Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part V—Organic Self-Remembering

Capital at Moissac

I need to understand this question of life with my sensation, which is of the body, first. 

This is a perceptive faculty that begins and ends in the unknown: it does not think with the mind of the intellect, it cannot know with the mind of the intellect, and it is functionally separate from the mind of the intellect. A respect for that separation, instead of an effort co-opted to some other purpose, is essential to understanding the principle here.

If I'm going to build an inner church — a sacred place — it must be built on this rock. This solid and still place.

This absolutely silent yet gloriously aware place.

 When I say that this place begins and ends with the unknown, once again, I speak from it as I write this. The intellect knows what it is saying here; and you know it through intellect as you read it. Yet the sensation has a different capacity for understanding, and we can't know it with the mind — it's a direct experience of the unknown, which invites us into it over and over again in every instant to question the nature of our Being.

What is this?

 When we engage in this activity, we discover that death lies within this as much as life does, because the forces of life and death are equal and joined. Once again, this is understood organically, without the middleman that the words represent here. We can only know our life fully by knowing death with it in this way. Then we see how we manifest, and what the momentary nature of our arising is.

 The understanding of the body begins with this understanding of an unknown arising that begins forever in every instant with a rate of vibration. To be conscious of this is the beginning of a capacity to begin working. Without this understanding, I'm only dreaming about inner work. Even if and when I develop it, I am only at that moment a candidate for work, because I've just developed an understanding of what real work can be. 

The re-investment in—remembering of— the organic sensation of Being at every moment represents the organic nature of self remembering, as opposed to the intellectual one. And if we don’t have an organic self-remembering, we have nothing.  That is, we have intellect, which alone can do nothing.

So when I say I begin again and again here, I do not begin again and again when the thought notices that something is missing. I begin again and again from the foundation which my sensation has already provided, which does not speak but demonstrates. The demonstration of Being from within sensation is a much more powerful tool for the perception of self than the conceptualization of Being from within intellect. So I need to distinguish quite clearly between demonstration and conceptualization; and the only thing that will help me with that is the resident presence of this energy within the molecular state of the organism.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


April 28, Hangzhou

In addition to my metaphysical interests, which are all too self-evident, I spend a lot of time contemplating the intersection of spiritual questions with ordinary life.

This morning, I made the decision to terminate an on-line friendship — if that is the word for it — that I’ve pursued for nearly 20 years. The "friendship" was with an individual in the Gurdjieff work who is perhaps one of the most intelligent people I know.

 Nonetheless, as the years went on, this individual became increasingly prone to directing personal insults at me in our exchanges whenever they disagreed with things I said. Eventually, these insults became more profound and unprovoked. They were, in a word, abusive. It seemed that every conversation eventually reached a point where these personal insults arrived in my mailbox as a response to what I felt was fairly measured commentary and exchange. 

I woke up at three am this morning contemplating the implications. If, after many decades of inner work, a person's style of exchange with others involves personal abuse intended to devalue, demoralize, and otherwise insult the other— is this acceptable?

In my experience, this is the opposite of a good result. Yet those who engage in such behavior (I've certainly seen more than a few in my time)  package it in a wide range of self-serving justifications which make it seem quite ordinary and even necessary to them. This particular friendship I’m ending is not the first one I have ended for the same reasons. I recently had to block an individual on Facebook who, while deeply dedicated to the Gurdjieff work, engages in bizarre rants of various kinds that became equally personal and unacceptable to me. 

I am grown truly weary of such abusers.

I’ve had a lot of experience with abuse; more, I'd venture to say, than most people I know. I spent 16 years in a marriage to (at the time) a very deeply troubled woman that left my children and I with PTSD which has not, even after 17 years of recovery, completely healed. It may never do so.  The things that were said and done are too horrific to recount here; as with alcoholism, these matters are impossible to explain to those who have never been afflicted with them.

One of the difficulties with the abused is that we continue to try and have positive, intelligible, and sound relationships with the abuser, believing that because they are apparently intelligent human beings, eventually they will see that this kind of treatment isn’t acceptable. I did that myself for years; and so I’m well familiar with the psychological mechanisms that drive it.  They are certainly, like my alcoholism, still active in me, despite years of recovery. Many of the readers who encounter this material may also be familiar with this problem: abuse of this kind leaves scars that educate, but never quite heal.

