Photograph by the author
Whenever I’m touched by the least portion of Grace, nothing else matters. It is not that it loses what value it has, but rather that I see everything through its relationship to Grace and its action in the soul; and even this one single instant of a connection with God—should I be so fortunate as to receive it— renders all things valid, satisfying, true, right, and meaningful within the context of Being.
This is called the Peace of God which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7); but it’s only conferred by starting out with a right inner relationship to God.
This is, in a nutshell, organic spiritual happiness; and organic spiritual happiness is a blend of many different feelings which all exist simultaneously.
My friend R. (who is, by the way, a professed atheist) presumed to dumb it down and just call all of it “love;” but this is too simplistic for me, because each feeling we have is a thing unto itself. They may all be fractions of this greater thing called God’s Love — that is of course true — yet God’s Love takes on so many magnificently different aspects in its manifestation within the soul that to call it one thing somehow cheapens it, renders it one-dimensional, since we associate the word love so easily with things of the world, failing to understand its breadth and depth.
This blending of many, many different feelings is described by Gurdjieff as conscience (take note he did not call it love here) as the experience (I’m paraphrasing, because I feel lazy and I don’t want to look up the source quote) of having all the possible different feelings one could have about anything, experienced at the same time.
What he’s trying to explain with this is a spiritual experience, not a temporal one: and he’s furthermore describing what one might equally call “happiness,” because conscience – should it ever manifest in an individual in a right way — is in complete and absolute alignment with God’s own wish, and brings us to a moment wherein we feel all things at all contradictions are resolved.
There is a wholeness of experience embedded in this moment. That can only happen, of course, when the inflow is present; one has to be under a higher influence. When we are truly aligned, through God’s gift of Grace, with his will — ah, then we are truly happy.
In the many years I worked at Silver Lake with Frank Sinclair and other folks from the Gurdjieff work, Frank always referred to this as an inner alignment. Of course he wasn’t unique in this particular remark; but he brought it quite deftly, and with considerable intelligence. The traditional hand movement, perhaps considered an affectation by those who don’t appreciate such things, is a vertical hand moving downward in front of the body — a position that will probably be familiar to Buddhists as well. It indicates the verticality (another word Frank uses frequently) of the moment, the action of a higher influence passing down through us. It equally indicates alignment, the movement of that usually tangled piece of our awareness, a knotted fishing-line within us, into a straight line that has a weight at the end.
This particular analogy (my own) is quite apropos, but the point of it isn’t the alignment of the fishing line, which has become straight and has what the Buddhists would call ”right attitude” when the inner alignment takes place. It’s the weight at the bottom of the line that makes a difference. If I'm attracted to the alignment, rather than the weight that creates it, my attention may not be in quite the right place.
There has to be a weight within Being, a personal center of gravity, that attracts this vertical descent of the energy of Grace; and the weight of that attention, the gravity (or, if you will, magnetism) that it creates is what matters. That is a place of residence, and although it allows movement in any direction, it does not consist of movement itself, but is rather an absolute stillness.
I defy anyone who’s experienced this to say that that absolute stillness — and the alignment that it creates — are anything other than relationship and satisfaction, that is, real happiness.
Wishing the best for you on this day,
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.