Monday, July 30, 2018

The Underworld of Being, part I

June 8, Hangzhou, China

Thoughts about the earthly world are made in order to gather intelligence, to correlate, to  collect, compare, and contrast. In the midst of this activity — which is the natural inclination of the  intellect — there is a sense of ownership, as though the agency, all of the activities, belong to me.

Yet there is also a conscious sense of “me,” a being which exists as what I have begun to call the self – in – self, a being within being that does not just act, but exists. It exists before action; and within the kernel of that existence lies the intelligence and presence of what we call God.

It is also being; because being is God, and there are no separations between the two. In this sense everything that manifests is indeed a part of God.

Yet these are big thoughts, and today I’m specifically interested in this question of the action of the intelligence, its belief in ownership, and other aspects of its nature.

Although we experience the action of the intellect and all of its abilities as individuals, its action is collective, as is clearly expressed by the collective nature of society, civilizations, and all its enterprises. There is, furthermore a deeper psychological portion of this that penetrates realms that are poorly understood, even today, and will never be susceptible to dissection by machines — which is what we specialize in as creatures in this era. That deeper psychological portion is a reservoir or repository for all of the memes, all of the civilizations of intellect, that have, can, and will exist in humanity.

Yet this is a relatively low level of mind, and if we can see it for what it is (which is quite difficult, because we are with in it and it’s quite difficult to get a vision of the jar one dwells in from the outside) we can see how confusing it is. 

For myself, I see how being is poised on the edge of this vast and confused piece of territory called intellect, which is like an ocean whose currents are disorganized and unintelligible — even though they appear to form many patterns — and the realm that lies above me, where being emanates from. As I examine this particular sense of position, I see how there is a tension, a stretching, that takes place between soul or spirit, psychology, and intellect. In this sense soul is being, and intellect is doing. Of course that’s oversimplifying it; but perhaps you get the idea.

In any event, as I examine these questions from within, I see the constant force and power, the magnetic attraction, of intellect and all of its denizens of the underworld, which are attempting to draw me towards them in a thousand different ways. These are gremlins, trolls, machines, and daemons; the underworld may be a world of strange creatures, but they are all born of this capacity for intellect, no matter how oddly they twist themselves in their effort to acquire shape. One of the best examples I think I know of regarding the nature of this underworld and our struggle with it is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch called the Temptation of St. Anthony, currently in Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve written about the nature of this painting, which is a psychological masterpiece about the psychospiritual evolution of mankind, and one man in particular, but writing about it does not capture the experience of a life in which one discovers that St. Anthony is not someone else, but, rather, myself.

I don’t mean this in the sense that I am some kind of saint, but rather that I am a human being poised, as St. Anthony was, between the heaven of being and the hell of the intellect, each of which stakes out a piece of territory that I am obliged to come to terms with. If I do not have the hell of intellect to juxtapose against it, the heaven of being cannot be appreciated when it arrives. And I have to taste both of these things — not just the one I prefer — in order to know more about who and what I am. 


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Just by being here

 Part of a series of notes to myself, June 2018

 It’s overcast and cool this morning.

What are we doing on this planet?

Do we stop and think about how we are, and how a gentle Grace flows into us?

This quiet, unseen force is a gift of infinite value; and yet it somehow becomes trivialized in our engagement with the material, even though its very purpose is to help us experience that more fully.

This trivialization is our own fault; we don’t take the time to slow down and breathe and just accept the fact that we don’t need special results in order to appreciate life. Everything we need is right here, right now, not somewhere else.

Furthermore it is here in me, not outside. It's what is in me that grows within the soul and has the capacity to receive life that matters; and that receiving of life consists of simply remaining still and allowing it to come in with respect and appreciation.

So there is a place, a position, where I remain still within myself, attending quite precisely, and life enters.

It enters breath by breath.

And here I am. Life flows in. There is an equal force that comes from Being that meets life; inner life meets outer life. The molecules of Being vibrate within that moment of coming together.

