Monday, April 29, 2013

Everything happens for a reason?

 One of my closest friends from college, Kim, recently pointed out that she hears people say, all the time, "everything happens for a reason." Eventually, the phrase becomes irritating.

The two questions worth examining here is why the phrase is repeated so often – is it true? — and why it becomes an irritation.

  I'm not sure we can treat this all in a single essay, so we may need to break it up.

In the first place, it is true on the physical level that everything happens for a reason. The reason that all events take place is quite precisely because the ones before them took place. In every instance, the universe is in the state of re-creation. That is to say, the entire will of God in all its infinite perfection reforms itself over and over again in each instant; but each instant of reformed truth, of the reemergence of the Dharma — let us remember, Dogen advised that the Dharma re-creates itself something over 1,700 times per second — follows precisely on the last one. There can be no reality that is not in complete relationship with the instant that came before it.

 This model is, of course, the deterministic universe, in which physical actions cannot deviate from law. And indeed, the material universe follows such a law. Gurdjieff succinctly summed that up by saying  that for one thing to be different, everything would have to be different. The statement seems like a limited one, about an individual human being's situation, but it extends all the way down to the quantum level.

 The deterministic universe, of course, is a mechanical explanation, and yet it provides a foundational truth from which to examine the question. The metaphysical argument, which is that there are reasons, overarching Divine initiatives and principles, for what happens, is the one people are tossing off when they make this statement. The statement itself is so superficial as to be flippant; yet some of the greatest philosophical and religious minds in the world have examined the question in enormous detail. Ibn Arabi developed elaborate understandings of this question which would take years to study; yet his conclusion that overarching Divine initiatives and principles drive the manifestation of the known universe was inexorable. In addition, he insisted that this could only be known directly through Divine revelation, no matter how much intellectual firepower one directed at it. In this, he was in firm agreement with great spiritual masters from every tradition. In the end, our intellect cannot master the question.

The whole point of philosophy is to conduct an inquiry as to whether there are reasons; whether there is a higher moral good, and whether there is a God. Atheists, who want to shear the wool from the sheep and just keep the wool, arguing that there is no sheep, are still left with the need to claim that there is some kind of good, lest they be accused of a morally bankrupt ideology. The irony here is that insisting there is no meaning still leaves human beings with the need to assign meaning; and atheism's attempt to defend a moral code derived from what they claim is an entirely an accidental and random rationalism proves this. Atheism— the idea that nothing happens for a reason— has failed to fire the imagination of human beings in general simply because the idea itself is false, and thinking human beings who are not internally damaged can instinctively sense this.

Sri Anirvan provides what is to me one of the most insightful and beautiful dissertations on the question of the greater meaning of actions in the universe in his fine book, Inner Yoga. His observations ought to be required reading for those seeking more contemporary conversation on the matter. The essential gist of his argument is that even the most awful events are part of a much greater whole that turns itself on a plan for the good which cannot be discerned in its microcosmic manifestations.

Cosmologically speaking, this has to be true. As I've explained before, every single object, event, circumstance, and condition is inextricably linked with all other objects, events, circumstances, and conditions, and thus from a metaphysical point of view, we understand the following situations. First, that every such element of manifested reality is in its wholeness a perfect and complete expression of God (Ibn Arabi underscores this over and over again) and that second, since each apparently individually iterated manifestation of God is in fact not separated from God but in a metaphysical sense the entire expression of God, each object, event, circumstance, and condition contains all other objects, events, circumstances, and conditions, all of them born into Truth through inevitability. None of them can be separated; all of them are perfect; and everything is God.

Following on this argument, it is impossible to separate the good from the bad, since each one of them is an absolute manifestation of truth, arising within the limited relativity imposed by the constraints of material reality. This means that everything we call the good cannot exist without the bad and actually has the bad with in it.

Ibn Arabi explained this conundrum, which appears to equate the good with the bad and assign them equal value, by insisting that the bad is put there in order to turn men back towards the good. Now, as we pointed out before, even atheists believe in a good; so whether one is a Deist or not, one must admit that the good exists. Since it cannot be separated from the bad, we must take the bad is a necessary condition for the good. Ibn Arabi even goes so far as to point out repeatedly that if we did not have the bad, we would not know what the good looks like; and Swedenborg makes exactly the same argument.

 As I suspected, we are not going to get this matter resolved in a single essay; so you will have to turn to the next one for a further commentary.

May your soul be filled with light.






Saturday, April 27, 2013

The structure of prayer, part 3

Every action aimed at inhabiting the attention is an action aimed at awakening prayer.

