to ourselves; we understand that there can and should (at times) be a connection between these two things, and yet we are somehow taught by society that that connection ought to be there at all times.

Is love sex? Every adolescent is convinced of it. Is sex love? Here, again, the adolescent is the authority; but of course it's necessary to bring more than an adolescent point of view to the subject. That's difficult, because almost all of us remain mired in many adolescent attitudes; if anything characterizes the modern world, it's the refusal of most adults to actually grow up.

Our juvenile way of thinking (and feeling) on this matter causes many contradictory impulses and understandings of sexuality to arise. Examining the question provides ample illustration of how perverse our reasoning and feeling become when they are contaminated by desire and subjectivity. Sex is sacred because it is a part of all creation, and all creation is sacred; yet, especially in puritanical and fundamentalist societies, it's treated as profane.  So it becomes its own opposite, in the minds of men and women who ought to know better.

At the same time, sex is a function, a mechanical action, and understanding it as quite divorced from the action of love (which is a "scientifically correct" observation, from Gurdjieff's point of view) leads us to see that pornography may well have, at its root, a more accurate understanding of this question than romanticized sexuality does.

This leads us, of course, into dangerous territory; but it also explains why Gurdjieff often told his students that having sex was like "blowing your nose."  What seems like a cynical attitude towards sex was actually nothing more than a practical one; yet we can't allow practical considerations to become perversions, which is what pornography may do. Society's complex and contradictory attitude towards both overt and covert sexuality, which involves a staggering amount of lying (the internet is flooded with pornography, but most people deny watching it) illustrates just how badly we understand and manage these questions.

 Most human beings would agree that trying to sort their sexuality out is a tangled ball of string. For all of us, subjectivity and desire are so deeply rooted in this action that we can't have an objective view towards it.

We can, on the other hand, open to a higher energy that may inform us correctly about the nature of Love, that is, sacred Love, which contains all of the aspects of sexuality embodied not in the principal of physical existence, but in the nature of a higher energy that creates. In this sense, sexuality is nothing more than a crude mirror, a reflection of a much higher principle.  it reminds us of Swedenborg's doctrine of correspondences — actually, not an idea that he originated, although he did receive it from divine revelation. Essentially, the doctrine says that all material reality is a mirror of much higher principles; and this is an idea that the ancient Greek and Hindu philosophers certainly examined in great detail.

Perhaps we could say that our difficulty lies in confusing love in its coarser form, desire, and love as it emanates from the divine principle. Desire and sexuality are inevitably mixed; they both belong to this level. What we often call love is usually desire; and what we desire is not real love.

What we desire for the other could perhaps be considered real love; but what do we really know of that?


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love as the foundation

Following on several recent posts, including the last one, and the post on Meister Eckhart, essence, and personality, it occurs to me this morning that the entire question of existence turns on Love.

I don't mean this way in any sense in the ordinary terms we conceive of love; that is, what we generally call love between man and woman (notwithstanding its modern variants) or, shall we say, two individuals, of whatever inclination. This kind of love is of the material world and, by and large, consists of desire; and is frequently, if not always, confused with our sexuality.

The sense and aim of existence, however, is the expression of an objective or Divine Love, which is of a transcendental nature that may occasionally be sensed by an individual, depending on the action of its force within them. Love is the foundation of the universe; upon it, all other things are built.

It's important to recognize that the action of this force is very different than anything we ordinarily experience in terms of desire. Desire always wants something for itself; real Love always wants something for the other. This is why Swedenborg went to such great lengths to explain that truly heavenly characteristics are completely unselfish; a long subject in itself. The point being that the manifestation of Divine Love is the essential reason that the universe exists in the first place. It was created in order that care could be taken for the other; as is said in John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse indicates that God would give anything, even the death of His own Son, so  that all of creation can have the opportunity to participate in His care for it, and for them.

God cares more about all of creation than He cares, metaphorically speaking, about Himself. The esoteric secrets of transcendence in all of its unknowable aspects lie within this truth, which can never be fully penetrated.

To taste this Love is not just to understand that God loves us (and that He does so unconditionally), but that we have the capacity to love each other; not that we are loved, but that we can Love. To taste the fact that we can Love, which is a transcendental impulse, organically sensed, much greater than any desire we know from our ordinary state: this is the highest calling that a soul in any faith can come to. It eclipses our ideas of ourselves, and brings us to the humble recognition of what real Love is, which encompasses everything.

This kind of sensation — which is only bestowed by Grace and Mercy acting together, the influence of a higher energy — is a rare thing. Sometimes, when I encounter it, I think that if a man or woman experiences this once in a lifetime it is already an enormous event. It seems scarcely credible that the human organism has the capacity for this kind of feeling; yet, fundamentally, it is what we are made for — and, for the most part, we don't even know it.

 In tomorrow's post, I will examine a bit of the distinction between sexuality and love.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

An insufficiency of love

Flowering plant, Yaxchilán, Mexico

What does it mean to be human? Gurdjieff told his followers that "man" has quotation marks around him: we are a reference to what man might be, a diminished version, what the Germans would call ersatz— a substitute.

