Thursday, December 27, 2018

A single quality

October 21

It’s a Sunday morning. My wife is out of town, and the house is quiet—aside from my grandfather clock, which is marking the half hour, as it has for more than 350 years.

Over the last week, I’ve worked with many people, both of those in groups interested in inner work, and those who are merely engaged in ordinary life and have few, if any, such thoughts. 

Regardless of the conditions, the requirement of the inner man is always the same: to maintain the inward attitude of containment, the stillness, the silence that is set apart from the ordinary functions necessary for life. To maintain the inward attitude of containment, and to refer to it first and always, as a precursor to outward life and the essential component from which all Being emanates.

Of course, this sounds like a tall order. I hear those around me, especially those who seek earnestly, complaining all the time that they can’t maintain this containment, that they forget themselves, that they only remember their inner work when they are around other people who have the same wish.

 To all of them, and to anyone who reads this, I would advise you to stop being foolish about this matter. The only person who can remember your inner work is yourself; and you must set yourself the task to remember it through all the parts of your being wherever you are. 

Forget about hoping that you will get to some special meeting or weekend of work and meditation where your inner work will suddenly be enlivened again. 

Come to believe in this moment that it’s this moment alone in which your work can be enlivened; and stake your life on it, as though you were an alcoholic who could only survive by moving from one moment to the next without a drink.

 Be generous in your efforts to help others work; and be generous to them in general. Act with love. But don’t rely on them to be the motive force for your work, or the support for it. Make them rather the aim of your work through an ongoing action of outer considering. Think on how they struggle and suffer; suffer on their behalf, and help them in their struggles; remember at the same time that your own struggles and suffering are yours to deal with.

Of course we will fail. This is helpful to my inner work. Failure teaches me new things. Success just makes me an idiot. 

…We are allowed to complain, but only in fair measure.

On this point of work, enough. On to the thought that drives this particular set of posts; and that is that life does not have many different qualities, as all of my outward parts would like me to believe. Life has a single aspect.

There is only one Being; and all of the aspects that I experience are simply reflections of that Being. Being is Being; and each action of being encompasses the entire universe.

Yesterday, I was on line at Costco buying groceries; and for a moment, as I looked at a woman — of course a complete stranger, everyone is — I saw how she contained the whole universe within herself, and became responsible for it in her Being, regardless of whether she had any conscious awareness of this or not. 

Everything is this way. One might say that the whole being of God was in a single drop of water; or in a flower. And indeed, Meister Eckhart says, 

if one were but to know a flower as it has being in God - that would be nobler than the whole world. 
—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical WorksSermon 82
  So no matter how many different things happen, they are all a part of this single aspect of Being. 

Gradually, the inward parts — as they unify — are able to take in being as a more and more comprehensive aspect, instead of fragments which appear to be different from one another. The more inner unity there is, the more it corresponds to outer unity. That is to say, there is an alignment that takes place between truth and being.

warm regards,


Announcing the publication of 

The Reconstruction of the Soul is a wide-ranging investigation of symbolism in High and Late Medieval art. It includes detailed analyses of the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cluny Museum and the Cloisters in New York, as well as detailed examinations of the mysterious, erotic and bizarre symbolism in The Cathedral of St. Lazare in Autun.

Along the way, it traces the roots of Western esoteric art from Babylon to ancient Greece, revealing traditions that are still alive today, some 3000 or more years later.

The material is illustrated with photographs taken by the author on location in France and New York, as well as source material from various museums.

It will appeal to anyone interested in the symbolic transmission of the world's Western esoteric heritage.

All funds from your purchase of this book will go to support the translation of important historical documents related to the Gurdjieff tradition.

The author is currently at work on a second volume which will explore even earlier (!) influences on esoteric art and practice. Anticipated publication of this follow-up work will be late 2019.

Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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