Mosaic, Ostia Antica, Italy
I was attempting the other day to explain how immediate the study of the inner state is.
Now, people like to use all kinds of words to describe things. In fact, we love to try and define and analyze; and everything has to fit into some kind of context. So when I speak about these things, people automatically begin to contextualize: they understand, they don't understand, he said this, he forgot to say that; he doesn't know what he's talking about.
So much has to remain unsaid in any set of comments that ultimately, one expects those who listen to fill in many of the spaces with their own intuition and understanding. This is how poetry works; and writing prose is not that different than poetry, if it's done properly: the writer leaves open spaces within the words and between the sentences, and the reader is urged to instinctively seek their own understanding. Actually, it's always this way with prose: writing is nowhere near as literal as filmmaking, which is why people always say the movie was "nothing like the book."
In the same way, what I am about to write is nothing like the book. So bear that in mind.
There is a place in the study of the inner state — and the inner state includes everything that takes place within, not just the deadening and routine oppression of unconsidered and mechanical physical functions (which have their own aliveness and right to life, but within the ordinary level only) but also thoughts, feelings, and above all, sensations.
Jeanne de Salzmann says,
Through sensation I need to feel a connection with my body so deep it becomes like a communion. (The Reality of Being, p. 63.)
She goes on to say,
I have access to myself only through sensation. But there are different kinds of sensation... In order for me to receive a deeper sensation, a sensation of reality, there must be a letting go in which I am entirely free and available. Instead of seeking sensation, I need to open and receive the impression of a finer vibration. For this a new feeling needs to appear that allows the vibration to spread. This is why Gurdjieff had us say, "Lord, have mercy," which opens us to a feeling of our nothingness and awakens a deeper energy. (Ibid, p. 64)
This is an essential understanding, and the study of the inner state always ought to be accompanied by this sensation of the body which is like a communion.
Within this sensation, there is an emptiness: and it is an emptiness which has Being at its heart, that is, at the same time both nothing is there, and everything is there. Frequently, one hears people describe this as, perhaps, a new kind of attention — and yet it certainly transcends such descriptions, so one wonders whether or not those are essentially useless. In any event, this idea of studying the inner state begins with this relationship to sensation, which is a living relationship. Not something I seek; but something that lives.
Readers know I do a great deal of reading. More than I should, probably. But in any event, I constantly come up against discussions of the idea of eternity, of what is eternal, versus what is in time. The other night, while exchanging with people, it occurred to me that this moment of the study of the inner state is eternal. This is because there is no time within the study of Being; there is only Being. And although I am within Being, I don't know Being; this is why I have to study it. Perhaps one of the supreme ironies of inner work is that I am always within this state, the exact state that I claim to seek, and yet I'm not familiar with it, so I don't pay attention to it, and I don't study it. Yet it is always available for me to come into relationship with and it is always available for me to study. Betty Brown pointed this out to me all the time in her simple and inimitable way, by pointing out that there was always some place where I could discover sensation.
This nothingness that one inserts oneself into in order to study Being— which is, actually, both nothing and everything at exactly the same time — has no time in it; it only has a relationship. And this reminds me of what Swedenborg said about the nature of heavenly Being, which measures distance and time only in terms of relationship to God; no other definition of the two applies, so distance and time in the spiritual realm have nothing to do with the way we understand them with what he would have called our "natural" minds.
Attachment to the outer state, which is perpetually confused with the inner, has a great deal to do with why the study of the inner state is not an active and constant question. In fact, it's entirely possible for the attention to be divided between the inner and the outer precisely and more or less evenly, in a balanced way, so that one lives both lives, the inner and the outer life, with each one of them being observed simultaneously and existing side-by-side.
It's pointless to try and imagine such things. The only way to understand this is through the physical and organic sensation of presence, and the effort to be in an intimate relationship with the inner self.