This capital from the cathedral of St. Lazare in Autun
has many extraordinary esoteric teachings embodied
in what at first appears to be a fairly simple image.
Underneath all of my talk about efforts and my apparent sincerity about making them lies a sneaky wish to get something through my efforts.
I want to make efforts for myself, because I can then “develop” or "evolve," or become "more spiritual." I don’t clearly see that it's necessary to make efforts for the sake of the efforts themselves, because it is right.
My intellectual mind thinks it knows what is right, but it really has no idea. It establishes a series of nearly aimless and random goals that wander in multiple directions, instead of collecting itself and focusing on an understanding that emanates from a deeper place in Being. The only way that the mind can do this is by ceasing its incessant reliance on the intellect alone, and discovering the organic and feeling natures of the mind, which need to participate.
Sensation, once again, isn’t the leader. It has a powerful effect and is actually much stronger than the mind; but its intelligence is related to functions quite different than any executive faculty that plans and sees with any extended associative powers. And feeling isn’t the leader, either. It has capacity that lie well beyond imagination of either other intelligence in me, but alone it is weak and can’t plan anything. Yet it alone has the true capacity to receive; the other parts are merely structural supports in that action.
If I want to sense what is right I have to feel it and sense it, not just think it. And my effort has to emanate from an organic, in fact instinctive sense of what is right.
It has to begin there without any pretensions whatsoever that it can do anything or acquire anything or that I deserve anything. Or that I have capabilities, and so on. My effort has to begin with an organic sense of what is right.
There is nothing here for me. I offer myself.
That sense of what is right is centered around an embodiment of the sacred. It is right to embody the sacred, to hold myself to the highest possible standard and act as a representative of the sacred in the best way that I can — again, without pretensions, without this stupid idea that I am better than others which I carry around so much, without any illusions that I know better than others how to do anything. No, I must just center this sense of doing what is right within myself, organically, and embody God and the commandment of Christ to love one another as I have loved you as best I am able.
This is a path that presents the first step towards a real inner humility, because it is absolutely true that if I begin here, exactly as I have just described it, I will infallibly see how helpless I am and how little love I have.
Yet I must keep putting one foot in front of the other in this effort and attempting to embody what is right through effort alone — effort to respect and represent this sacred force that creates life and which has given me a life.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.