So there aren’t any special results here. There is just living; and I would be better off attending to that with a bit more of a serious attitude then racing off to stimulate myself with 100 different external actions each one of which, I am convinced, will bring some better form of satisfaction than the one I already have. If I were appreciating my satisfaction itself, the satisfaction of what life tastes like as it arrives, I probably wouldn’t think this way.

As I get older, and my priorities change, I tend to do less and less because of my interest in this appreciation of the immediate. It is an invisible action; it doesn’t seem to produce anything outward (I would argue I’ve already done quite enough of that through the course of my life) but inwardly it produces an insight which is not available if everything I think and say and do — both within me and without me — is turned towards the outside.

So there's this possibility to invert the action of what I perceive so that it is inward first; and this is where the sense of what is sacred begins in me.

It brings me into moment after moment where I don’t actually know anything; but those moments are rich. There is something at the heart of life which is and will remain a mystery; and although it will always consist of this mystery, the certain thing is that it's filled with love.

So it’s always possible to approach it; and it’s always possible to help that love to grow within us.

Just by being here.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


 Part of a series of notes to myself, June 2018

So I woke up this morning and was breathing in and out. I’m still breathing in and out now. Every breath is connected to a comprehensive molecular sensation. I know from past experience and how I am now that it is not completely mature; but it is certainly present in an absolute sense. Trying to force this sensation will not improve it; it will make it worse. That is to say, it is deadened by any effort to manipulate it. An acute observation, however, can help it to reach deeper into the body; and since all of the molecules have a wish to participate, the more that I can help them by watching this process with a silent intelligence that does not interfere, the better off everything is.

I worked hard physically yesterday screening soil for the garden and carrying it down to parts for vegetables. It was hot. The physical work is a good thing, even though it my age it wears me out. Today my body, which hurts, is grateful for the exercise it got – and the suffering that it has undergone consists of a peculiar kind of gratitude for being alive at all.

So I am here within, where the sensation of breathing is a real thing and a gentle, exquisite sense of sorrow penetrates the body as I become more aware of the fact that I am. It is the gentleness of God’s grace as it arrives; and this is a much more real thing than some of the coarser impressions I’m willing to subsist on when I’m not in a better relationship. I guess the point is that one there is no caviar around, one eats the oatmeal.

I suppose, having studied this, that I should let this go this morning. Things are rather quiet within and that always creates a capacity to allow events to flow in with less resistance.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, July 21, 2018


Part of a series of notes to myself, June 2018

 Existence, I think, ought to come down to something much simpler than what I try to make it.

There is this wish for special results; and it takes me away from the results that already exist. In a certain sense, the entire set of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions around me are the special results already; and if I form a right relationship to them, I see this. The results are comprehensive and include me.

“We are all in this together,” I can say to myself — without words, mind you, but only my attention. “Here we are together. We are.” There is something in this fact, as it arises with an awareness, that erases the assumptions, the expectations, and the demands I make both on myself and the world.

I think this idea of wishing for special results is what prevents me from seeing special results. The wish itself already presumes that the special results are here; that the grace isn’t here, the work isn’t here, the effort isn’t here. The wish says “None of what I care about is here yet, but if I work harder, I can get there.” If I am already in the midst of what is glorious and necessary, but I think that what is glorious and necessary must be elsewhere, well, isn’t that the essence of delusion?

Spending my time around so many others that have the same wish for special results that I do, along with the constant conversation about how one can get them this way or that way, what they feel like and look like, how they ought to be, how it is impossible to have that experience very often, and so on, I get the impression that we are dismissing the extraordinary value of ordinary life. It is our relationship to life that transforms — that and that alone. That relationship begins from within and is an inner transformation in which the relationship of myself to myself changes. It’s only there that anything changes in relationship to the outer world; and so if there were a special result — which, once again, I am questioning here — it would be within me, and it wouldn’t even be that special. It would just consist of a normalization of the organic work of the body, the mind, and the feeling.