The point is that one has a right to terminate a relationship if it becomes abusive in this way. And perhaps it’s more than a right; perhaps it’s a personal duty. Individuals who develop negative forces in themselves that they wield in an attempt to damage others, whether intentionally or otherwise, may be a little helpful to our work — but not very. Nothing about the search for God and inner truth obliges us to expose ourselves to repeated mistreatment. 

Now, the results of going through abusive relationships can be very helpful spiritually, there is no doubt — but there is a moment in any such relationship of inflicted suffering where legitimate action is to just call it quits and get out. One does this for one’s own psychic and spiritual well-being.

I don’t terminate relationships lightly. I reach this point after a long struggle, when it becomes apparent that the other individual is never going to change, and in fact believes quite firmly that everything they say and do is right. They may have a ”right” to their own opinions; they may have a right—just as I do, equally flawed being that I am— to their own egoism, their own ideas, and even their own arrogance. But they don’t have a right to say hateful and horrible things to me over and over again. 

No one has the right to do that to another person.

Nonetheless, this kind of thing is done inside spiritual works all the time, inside the Gurdjieff work just as much as it is in other works. We needn’t dwell at any great length on the other horrid forms of abuse that take place in spiritual organizations, which are manifold. What we should dwell on is our right as those seeking to act as upstanding, kind, compassionate, and intelligent human beings to renounce such behavior and engage in a relentless inner struggle not to do such things ourselves.

 In the Lord’s prayer, one of the lines is “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In this particular instance, temptation can be cast as the wish to harm others with our words; and deliverance from evil as the wish to stay away from those who behave this way. It’s a being-duty as creatures attempting to regenerate an inner spiritual wholeness both not to harm others in this way (or, indeed, in any way) and to stay away from those who do so. As I’ve explained once already, I will say again: they are entitled to whatever behavior they wish to engage in; but I don’t have to participate in it with them.

As the Lord is my witness, I have done more than my share of harm in this life. As I grow older this burden weighs on me more and more heavily and I look back at those who I've harmed, in whatever way, with a deep and abiding sorrow for my actions, my inattention, and my insensitivity. 

I did these things: I cannot expunge them. There is no way to scrub such inner sin clean; it's written in the flesh. This indelibility is what ultimately lands beings on the Holy Planet Purgatory.

I have not done well enough in any way, at any time, and in any sense. This burden of sin (as we call it in the Episcopal Church) has become, in a word, intolerable — which is exactly the word that’s used in the confessional

I need to sense this with all three of my parts in order to understand my being in a more intelligent, compassionate, and organically physical way.

It’s been said by some that the point of the Gurdjieff work has always been to produce a decent human being. Somehow, for me, the culmination of these many decades of work concentrates itself around a kernel of love and compassionate understanding that ought to help restrain me from these organically reprehensible actions that the devil in me justifies. While it is absolutely and  verifiably true that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, even if we sense it, we still walk with one foot on the edge of hell. 

Hell touches Heaven; and it touches us not in some metaphysical space, but in ourselves. We need to see that, in my experience, with more and more clarity as we grow older, lest we crystallize inwardly in what are sometimes called “bad results.”

 I would urge my readers— those of you interested in examining inward responsibility of this kind—to consider your ways. I believe we should—yes, should, it is imperative— learn, as best we can, to restrain ourselves from making hateful statements towards others or even about others, and instead find every way that we can to carefully examine the place within us that that temptation arises and make every inward effort to root it out as ruthlessly as we can. 

This can, in my experience, only take place if I'm willing to challenge every single instance in which I have a wish to say hateful, cruel, or dismissive things to other people. If mindfulness has a purpose, other than just being here — which is in my estimation hardly enough, or even the meager beginning of something — it's to be mindful enough not to inflict harm like this on other people.

Friends are tremendously valuable to us. We should honor our friendships with intelligence and compassion; and, even if they act otherwise, we should equally try to find a way to honor our enemies, which will always be at great cost and against our impulses. 

Life is a tremendously precious thing, forever in danger of being destroyed from within

And that destruction, while we may wish to blame it on others, always begins in ourselves and of ourselves. 

