Pauline: following a shock, I have really seen what has been my life — empty, sterile, useless. And I don't want to lose this vision, this feeling. Otherwise I feel that I will fall again and again lose my life.
Gurdjieff: Cosmic phenomena for which you are not responsible go against your work. You can only give yourself your word that when life becomes quiet, you will set yourself to work.
—Gurdjieff, Transcripts of wartime meetings 1941 – 46
A man may go out into the fields and say his prayers and know God, or he may go to church and know God: but if he is more aware of God because he is in a quiet place, as is usual, that comes from his imperfection and not from God: for God is equally in all things and all places, and is equally ready to give Himself as far as in Him lies: and he knows God rightly who knows God equally [in all things].
— Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, page 353
The usefulness of my life is only measured in correspondence to what is inwardly formed; and after that, perhaps, what is outwardly expressed may have good value.
I put my trust and belief in shocks and my own opinions. Something horrible or disturbing happens; and I draw all kinds of conclusions from it. All too often, in evaluating difficult external events, I somehow end up devaluing myself — and I perversely think that that is a good thing.
Perhaps I don't really understand the difference between self-devaluation and a sense of my own nothingness. One of them is a destructive force; the other one is a feeling–understanding of life which comes from a real place, and puts me in a position that has an intelligence and makes sense. If I feel that my life is empty, sterile, and useless, what good does that do me? It's only when I see my position relative to God and have a wish to come into relationship with God that seeing such things might be meaningful; and then, only in the turning away from the negative.
So do I really need a quiet place to do this? Gurdjieff advises this here; and yet, he does it for one woman, and in one particular circumstance.
This is the danger of such advice; I read about it, and I think it applies to me. But it is a fossil.
I know a good deal about fossils, because I collect them. To me, they're extraordinarily interesting — yet, unequivocally, dead.
I find Meister Eckhart's vision of the question of quietness compelling. I think that this or that or the other thing will make me more aware of God, or, instead, goad me into working. Above all I think that if I can only get everything to a nice, quiet equilibrium, then, finally, I will be able to do some inner work and make some progress.
But I can wait my entire life trying to understand what inner work is, what an inwardly formed Being is, and thinking to myself that I will finally have some time to deal with it when things quiet down.
Things never quiet down.
The inward flow of life needs to become whole and come into relationship with what is true. What is true may or may not be cosmic; and it may or may not be quiet. It's no matter. I have to become active in myself and discover what relationship is, using all factors equally — as best I can — to make that discovery. It is like a person building a survival vessel, who checks around them and takes every material at hand that they can incorporate into that vessel, creatively, dynamically, within the moment, as though the action were a symphony and every instrument in the orchestra could be deployed in one way or another, in every moment, in order to create a piece of music which is entirely new and no one has ever heard.
This isn't the kind of thing one plans out on a sheet of paper. I don't sit down and think to myself, "I'll attempt to come into relationship with my inner Being and with God later, when it's quiet." No – I go forth boldly and engage. Things will be chaotic and messy; lots of things will go wrong. I will be there with that.
Trying to hide and waiting for the quiet place won't work – at least, it won't work for me. Above all, my work has to be in life, quiet or not.
I want to work in life. I don't want to live in work.