Monday, December 14, 2015

The Intimate Art of Seeing and the Question of Love, part I

Confucian Temple, Shanghai
Photograph by the author

I often write about intimacy; we can’t understand what it means to come into relationship with a finer—a solar—energy unless we become much more intimate with ourselves.

This is a very tactile action, one that engages a delicate inner touch. That touch is as light as a feather but very, very purposeful. It is willing to go towards what I am, which is at the same time both immensely satisfying and enormously uncomfortable.

It’s uncomfortable because I would rather stay away from what I am organically. I need to see that more clearly.

This finer energy invites me to come into this intimate organic relationship. In order to do that I have to see much more precisely exactly what is inside me, that is, my inner relationship with myself, which ought to be one of an organism, not a theoretician. The intellectual mind is entirely theoretical. It has the analytical ability to approach this, but the tools that are used to see are tools of touching and feeling, which does not have words. That is to say, the intellect can approach this work and be there for it, even interpret it after that fact (as I do here now) but it is by itself unable to engage in the kind of work that is needed. It lacks the organic equipment, the inner equipment, needed to do this very precise and intimate kind of seeing; it can only do it, so to speak, after the fact, when everything is done and the leftovers of the process are being gathered.

That gathering actually doesn’t take place intellectually either; the intellect is at best good at conducting a postmortem examination. The gathering takes place as finer energies are intentionally concentrated within Being—and at that, only through the intentional suffering of the activity.

One might say it this way: I see, and I suffer. I don’t think; because that isn’t what’s needed here. It’s the willingness to see and to suffer that seeing that gathers the honey in this process. I need to understand that much more organically, in the spaces between my cells, in order to gather that honey. 

In order to do that I need to bring my impressions to the place where they enter the body.

Let’s consider that question more carefully. 

If I am taking in impressions and following them to the source of where they are received, I will see that they are received most deeply in the cells themselves. So as impossible as it may seem to me, my attention needs to become quite cellular: I need to experience the attention of receiving impressions at a cellular level. To receive impressions in the attention of the cells themselves, and even in my atoms.

This is one of the chief esoteric secrets hidden behind everything Gurdjieff taught Ouspensky about the chemical factory; yet it has remained unspoken and hidden simply because what’s being proposed here seems quite impossible. When we’re told to have an attention, no one ever discusses the fact that that our attention ought to become cellular, or atomic, in nature. And we never hear about that in spiritual literature, simply because the question  is so very rarely understood in a proper manner. Yet of course it must become atomic, since the inner attention must penetrate to the root of being itself.

So let’s investigate this question more deeply from this intimate and cellular point of view. The very fine, impossibly fine, energy we seek to come into relationship with here is not the same circulatory energy of the chakras which yogis work with. It is a very deep, integrated energy which is received at the same time in all of the cells of the body. 

This is a global energy, a ubiquitous energy, which arrives everywhere at once and fills all of Being simultaneously. The emanations of the Most Holy Sun Absolute (as Gurdjieff called it) act in this manner because they affect all and everything and cannot be constrained. It is the fabric of Being we’re discussing here; not special organs in which it is concentrated. We want to know what this fundamental fabric of Being feels like through our inner sensation of Being.

It’s tempting to explain this fabric of Being with terms gleaned from physics, such as a quantum fabric. Yet strictly physical terms can’t capture the living essence of this fabric, which is at the same time both material and spiritual; it form a web that connects these two levels.


Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.

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