This weekend, I’ve been reflecting about the moment when the Virgin Mary touched me back in 2001 while I was in Rome.

For some reason, it has never occurred to me before that I was taking photographs with a digital camera at that time (I was an early adopter, and this particular camera was a Sony that — can you believe it ?— took pictures on 3 ½ inch floppy disks.)

I went back to the photographs and found the series I took during the morning when I walked past the Vatican and Mary initiated me. I discovered that it took place on May 4, 2001 between 10:47 and 10:53 AM — it’s possible to trace it with that degree of accuracy because, even in those early days, the camera put a timestamp on the pictures, and one can tell from the photos just where I was, and at what times.

This is of interest to me primarily because it represents a real anniversary — the anniversary of my  birthday, the day I was actually born and lived for the first time.

Nothing outside of me changed in the least; neither then, or later, when the initiation went through a progressive series of intensifications. The outside world and all of those photographs retained  consistency: nothing was different.

But inside me, everything was.

It still is. And there have been over 17 years of permutations and transformations since then.

One thing that has stayed the same is that I see, so often, that everything is already a special condition.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

things just are

NGC 6744, as imaged by the Hubble telescope.

Part of the series of notes to myself, May 2018

Notes on May 31. 

I was in Manhattan driving west last night.

I saw a ConEd utility pipe belching steam out of the ground near Central Park West.  

It came to me there, in that place, that we have to stop assuming we understanding things before they even begin, if we want to see where we are.

Another way of putting this—this is exactly what the unspoken words in me were— is that I have to begin to doubt everything I know. 

If I could actually stop knowing anything, stop having the ongoing impression that I have an understanding of what things are and how they operate (for example, the steam pipe: what is this thing?), everything would suddenly be quite different. 

Then I might actually see. 

Inwardly, I’m forever on the edge of this.

This came back to me even more forcefully later as I sat in a room with a group of people struggling to understand what they are.  Some of us, at times myself included, think we may know what man’s purpose is, that it’s this or that destiny or calling, and that we have to do this and that thing in order to fulfill that destiny. We explain stuff.

But I'm not sure about that at all. Last night, as I took in this impression, there wasn't really a lot of thought. There was nothing to explain. 

Things just are. 

It occurred to me that we are more or less pores. Impressions come into us; expressions come out of us. We can learn a lot about how these things operate from thinking about pores on the surface of a cell; and if that cell is consciousness, then our conscious Being is an aperture, through which things enter and leave. One ought to consider carefull how pores on a cell operate and understand how closely similar, on our own scale, we are to pores—apertures—in the mind of God.

God lives through us. He sweats through us. The point is that there is a porosity, and a reciprocal action.

We are meant to receive; we’re not agents, but receptors. The agent lies hidden from us; we call that agent God, and I think that is as good a word as any, because God is quite personal – a being, a person, not a thing or a place or a concept, but a personhood. 

God has an agency that creates.

The agency that creates is all around us. We see it in everything; we see it in the rocks, for example, of the Palisades, the ancient basalt I drive by every morning on my way to work; and we see it in the branches of the trees and weeds, and the raindrops, and the way the grass grows (we don’t know how or why.) 

There’s agency in all of this; it arises from an inherently creative force that remains completely mysterious to us. Of course it’s all part of the birth of the movement of God's realm; but that doesn't resolve what our place is or what we ought "do" about it.

This causes me to reconsider Gurdjieff's comment that man cannot "do." There are many different layers of meaning this statement; and of course many of them refer to egoistic attitudes towards ourselves, our work, and our life — for example, the idea that we can ”control” the energy in us, or what’s done with it. (A distinctly Hatha yoga concept, if ever there was one, but we certainly believe it.) 

Anyway, what I'm getting at here is that man cannot "do”—in the sense that we were not created as creatures that do. 

We are created to be creatures that can be. 