If we don’t see that, though we be geniuses, we're still blind.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part IV-— Three Being-Natures

Moissac, France
The separation of the centers needs to be more clearly understood, because the three inner minds that have the capacity to manifest independently of one another — intellect, sensation, feeling — can’t be appreciated until each one of them manifests in its own right, in such a way that there's no confusion. 

In this sense, feeling is a whole action of consciousness belonging to itself. 

Sensation is a whole action of consciousness belonging to itself. 

Intellect is a whole action of consciousness belonging to itself. 

If we gain a direct understanding of these three Being-natures, we become more capable of investing within a particular being-nature in order to better cultivate its unique capabilities.

 This is particularly important in the question of sensation, because a very firm investment in that capacity for perception— the sensation – perception of Being— is Peter, the rock upon which the inner church is built. The living force of God flows into us on a cellular and molecular level through this faculty, and it's here that we can appreciate all of the energy that can be taken in, maintained, retained, and concentrated in order to serve as the foundation for the rest of our Being.

That force is concentrated and retained through the help of the breathing. This is why pranayama is so often associated with breathing exercises; yet even the breathing exercises are, to some extent, an inverted understanding of the practice, because one should not breathe in order to sense; one ought to first sense in order to then breathe

The sensation is the foundation of the inward and outward breath, not the other way around. If I put my attention on the breathing, I may misunderstand the capacity I have as a receptacle to receive the breathing. This is the aim of pranayama: the inflow of the divine substances and the concentration of them in every particle of Being — not just, for example, in my solar plexus. Sensation is a case where one has to have gold in order to make gold.

It’s certainly possible, using yogic exercises, to concentrate the energy in specific places, but the aim of the harmonic development of inward vibration of sensation is to have it become evenly distributed through all of the parts of the body, in a Catholic way that does not favor one particular center or chakra over another. 

In this way, we quiet the action of the chakras,  each of which spins and gathers force to itself: a partial concentration of energy, not always a harmonic one. One of the meanings of the idea of "stopping the turning of the wheels" lies in this understanding.

So I don’t want to join the mind and the body; I want to separate them so that they do their work with their own energy, with respect for each other. That in its turn leads to a union of a different kind than the one I understand with my head. 

Secondly, I don’t want to put my attention on the breath in order to sense; I want to put my attention on sensation in order to breathe. 

And third, I don’t want to concentrate energy in a particular part of the body, no matter how many exercises I’ve been taught to the contrary; I want to harmonize and unify the distribution of inward energy so that it completely penetrates all the parts of my being in a harmonious field of vibration. 

The unity comes from this field of vibration, which is sensory; and if I develop a sensitivity to this and the field becomes a permanent sensation of life, then I begin to understand that there is a mind-body connection—

but not the one that I thought about or understood with my mind.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part III

Moissac, France

Cultivating stillness of mind is helpful. 

But it's the stillness of Being itself, the stillness that resides within and arises from our physical presence, that becomes most essential. 

We need to listen, not with our ears or with our minds, but with our sensation, to invest ourselves in it and come from within it. It's necessary to penetrate past the stillness of the mind alone in order to discover this place.

The inward attention of Being which preserves this stillness begins as a very subtle and delicate, yet very powerful and insistent, sense of vibration within the molecules. 

It exists as a completely separated entity from the realm of thought experience; yet it arises as an equal to the thinking part when it is allowed to manifest itself at a harmonic rate of vibration compatible with Being.

The question, then, is one of how to go past the mind, as though one walked right by it, acknowledging it and knowing that it is there, but going directly to a different part of Being. Not rudely, as though the mind wasn't deserving of respect, but with intention and resolve, so that the mind understands there is business to be done here that doesn't concern it. 

After all, it’s the interference of the energy of the mind with the energy of the moving center, the body, that causes the difficulty in the first place: the mind is constantly using the energy of other parts in order to work, and it has to be put in a different place. There has to be a clear separation between the mind and the body.

I suppose this will sound puzzling to those who have spent years studying the idea of the mind – body connection, the need to bring the mind and body together, and so on. Yet actually — and I speak from directly within the experience as I write this — it's a separation of the mind and the body that we need to understand. 