One could say that the whole aim of inner work is to awaken prayer within every moment. The three centers we are privileged to enjoy, the sensory apparatus we take impressions in through, are designed for prayer. And it's only in the conjunction of the three, as prayer gently and gradually awakens within the mind, the body, and then within the feelings, all in relationship with one another, that we discover a new and perpetually renewed meaning in life.

The essential meaning of life is in prayer; prayer is no dry, repetitive engagement with words, but a living and tactile encounter with the world around us.

The prayer of the mind, using words, perpetually turns us back towards an understanding that God exists and is with us at all times.

The prayer of the body, consistently receiving the grace and the blessing of God through every sensory impression that it takes in, speaks to us in a language that deepens our relationship to the world and to life.

The prayer of the feelings enhances our understanding that the experiences we have are sacred and consist of blessing after blessing.

I was speaking to a friend in the work over a month ago when she pointed out that every day brings blessings of this kind. This is what becomes possible when the centers work together. And this is just the beginning, as a study of it in the context of the enneagram reveals.

Three-centered prayer occupies the note fa on the enneagram, the position of power. It is the third iteration of prayer in the inner evolution of man, and confers — if it arises — the necessary force which must work in conjunction with Being to produce a higher level of prayer and understanding. But all three of the kinds of prayers are needed: the foundational and gravitational one-centered prayer of instinctive materiality, the generative two-centered prayer of emotion and desire, and the intelligible three-centered prayer of power informed by consciousness.

All three of these kinds of prayer together form a re-mi-fa triad that serves as the precursor for a passage into the realm of Being. This work, characterized by the shock of conscious labor, serves as a preparation for passage from the natural, or ordinary material realm of prayer, into the spiritual, or divinely informed, realm of prayer. These two domains are vastly different. One is under largely mechanical influences; the other, Heavenly ones. I have deliberately chosen to describe the diagram in Swedenborgian terms, since his conceptualization of the two sides of the diagram suits the situation best.

 One of the interesting things about three-centered prayer is that it represents the triad that provides the conscious shocks at the note fa. That is to say, the prayer of the mind, the body, and the feelings form the holy affirming, holy denying, and holy reconciling forces in the single note fa. There are relationships like this within every note on the enneagram, which one could spend a good deal of time contemplating. The point is, overall, that forces massed one within the other in an intricate blend of interactions that reminds us of neurological and cellular structures — which is exactly what they are. Swedenborg understood this quite fully, and blended his accomplished understanding of neurology as a mirror of heaven intimately with his understanding of  Divine love and Wisdom, Grace, and Prayer.

The action of prayer is the supremely transformational action. This is a central esoteric understanding in the Gurdjieff work, and, indeed, in every other legitimate spiritual practice. The understanding can't possibly be approached through any of the humanities or the ordinary sciences, and none of the results obtained by it have anything to do with the reductionist analysis of the world or the material interests of human beings. This is not a work for people interested in, as Ibn Arabi would call it, "worldly rubble." It benefits the soul alone.

 It's important to keep this understanding in mind when working. Inner work cannot develop without right action of prayer.

 May your soul be filled with light.


Friday, April 26, 2013

the great age of false measurements

Inline image 1
I've written about this subject on a number of occasions, but it seems to be on my mind more and more lately, in the context of the practice of the presence of God.

The presence of God is joyful, but it isn't joyful in the outward sense that we usually understand the word. And it is equally sorrowful, perhaps, even, dominated by this quality — which turns out to be an aspect of joy. Real Joy, you see, is a sensation of truth— not an emotion that makes one feel good. Because of this equivalency, putting it in Buddhist terms, Joy is equal to an understanding of the Dharma.

To sense the truth organically is to feel rightly; and to feel rightly is more satisfying than anything one might call feeling good. Good feeling, as we experience it in ordinary life, has nothing to do with right feeling, and it is easy to demonstrate this.

For example, there are those who derive good feelings from horrible actions. There are those who take delight in sadism, masochism, murder, and so on. So we can see that these feelings, ordinary ones of feeling good, have very little to do with any Divine Feeling, except in the abstract, insofar as they represent polarized negatives that are the opposite of true Feeling. Such polarized negatives are necessary; and the esoteric reasons for that are complicated. The simplest way of explaining this is that we cannot know right Feeling if no wrong feeling arises; and the more fit and sophisticated philosophical schools understand this quite well.

But I want today to talk more about the exact nature of joy and sorrow as they emanate from the presence of God.