To be is to do. In being, we take in what arrives. This is the crux of our existence, to receive. If we receive existence objectively, without interfering with, and have an honesty — a willingness to not lie — in the way that we manifest, already we are ”doing” awful lot, but it doesn't have any special result. It is simply an action of participation, and not of doing.

There are times when I sit within myself, closely observing the sensation in me, and I think quite carefully—without using my mind or my thought—about precisely what is already given. I want to see it quite accurately, not for what I think it is—I don’t know anything about it and my thoughts are relatively worthless—but what it actually is. 

What is given, as it is, before I even come to it. 

This force of life is given; I didn't make it, I can’t ask for it, and I am not in command of it. 

My manifestation, my experience of myself and of life is given. 

My sensation, no matter how acute or dull it may be, is given. 

My thoughts, no matter how sharp or dull they may be, are given. 

All of life is given; and my awareness, to the extent that I exercise it, is centered around experiencing what is given, not presuming that I give, or I can get better. 

I'm to a large extent driven by this idea that I can get something better. I notice that a great deal of my automatic thinking revolves around the idea that I can get better things than I have—better possessions, better relationships, more money, a better job, etc. In observing this thought process, I see that my imagination is actually defective and disconnected from what’s already given. There is an enormously rich practice in inhabiting what is given, as opposed wishing there were something else. It reminds me most powerfully of one of Epictetus's maxims: for a man to find happiness, he should wish for things to be as they are.

I won't take any position on the question of happiness here — that could mean many different things. What I will take a position on is the idea that inhabiting what’s here is the most real and feeding thing I might experience. 

Everything that I actually need is right here with me now. I don't need to improve. I need to experience.

 All of my thoughts about improving interfere with my ability to experience. And I don't see that. It's quite strange, really—my aspiration is what destroys my effort. The thought that came to me is that ambition can be a terrible thing when it comes to spiritual work; instead of gifting, it may punish. 

We should think about this carefully, I believe, because ambition is not our ally in such a case; it’s the enemy.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Love and creation

Part of the series of notes to myself, May 2018

May 28.

There is an endlessly creative force that gives birth to everything we see, to everything that is.

Of course, we hear this so often it seems obvious and even unimportant; not only that, it's too large a thought for us. We're tiny creatures; and each one of us is perpetually absorbed in an obsessive effort to take in our own existence—which we do not understand and struggle to extract value and meaning from—alone.

We don’t so much inhabit our Being as engage against it; because we don’t experience its nature firsthand and from a ground of actual organic understanding, we oppose it. We think that our opposition is an effort to be, without seeing that the problem begins there.

Convictions like this are deeply rooted and almost impossible to defeat. By now, I’ve lived an entire lifetime like this. Every effort to not be how I am distracts me from being how I am. If the paradox is not obvious, it ought to be.

I was asked the other night by a good friend, is the universe male or female? Is inner work male or female? Because of my Marion devotions and my personal experience of Mary, I am inclined to favor the female side of things; and so of course I answered from that place. The correct perspective is, however, more complicated; because we are a blend of male and female, active and passive, that which bestows and that which receives. I think that the essential difficulty is that the “male” part of us is what is always active — even in women. This is the part that thinks it can “do,” that things are under my control and I can have an impact on them. The female part, which is actively passive and receives life and being, is usually obstructed.

This is a deeply inner question that cannot be examined from any other point of view if one wants to achieve a good understanding.

If I have a deep, organic, and rooted experience of Being, the overwhelming impression is always one of the femininity of it; the aspect of submission, whereby I put all of myself aside and receive a higher influence, the influence of Divine Love and Wisdom of the Holy Spirit. This particular force, which is the only real force there is throughout life— it creates all life and being — is a force that comes from beyond the material realm of creation.

Because it enters creation on a scale so small that it cannot be seen or measured — even the physicists are unable to touch it, whether with their machines or even their theories — we don’t see or feel its action unless our inward vibration is attuned to that molecular level. But once it is, when we feel it flow into us — this is called the inflow — we understand that the divine is the source of Being.

