Sunday, March 27, 2016

What the heck are we, anyway? Part I

Marilyn Nonroe
Lee van Laer, 2016

...Didja hear the one about this guy named Mondrian who goes into a bar and throws a Picasso and a Warhol into a blender...?

Movement and relationship

My friend Paul, who serves  intermittently but faithfully as the microcosmic conscience of this also microcosmic space, recently took exception to a post (The singularity of Being) :

Although Mme de Salzmann and Pauline de Dampierre, and G. did claim that we could receive a 'higher energy' that definitely was not in us to start with! 
In fact Mme S used the gesture of it coming down from above our heads - Pauline used to talk about it coming down the spine - as Mme S does in The Reality of Being. This is obviously different from your claim:

'When I speak about coming into relationship with a higher energy, it isn't some energy that exists outside of me, so to speak—that is separate from me and enters me to change me. This way of conceiving it creates a polarity which is largely incorrect. The energy is already what I am. I am not separate from it, and it doesn't come from anywhere other than the place of my own Being.’

I would be very interested if you could comment on the difference?

“I wish give real Christmas present. Imagine Christ. Somewhere in space is.” Gurdjieff forms an oval with both his hands. “Make contact. Not to center, but to outside, periphery. Draw from there, draw in, I. Settle in you, Am. Do every day. Wish to become Christ. Be.” 


My reply to him took this form:

You’re asking me to sort out a complex metaphysical question. Both points of view are correct; the differences lie in the level of relationship, not the presence of the energy or the distinction between energy and manifestation. This has a great deal to do with the understanding of movement and relationship, as opposed to fixation and separation. There is a natural psychology and a subtle spirituality to this investigation; psychologically, we experience life as a series of fixed things, which we are separate from — whereas life is actually a process of movement within fields we are related to.  Mme. would have understood exactly what I am saying here; but this is actually the subject for a whole post — or perhaps the next thousand posts or so.

In any event, let's try to sort this out in some greater detail.

In his unusual and and rather extraordinary book "Ardor,” Roberto Calasso points out that, in the Vedic world, monuments mean nothing: “Every construction is temporary, including the fire altar. It is not a fixed object, but a vehicle. Once the voyage is complete, the vehicle can be destroyed. Thus the Vedic ritualist did not develop the idea of the Temple. As such care was given to constructing the bird, it was to make it fly. What remained on earth was an inert shell of dust, dry mud, and bricks. It could be left behind, like a carcass. It would soon be covered once more with vegetation. In the meantime, Agni was in the sun.” (Ardor,  as translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon, Pub. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York 2010, Page 6.) We encounter similar understandings from the ancient Maya, whose conception of the world was that all objects were in an eternal state of becoming, rather than fixed things (see Stephen Houston’s  The Life Within — classic  Maya and the matter of permanence.)  

The idea that everything is in an eternal state of transition is common to many subtle spiritual practices. This eternal state of transition imposes a hierarchy of movement and relationship "above" the fixed material world, which is a world of illusions largely because it looks fixed to us — in reality, it is nothing of the kind. One could easily argue that most of mankind's material woes, as well as his countless psychological and spiritual paranoias, come from a refusal to recognize this absolute fact, accompanied by desperate and chronic efforts to nail things down in one place — an impossibility that increases spiritual and psychological stress the more one tries to engage in it.

 Although we can't see it, our inward spiritual practices fall victim to this exact same neurosis. Spirituality is a process of movement and relationship in which new things forever happen; and yet we are addicted to the idea that the same thing should happen again and again, hopefully (think of the Super Bowl, Or Hollywood blockbusters) getting bigger and better each time.  This desire for the repetition of “fixed” experiences ( experiences which are static and reproducible) lies not only at the heart of our material sciences, but is also the exact same quality in the human psyche which Mr. Gurdjieff said the organ Kundabuffer imparted in us — the derivation of pleasure from repeating the same things over and over.

 It causes us, in other words, to find pleasure in fixation. 

Now, you may wonder why I go into this rather lengthy excursion on the mutable nature of reality, and the question of movement and relationship, one we are really supposed to be talking about whether a "higher energy” is inside us or outside of us — do we take it in, or do we have it? 

Does it march up and down the virtual Tesla coil of our spine? 

Do we gather it up and make it spin in circles so that we can become magical? 

Or be healthy? 

Is there a difference between us and this energy?

Stay tuned for more.


Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the clarification! Of course, as you know, no 'exception' was the commonly understood sense of resentment. But, am I bothered :) (English joke - has to be said with a yobbish london accent...


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