This calls us to question what is missing, which is the central question, perhaps, that Jeanne de Salzmann put to everyone around her — what is my lack?

 Readers have noticed by now that my re-reading of Meister Eckhart's sermons has resulted in a perhaps even more-than-the-usual Christian emphasis in this space; yet the question is nondenominational. Every religion shares this question, and all religions seek to help us to discover what it means to be human. To be a humanist — something one of my friends in the work, a brilliant and accomplished man, said he was during a conversation last week — is to seek our humanity

And if we think we are already human, that this level of functioning we have is good enough, then I guess we need seek no further.

But what Meister Eckhart called us to was an effort to see that we do lack — that we are not truly human — and that we only discover our humanity through a relationship with a higher force. Now, it's true, he was not a devotee of Tantric explanations — and so he didn't talk about the energy at the top of the head, although I feel sure he was familiar with these things. (Speaking about such matters was the kind of thing that probably got one, in the worst circumstances, burned at the stake during the Middle Ages.) But the point that he makes over and over is that the higher energy of God must flow into us in order to inwardly form our relationship with the divine. He puts it in what Michel de Salzmann might have (mistakenly) called "narrow" Christian terms; but there is nothing narrow about his vision, or the expansive generosity of his heart practice, which leads us down a path filled with nothing but love.

If there is anything truly missing from this picture of what we are as humans, it's love. I've never seen a situation that couldn't have been improved if more love had been brought to it; and every tragedy that man encounters comes first because of a lack of love. Think about it: poverty, war, hatred, hunger, the destruction of the environment — nearly every single bad influence that flows into the daily affairs of mankind comes because of an insufficiency of love. And the insufficiency is there because man's love is not real love; it is, instead, desire, with its consequent minions of greed, acquisitiveness, jealousy, envy, avarice, breeding like lice in the sweaty environment of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. Every single habitual (unmindful) inner impulse is, like a louse, there to suck everything little bit of blood it can out of a situation for its self.

Ah, yes. These negative descriptions sound so very grim. But here we are. And isn't it, in the end, exactly like that inside us?

 If there is any meaning to the practice of mindfulness, doesn't it begin — after the inner relationship, which is where all true love and true mindfulness is born — with a mindfulness in this moment of a loving approach towards outer circumstances? 

If one were attempting to remember oneself, and one simply saw the nearly infinite number of instances in which the impulses of desire create outward manifestation that is not loving, one would see almost everything, wouldn't one?

That, in any event, is my highly personal hypothesis, which I apply to myself, before I think about it in terms of anyone else.


Friday, February 21, 2014

To enter the body

Juvenile spider monkey, Yaxchilán, Mexico

I should wish for nothing more than to open at the top of the head, and let the Lord in to me; but this isn't always possible.

Indeed, the mystery of how the Lord enters the body, which is revealed and unfolded in so many ways, is hidden from me. It is as though I could see the hands of the Lord, and as if He embraced me with them, but yet His face is hidden, His body is hidden, and I know nothing of Him.

Much of this seems very far from all of the technical teachings of spiritual work. I grew up — as almost everyone does — in an atmosphere of spiritual disciplines, exercises, techniques, meditation methods, actions of sensing the body, and many skillful means, as the Buddhists would call them: mindfulness practices of one kind or another.

All of these were preparation; and yet, paradoxically, none of them prepare me for what I must eventually come into active relationship with in an inner sense. The energy that flows into the body — which, as I have mentioned many times, discovers its own perfection anywhere, and at any time — sometimes flows into the head and goes quite deeply down through the body into the other parts. It would be best to open to this as much as possible; for certainly, in these instances, a different level and quality of receiving becomes possible. But this does not minimize or in any way reduce the value of all of the tiny actions which equally inform the human body and its Being of the presence of the Lord.

Perhaps one could argue that all of this is too physical; but that would be a failure to understand, because the intellectual and emotional components in this action are also both inevitable and arise instantaneously in relationship to its manifestation. One comes into the realm of the ineffable cloud of unknowing and receives the nectar that flows outward from it, mindful only of the presence and the need to submit. And in any event, what other instrument is there to receive, than the body itself? The intellect and the emotions are, in their own right, also a part of the body; and so all of the centers must rightly receive this material as it arrives.

It is this inward relationship that becomes more important. I've emphasized many times the need for outward goodness; and this never goes away. But as one grows older, the work becomes more inner. This matter of the need for greater inwardness is, ultimately, a fact at any age; and although I ignore and fail to honor the outward at my own peril, I only succeed in attending to and honoring the outward to the extent that the inward relationship is successfully formed — formed in the first order of the business of Being.

Again, when the center of gravity is excessively anchored in the outward, this point is not well understood. When the center of gravity is excessively anchored in the inward, the outward is forgotten. This is why balance is important. I try to mark the point well in myself.

