Thunder God, Tawaraya Sotatsu
Photograph by the author
This morning, I was studying the resistance in me, and I realized quite suddenly that resistance is a whole thing.
In order to discuss this, one first has to understand what resistance is. I have resistance in me, there is no doubt; but what do I resist? What does it consist of?
What I resist is what Mme. de Salzmann called "higher energies": the influence of a higher level. Now, the word influence is used all the time in the Gurdjieff work, and it’s an accurate one; yet the way that we understand this word in today's world somewhat divorces it from the importance it originally carried: that of something that flows inwardly, of a current, a movement like water. Let us remember that water can have enormous force when it flows. Influence, in other words, can have enormous force, if it’s allowed to arrive. Influence is the selfsame energy that Swedenborg referred to as the inflow: the inward flow of the Divine. This force, which is actually the force of Love and the force of God Himself, is always flowing into everything and is always trying to reach man. Man is not conscious of this; and the whole idea of sleep, as Gurdjieff defined it, has a powerful relationship to this. We are unconscious to the extent that we are not aware of the Divine influences that attempt to enter us. Consciousness, in other words, consists of an awareness of the Divine and a receiving of its inward flow. This has a great deal to do with the numerous essays I have written about solar influences and the substantial materiality of Love as a force,.
When I resist, what I resist is this influence of the Divine. Put bluntly, and without any beating about the bush, I actively resist God. I don't let God in. So when I speak about opening to a higher influence, what I really mean is allowing the inward flow of the Divine into me, rather than resisting it.
A great deal of fuss is been made over the idea that it is physical tension that blocks the inward flow. This is certainly true in many ways; yet the inward flow is the result of a three- centered cooperation; and the resistance that arises in me also arises in each of the centers, in such a way that when I talk about resistance, I can't talk about resistance and physical tension alone. I also resist with my mind; and I also resist with my emotional force. So my resistance to God is three centered, just as my receiving of God ought to be.
This means that I need to study resistance not just as an set of circumstances, but as a whole thing.
Examining this question a bit more, I see that I tend to focus on specific instances and say, “I'm in reaction to this,” or, “you’re in reaction to that."
The reactions are all a form of resistance; and yet I don't see that I'm not in reaction to — resisting — individual things; my reaction and my resistance are a whole ball of wax. That is to say, all of me resists God; not just some parts — and this “all of me” resists God all of the time, not just once in a while, when I notice it. I’m in a constant state of reaction and resistance, and I need to see that in a more holistic way, not just by seeing the fractions. It would be useful for me to see that I am completely in resistance now, fully, and in all ways.
I've observed many times that one of the most fundamental recognitions one can make about our nature is that we are vessels into which the world flows.
I should not just be receiving the inward flow of the Divine, that is, inward flow of the magnetic, higher substance of Love; I should also be receiving the world, which carries in its own distinct measure of particles of this substance to me. The world, that is, objects, events, circumstances, and conditions, are all made in the first place of this magnetic force of Love — it is the nature of their fabric itself— and in receiving these things deeply into me, I am receiving the substance of Love. Yet I resist it; I'm perpetually in reaction to it. And because I am in reaction and I resist with all of my parts, I don't receive anywhere near the amount of this Love that could be feeding me that I need in order to develop my being.
I have resistance in my three different centers in three different ways, each one of which is blocking the inflow of the Divine:
—I resist with my body physical tension.
—I resist with my argument and analysis.
—I resist with my emotive force.
Each one of these activities is a habitual and mechanical response to outward life that prevents me from taking it in objectively, that is, as it is. When I resist it physically with my tension, I don't accept the forces that act on my body. When I resist it with the mind through analysis and argument, I create complex structures that block the simplicity of what we are from being apparent to me. And when I use fear – which is probably the most powerful reactionary force, and one that interferes almost constantly—I shut out the influence of Love itself, which is the very antithesis of the fear.
In this way, I spent a good part of my life in a trembling, abject refusal to receive the Lord — Love itself and Life itself — into the body of my Being. I could receive this force as a whole thing with all of my parts; but each one of them, in its own way, has a fear of surrendering to the “enemy” and allowing this influence to enter me.
So I need to study this in greater detail in order to understand.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.