Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Taking in impressions, part 1

 In the past month or so, some readers have expressed interest in the process of impressions — what they are, how one takes them in, and so on. I know many readers are interested in technical matters of this kind; and so I thought we could discuss them a bit.

I should warn readers that immersing oneself in these technical details can become confusing and involve one in excessive concentration on specific subjects, whereas what one ought to be doing is intuiting and opening oneself to a global relationship of sensation. Technique is nowhere near as important as intention; yet technique is what we tend to concentrate on. Keep this in mind, please.

Impressions ought to fall quite deeply in people; yet there are many obstacles in us that block this. It's useful to see what Meister Eckhart said about this. He likens the blockages in us to a coating over the tongue that prevents us from savoring the impressions of God; and indeed, this is exactly right. Impressions are so precisely a food that the right experience of impressions is as filling and as material as the eating of sausage; yet generally speaking, people have no such experience of impressions. Unless the impression is physically tangible and comes in with an accompanying sensation and emotional experience — something which can be bewildering if it is not familiar — the impression is not falling deeply into Being. That is to say, it's as though one has put food in one's mouth, but then never swallows it.

 Think about the idea of taking some delicious food and putting it in the mouth and rolling it around in the mouth but never actually swallowing it. One then immediately begins to understand that the eating does not just include the mouth, the tongue, the taste, and the chewing, but the swallowing, the sensation of swallowing, and the satisfaction of feeling the food in the stomach.

Impressions ought to enter the body in exactly the same way, so that the whole body sees as the eye sees, opens as the mouth opens, tastes as the tongue tastes, chews as the teeth and muscles chew, swallows as the throat swallows, is filled as the stomach is filled, and digests, as the bowels digest. In point of fact, the physical analogies do bear a certain relationship to the metaphysical ones in the way of the body; that is to say, the various locations in the body that correspond to these activities with finer impressions can be sensed in roughly the same way, although they are not always identical with those of the physical impressions. This is a difficult thing to explain, so readers will have to intuit it rather than taking points literally.

I will say something I said last night to my wife and a dinner guest, which could shed a bit of light on that. If impressions are truly coming in powerfully, and the body has been completely opened to them, one encounters them first through the location called the third eye in yoga. That is not true of all impressions, but the impressions of outward life can enter there if the impressions are seen in the way that I describe the first step of impressions in the previous paragraph. This is not an action that can be forced or demanded; yet if it takes place, the physicality and materiality of the impressions of outward life become very tangible in a new and different way, such that one sees there are organs with a capacity of seeing that are entirely different than our ordinary eye.

 In the next post, we will discuss this a little bit more.


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