I may not think of Being as a business, but everything is a business. Christ himself said that he had to be about his father's business; and he did not use the word casually or inattentively. There are transactions, there are accounts, there are deposits and withdrawals. All of them take place in the currency of love and mercy, dispensed according to the accounting methods of wisdom and understanding. And all of them begin with a physical action, that is, a substantial receiving of Presence.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Reality of Being, per Meister Eckhart

The noblest thing that God works in all creatures is Being. My father can give me my nature, but he does not give me my Being: God alone does that. That is why all things that exist take a rational delight in their Being. See, that is why, as I once said before and was not properly understood, Judas in hell would not want to be another in heaven. Why? Because if he were to become another, he would have to become nothing in his own Being. But that cannot be, for Being does not deny itself. The Being of the soul is receptive to the influence of the divine light, though not as limpid and pure as God can send it, but rather obscured.

Here I've taken the liberty of capitalizing the letter B in "Being," as I so often do, to indicate that we are speaking about that form of Being which is inwardly formed by a higher principle.

Being, which is inwardly formed by the emanation of the divine into the material, includes the Being of both the soul and the body, which are in close relationship. These two touch; one might say that the highest part of the body touches the lowest part of the soul, and the highest part of the soul touches the lowest part of heaven. This is why the path to the self which leads through sensation is the path towards the spiritual; yet this is rather poorly understood, because the form of sensation that we speak of here is not the conventional form, but the living form. It is like the difference between a lily plant and a sheet of cardboard; both have abundant cellulose which gives them shape and form, but oh! how the shape and form differ—and how very much sweeter the scent of the lily than the damp odor of cardboard.

We say the conventional form, not ordinary form, because both forms of sensation are ordinary; that is, ordinal, of an order. (and let us not devalue the ordinary!) But the path of sensation that leads to the spiritual senses is of a higher nature; and indeed, it is informed by that same sensation of God that allows Him to enter the little finger... which would be, by the way, an excellent place to meet God from time to time for conversation, should He deign to appear there.

In any event, this quality of Being is so essential to our nature—and so closely connected to what God has specifically given us that makes us ourselves, and not another (essence)—that even Judas in hell would rather be himself than anyone else. 

This is remarkable indeed; yet in order to understand it, one must seek within for that part of one's life which one would never, ever give up—even if another should offer one billions of dollars, or all the power in the world. (Let us remember, this is the very same temptation Christ was offered by the devil, but He chose His Being over all riches.)

If one knows this part then one is quite close to that part which seeks God and knows God is real; and each of us has that part in us, no matter how thoroughly it may be obscured by our desire. 

When Jeanne de Salzmann speaks of Being in The Reality of Being, she calls us into question to discover this part within ourselves: this connection to the miracle of Being, which is directly emanated by God. We've been created, you see, by the most extraordinarily loving force; and yet we've forgotten that. 

If there is any self-remembering whatsoever to be had in this life, the truest form of it consists of remembering this sacred self, which is the only real self; and that mystery is well protected, though we are, through Grace and Mercy, allowed to touch it from time to time.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One single finger

Perhaps I have said before that God can be in the little finger; I don't remember. But in any event, today, I shall speak about this.

God is everywhere, and cannot be removed from anything, because His Presence is eternal and ubiquitous. If anything is removed, it is only because we remove ourselves, an action frequently called ego, although it is just as right to call it selfishness. In any event, there is no need to assign God or His Presence a specific location, because His manifestation is inevitable and eternal.

The body is a vessel meant to receive this truth, and the truth can be received in any part. To receive this truth in a single part is the same as receiving the truth in all parts, because all parts are whole and contain this single truth within them, even though there appear to be divisions and distinctions, and we rank them according to importance and classification.

In this way, when God brings His Presence to us, His Presence may be as much in our little finger as anywhere. In fact, it's best when His Presence is only in our little finger, because then He gently reminds us of His Being. His Presence is so great and mysterious and, in fact, intolerable to us as we are that to have any more of Him in us than in our little finger alone would be far too much. When He chooses to bless us with a greater level of His Presence, we are overwhelmed. In ancient times this was called a religious ecstasy; but it is rare today. One cannot say why; perhaps the Lord has grown more prudent as He sees mankind's inability; I don't know.

The Lord can be with us every day in any part of the soul. His Graces are sent according to His own will, not mine, and always as a reminder — for there is no other reason God might visit us. This reminder in the little finger, or a toe, or perhaps even some small place in the center of the body, is already enough so that one can actually remember oneself for a moment — and then one knows one's place.

Eckhart speaks thus:

Because of the close union that the soul has with the body, the soul is in the least member as perfect as in the entire body...  It is a question difficult to answer, how the soul can endure it without perishing when God presses her into Himself. ( The Complete Mystical Works, page 157)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What comes first?

Pedestal, Ostia Antica, Italy

In contemplating the intersection of the horizontal and the vertical, one perhaps wonders where one ought to invest one's attention, one's energy.

In the same way that all of the material emanates from the spiritual, so all of the attention of the horizontal — everything that devotes itself to objects, events, circumstances, and conditions – ultimately emanates from the divine attention which descends into the material realm. This descent is taking place at all times; of it, Meister Eckhart quotes St. Dionysus, who says:

 the divine light appears to five kinds of people. The first are not alive to it. They are like cattle, not capable of receiving it... (The complete Mystical works, Sermon 26), page 170.

