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.


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