Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The tiniest thing

I'm not sure any of us appreciate just how much detail one needs to go into in ordinary life in order to understand the extent of our sinfulness.

Gurdjieff expected men and women to become conscious; yet there seems to be no point in consciousness, to me, unless one employs it in an examination of sinfulness. This, then, is why we should be conscious; to see how awful we are. I will remind readers that he said, in the third series, that it used to be, in ancient times, a practice to spend three days remembering all the bad things about a person after they died; this is an indication, a direction, of the point of conscious living.

Being is worthless unless it is turned towards the good; and it can never be turned towards the good unless it first recognizes the bad, because only the bad points us towards the good. We can never know the good unless we see the bad first; otherwise, the bad looks just fine to us.

If I examine the tiniest actions in my own life, the smallest thing about the way I am, what I think from moment to moment, and how my actions are constructed, I begin to see that everything stems from a locus of selfishness. This extends to small thoughts and words and deeds; to the most casual arising of the automatic mind. It is a low thing, only interested in itself and without any conscience. It is, in point of fact, no better than an animal, and in fact, perhaps worse, because an animal has no intellect that it might use to act differently; it is born in absolute innocence, and all of its actions are in accordance with natural law. We fall under a different set of natural laws, which require us to act selflessly; yet we don't.

In any event, it's this intimate and very detailed examination of my exact nature from moment to moment throughout the day that is interesting to me, because to the extent that I am aware, and conscious, in every inner step that I take, I become aware of my own selfishness and the way that I conspire to arrange things to serve myself. Now, I suppose, if I am perfectly okay with my ego and could care less about others, that's fine; yet I experience a distinct and global discomfort with that attitude. It's interesting to see how thoroughly it dominates so many human beings out there; so few of us are troubled by our nature or our action. The entire state of the world today as we see it is an exact result of this inner condition, yet it goes unmentioned in the media, and perhaps even unexamined by modern psychology — which has strangely turned in upon itself to celebrate such things, in some weird ways — and, unfortunately, does quite well when paraded as a lifestyle of arrogance that dismisses compassion for others. Most contemporary TV series rely almost exclusively on this trait to drive their story lines. Not only are we selfish; we're fascinated by it, we love it.

Only this detailed examination of myself tells me anything about how I actually am, and in order to conduct that examination, I have to be lovingly suspicious of every inner move I make. This doesn't necessarily mean that I end up being paranoid and unhappy; in fact, in my own experience, that definitely isn't the case. It does, however, require me to constantly and in every moment come up against myself and see these petty and insufficient actions that try to turn the world towards me, instead of turning my own inner being towards the world, where I might be a better service to others.

Gurdjieff furthermore said that actions of this kind, the selfish ones, were entirely mechanical — although perhaps not in exactly those words, that is what he meant, because the selfish nature is always mechanical, automatic, and in the absence of anything conscious, that is the first thing that always comes to the front of being.

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