Monday, February 13, 2017

A Hair in one Nostril

Sayil, Ruta Puuc
Campeche, Mexico

Number three in a series of essays I wrote while flying down to the Yucat√°n for our February vacation.

Part of us believes we know what is valuable in an inner sense.

We understand a little bit and we've had a taste of this and that, and hence we think we value our inner work, but we don't at all. 

If we had any real taste of God our effort would never cease; every moment of our life would inexorably turn our inner work towards Him. It's like a magnet put near iron filings. The moment a magnet is really there all the particles naturally align according to the inner law of the magnet, and the particles do exactly what the magnet indicates. They are fully obedient. Until there is a magnet there is just a big pile of particles of iron. They are unintelligent, clueless. They are in relationship, in contact, but lack meaning. 

I look inside myself. 

Are my parts obedient in this way? Of course they aren't. I usually have no magnet, I just think I have one; and that imagination is a very dangerous thing. Already one knows it's false and yet I'm repeatedly pulled back to it. It is a fake magnet. I need to see this fake magnet and get rid of it because it's pulling everything in me all over the place— like a small toy with wheels being pulled over rough ground on a string.

Part of us is convinced we understand something real, and perhaps a little bit we do. But that part is dominated by fantasies which co-opt its weight and value. Seeing our insufficiency and our iniquity over and over again will help to remind us that we don't understand. 

Self-remembering is remembering that we don't understand. We think self remembering is about remembering who we are, but right now, and always, it is first and always about remembering who we are not

If we understand this one thing organically we'll eventually become very different inside.

We don't know what we are working for. The problem here is that we think we do. All the things we think we know about Being are at least partially incorrect and even many of the tastes of it that we've had are now deceiving factors, because the moment we had them, our mind latched on to them and told us stories about what they were. We even talk about this openly without understanding what it's done to us. 

We have no sense of irony when we do this. We should be ashamed and quiet instead of talking like this. It's an egoistic kind of bragging which has disguised itself.  A great deal of what we say is like this. Look at it. 

It's as though we saw one ten-thousandth of an elephant—a hair in one nostril, perhaps—and think we know the whole animal, even what its poop smells like. But we have no idea of what we are up to and it's best we get that clarified in ourselves right now. 

If we understood anything real about what is possible for us in an inner sense, the magnitude of it, we would sacrifice anything—even be willing to risk death— in order to get to it. But we're silly and comfortable, which is a terrible combination. 

Get rid of one of them first— then the other. Once we're seriously uncomfortable, something real may happen in us.

I saw a man like this the other day who had the real gravity of his work active in him and everything in him was different. We need to work like this, because our time is short. 

Respect yourself and pay attention to yourself. Don't be frivolous. 


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.


Most readers are well familiar with Gurdjieff's formulation of human beings as "three brained beings."

 My new book, Being and Impressions, consists of brief and practical discussions on the subject, along with observations about impressions and how we take them in. 

The book was written to address some questions that have been directed at me over the last few months on the subject, which helped me to understand that many folks still struggling with these concepts—even after many years of effort to understand them. 

Most moving was a friend of mine—a true genius of talent with extraordinary outer accomplishments to his credit—who still after most of a lifetime, feels he cannot understand why impressions don't fall more deeply into him. 

His comment touched me in ways that theoretical discussions of these matters never do. I felt it was necessary to undertake an effort to grapple with these questions more directly, in a contemporary language, rather than the material we are all familiar with and have been reading for many years.

The aim in this book is to simplify and clarify some of these matters. It remains to be seen whether I have succeeded. Readers will have to judge.

Interested readers can purchase the book by clicking on the link in the above text.

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