Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Confluence of Truth, Part IV

Statue of Mary from the Cloisters, Manhattan

“…from behind the chaos, I may feel the action of a vibration that is wholly different in its intensity. This vibration is more subtle, and it is difficult to attune the slower vibrations that hold me back, which are too incoherent. But there is something that responds. I feel an influence more luminous, more intelligent than my usual awareness. And I feel a wish to obey this influence, to serve it. In order to attune myself, I become more sensitive.”

The Reality of Being, Jeanne Salzmann, P. 255

Jeanne Salzmann spoke many times about influences and how they affect us. These comments are found throughout The Reality of Being, almost always with remarks that we are subject to outside influences that steal our energy and degrade our Being. She also speaks extensively about coming under higher influences; and, as well, balancing ourselves so that we are not influenced too much.

The questions deserve more specific examination. Take note that the word influence was originally used starting around 1385 meaning “a flowing from the stars that acts upon the character and destiny of people.” This was borrowed from medieval Latin influentia meaning a flowing in. The word itself, in other words, was originally astrological and is identical in every way to Swedenborg’s inflow, which represented a flowing in from heaven.

Those who have read The Sixth Sense will understand quite clearly that Salzmann and Gurdjieff were using the term in precisely the same way, with the same quite literal meaning “an energy that flows inward into us from the stars.” It can be a bit confusing to read Salzmann’s notes to herself about the word “influence” in The Reality of Being, because the inaccuracies that inevitably arise when one takes a person’s private notes, edits them, and shuffles the deck of cards, so to speak, to assemble apparently whole pieces of material which are actually a patchwork give the impression that she was suggesting we should somehow separate ourselves from both sets of influences. Instead, our aim ought to be to discover how to let the higher or solar influences predominate, since they can rightly guide our spiritual action, whereas the lower influences generally find this impossible. (What we call “lower” influences are astral influences that emanate from a planetary level. Of themselves, all they can produce are results related to the surface of the earth.)

This is why Meister Eckhart’s  Gleichgütigkeit is not indifference, or a suspension of discrimination — even though, once again, some of the things that Salzmann says suggest just that. If there is any suspension of discrimination, it is the "suspension" of the action of our ordinary self, that is, what is attached to this level. The higher discriminates quite clearly and it can be felt both through sensation and emotion if these two faculties become more organic in their action.

In any event, this question of influence should be compared to confluence. 

Confluence is what flows together; and while influence relates to the stars when it is properly used, confluence relates to what flows inward from all directions, including both stellar and "ordinary" influences. 

Confluence, in other words, represents the collection of all influences, their coming together—the word originated from the Latin cōnfluentum which means exactly that, a flowing together.

Although in the Gurdjieff work this idea of influences, of forces, and of lower and higher energies is a predominant concept, what is rarely discussed is the point that this Confluence of Truth is exactly where we find ourselves. 

All of the influences, both higher and lower, that arrive in us, regardless of our relationship to them — which can be active or passive, conscious or unconscious — come to exist together at the same point in Being:

I seek what I am, to be what I am. I have a habit of thinking of "body," on the one hand, and of "spirit or energy" on the other. But nothing exists separately. There is a unity of life. I wish to live it, and I seek it through a movement of return toward myself. I say there is an outer life and an inner life. I say this because I feel myself as distinct, as existing apart from life. There is, however, only one great life. I cannot feel separate from it, outside it, and at the same time know it. I must feel myself a part of this life. But it is not enough to desire this or to seek an intense sensation of it. I can enter into the experience only if I have first come to unity in myself, only if I have come to be a whole.

—ibid, p. 203

Now, here is a subtle point which I wish for you to ponder long and carefully in order to appreciate it properly: the Confluence of Truth takes place whether or not the being in which it is taking place is conscious of it. 

This means that the divine action of participation in Truth and in Being is lawfully inviolable and inevitable. It is only our attitude towards it, our participation, that can be changed.

Therefore, instead of being concerned about which individual influences we are under — whether we just had a “very wonderful sitting” with magical inner experiences, or are yelling at our spouse — our concern can be refocused not to the individual influences, but the confluence of truth which is taking place within us in this moment. 

A concentration on this moment and that experience can bring our work to a point of seeing which not only sees, but understands where it is located. And, as I have pointed out many times, if we are lost, whether within life or within the spirit, we must first determine so far as we can exactly where we are standing, before we decide where to go next. We must locate our place before we decide what our destination ought to be. I want, for example, to go to Paris; but if I don’t know which direction north, south, east, and West are, I can forget about it. This is how we usually do things. We get up in the morning and decide to go to Paris and then we walk any old which way, thinking we will get there.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.v

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.