They should be clearly separated in such a way that each one manifests within the complete and honest sphere of its own existence, with respect for one another, and in such a way that each one can be clearly seen for what it is.

The mind and the body don’t blend together like some kind of mush. They're to be appreciated as separate intelligences whose actions are so clearly distinguished and individual that it's impossible to confuse them. 

For as long as one confuses mind and body, or thinks of attention as some type of mind-over-matter action, or believes that one could be superior to the other, one has failed to understand the separation of the centers.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part II

Pediment of the sarcophagus of the abbot Raymond de Montpezat, 
Moissac, France

When we investigate the question of sensation, we need to begin very low down within the body, and within Being. 

Not quite sure how to explain this. 

Let's try this, which is inaccurate but close: 

none of the effort to establish a solid foundation of Being "begins" as such with the higher rates of vibration energy that we're capable of receiving. 

This higher energy can feed the foundation of Being; and because it is such a powerful force, when we encounter it, we always look up towards it because it’s wonderful—and we never knew that such bliss was available. 

One may become hypnotized by avidity, the idea of getting more of that.

What we too often fail to do is look downward, to what we stand on

 It’s worth  referring here to Matthew 16, in which Christ told Simon that he was Peter (the rock) upon which he would build his church. This rock is the foundation of one’s harmonic sense of Being, one’s organic sense of Being, and it recognizes the emergence of Being from the living nature of God through our sensation.

 We can think of God all we want. Human beings have been doing that for thousands of years. 

But it's not enough to think of the living quality of God as a force. One must sense the living quality of God as a force. Swedenborg called it the inflow; Jeanne de Salzmann called it an influence. Either way, it's the living force of Being which arrives within our molecules first, and then concentrates in ourselves, increasingly, as a slowly but steadily intensifying vibration-of-Being. 

A study through one's own intimate sensation will directly verify that this vibration emanates from the sacred Om, the fundamental tone of the universe (from which Gurdjieff’s sacred chant Aieioiuoa, the foundation of the vowel-based language of the angelic kingdoms, also emerges.) It carries within it the very life-force of Being itself, sometimes referred to as prana. We all know of Gurdjieff’s written contempt for the word; yet ignore his superficial dismissal. The actual Gurdjieff practice is in fact very deeply invested in the effort to come into contact with this living force of Being than his writings indicate.
We can only cultivate such an inner impression looking downwards. By forming a relationship with the level below us, upon which we then stand within our Being.  

This level rests in the permanent sensation of Being, from which all other inner manifestation must arise. 

It doesn't rely on words or concepts in order to sense and receive impressions of the world; it rests within perfect silence and stillness to receive impressions. Once it's awakened, it's inviolable, and isn't touched by the mind and its nonsense. 

Meditation exercises may bring people to a temporary sense of this. From my experience, they get awed and excited about it, because they had no idea that such a depth of inner Being and sensation was available. Even the least contact with may produce an excessive counter-reaction if it isn’t properly developed; and that has the paradoxical effect (often described by people who are struggling with this question) of undermining it and causing it to dissolve. The ego overpowers and steals the energy that the physical center needs to sense itself. 

If one understands the question from the other end of this particular stick, that is, through an awakened and permanent sensation, one can even see this happening— another aim of the work, although it can’t be clearly seen except "from the other side." De Salzmann attempted to explain this in her journals, which give some helpful indicators about the kind of work that's necessary.

Of course, many preparations don’t help... we meditate. We go to collective events where we all get together and share a pool of generated energy, which helps. Then off we go to our own individual life and we discover that there is no durability to our sensation. 

We can’t stay connected to it.

I bring up this question of looking inwardly down into the details because it is so essential. Sources as diverse as Meister Eckhart’s last sermon and Peter Brook speak of such matters; yet the discussion of it is, in a certain sense, parenthetical and outwardly directed. 

Just paying attention with the outer parts to the texture of the wood on one’s desk or the way that the shadow of the eyeglasses falls on it is not enough. 

Something has to take place before this. An inward attention, wholly contained within Being in an action of pranayama.  

That action does not take place through the intellectual mind. It has to begin within the sensation.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter weekend

Just a few notes from my walk on the Piermont pier on Good Friday.

