We come back around to the question of this fragmentary sense of Being.
We must study this condition... our actual nature—
not what we wish it would be or dream it could be—
very carefully, and come to know it in all of its aspects without fiddling with it.
Real suffering comes from experiencing all of one’s manifestations exactly as they are, not as one has adjusted them or wishes them to be. It is subtle and nearly impossible for us to see from the perspective of our intelligence, which rationalizes everything, but every adjustment we make to what we are from where we are is an attempt to reduce the amount of suffering we must undergo, to avoid it.
In other words, it relates to what Mr. Gurdjieff called the evil inner God of self-calming.
We are meant to come to our spiritual work exactly as we are. Our own wishes for improvement will always and forever fail; because only the Presence of God truly improves. That Presence improves on its own terms and within its own context and has no egoistic content; it is not of us, but of the Lord.
The single sense of Being is a vessel that needs to be prepared in order to receive this presence; and the single sense of Being, as embodied quite precisely by the phrase, is the equivalent of Gurdjieff’s “conscious egoism.” Conscious egoism, in other words, is not a psychological or spiritual device for the benefit of he or she who has that capacity or quality; it is a state, or a condition, which is prepared to receive influences from a higher level and has the capacity to retain them due to its unified state.
Without that capacity, one may receive all the higher influences one likes; they will just dissipate.
There is no better practical advice than an intimate and caring attention to sensation over the long term for the development of the single sense of Being. If one develops this sensation, acquires the capacity to have it distributed in equal measure across all of the parts, so that it exists without preference and objectively in all of the parts of the body, then one will understand individuality quite differently, because over a number of years, as sensation deepens and becomes more permanent and more perfectly blended with the organism and its awareness, the understanding of time and why we perceive it as being so "short" will grow in concert with sensation.
In addition to the dilation of time, which is necessary in order to fully appreciate our manifestations (we forget about them in an instant if we are not whole) the capacity for real feeling, which is relentlessly and forever an experience of suffering and sorrow, will also grow. This is how we were meant to Be as organisms and beings; and while you might think that the description of it somehow sounds depressing, it is anything but.
This is the fullest meal one could ever eat, and the food is of the finest variety. Every morsel has a savor that cannot be tasted for as long as life divides itself and Being is not whole.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.