So while the divine light, or the divine attention (which is a kind of light, but nothing like the light of the sun) is constantly flowing downward into the material — you are part of it even as you read this — we aren't capable of receiving it unless something changes quite deeply in us. Dionysus goes on to classify all five kinds of people (please refer to the sermon.) Yet the point here is that we are generally invested in the material, the horizontal, because we don't know anything else.

To say that we should first be invested in the spiritual does not mean that we throw the material out; but the material is the center of gravity for everything that we do now. And that must change. This is the reason that Jeanne de Salzmann so clearly and repeatedly emphasized the need to invest one's Being in a higher energy first.

Work does not begin apart from this question; work only begins when we form a relationship to a higher energy. Only then is there work. Before that, there is a great deal, and it is generally on the order of psychology;  we must not ignore or discount this. But it is not work, because only what begins with the relationship to the higher, to the spiritual, can be called work. Everything else must be labeled as preparation and understood as such.

Yet we confuse these terms, and talk about how we are working, when all we are actually doing is preparing.

I hear this error made constantly when people speak about work. One knows when people are speaking about real work, because what they say is quite different than what we usually hear; this is because it is associated first with the energy, and all of what follows is aligned, to whatever degree possible, with that energy. To be sure, the alignment is rarely perfect; nonetheless, one knows from the inner taste of God and the sensation of being what is aligned and what is not.

This mixing of the inner and the outer and a failure to correctly discriminate between them is a cause of much consternation.

A new clarity must arrive, a clarity that is divorced from the psychological language which the forms offer us. And above all, I think, a very specific discrimination must be developed. This requires an acuity of observation and a presence of Mind that is, from the beginning, formed not by me, but by the inflow of a higher energy.

 These matters are quite different than the things we can think of.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Remorse of conscience and humility

The author, with a Roman storage jar 
Ostia Antica, Italy.

This morning, I'd like to take a little time to expound on the differences between remorse of conscience and humility.

The symbol of the cross is used to indicate the intersection of horizontal and vertical influences. The horizontal influences take place in this life, within the manifestation of the material world; they are natural, material, or, in alchemical terms, coarse substances. I commonly class these influences as objects, events, circumstances, and conditions.

These elements are distinct from the vertical influence, which is spiritual (fine). There is a rough correspondence between the spirituality of essence and the materiality of personality, which ought to be carefully studied and well understood in terms of inner work. As a friend pointed out to me on Sunday, we must be careful not to discard the coarse, which we need; but everything begins and ends with the fine, without which there would be no coarse.  I shall try to discuss this in a future essay.

 In any event, remorse of conscience belongs to horizontal influences. This does not render it less important or necessary to spiritual work, but it is important to understand that all of remorse of conscience takes place as a consequence of objects, events, circumstances and conditions. Having put it in those terms, I think readers can clearly see that remorse of conscience is an influence on this level, which acts horizontally. It is under the influence of Grace, which manifests according to all of the forces on the right side of the enneagram.

Humility, on the other hand, belongs to spiritual influences. It descends into man along a vertical axis and can only be attracted by remorse of conscience; it belongs to the influences on the left side of the enneagram, and is under the direct influence of mercy. When we pray, "Lord have mercy," we pray for humility, and in fact, this prayer must emanate not from a position of remorse, but a position of humility— that is, one must imagine oneself to be humble (even though one isn't) as one prays.

Humility is thus a higher order of feeling and remorse of conscience; but it can never come without the action of remorse of conscience. One needs to study both of these feeling influences within Being as they arise so that one can tell the difference; and one ought to understand that they are of a different order.

Meister Eckhart says, in sermon 23, "It is easy to make show of virtues, or to talk of them; but to have them in reality is extremely rare" (The Complete Mystical Works, P. 169) Humility is a virtue; and it is so rare because it must be earned, and is then sent through mercy. We feign and imagine a great deal of humility, but this belongs to us, and is not of the same order as that which is sent through Mercy.

 It takes decades of inner work to begin to distinguish between that which is mine and that which is of the Lord; between the vertical and horizontal. In most of us, they are perpetually confused, and one is rarely touched by the vertical (see sermon 23 for more details on this question.)


Sunday, February 16, 2014


I thought to myself yesterday that what currently impresses me the most about all of us, in our various religious and esoteric works, is how fastidiously we have learned to wipe ourselves after we poop on others. Admittedly, I’ve been reading George Eliot’s “Middlemarch;” and if there is any novel in the English language capable of exposing mankind’s collective foibles and conceits with surgical precision, it’s this one. So perhaps that’s coloring my cynicism; yet one knows the shade of it is far from a dated one.

One thing I cannot do, no matter how elegant my philosophies, is escape the inevitability of my own negativity. 

I struggle with this because it is quite a force in me. It's interested me for years; and despite much study, I don't understand it well.