We need to remind ourselves of this all day, every day, and constantly remind ourselves of what this means and the responsibility that it creates in us. It means that even if we don’t feel the Divine actively — if Grace is not active, and it may often not be — we are still responsible to God, in every moment. In na├»ve forms of religion, it is said that “God is watching;” and although this is true, it is true in ways that once again cannot be seen. It does not need to be taken literally as the personhood of God (which does exist, mind you) were casting a direct supervisory eye on us;  the phrase means to remind us that we are responsible, that we have to watch ourselves on behalf of God.

This takes some effort on our part. It is so easy, at any moment, to forget responsibility. And the instant we do that, we remove ourselves at some distance from the inflow, from the sensation and impression of receiving our life from God.

I’d like you to think about that for a minute today. We receive our life, in this minute, directly from God. It is not ours. We receive it.

This is a mystery that can be directly experienced as a sensation through a fine vibration within the body; and that experience of sensation ought to be permanently present, even if it goes through  periodic fluctuation in degree.

It is also a mystery that can be directly experienced as a fine vibration within the emotions, which is called — instead of emotion – feeling. That organic feeling provokes a sensation of the sacred within the place that feelings arise. It is actually a heightened level of sensation.

If these two functions are present, and the mind steps past its turning thoughts and associative action into the realm of an intellect that receives without knowing, that perceives without laying claim, I discover a life that is more whole.

This doesn’t make me a free creature or magically transform me into some kind of higher being; it quite simply and gently places me in the middle of this life I have been given so that I can engage in the simple work I ought to do of honoring others, questioning my own self and motive, and attempting, insofar as possible, to understand this mysterious force called love which ought to be so much more active than it is.

This brings me to a point about the question of obstruction, maleness, and femaleness. Love is an active and male force; it is what is bestowed. (I say this from a metaphysical point of view, because maleness in the material world of creation performs a different function.) So the active force begins with a male, or active, love, which emanates from the divine and enters material creation.

The passive force, which is obstructed, is a female force residing in material creation — a place which has been created in order to receive the active force of love that is emanated. So there is love in both parts; love in the part that emanates, and there ought to be a reciprocating love in the part that receives. These two loves, the act of love at the passive love, come together and reproduce in what we call Being. Already, Being is the child of this love, no matter what our conscious or unconscious attitude towards it.

But if we become more aware of ourselves and what we are, we have the opportunity to sense and experience this action of love, this creative action, more directly.

It’s a humbling experience.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The pilgrimage of feeling

From a series of notes to myself written during May 2018.

The highest vision of the sacred is The Perfection; but there are many intermediary degrees of perception that lead to The Perfection.

Each one of them represents a state of Grace, as if one were on a pilgrimage. Every outer pilgrimage which is taken from one church or holy site to another is an outward representation of this inner pilgrimage, which can take place along the pathways of the sacred within our body of Being.

We travel along the pathways within the body of Being in order to visit our sacred sites; they are already there, and we simply act as witnesses submitting ourselves, in the most abject humility which we can muster, to their sacred force.

Each sacred station of healing unveils another aspect of The Perfection, which is part of what Ibn Arabi calls The Reality. If one has a sufficient level of development in the organic feeling of Being — and this is a dicey thing, because we cannot be architects or developers, only custodians – then one begins to see life in a quite different way. And when we speak about three separate centers, and so on, or even just speak about the development of the emotional center itself, what we are really talking about is developing this precise, intimate, intelligent—and above all respectful—development of organic feeling.

I see life differently. I can see, if my perception is functioning accurately, how every single object, event, circumstance, and condition is part of a sacred gift that’s been given to me. Every single instant of life is a part of that sacred gift – but it also encompasses all things, since every instant is a fraction of the Truth that exists everywhere, but manifest only Now.

There is no separation from everything and this one thing.

As I see the way that life is sacred, I see every interaction with every meeting I encounter as sacred.

I don't do this theoretically, by thinking about how sacred they are; my feeling center has an awakened quality that brings me to the moment of relationship with a question that keeps it alive: how to honor this relationship in this moment.

