Friday, September 12, 2014

The dimensions of inwardness

The inner work contains in itself all time, all magnitude, all breadth and length. The inner work draws and derives its entire being only from God and in God's heart; it receives the Son and is born as the Son in the heavenly Father's womb. With the outward work it is not so: this gets its divine goodness through the channel of the inner work, produced and poured out in a downflowing from the Godhead that is clothed with distinction, quantity, part, all of which and the like of which, even likeness itself, is far from God and alien to Him. 

Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, p. 541

When we turn our gaze outward, either laterally towards the surrounding landscape or up towards the stars, it's easy enough to see how vast the outer world is.

The dimension of our inner world, which is far less immediately tangible, is equally vast, but its landscape can only be revealed by the penetration of Being. Not, I should emphasize, by the penetration of mind: which is the tool whereby we almost invariably attempt to penetrate both the inner and the outer.

  The mind can describe both inner and outer landscapes; but it can't grasp them. This came to me this morning as I woke up, before the sun came up or any lights were turned on. I saw how immense the dimensions of a single day are; and it occurred to me that no matter how strong my sense of presence may be, I fail to properly appreciate the dimensions of life, due largely to this interference of mind.

Without the interpretative agency of Being, I can't really see how large life is; and I can't really see how much of it is lived inwardly, in places I truly don't understand. I ascribe agency to myself and my actions; yet with so much of the iceberg hidden, it's impossible to assign any agency. If there is any, it lies outside the realm of my thinking parts.

I see this when unexpected emotions arise; they often appear to come from nowhere, and emerge full-blown into this landscape like meteorites passing through the sky. I am perturbable; each streak provokes a reaction. Yet the whole nature of this action escapes me, as do the reasons for it. So what I call "I"—my external manifestations— emanate from a realm whose interactive forces are generated by an inner solar system I can't see, except maybe through a telescope. Perhaps this was Gurdjieff's idea when he came up with the analogy of the teskooano in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

To Be is to be alive; if I wish to be, it is life that I wish to be, and not any other thing. Life is life in and of itself; and it is not made of all the things (Meister Eckhart calls them creatures) which I encounter and which surround me; it is of itself. That is, it is a force of agency, and not the things that agency acts on.

This force of agency is the realm from which all the dimension of life emanates; it relates strongly to what Swedenborg calls will and understanding. Ultimately, of course, all of this traces its origins back to the root of all things, which is God; and this is the point that all esoteric understanding leads to. The reason that this inner understanding (that is the root meaning of esoteric, which derives from the Greek root esō, a comparative meaning within) opens on to such a vast landscape is because the landscape is the spiritual dimension of God, which Eckhart calls us to recognize: re-cognize, that is, see again, or remember.

The Kingdom of God, this immense inner landscape, is within, but we have forgotten it.

This is of interest, because any inner connection whatsoever begins to open up the dimensions of life; and those dimensions are unfathomable. When we open, the action Jeanne de Salzmann so often called us to (and the action my own teacher so emphasized to me when I was young) we open to this dimension. If there is any fundamental characteristic of life, it is its depth; and without a direct and living sensation and appreciation of that depth which is born from our organic understanding, there is no beginning.


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