In attempting to understand this ongoing struggle, I’m reminded of the Episcopal confession, in particular the line there is no health in us. And this is, indeed, the manner in which I, personally, and speaking for myself alone, need to present myself to the Lord. This is my point of work today.

Last night, I was unable to sleep; and what troubled me the most —as it has for some time—in the three and a half hours I tossed in the dark is the contradiction in me, this inability to do. That doing being, as it happens, the banishment of negativity—for this seems to be the exact kind of doing that would be meaningful, if it could be done—the movement into an inherent goodness which does not exist in me, but which can come by Grace.

Gurdjieff insisted that only consciousness could bring us to such things; yet he himself admitted that he was unable to live up to the same high standards he set for his pupils (see series 3, “Life is only real then, when I am.”) So we are all in the same kettle of fish here; even those who imagine themselves different.

Polarity, negativity, is inescapable; yet there are ameliorations available, and those come through Grace, through a relationship with a higher energy. Some, humanists at heart (and I have a personal preference, if not outright weakness, for this end of the spectrum) would have it that this cannot be taken as a refuge, an abandonment of the need to engage; and I completely agree with them. 

Yet the relationship to an inner energy, the divine inflow, must become primary and must become the motive force for life. And, as I put it recently, this raises questions about the nature of manifestation: which is, after all, exactly what we question as we attempt to observe ourselves. 

What is the essential nature of my manifestation?

In my experience, as the inner landscape reconfigures itself, shifts in Being create new currents, eddies, and backwash, with elements of conscious and unconscious behavior rippling and swirling together in new and unexpected ways. One of the effects of this mixing of currents (mixing, mind you, as they ever-so-slowly sort themselves out) is an actual increase in negativity at times: a fact, an inescapable fact, that can’t be appreciated without tasting it. 

A struggle ensues; and the deeper the inner action, the greater the struggle becomes. There are, I see, forces that actively oppose inner effort to receive the divine inflow. 

And this is a puzzle, for the better parts of me know better; or, at least, ought to know better.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Eckhart, essence, and personality

Il Redentore Benedicente
Vatican Museum

Today I should like to examine the relationship between some of the comments in Meister Eckhart’s sermon 23 and Gurdjieff’s teachings on essence and personality.

Eckhart says, “...all creatures testify to the divine nature from which they pour forth by their will to work according to the divine nature they have flowed from. Creatures proceed forth in two ways. The first way of coming forth is at the roots, as the roots produce the tree. The second way of coming forth is by way of connection.” (The complete mystical works, page 155.)

We should note at once that the first statement, whereby all things pour forth from the divine nature, is an interation of Swedenborg’s doctrine of divine inflow, whereby all things emanate from an influence, inward flowing, of the divine will. Let us further note that Being, by its very nature, is the “creature” (creation) that is under discussion: all creation is Being. So the discussion immediately folds (as, with Eckhart, it always must) inward upon the nature of man’s Being in its relationship to God.

Eckhart explains to us here that the inflow has a dual character: the first is of the roots, that is, it is essential, radical, and indeed  this is exactly what the essence in man consists of, as described by Gurdjieff. This is furthermore the inner quality in man, and corresponds to the point at which the soul touches God at its root: the originating point of divine contact. It is also, in the scheme of cosmology described by the enneagram, the intial manifestation of the material as it flows forth from the divine. We shall see in a moment that this has further implications.

Eckhart explains now that “the second way of coming forth is by way of connection.” (Ibid) This 'way of connection' is a description of relationship, that is, association; and personality, with all of its variety, is formed by way of association. It is the outer or outward part of the divine emanation which, by the way, has an equally respectable and sacred role in the reciprocal relationship between the two forms of flowing forth.

The formulation is sophisticated, because of necessity the moment that a second form of flowing forth arises, it forms connection (relationship) not only with the outer (as personality is wont to do) but also with the inner, that is, the roots or essence. That is, by its very nature, the second flowing forth a priori forms a relationship by way of connection with the first flowing forth. We can understand by this that the radical form of personality’s relationship by association begins with and has its roots in its relationship to essence.

What this means is that the primary responsibility of personality- its radical, or original, responsibility-is to its relationship to essence, which explains quite exactly why Jeanne de Salzmann exhorts us to learn to stand between our two forces, or natures.

Let us continue.

“See, the emanation of divine nature is also by two ways. The first emanation is of the Son by the Father, which occurs in the way of birth.” 

Here we see Eckhart elaborating on the nature of essence as the daily (or earthly) form of the Son. In this way essence is understood as the seat of Christ (original, or radical) consciousness.

“The second emanation is of the Holy Ghost by way of connection; this emanation is by the love of the Father and the Son. This is the Holy Ghost, for they love one another in Him.” (Ibid)

Here, Eckhart characterizes personality as an elemental entity, or form of Being, with an essential capacity for love which cannt be present or expressible except through relationship- that is, the association of the Father with the Son. We come here to a vitally important point about associative functions, since we see by this that love can only arise by and through associative functions- that is, relationship.  It is, furthermore (in Eckhart’s view, though we are perhaps hard put to know what Gurdjieff might gave said about it) seen that the Holy Ghost expresses itself in this conjunction of Father and Son, that is, love.