Considering how God's Grace can flow into us. This is a true thing, and worthy of all to be believed.

Our only duty is to receive our lives. There's no greater blessing. No thing in life can ever be greater than life itself.

The Kingdom of Heaven is truly within. No need to look elsewhere for understanding.

There's no better place to be than with God.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part I

If one doesn’t develop a permanent sensation that’s harmonically distributed throughout Being, one can’t begin to work. 

One instead spends one’s life thinking about work and intermittently “waking up” (it isn’t really waking up, but it’s called that, because it’s a marginally heightened state of awareness) to the fact that one is actually doing almost nothing.

There's an irony in this state of doing almost nothing. Gurdjieff said “man cannot do;” yet we still think we can do this and that in regard to work. 

Seeing that we’re doing almost nothing isn’t working. Working consists of having an active awareness between and within the various centers.

Having a  harmonically distributed sensation which isn’t localized or forced is absolutely necessary. It represents the awareness of the physical parts of Being. They’re the anchor of actual awareness. If we don’t develop this capacity, we find ourselves nowhere, doing nothing. We think about doing; we see we’re not doing. That’s about it: a circular mill of self-involvement with no real exit.

We’d rather dwell in the lofty castles we build in our minds than in any ordinary place in the body, so we usually just move up into the clouds and sit around there enjoying the view. It's necessary to focus instead on where this capacity arises and how we can cultivate it, before we do anything else. 

 It’s true—some folk object to attempts to “explain” such matters. The word comes from the Latin explanare,  based on planus, “flat,” or “plain.” To explain something is to make an idea, situation, or problem clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts or ideas.  

We can't be truly effective in our exchanges by asking endless questions and letting them hang in the air like slowly deflating balloons. Instead, effectiveness is born by making an effort within relationship to do what “explaining" means in the dictionary definition above. 

The word “plain” itself has a lot of interesting meanings, and we can take a look at what it means to “explain”, that is, come or emerge from plainness, if we examine some of them.

As an adjective, it means not decorated or elaborate — simple or ordinary in character. In a single word, unembellished.

Of a person, it means unpretentious.

It can also mean easy to perceive or understand — bestowing clarity.

It can also mean simple.

The point is that to explain means to come from a simple place in oneself and offer one’s Being to the situation at hand. 

To assert that it means figuring everything out or knowing everything and then telling others about it is simply wrong thinking and an incorrect understanding of the word itself. The word does an excellent job, if its meaning is rightly considered, of indicating how we ought to exchange with one another when speaking about our work:

 We should come from a simple place in ourselves and offer observations about our work.

So, my dearest reader. Back to this “explanation” of sensation. 

We work with others attempting to better understand the nature of sensation and how it arises, because this is an essential question that repeatedly comes up. 

The question’s a difficult one, because there’s no textbook that tells us, do this and that, and you'll develop a permanent sensation.  The nearest thing approaching that would probably be, if there is anything, Jeanne de Salzmann’s The Reality of Being. But it can never be the last word on the subject; every new generation has the responsibility to do their own serious work in this area. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Live within, part II

To live within means to draw oneself back into oneself.

 From this place, I have the capacity to receive, sense, and feel the goodness of life as it flows into me. 

This is a grace that is granted.

I want to remember today to receive this grace, and to remain present to the goodness of life.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Live within

Tuesday, April 16

Don't try to be yourself. Live within yourself.

We spend far too much time trying to be ourselves. Trying to be this, trying to be that. We're always either trying to be what someone else expects us to be, or what we expect ourselves to be.

We try to remember ourselves. We try to do exercises. And so on.

Again — don't try to be — live within. 

I don't want to say too much more about that, just ask you to sense yourself and live within your life as it is, not through some false kind of trying that arises in the mind.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Axis of Being, Part IV—Formlessness

Rocamadour, France

Now, I must grapple with some very difficult matters that are going to be truly much harder to explain that what has come before. 

Formlessness has, like all other aspects of manifest reality, a tripartite nature. That is, it has affirming, denying, and reconciling properties.

 There is a formlessness that precedes all creation which is perfectly ordered. 

The instant that it encounters creation, it becomes formlessness in its ground state within creation, which is completely disordered. 

