Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Believing in myself
I can observe this action within my own sphere of being; in the sense of Gurdjieff's principle of many different I's, and the three principle centers, all of my I's believe in themselves to the exclusion of others; and each of my centers believes in itself to the exclusion of the other centers.
I often see belief as a unifying principle, and in community, we celebrate its aspect as a shared set of values that bring us together. This is a powerful and necessary function; yet all too often it distracts us from the other side of its nature, the dark side: it sets us apart from all other groups of others. So if certain parts of me believe in working in a certain way, they set themselves apart from other parts that believe in working in a completely different way altogether; and in this manner various inner parts come into conflict. They display the same set of characteristics in an inner sense that are displayed in an outer one: vanities, conceits, and self-importance arise. This is exactly how identification works: all too often, it uses belief as its justification.
The power of the via negtiva comes into play here: Gurdjieff's principle of refusing to believe anything which I have not verified for myself. It isn't enough to turn this principle outward: it needs to be turned inward as well, so that I don't believe myself. It's this believing myself, I think, that is one of the greatest and most destructive elements at work in mankind; and this is the root of all egoism, the belief in one's self.
If I were able to see just how much of that belief in myself isn't belief in myself at all, but rather belief in a hodgepodge brew of materials injected by society, family, and so on, it would probably shock me to the core. Only with the development of a modicum on continuity of Being does it become possible to begin to see that; and even then, there is no freedom from it, because all one can do, really, is see the jar one lives in. It's like an aquarium in the sense that these belief, this personality, are in a certain sense the very medium that keeps me alive. I have become dependent on this medium of belief; to destroy it—which is ultimately necessary in order to find any real community, whether with others or with the sphere of God's good Grace—is all but impossible.
From within, there is no possibility, on my own, of the destruction of what I am. It is against my nature to undertake this action; so I have to suffer what I am. "Only conscious suffering has value," said Gurdjieff; and that conscious suffering is the suffering of my own belief, not the celebration of it.
I wonder how I would be—how we all would be—if we brought our inward parts to the surface of our lives with a sorrow appropriate to the tyranny of our beliefs, rather than a subjective celebration of them.