Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Organic shame, part I

Gurdjieff mentions the term "organic shame" only four times in the course of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

 In the first citation, he mentions this quality as the main lever of objective morality in man. But what, exactly, is objective morality?

I examine this question from the basis of my own experience, both inner and outer, and some pondering about the nature of morality as it exists in the world today.

 The principal difference between the morality Gurdjieff speaks of and today's morality is that today's morality is based on an external code.  It's impossible, I think, to understand morality outwardly; it always and forever must first begin within a human being, and it needs to be sensed from within a properly educated inner structure. One of the general points of the book is that we don't have such an inner structure; and lacking in education of this kind, it becomes our own responsibility to acquire it. We aren't going to find it outside ourselves; he makes it clear enough that all the problems with morality as it now stands arise first in the external manifestations of mankind.

In this way, organic shame is deeply tied to the idea of an inner morality, a morality that begins from within, from the inner part of being which I would call (see earlier posts) conscious egoism. This is the part of a human being that faces towards God; it is the holy affirming, and anything that it faces towards is more inward and more sacred. When Gurdjieff indicates that education needs to be founded on this objective inner morality, he points us towards Meister Eckhart's divine good in the soul; that is, to the principle that there is an innermost part capable of sensing the divine good, an objective morality that enters mankind from a higher level.

This idea of an energy that flows inward from a higher level, something that Jeanne de Salzmann made a central point of her work, is deeply and intimately tied to this idea of the inflow of a divine good that contains, within itself, an objective morality which is wordless and, owing to its emanation from a higher level, inviolable of itself when it arrives. It is objective because it is not tied to the outer world.

We might note that this idea of penetration by a higher morality is, from a physical and experiential point of view, an intimate and furthermore directly sexual one;  Meister Eckhart's fecundity of the divine is firmly linked to this understanding,  and it drives much of the understanding and imagery in Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Allowing one's inner being to be contaminated by penetration of the outside world is a violation of the right order of inner sexuality, whereby the divine is propagated; hence, at least in part, Eckhardt's views on detachment.

 This may seem like a digression, but it is not; because organic shame is deeply linked to this idea of sensation of inner Being, which cannot be divorced from an inflow of the divine. Organic shame begins with the sensation of Being; and the sensation of being is a way of seeing, although it is not seeing with the outer eyes, or the intellect. It is seeing from within, seeing one's self as one is; and in the end, when an energy that makes this possible manifests, it is impossible to understand oneself from any point of view other than that of organic shame.

 I will take this up again in the next post.


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