Friday, July 7, 2017

Personal notes on the fundamental nature of sensation, part II

Photograph from the orchid show
 New York Botanical Garden, March 2017

Personal notes from March 31, part 2

(continued from the last post)

The mind, after all, has been stealing material from the other two centers my whole life; and why should I trust a thief who keeps trying to usurp my place and do my work for me? It is a waste of my time.

I need to see this quite clearly. When Gurdjieff spoke about wrong work of centers, he was discussing just such thievery; but he didn't explain the results of that problem, which are — emphatically – that the centers don't trust one another. 

So there is a terrible lack of trust in me, and I need to get out of the way of my other parts in order to let them actually own the one-third of my Being that is their rightful territory. If one rightly understands all the different exercises in Gurdjieff's wartime transcripts, one begins to see that all of them have something to do with this question.

The feeling, like sensation, absolutely has its own authority, which is again completely different than the authority of the intellect and the authority of the sensation, that is, the mind of the body. Of the three, it has the most powerful and comprehensive authority, because it is closest to God and has the capacity to come into contact with the higher emotional center and allow a transfer of material from the sacred into my own Being. 

One should never underestimate the extraordinary power of such an experience; yet these should not be peak experiences that come once or twice a year — or a lifetime — during an intensive retreat or meditation period; Nor should they be experiences induced by someone else, where a teacher opens the pupil. The whole point of developing harmoniously is to bring the centers into a relationship gently, without manipulation, so that they naturally express these abilities throughout ordinary life, every day.

Of course folks generally think that such things happen only under "special conditions;" and so,  repeating this commonly held misunderstanding over and over and reinforcing each other's confirmation bias regarding the subject, everyone trains each other to only have such experiences when one is in touch with the magical work, the magical people, the magical conditions. 

This is a kind of magical thinking that simply hypnotizes everyone who works into thinking that they can't work in their ordinary life. In fact, the exact opposite is true; it's in ordinary life that one has to work in order to understand these experiences, and is so often the ashram, the organization, the culture that indoctrinate people into getting it backwards. 

Alas. This is a terrible habit, but there is no way to break it; because our spiritual cultures are also good. It's just that we love them too much.

Back to the point of the authority of the centers other than thinking, which thinks it is the only authority; if we were familiar with the authority of the sensation or the feeling, truly familiar with it, we’d respect it. But we have no respect. 

We need to develop not only trust, but a capacity for respect; because in many ways, when the authority of the mind submits to the authority of sensation and the authority of feeling, it is submitting to a hierarchy in which it occupies the bottom rung of what can be perceived. It is, of course, an absolutely necessary faculty; yet it plays the lesser role in this interaction. Once one understands that, a wide range of other things can be understood. But one must understand this through the actual experience of the authority of sensation and the authority of feeling, not through my theoretical explanation of it.

Sensation and feeling are the silent intelligences in us; neither one of them uses words to express itself. If one enters the silence, as it is so often described in meditation, one enters first through the silence of sensation and then through the silence of feeling, both of which are worlds of enormous power that do not use words to say or do anything whatsoever. 

So the stillness, the silence, are directly related to our ability to cede the authority of the mind in favor of these other two intelligences.

Sensation is the vehicle in which Being resides. 

Feeling is the vehicle in which Being can come to know itself. 

The role of the intelligence is as the vehicle which sees; but it is not a vehicle which does.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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