Perfect order and perfect disorder exists, in this way, as mirror images of one another: one in God and the other in creation. They are identical and yet opposite.

Creation, the instant it manifests, begins to move back towards perfect formlessness, which we call God but what is in fact an ultimate order that, although apparently dispersed in creation, has never truly surrendered itself at all. It has merely changed its aspect relative to our capacity for understanding.

I understand that this is a big idea; and perhaps these big ideas aren’t so good for our personal work. We need to encounter them and ponder them, but we should certainly discard them as often as possible and turn back into our scrutiny of our inward state of Being. That action, after all, is the most essential action we can undertake relative to our responsible in the return to perfect formlessness. After we appreciate the beauty, complexity, and extraordinary nature of all that there is in terms of these ideas, we should come back to the experience of self, which creates the fabric, the texture, of what it means to be human.

 I have a responsibility to order myself within myself as a mirror of God’s Being. 

I do this within the context of what stillness I can discover in order to receive the higher influences that can help me grow in this way. 

If I get too caught up in the intellectual ideas of order and disorder, form and formlessness, I'm taken away from the physical vibration of my molecular Being. Even though my efforts in the intellectual area seem honest, there's an insincerity in them, because already I have forgotten that the intelligence of my physical being and the intelligence of feeling are absolutely necessary in order to bring me to the understanding of life I wish to have. 

I have to continually discard everything that is in orbit around me and come back to this perfect, orderly formlessness which can receive something more true about my life.

If I engage in this action correctly, perhaps I begin to touch the true nature of formlessness, which delivers a real feeling – humility to the core of my being: one in which I see how small I am, how little I know, and how absolutely as possible I ought to discover a loving, intelligent, mindful, and compassionate approach to other beings. 

Indeed, if I have even a taste of this, I see that I could throw out every single concept, every cosmological and philosophical and theological understanding, and still have every shred of my true Being left intact, because my true Being belongs to God and has an essence rooted in these actions towards myself and other beings.

The difficulty with humanity in general, including myself, is that we know about all of this from a theoretical point of view, and yet we never learn how to manifest it organically, which is where all the real force of our true Being could be expressed. 

Gurdjieff used to say that human beings had extraordinary capacities for Being, capacities so great that it was impossible to understand them.  He sometimes used to brag about how he used to be able to concentrate his power to kill a yak from miles away, and so on. 

This leads us to mistakenly believe that he was referring to magical psychic powers, metaphysical abilities of hypnosis and mind over matter, and so on. That is to say, that he was referring to things that could bring us special metaphysical power over the world or others.

My impression, so far as I understand — and that is, of course, limited — is that all of the real extraordinary capacities he was speaking of involve love in one way or another. 

There can be no doubt that love is the most extraordinary quality any human being can manifest; without it, we are not even human, as so many manage to conclusively demonstrate in the world around us. 

Our purpose is to develop a greater capacity for love, along with a greater appreciation of all the love that has been invested in the least thing around us in creation. To become vessels for that substance as it concentrates, and to offer it generously not just to ourselves — and that is, with spiritual intellect, necessary— but to everyone around us. 

If we see a lack in ourselves, and we truly begin to see it clearly, the lack isn't so much related to a selfish wish for "my" inner development. It's related to our lack of love. The true nature of formlessness is secretly related to love, because both in its perfect and its imperfect state — its completely ordered and its incompletely ordered state — love remains indefinable, formless, and all-powerful, since it is what both God and His creation are made of.

 As I have done so many times throughout the course of my life, I turn back to this question of what it means to be loving, from an organic point of view. 

If I am not asking myself this question at every moment, —

THEN I am not working.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Axis of Being, part IV—A Better Connection to Feeling

Rocamadour, France

 Many years ago, my teacher Betty Brown pointed out that we can’t work directly with feeling; and while there's a great deal of truth to this, when feeling undertakes its proper role as a voluntary support for our work — one that arrives on its own, rather than superficially showing up when we poke or prod it in one way or another – then very different things begin to happen, and our capacity for receiving our inner work changes. 

So perhaps we could say our feeling can work directly with us.