We see from this a logically flowing conclusion which is, in many senses, inevitable, summarized in the understanding that the sacred function of the law (for such it is) of association is love. That is, all associations ought, at their root, to either discover or evoke love; in any other guise, association falls short of its intended and God-given functions. Given the arrangements, personality falls under the same order of things; and we are brought back once again to Swedenborg, whose principles of Divine Love and Wisdom state essentially the same principles. So in the essential and radical act of creation, Being enters the material world as an expression of love, and in order to materialize and expand on that expression of love.

Extrapolating, we can understand Gurdjieff’s premises of essence and personality as concepts that conceal, beneath their apparently facile psychological natures, a depth of compassion that can only be fully appreciated in an examination of their divine origins.


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Action of Prayer

"Seek there," I said yesterday. 

It was distinct, in that moment; inner, and of one whole substance.

But where is "there?"

"There" is where we pray; and prayer is, as Jeanne de Salzmann says,  The need to open. (The Reality of Being, P. 65)

It may seem difficult to cite prayer as the place to seek; yet where else can one go? In coming into relationship with a finer energy, all action naturally becomes prayer; or, rather, all action is naturally seen as prayer, and, if I have this insight... even the slightest touch of it... I can perhaps for the first time begin to understand what the word see truly means. It does not, for example, have much of anything to do with the myriad psychological insights and clever thoughts I have over the course of a day... or a lifetime. To see is a much higher action; and it involves this understanding of action as prayer.

All action is, after all, prayer; as all action is an unfolding of divine will that perpetually opens itself in submission to the action of divine Grace and Mercy. Each and every unfolding is a turning towards the Lord; we don't see this because the inner action that ought to reveal it is obscured. One can come up with many explanations for why; the chief culprit, as Gurdjieff and de Salzmann would have it, is tension, and yet when we peel off the skin of that orange we discover that nearly everything we do is tension, in the same way that Gurdjieff once told Ouspensky that for all practical purposes, everything we are is Chief Feature. It's all tension; our thought, our emoting, our physical habits. 

Tension is a straining, a stress; it comes from forces opposing one another. There is an inner path past that territory, but it is hard won; or, that is, never won at all, but only bestowed, according to Graces we don't understand and have no power over. Technical ideas about inner work: exercises, positions, movements: we all want a magic ritual to prepare us, when in fact I think the preparation is only in suffering; only in that emotional territory that ruthlessly—yet so very gently—exposes what we really are.

I continually turn to prayer these days, because I don't know where else to go. An education is needed; but I'm no educator. Compassion is needed, but I'm not compassionate. And loving kindness—well, that, too, is necessary, but I don;'t know much about that either.

There is a point of work where prayer takes me past imagination and into the heart of the matter. It's there that I can perhaps catch an occasional glimpse of what I am. 

Face to face with my own helplessness: that's opening. 

And it's all I really have to offer.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ice Cream

Yesterday, I said that we lack a physical, substantial, and essential connection to the energy which inwardly forms an understanding of sensation.

This is an important point, because without this connection we always and forever lack the impetus, the force of movement created by what is called wish in inner work. If my connection to a higher energy is frustrated or in any way not present, there is no real wish; for the wish for God does not come from the taste of other things.

One has to taste God in order to wish for God.

No one who has never eaten ice cream can wish and yearn and long for the taste of ice cream; it's unknown. Yet if one tastes ice cream one may develop an insatiable craving for it.

God is something like ice cream, but not much. One may taste ice cream and yet still not develop a craving for it; but this is never the case with God. To a certainty, the man or woman who tastes the divine will forever crave God; and the inward flow of energy is like that. It is a taste of truth—perhaps just an intimation of it—but already it creates a wish that cannot be conquered by the ordinary things of the world.

This may all seem very frustrating. How the heck does one find such a thing? Readers have asked me this; I fully sympathize. For most of us, it is often so: I can't "locate" my wish; I don't seem to be able to find the motivation to "keep my inner work going," to find the energy to stay interested in inner work, and I forget all about it a lot of the time. This probably sounds familiar and is a common observation among those who make inner efforts.

What one doesn't perhaps understand is that this is entirely natural, and even inevitable, when there is no support of a finer energy. Only the finer energy which flows into Being at this radical, sacred point I am describing can help an individual to form what's called real wish. All wish that arises outside of this influence is a temporal, or temporary, wish and it is (as we know) a weak and basically helpless entity.

One might suppose we would already understand this: after all, everything that is formed from the temporal end of being, from what Gurdjieff often called false personality and what is otherwise referred to as ego, is inherently of this level and can have no effect on this level. This brings us to a cardinal rule:

Only that which is not of this level can assist in raising the inner state of Being from this level. Inertia is born of this level; impetus, which is an entirely different entity, must come from a higher level.

That which is not of this level can only arrive through the inner flow of a higher energy which we open to; and so the contact—which can only be cultivated through an intimate relationship with a finer vibration of sensation—must be sought inwardly, in the deepest recesses of the soul.

