Sunday, June 15, 2014

One's whole life

Beach at Sunrise, Kitty Hawk, NC 
One's whole life is the teacher.

Every object, event, circumstance, and condition—and above all, every person—that one encounters is part of the teaching. The temptation is to be selective, to pick this or that person or event as the teacher or the teaching, but this is an erroneous view. Everything is the teacher, and to mistake it and think otherwise subverts the process.

The teaching of one's life—the complete flow of everything that enters over the course of a whole lifetime—always forms itself as a single entity that has to be comprehended as a single entity, and taken as that whole, it is the teaching. Yet one always wants to split it into pieces and then select only the parts one likes—then that is construed as the teaching, while what one rejects isn't.

To reject one part of the teaching, however, is to reject all the parts, because life is a whole thing which must be swallowed whole in order to accept the teaching. Once one starts to pick and choose one sacrifices the most essential parts of the teaching, because it is the parts we do not like that make all the difference.

This is one of the reasons Gurdjieff said, Like what it does not like. He was alluding to the wholeness of the teaching; and this is the essential nature of his teaching, that it takes place in life and that all of life is the teacher. He wanted his pupils to sit up and especially take notice of the parts that they did not like; because these are the exact parts that teach the most.

What they teach us, of course, is how we reject; and if there is any one thing that sleeping man or woman does better than anything else, it is reject. One rejects others; one rejects the parts of one's self one does not like; one rejects religions, businesses, philosophies, sciences, just about anything. With this rejection comes a kind of cynicism about life that few escape; and it's only in beginning to see life as the teacher that this cynicism, this hatred, in many cases, of life itself, of one's self, and of others begins to be seen.

So how does one swallow one's whole life, and begin to see all the people in it as teachers? It's quite interesting, really; think about others and what each person can teach one about one's self. Every reaction one has is, if seen, part of a teaching about who I am; and perhaps I begin to get somewhere once I see this.

The life of rejection creates an atmosphere of automatic and intentional cruelty; this needs to be seen carefully, because it is our cruelty towards others for which we are held accountable. None of us do well in this area, which is why we must penetrate our sin to the bone and see it clearly.


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