But before all of that, I would just like to remind everyone that to live very carefully and attentively within sensation, with the clear and intimate attention to detail that a molecular sensation brings, already we create a ground of Being, a fertile and fecund field of material, within which mindfulness and feeling have the ability to manifest.

This means attending very carefully to the tiniest details in our lives, and being present as much as possible within each passing moment to the simple things that need to be done then. 

If I bring a relationship to my Being and my sensation to the action of breaking open an egg, of picking up the newspaper, of seeing the responsibilities I need to attend to at each moment this day, I'm already better fulfilling Being-duty, meeting the responsibility of my life in a new way that is somewhat deeper than the way I do it when I'm just reacting to everything around me and my centers are not collective participants in my action.

I suspect that as you read this, there's a colossal struggle going on in you due to the intellectual habit of trying to grasp this set of ideas with the mind, which obstacle constantly interferes with our sensation itself. Sensation ought to have an entire range of motion within Being at this instant that can have an action contributing to a deeper understanding on this point. For the time being, you'll have to accept this, because we all labor under these conditions, whether all the time or from time to time. 

But there needs to be an awareness of the concept first; and then there needs to be a better connection to feeling which begins in stillness.

Understanding that we can’t escape from conventional emotion and its requirements — that we have to be immersed in it and suffer it, that we can’t sit on a pedestal above it — is the same as understanding that we cannot escape from the agitation of the mind. 

It is, however, possible to form a silent core of Being that emanates from deeper in the heart and the center of Being than all the superficial actions in orbit around the center of my Being. 

Meister Eckhart speaks a great deal about what is created versus what is God’s, and when he does this  he is indicating the difference between the outer — that which is in orbit, and does not belong to my inner planet — and the inner — which belongs to the emanation of God within Being.

 I’m going to quote a rather lengthy section from sermon nine below, which has been considerably edited to try and focus some of the complex meaning in it a little better for this conversation:

The masters say that God is ready to give every man full satisfac­tion of all he desires, both of reason and of the senses. That God gives us satisfaction of mind and of the senses can be clearly distinguished… Satisfaction of the senses means that God gives us comfort, joy and contentment - and over­indulgence in these things does not occur in God's true friends in their inner senses. But mental satisfaction is of a spiritual nature. I call that mental satisfaction, when the summit of the soul is not brought so low by any joys as to be drowned in pleasure, but rather rises resolutely above them. Man enjoys mental satisfaction only when creaturely joys and sorrows are powerless to drag down the topmost summit of the soul. 
'Creature' I call whatever a man experiences under God. 
…Life understands better than delight and light… whatever, under God, man can attain to in this body, and in some ways more clearly than the eternal light can. For the eternal light makes known oneself and God, not oneself apart from God; but life makes one known to oneself, apart from God. 
When one sees oneself alone, it is easier to tell what is like and unlike. 
St. Paul makes this plain, and so do the pagan masters. St. Paul in his ecstasy saw God, and himself in spiritual fashion, in God, and yet each virtue did not there present itself clearly to his vision, and that was because he had not practiced them in deeds. 
By practicing the virtues, the masters came to such profound dis­cernment that they recognized the nature of each virtue more clearly than Paul or any saint in his first rapture. 
 Eckhart makes it quite clear here that the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the ordinary, coexist and are both necessary for real understanding. 

When he refers to a condition where “man enjoys mental satisfaction only when creaturely joys and sorrows are powerless to drag down the topmost summit of the soul,” the mental satisfaction he speaks of is that stillness which empties itself of what is created. 

This ”mental“ satisfaction ( by mental, he means of the higher or spiritual intellect) is the beginning of a condition whereby we are prepared to receive what comes; and it is this stillness, which begins in the vibration of molecules (paradoxically, the more active the vibration, the more stillness arrives) and spreads itself into a certain indescribable silence within the part of the mind that is not touched to the world. This prepares us for the receiving of real feeling, which will be — should it take place — the first real contact we have with any truth in the context of divine Being.
 Perhaps there seems to be another paradox here: understanding does not necessarily involve intelligence as we understand it on the ordinary level. In fact, real understanding, which prepares us for feeling, cannot be reduced to intellectual formulas and it cannot be stuffed into forms, since the beginning of its nature is formless
Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.