Only that deepest recess where the soul touches God is the place where an energy that can help us flows in.

Seek there.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why sensation?

I've  commented a number of times on why a living connection to one's sensation is essential.

Gurdjieff gave one explanation in the quote cited in this earlier post. But perhaps his comments could have been more specific; or at any event, translated better.

What is necessary is to have a living sensation, that is, an awakened sensation. The way Mr. Gurdjieff comments on it it sounds as though we could "have" this sensation by our own action, but any sensation we have by our own action is not a voluntary sensation: as I have, I think, pointed out before, what is demanded is never voluntary. And the sensation we seek (but cannot invoke on our own) is voluntary; that is, it is defined by its own agency.

Jeanne de Salzmann also tells us that sensation is essential in every way: I have access to myself only through Sensation.  (The Reality of Being, P. 64)

This is not sensation the way I usually understand it; and there is a specific reason for that. Sensation, in is living form, arises at the point of the inward flow of Being. This is a sacred point within the soul that marks the limit of the soul as she is in this world, and the soul as the soul is in God. (See Meister Eckhart's sermon # 21.) This is a very subtle and important point that marks mysteries we cannot approach using words; yet we will continue to try as we work together on this point of understanding.

There's a special reason that this sensation of which I speak is defined by its own agency.

The inflow of the divine presence takes place within this inward flow that marks the origin of divine sensation, which is living sensation, as opposed to physical sensation, and this divine sensation— which is the very same inward flow of energy which Jeanne de Salzmann speaks of when she speaks of a finer energy—is what makes all other sacred (as opposed to secular) actions of the soul in its Being on this level possible.

Of course it is confusing to speak of this, because in the end—as Eckhart so delightfully informs us—our object is to lose the soul such as she is in this world; yet this loss is also a discovery:

...if the soul savors herself as soul, and if she savors God with the soul, that is wrong. She should savor God in Himself, for He is entirely above her. This is what Christ meant by saying, "Whoever loves his soul shall lose it." Whatever of the soul is in this world or looks into this world, whatever is attached to her and looks out, that she should hate. A master says that the soul at her highest and purest is above the world.   (The Complete Mystical Works, sermon 21)

The inward flow of energy which begins at the root of Being, where sensation of the divine quite literally flows inward through sensation, is what makes all other work, including the unification of the centers, possible, and it is only in regard to this receiving of the initial and radical inflow of this sacred energy that anything further can happen.

We are wont, as we all know, to continually mistake the situation and believe that we ought to be doing something in order to organize our inner being; yet this simply isn't necessary. The inner being is absolutely and completely organized to the extent that the inward flow of sensation arrives, and I come into relationship with it. All that follows is quite natural, and requires no special effort on my own part; because once the energy arrives, Grace and Mercy at once rush in and entirely support its action—for, as many masters have indicated, it is lawfully so. All that is necessary is to submit; and this is what we do not do.

This is largely because of our confusion of the sacred with the secular; and we don't know the difference because we lack a physical, substantial, and essential connection to the energy which inwardly forms this understanding.

More on that subject tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sermon 19

This morning, I read Meister Eckhart's sermon 19, which says many useful, interesting, and even magnificent things.

Roughly speaking, Eckhart divides the action of intellect — intelligence — into three levels, as follows:

... "a light from heaven shone about him." That means that everything pertaining to his soul was enveloped. A master says that in this light all the souls powers are lifted up and exalted: the outer senses we see and hear with and the inner senses we call thoughts." ( The complete mystical works of Meister Eckhart, page 138.)

We begin here, with the action of both the inner and the outer, from within the material context of our sensory Being. They have the opportunity to be elevated; but they do not do this in and of themselves; nor can they.

 Above thoughts is the intellect which still seeks. (Ibid)

 In other words, there is a level above the level of ordinary thought in which things search. There is a seeker, and a level of thought which seeks. What it seeks is to return to God.

 Our masters say — and it is a knotty question — that even the angels know nothing about thoughts unless they break out and rise into the questing intellect, and this seeking intellect springs up into the intellect that does not seek, which is pure light in itself. This light embraces in itself all the powers of the soul. (Ibid)

 At this third level, there is what Jeanne de Salzmann refers to as a passivity. Of course we find this confusing; how can anyone find anything when in a passive state? But this state is one that can receive; it has softened. And the reason it needs to soften is so that the inward flow of God into Being can take place:

  A master says that all things that have an emanation received nothing from things below them. God flows into all creatures, and yet remains untouched by all of them. (Ibid)

 So we see that the inward flow of the divine force, the energy, takes place throughout all of creation, in its action creating, yet at the same time paradoxically remaining separate from creation itself.

All of this is a work of love, that is, of the heart. The heart represents what is central, and love is always central. Yet the center of the universe and God is not, by itself, the universe or God. This leads us to an interesting understanding:

 God gives nature the power to work, and her first work is the heart. And so some masters held that the soul is entirely in the heart and flows out thence, giving life to the other members.