Joy and sorrow are both deep aspects of Love. I use the word deep aspects, because Love has many superficial manifestations, and many aspects that do not grow directly down into the roots of Being, which are connected to the roots of material reality itself. Material Reality, as I explained in my book on Chakras and the Enneagram— and as was amply explained, at much greater length, by Swedenborg and Ibn Arabi — is created of Divine Love, which separates it self into an infinite number of manifestations, some of which are connected to overarching or higher principles and arisings. These higher principles and arisings are motive forces within the universe, conceptual forces, and joy and sorrow are part of those root conceptual forces. They lie so close to Love because they form the base of the triangle, the Trinity, that Love initially creates. When one conceives of them this way, one sees that they are directly connected, forming a single and whole line, that is, a single entity — just as love and sorrow create a single entity, and love and joy create a single entity.

If you wish to study this from the point of view of Gurdjieff's enneagram, I encourage it. Placing Love at the apex of the triangle, Joy in the position of the number 3, and Sorrow at the position of number six, you may sense a number of very important inferences which I will not go into in this essay. The point is that Joy and Sorrow are most intimately connected, and the presence of God, if properly sensed and felt, will inevitably produce both Joy and Sorrow, blended into a single unit, in which Sorrow — which is now fully Joyful, having acquired all of the characteristics of Joy in its completed union with it — predominates. It predominates because Sorrow, which is related to intentional suffering and a necessary element in right experience of the world, vibrates at a higher rate than Joy—again, demonstrated simply by iterating the question on the enneagram, which assigns the two qualities their lawfully hierarchical rates of vibration.

Because these hierarchical models of the two entities are nonetheless insufficient, it's tempting to believe that Sorrow is superior to Joy, whereas really, what we need to understand is that it merely plays a different role. Airisng from Love, both are both absolutely consequent, and absolutely necessary. 

Love cannot complete the action of the Holy Trinity without Joy and Sorrow; they are essential partners in its action. Another way of understanding it is that Joy and Sorrow are the agencies of Love, as manifest within the level of material reality.

The questions of human happiness and its relationship to ordinary life are almost beside the point relative to the experience of real Feeling. If one acquires real Feeling, one will find happiness; but it is not happiness of a kind that one finds through love, sex, money, food, or any of the ordinary stimulations that we expect might produce happiness. It goes much deeper; it is in the marrow of the bones, and cannot be excised, nor affected by these outer material things. Joy, in other words, is of the soul, the inner man; and happiness is of the outer man. This inner quality is so determinant of outer nature and circumstance that even if all the material trappings presumed to be "generating" his happiness were taken away from a man, he might still appear to be quite happy from the point of view of those around him, as long as his connection to Joy (which, let us not forget, is actually sorrowful) was not damaged. 

One of the aims of esoteric work is to form this inner capacity of feeling the presence of God through the action of joyful Sorrow and sorrowful Joy, until one sees that the two are perfectly blended into a whole — a lawful action consequent to the pursuit of both conscious forces in man: conscious labor and intentional suffering. Conscious labor, itself, actually represents Joy — that is, a man should derive an indestructible inner satisfaction from his honest labor — and intentional suffering represents Sorrow — that is, a man derives an indestructible inner truth from the experience of how he is in an inward sense.

Because the formation of these material substances can only arise from what Gurdjieff called the "coating of higher Being- Bodies" in man, that is, the material acquisition of the substances necessary to sense higher levels of vibration, there can be no substitute for effort, experience, and humility in regard becoming open to the presence of God. But this openness is absolutely possible; and because it is immeasurable, it will never be quantified or qualified by the sciences, or by instruments. The material is functionally incapable of measuring the spiritual; and no real,that is, conscious, measurement of the material can arise from anything but the spirit. 

Every other measurement is a false measurement; and we live in the great age of false measurements.

May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More on an intimate sensation of self

This fine specimen of a male turkey has been coming down off the ridge to our bird feeder every day with his harem of females, strutting around and putting on a colorful display. He's magnificent, so I thought I would share a picture of him with readers.

This question of an intimate sensation of self, connected with the action of breathing, is itself connected to the subject matter in the post entitled "everything." The more intimate the sensation of Being becomes, the more deeply connected we are to the sacred act of breathing, in so far as it feeds the development of our higher centers, the closer we are to God.

Why else live unless one wishes to become closer to God? One taste of this honey will leave you wanting nothing else, for the rest of your life. There is no sensation sweeter than the sensation of the Lord; everything ever written about it in the Psalms, which are a true and very ancient source of higher teachings on the subject, cannot even begin to touch the least understanding of what the actual experience is like. There is no other reason to live, and no other reason to work, but to seek God and to continually see one's own inadequacy and sin, until one moves closer and closer to a possibility where Grace can remove some of these contaminating influences.

 Of course Mr. Gurdjieff might have put all of these things in markedly different terms; but all of us who follow his path are in danger, if we just parrot his words and ideas, of becoming lifeless clones who imitate the outer form of his teaching, clinging to the husk as though the outward appearance were the essence of the grain. So one must discover one's own understanding, and pass it on according to one's own words.

