People speak about the Presence of God as though it were some theoretical thing.
St. Augustine said, 'Lord, thou givest me sometimes such great sweetness that, if it were perfected in me, this is not heaven I know not what heaven can be.' (ME, The Complete Mystical Works, p. 170.) And indeed, I attest that this is completely true. There is no theory of heaven; there is no hypothesis of God. These things are simply true, in the same way that the sun gives light; and yet, mankind forms debating societies around such questions, as though his opinions signified in the progress of the universe.
This baffles me so; and I realize that many reach around inside them in darkness, trying to understand why they don't have a better understanding; trying to find a way to taste that sublime contact with which God inwardly forms our understanding. It is as though most of us were cattle, put out of the shed, and unable to get back in to reach the sweet hay which we know is there somewhere.
The kingdom of heaven truly does lie within; and it is incomparable. There is no point in attempting to use words to describe it; it is wordless, formless, and yet exists within perfection and absolute love. No one can encounter the Presence of God without at once understanding what Gurdjieff called remorse of conscience; because this is the only possible response, the only form of true and complete prayer that one can offer, and it is furthermore the only spontaneous prayer is appropriate or can even exist.
The encounter with heaven and with the presence of God, after all, consists of a relationship, a juxtaposition, and a response from the depths of one's own being. Inwardly, this must inevitably call a man or woman to their knees, figuratively speaking; and only remorse of conscience can bring a human being to a true sense of their individuality — one that transcends the powerful egoism which must rightly provide the impetus for our outer life — from an inner sense. Remorse of conscience, anguish, is the sweetest of all the ways of prayer — and, once again, this cannot be understood unless one experiences it. It is nothing like the sorrow of this world; and there is no point in comparing them. Remorse, in the form of inward prayer, is manna from heaven; it is the axle on which the wheels of inner growth turn.
In my own experience, one must work relentlessly against everything that one is and against everything that the world is, and perform this work inwardly, while at the same time working for everything that one is and for everything that the world is outwardly. It is only the combination of these two contradictory forces that can produce conditions fostering the growth of the soul towards God; and even within this instruction, there is no plan.
Everyone wants a method — and they want it from someone else. Yet there is no such thing.
In transcripts of wartime meetings, Gurdjieff said the following on the subject. (p. 68-69)
Sir, I asked you last Thursday, if there was a way to develop attention; you said that attention was measured in the degree that one remembers oneself. You told me to especially look into myself. I especially asked you that because I wasn't able to put my attention on the reading of the First Series. During this week I under- stood that attention was what I was. As many "I's" as there were, so many different attentions. I wanted to ask you if there was, for developing attention, only the method of "I am" or if there are other special methods?
One thing I can tell you. Methods do not exist. I do not know any.
As with everything else in this book, what is said has seven different meanings; and the idea of attention itself has seven different meanings. The point here is that Gurdjieff said there are no methods — and I have explained this to any number of people. But we will explore this question of remorse and attention in the next couple of posts.