That is not so. The soul is entire in every single member. It is true that her first work is in the heart. The heart lies in the middle, and needs protecting on all sides, just as heaven suffers no alien influence and receives nothing from anywhere else, for it possesses all things. (Ibid)

 What I find particularly interesting in this passage is the comment, the soul is entire in every single member. Although Eckhart  couldn't possibly have known the terms, it explains quite neatly that the soul is both holographic and fractal, that is, every fragment of an emanation of the divine constitutes the divine in its entirety. We cannot grasp this with the mind, but we can experience it through Being.

 Because nature has the power to work, and because her first work is in the heart, the way to the truth is through the heart. Although we can discover the truth through any work, that is, any member, or limb — and I mean here, our organic body and its members,  in which the divine energy can become manifest in many ways— the primary path to this truth is through the heart, because it is the first work. If we want to go to the root origin of Being, we must go to the heart. And by this I mean the mystical heart, not a physical location.

Just as the division of intellect into levels takes place starting in the material, progressing through a search, and moving into the unknown, so the search for the heart within takes place according to the same order.


Monday, February 10, 2014

The undivided inquiry

I'm thinking about—and trying to sense, in an inner way—the difference between what I encounter now, outwardly, and the inner contact with truth, which is of a different order.

Truth doesn't have a form, but its effects on Being are effused: truth pours out into Being and forms its inward aspects.

In this way Being, which is of the material, comes into alignment with a different quality. The material, when it is informed by truth, emanates its action from an originally divine impulse. The results of this are hardly predictable and don't follow expectations; this is because a different energy informs action, that is, the energy is quietly present within action and action conforms itself, without tension, to outwardness in proportion to the presence of the energy, and what is necessary. This conformity is intelligent; but not by way of intellect.

One could speak of this in terms of reciprocity, which would imply a dualism and exchange between levels; but I'm not at all sure it's like that. There is a one-ness, a unity, in the relationship which becomes an undivided question, or inquiry.

The undivided inquiry proceeds from premises other than the outer. It has the resilience of an inner gravity; it is not easily perturbed or disturbed, and it has a respect for itself and what is around it. But it doesn't have a thought process to it— at least not the way thought is generally understood. It's organic, that is, of the organism, and proceeds from its own entirety, not some fractional manifestation.  

One might think this is some grand piece of territory, but it is in fact a small one. I can't swallow God whole; so I swallow God by degrees, and, in the process, delightfully discover that I am the one being swallowed.

It's not so bad, this thing.

In submission, in an effort to open, everything must be on the table; ah, this is difficult. Everything is exactly what I want, and yet none of this can align properly with the demand.

Perhaps the undivided inquiry rests there. In any event, it certainly rests, because it is not an agitated entity, in any sense.

One things is certain: it echoes through the day, and, at any moment, stands ready to remind me that one lives and breathes in territory marked by much greater things than can ever be seen.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

A whole truth

Jan. 28

There is a whole truth that I need to submit to.

This truth does not have any room in it for things of the world; all the things of the world exist, but  this truth is not of them; it doesn't emerge from what they are or where I am within them. Rather, my Being needs to discover that it is within this truth; and in order to do that, a complete submission is necessary.

This truth isn't of the body, but dwells within it; it isn't of the mind, but mind dwells within it; and although one could say that feelings dwell within it as well, it might not be quite enough. This truth is composed entirely of Love and an understanding of Love, which is the force that creates all things in the world, but which the world is chronically unaware of.

Nothing can happen except through Love; and yet this force undergoes a wrong transformation through my Being. There are times when I sense that I have everything wrong, and these times become more tangible as I grow older. There are some few times when I understand for a moment that complete submission and absolute surrender are the most glorious things possible; and that glory does not have anything of me in it. But those times are rare enough; and every time I reach that threshold, I hope to give enough of myself up to make room for Love.

 I truly don't know how to do that. At such moments, I see that all of the events I cling to, and all of the things I have done which I think are good, and bad, are meaningless. Truly, they are meaningless; the Lord is called incomparable because it is impossible to compare the Lord to any worldly things or to creation. I begin to see how this became a doctrine to the Sufi masters; because who can create comparatives of the worldly realm or creation itself and match the scale of Love?

Love does not have a scale, or admit to any measurement.

 I had a dream last night in which I was at one church, and thought perhaps I would go to another one where I could develop a more specific and intimate relationship with the Lord, a personal one. But I got to that other church, I looked in, the service was almost over, and the people in there were the same as they are at other churches – not bad people, but somehow still devoted to the worldly. All of them had their noses poked into books.

I found myself trying to explain that I didn't belong there, either — that I was looking for a form that would allow both the form and the intimate relationship to the Lord.

This morning, what came to me helps me to see that these dilemmas aren't really meaningful. They are still attached to questions that lie within creation, and do not submit to Love — even though, in an exquisite irony, the dream is about trying to find a way to submit to love. So no matter what I do, I am always clinging.

 The path towards the surrender is an intimate and organic one. I don't know how else to explain it. But it involves being present and trying to open.

 The force that helps this is within, and I am forever on the threshold.

I don't know what comes next. So I wait.