In the end, everything is about the relationship; and if the relationship in life in this moment is not honorable, I have soiled both my life and the nature of God in several ways.

First of all, I have not honored the life that is given to me.

I haven’t appreciated how extraordinarily valuable, beautiful, impossible, and miraculous this very ordinary moment is.

I haven't seen, with the parts that were given to me to see with, how incredible each instant is, and how even the simplest object for the simplest action is lived in, by, and through the divine influence of the holy.

Secondly, I have soiled God, because having been given this impossible gift of life, this magnificent thing which I experience flowing through all of my Being at every instant — the only thing I am here for — I have forgotten about God. I’ve even forgotten that everything is miraculous and sacred. I'm looking out there—somewhere else—for will be miraculous and sacred — later.

I forget that the sacred is here now. I think it is in a magical concert; or a book I'll read later; or some meeting with really important spiritual people I will see next weekend. I don't see that the tail lights on the car in front of me or the leaves on the trees or its bark—all of which seem kind of stupid and inanimate to my ordinary degrees of sensitivity—are a direct manifestation of the sacred.

This appreciation of life, which becomes much deeper and much more sensitive and much more intelligent, is what the real aim of inner work is about. It’s about developing that; and about having an emotional respect of a new kind—a different kind—for the life I’m in, and the capacities I have with which to live it.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The ocean of feeling

From a series of notes to myself written during May 2018.

This morning, I'm thinking about the extraordinary number of blessings that flow into life every given day.

The emotional part of ourselves, which usually doesn't develop very much, but simply mills around in the same place, has the capacity to develop a much greater sensitivity to our lives.

It can develop real feeling, which is a different kind of emotional state than my ordinary reactions to things. I'd like to speak a little bit about real feeling to try and help explain the difference between my regular emotions and my feelings.

Regular emotions are superficial. They have an enormous power, but what they do is seesaw back and forth on the surface of things. It’s like the difference between the ocean and the surface of the ocean. The surface of the ocean forms a layer which, even under the most violently windswept circumstances, is barely 100 feet or so deep; that is, from the peak of the waves to their troughs.

Yet underneath all of this action on the surface lie vast depths that have infinitely more latent power. This force far exceeds anything that takes place on the surface, where we can see it.

The forces within the depths of our emotive ocean move vast quantities of water and provide a habitat for untold numbers of creatures. Feeling is what lies beneath the surface of the ocean, the bottom 99% that isn't seen. It makes a meager  impression on us, and is rarely contemplated. We spend so much time on the surface, surfing the waves and enjoying the view, that we forget what makes that surface possible — and that is the body of inward Being that is contained under the surface of the ocean of feeling.

This body of inward Being is connected to what’s called feeling.

Feeling has the capacity to see life with an intelligence that transcends the intelligence of the body or the mind. It is capable—at its best—of perceiving The Perfection. The Perfection is sublime; and the seeing of it is a privilege, not a guarantee, or even an aim which one can work towards. Seeing The Perfection is never an aim because it is God's Grace granted only after we have worked hard enough, made enough ordinary efforts—suffered enough—to be deemed worthy in His eyes. In any event, all of real feeling is connected to Grace, because the emotional center, if it ever develops an organic feeling of Being, has the ability to perceive the sacred in a way that no other part can do.

In order to explain this better, perhaps I should explain the function of each of the parts more accurately, so that one better understands what one is ”observing“ —why one is observing it, even— and what the results of that observation might be if our observation were very precise and very sensitive and very intimate.

In our work, we frequently talk about the fact that the “organic sensation of Being” is an aim. This is not a subjective condition. The organic sensation of Being is a living sensation of Being—an intelligence— that arises in the molecular vibration of our cells. It’s not under our supervision; and one can't magically make it happen. When it arrives and manifests, it indicates an awakening of the intelligence of the body, which then becomes a permanent factor in life.

