Monday, September 10, 2018

Where does life begin? Part I

Piermont Marsh, July 2018

I was speaking to a friend yesterday about the nature of their Being, which they felt alienated from. They don’t have a regular meditation discipline; they feel depressed, and they don’t have much of an interest in life, aside from a few things, such as their young child. This despite the fact that they have been in the Gurdjieff work for a number of years, and come from a family tradition in spiritual search.

 This person is alive; but they sense instinctively that they don’t feel their life. There is a lack, an inability, to have a proper sense of their Being and what it means to live.

So in the next few essays, I'll explore the nature of our conversation and the questions it raises.

First of all, it’s necessary to sense life in every molecule of one’s Being

In order to understand this, one must know that every molecule is alive—is a living, thinking, feeling creature, a being that is a fraction of what we’re composed of. 

Not only are our molecules alive; even our very atoms are alive. Life is either present or it isn’t; and if it is present, you can’t extract it from any part of the whole and still have a life. If I am alive, the carbon atoms in me are alive; the DNA molecules in me are alive, my kidneys, heart, lungs and so on are alive. I am alive. Everything in me is alive with me. Once the quality of life arrives, it is inherent and penetrates everything that participates in it.

 To discuss the idea of a level down "below” where life manifests, in which everything it's composed of is inanimate and unintelligent (those carbon atoms, for example) doesn’t make any sense. Life is a whole thing, and you either have it, or you don’t. It is just like the idea of being a little bit pregnant. Life is either 100%, or it isn’t.

Perhaps this seems a bit technical. Yet I need to understand that all of the constituent parts of my Being, most especially the smallest and tiniest parts of me — the atoms and molecules — share in every way 100% of the life that I am, and the Being that I have. Being and life apply to everything that they inhabit. 

So I need to have a special kind of respect for these microscopic and submicroscopic particles of being that I’m composed of.

The whole point of developing sensation is to develop a sense of this molecular nature of Being, and the living nature of this fine-grained material I'm composed of which we call atoms, molecules, and so on.

 When I was speaking to this person, I suggested that they be sensitive to this very special quality of Being that vibrates down at this lowest level of life. All of these parts of us, I suggested, are actually caring, thinking Beings in their own right who all have a wish to support us in our collective effort. 

I have, in other words, a constituency of trillions of supporters, all of whom are universally dedicated to the positive welfare of this thing I call life and call Being, this person I call myself. Without their collective effort, I cannot exist; and indeed, without the life in each one of them as an individual (for, on their own level, all cells are individuals) I cannot Be.

A gentle and mindful attention to this molecular sense of Being is an essential step in the effort to create a more perfect foundation for Being.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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