Notes from April 2
Yesterday, a close friend and I were discussing the way in which experience arises in us and we encounter it. He brought up a technique presented during a retreat led by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse.
The idea suggested was that as each thing arises within us, we see it and put it aside, so that we continually move on without attachment. This seems like an entirely correct practice to me.
He also brought up the point that in the old days, in Tibet, in some practices the Masters continually created chaos and disruption in the practice of the pupils, so that they never got comfortable with their work.
Gurdjieff did the same thing; work of this kind becomes a war against bad inner habits. And it is entirely necessary, in a certain way, because the minute a person gets comfortable with everything and arranges their inner and outer work so that is it serene, attractive, and undisturbing, one stops working and rests in an artificially created atmosphere of bliss. Even if the bliss is real — and it certainly can be — it creates an insulated bubble through which real material for growth can't enter anymore.
In any event, while we were discussing it, I pointed out something specific about the nature of seeing each thing that arises within us and putting aside that I'd like to share with readers. It is not enough to just see and then put aside; in seeing, I have to agree.
Agreeing is a subtle practice, because it requires something quite different of me. I can't just see alone; this is too passive, and it's one of the pitfalls of self observation. If I just observe, I run the risk of creating an imaginary world where "I" am objective and apart from what is seen, rather than understanding that the duality of who is seeing and what is seen needs to be resolved.
I need to agree; and this means that within the action of seeing, I have to agree that "this is what is true."
It's not quite exactly right to say, "I agree, this is who I am," because the metaphysical question there is complex and not so easily or lightly resolved.
But what I do is agree that this is what is true.
That is to say, following the analogy of it being necessary to have all three notes to form a three note chord, the three parts of this action are:
—what is observed
Agreement acknowledges the truth of the situation, the Dharma. So I agree that it is so. Inwardly, not through logical argument. And I want to stress this very strongly, because this agreement I speak of is not an intellectual agreement or an argument. It contains no spur suasion.
It is an organic agreement.
It's quite important to remember this, because the tendency is to reject what is so, to explain it this way or that way, to qualify it, define it, adjusted, own it — pretend I am in control of it or that it belongs to me — and then put it aside in one way or another, thinking I have dealt with it. This is an insidious practice that helps nothing. The instant that I think I have made something my own, that it belongs to me in this way or that way, I have already dismissed it as unimportant, because now I am the authority. I don't really see how I make myself the authority constantly in all matters. To become a servant is an entirely different matter; and it begins with this question of agreement. Truth has an objective quality that can’t belong to me.
The organic agreement does not contain words. It contains facts; and, as one may learn, real facts are so often not expressed in words.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.