This faculty is important because it is objective — it has the capacity to think” independently without the interference of the intellectual or the feeling mind. It has a special role all its own—and if it is allowed to its own work, the work that it does has an unusually powerful effect on what is called objective reason. It’s objective because it does not perceive based on associations or opinions; nor does it perceive based on feelings. It perceives based on truth; that is, when we play our role as the pupil in the eye of God, the truth that flows in flows first into sensation, as objective fact.

The mind has its own organic form of thinking. But right now I want to speak a bit more about the organic feeling of Being, because feeling, unlike thinking or sensation, is the part that’s the closest to the sacred, and has the unique and powerful ability of being able to perceive it directly, without any impediment.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The thinking comes after

From a series of notes to myself written during May 2018. 

 The path to being does not lie on some yellow brick road, or beyond pearly gates. It’s clearly mapped out in my inhabitation of this body, this organism. Having a respect for that in an organic manner, a manner that forms a feeling relationship with the cellular material, allows me to inhabit the body in such a way that life is received more specifically.

My sensation is very precise and intelligent. It’s my thinking that is vague and unable; yet often, my perception has these two situations the wrong way around. If I relied more on the intelligence of sensation to guide my immediate grounding in life, already there is a precision to the observation that begins before I think about anything. It is in the precision of this observation, the manifestation of sensation, that life and being first arrives. The thinking comes after.

 This may sound strange to me, because in me, the thinking always comes first; and then it imposes stupidities. It is selfish; it is violent, whatever it is, it has many aspects of on health, because it lacks discipline and runs in every direction, sometimes just to see what’s there. The problem with this is that of thought runs in a direction and becomes attached to it, everything else follows it, even if it’s a bad place. Emotions can do the same thing; so for both of them, making sure that sensation is the gravity that ties Being down, that anchors it within a truth that doesn’t get so easily distracted, is very important, even essential.

 As always, it’s important to point out that this is not any ordinary sensation. It is the sensation that lives of the body itself and comes to support; the one that is born from the inner energy of the inflow. This finer energy has to serve as a basis for my existence.

 I will always want to spend time trying to figure out what things mean. It is the way I am. I think it is a common and normal condition for human beings. Yet before I try to do this, it’s very important to try and see how things are — and this is very different.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

An Emptiness of Thought

From a series of notes to myself written during May 2018.

When the thinking part is still, the stillness is at the center of the intellect, not in its periphery, where things always remain in motion.

That stillness can be preserved even in the middle of ordinary life when there are a thousand other things going on in the intellect. It is, in practical terms, possible for all of the peripheral activity to completely cease; but this isn’t absolutely necessary, and the experience can be disturbing if one isn’t prepared for it. The stillness at the center of the intellect needs the support of the motion at the periphery in order to engage; otherwise, while it has all the potential to see quite clearly, it is in the position of a magician that needs to keep reaching into the box to pull out the right creature for a response. It can do this in an almost perfect way; but that experience is bewildering if one doesn’t understand how the function is constructed.

In any event, this begins to sound complicated, and I think my point is that intellect, in its pure form, is an ideally uncomplicated entity. It simply exists and perceives; what comes afterwards may be interesting, but it is not the center of gravity. If existence and perception of the center of gravity and intellect, intellect functions quite differently. For one thing, it’s much quieter; and it also sees more of what takes place. It has no attitude towards what takes place or desire to change it. Attitude and desire continue to function on the periphery, and it’s possible to see their growth and decay from moment to moment as they arrive, manifest, and pass. There is no absolute need to be involved with either one of them; they are relative phenomena that take place and are true. But they do not own me.

I think there is a misconception about thought, that folks think it will go away if the centers align themselves properly and everything works in a healthy manner. But it doesn’t go away. It just becomes poised and still. It does not become silent either; but the sound that it makes is not a sound that is heard in musical notes or words. The sound is the sound of presence, which does not have a better descriptive to define it. Presence itself is a note that sounds; and it sounds inwardly, not outside of myself.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.