Sunday, November 2, 2014

Of the soul and the life

It's often said that in seeing oneself, the only thing that is important is the seeing.

There is a certain truth to this; but it becomes a self important statement, as though I knew what I were talking about, and as though one could just see without any need for insight or consequences.

While I have verified that seeing does contain insight and consequence of itself that transcends ordinary thinking and acting, there is more going on here. What do I see; why bother seeing it?

As I grow older, what I see more and more are my intentions — those impulses that lie behind actions and manifestations. Intentions are subtle things, because they hide behind a curtain of thinking and acting, obscured by the heat of the moment and the smokescreen of my identifications. One might say, in fact, that intentions are exactly what identification obscures; and if I do not see my intentions — that which motivates me — what do I really know about myself?

This idea of "self observation" as some kind of self-referential masturbation which just leads in circles is not good enough. I need to penetrate to the depth of my intention and truly see it and experience it as it arises in order to understand just how far short I fall of any real consciousness, of any real morality. When Gurdjieff said that we had none of these things, he was correct: yet in order to acquire any of them, there must be a real intention, that is, one that does not arise mechanically. The automatic intentions that arise from my habit are, in large part, what sin actually consists of; I have so many bad intentions it is quite staggering, if I'm willing to confront it.

So I need to see all my intentions — and I need to see them by means of an awareness,  a consciousness, that has separated itself from routine manifestation and accompanies in tension with a critical eye to its motivating force and action. If I truly see my intention, I cannot sleep soundly — there is no place to rest my head.

Gurdjieff also indicated (and I will paraphrase somewhat here) that without a critical mind, all efforts at work was useless. This critical mind need not only see; it also has to evaluate. That is what critical effort is, after all — evaluation. And seeing by itself does not evaluate, except through transcendental action, which is sufficient unto the soul, but not the life. The soul and the life need to come into relationship; and they do so at this intersection of intention.

 It is, furthermore, not enough to just have an intention: one must have a good intention. On this particular point turn all the law and the prophets.


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