Friday, October 7, 2016

...Bacon? Part III

Gurdjieff advised his pupils to work with their instinct.

Instinct, in the sense we use the word today, is an animal quality, a genetically programmed and essentially mechanical aspect of intelligence. Yet of course it's quite impossible, knowing his teaching in any depth, to assume he meant the word in this way. Instinct, in this case, means intuition; we must work with our intuition.

Intuition is the most subtle aspect of consciousness. It touches on the function of the psychic centers and the soul itself, those parts that can know the future; and of course we know quite well (if we are at all familiar with the literature and the teaching) that Gurdjieff said we can know the future. 

We do this through intuition.

The sum total of our impressions, everything we have taken in throughout the course of a lifetime whereby we act as vessels into which the world flows, creates an inner world. The inner world belonging to each individual is an entire universe; and in this sense we can see every individual life as an individual universe within a multiverse of many different, yet completely separate, universes—called, collectively, society. 

Because life on this level perfectly mirrors life on other levels we can intuit from this that the multiverse model of the universe is a valid one; but we can furthermore understand that far from being a multiverse of many different kinds of universes where laws differ, in fact the multiverse consists of an infinite number of universes all of which function under the same set of laws. This is a critical point, because we can thereby understand how consistent the will of God is; there's nothing arbitrary about it, and assuming there might be universes different than ours where the laws are different is actually an absurdity. Law emanates from the One Will; and it cannot vary, in the same way that human beings all ultimately follow the biological law of DNA and its action.

I am getting a bit off the subject there, but readers will hopefully forgive me, since the point is quite interesting and deserves a great deal more thought. 

In any event, our inner impressions form our own universe; and it is within that universe that we must use our intuition, feel our way, towards the essential meaning of our lives.

The essential meaning of life on our level is, of course, one of suffering, questioning and learning; hence our responsibility to ponder, as Gurdjieff put it, the "sense and aim of our existence." Such pondering only arises when in intimate, loving, and skeptical contact with our innermost and most intimate parts and all of the impressions that they record. Intimate, because we must remain very close to ourselves; loving, because we must always exercise love towards our innermost Being, lest we harm ourselves; and skeptical, because we must always doubt where we are in ourselves and seek a better, deeper understanding of who we are, what we are, what our lives consist of and what our relationship and responsibility to God may be.

No life of any serious depth can be excused from these activities. And (turning back to the first essay in this series) there are no rule books, no standardized set of guidelines, no templates that can automate such activity or guarantee results. Because each life is so individual, it's impossible to use formulas in the development of Being. It becomes the responsibility of each person to use their own spiritual gift of intuition, in conjunction with guidelines, suggestions and the form of an intelligent inner work in its general sense, to conduct the necessary exploration.

At the same time, intuition can't become a serious part of inner work until quite late in life, once a very great deal of impressions have been taken in and digested, slowly, over a long period of time. If this is done in a right way, intuition grows and can eventually become more active. There's a matter of inner trust on the table here; and I recall, in passing, how my own teacher Betty Brown so often asked our group, "what can you trust in yourself?" 

Of course the question seems baffling to younger people; under ordinary circumstances, we stupidly and mechanically trust everything in ourselves—the classic pitfall of naïveté which is the norm for us in our younger years. A life of inward examination, however, eventually leads us to understand that we can't trust anything—the second classic trope of the Gurdjieff work, and most valid inner works, in which we eventually see (if we are lucky) that we know nothing and understand nothing.

Intuition is the part that can grow as a result of this unknowing. It is, so to speak, an opening, an aperture, that develops in the midst of unknowing. A small part, connected to the real spiritual self—Gurdjieff's "real I"— which can know and does know, because it belongs not to us but to God. This intuition is related to that essential spiritual spark referred to by Meister Eckhart. It represents a spiritual genius, yet it's not a human genius. 

Genius in all its guises arises from the heavenly inflow and belongs exclusively to God; this is why it alone can be trusted. 

Yet we need to seek and develop a relationship with that genius if we wish to work more deeply.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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