 If we truly see what we are, and what God is, we see that we are not God — not as we are. The Divine influence can be received, but we are actually opposed to it in our ordinary being. What we consider as ourselves, the part that reacts to the world, is filled with falseness and selfishness, which is constantly in action—arrogant, egoistic, and uncaring of others. 

The action of God stands in direct opposition to all of these characteristics, and it is only through seeing exactly how we are — and, in fact, intentionally suffering ourselves as we are, knowing that we are this way — that any hope can be gained.

 The intimate action of prana,  that is, the Holy Spirit, in the body, increases sensitivity to this possibility. It is more than just a life energy; it is a Divine energy, the active agent of what Swedenborg called inflow, the intimate arrival and action of the divine upon humankind. Our careful attention and sensitivity to this force helps to create an inner magnetism that attracts it in greater quantity; for the particles of God, having found their brothers, want nothing more than to join with them again, and every human being who participates in the collection of these particles, their concentration and coating of parts to form their higher Being-bodies, performs an inestimable service not for themselves, but for creation. We mistakenly think we are here to serve ourselves; but in reality, if we attain even a single particle of enlightenment — and enlightenment, like everything else, is a substance that exists according to degree of concentration — then we know what we ought to serve, and despite our ongoing delusions, that service is never unto ourselves.

 May your soul be filled with light.


The structure of prayer, part 2

The reason Buddhists invented prayer wheels was probably from an original understanding that all movement, all turning—in tantric practice, the whole universe and all the material in it is perpetually engaged in turning—is a sacred action, a form of prayer, in which all movement ultimately seeks a return to the transcendent source of arising. The centers in man are, like everything else in the universe, machines designed to form and re-create a relationship with the higher, in an ascending path towards the transcendent. This is what prayer, in its essence, is: the conscious effort to collect energy and return it to the source of its arising in God.

Man, because of his potential for consciousness, has a unique responsibility in this regard, but it can't be fulfilled without conscious participation in the form of prayer. Because man is iterated (created and expressed... or, so to speak, extruded) as a three-brained (and seven-centered) Being, he has not one but five total forms of physical prayer, or prayer-engines, active within his lower Being-parts. (Hence the probable origin of the five-chakra systems of Tibetan Buddhist doctrines.)

They are nested within one another like Russian dolls; two of them (the foundational efforts at prayer) are automatic, and three of them require conscious participation.

If you refer to the first diagram of prayer, you'll see how prayer is structured and layered in man.

First of all, we have instinctive prayer, that is, automatic prayer regulated by the instinctive center. This kind of prayer, common to all one-centered beings, fulfills all the automatic being-functions necessary for the existence of life. It corresponds to materiality on the basic enneagram of prayer, that is, to the note re in the octave. This type of prayer needs no assistance from the conscious mind in order to function. I have personally verified that it is possible, under certain circumstances, for a yogi or yogin to develop a specific connection to this level of prayer, at which point one will understand automatically functioning sacred actions as exclusive entities, that is, without the interference of the ordinary mind or, indeed, any of the other functions.

Under these conditions one becomes the prayer or sacred action, so, if the example we take is breathing, one becomes the breathing, and there is no other existence, reality, or entity other than the breathing. At this fundamental level of Reality one sees the "subjectively-absolute" nature of each level of action when taken unto itself, so that levels of prayer, while functioning parts of a fractal whole, can also be seen to exist as whole entities within themselves; hence the perfection of existence is completely contained and entirely reflected within each apparently disparate element.

This is, admittedly, an exotic experience, revealing the underpinnings of functions that we pay very little attention to and have almost no understanding of. (For example, with all the emphasis on attention to breathing in this, that or the other manner one encounters in pranayama, how many understand that the critical element in all of this is not how much one breathes, but how little one actually needs to breathe?) The bliss that Gurdjieff claims every three-brained Being ought to experience when taking in the second Being-food of air is related to the sacred action of prayer at the instinctive level. The satisfaction we feel when we eat is also related to this function; it easily becomes a vice.

An element that almost everyone is familiar with, however, is two-centered prayer, conducted by the conjunction of instinctive and sex center. The ultimate result of this much higher and more powerful level of prayer is orgasm. Gurdjieff called it "palpitating Self-oblivion;" and indeed, the action of orgasm produces a unique ecstasy which is entirely comparable to the "perfect oneness of being" I describe above as consequent to a whole experience of instinctive prayer. Two-centered prayer is a function of materiality plus desire, represented by the note mi on the octave. Sex itself represents the culmination of automatic prayer, which is why very nearly the entire animal kingdom engages in sexual congress of one kind or another. Although, as biologists have puzzled over for over a century, sexual reproduction isn't necessary, (leaving the strictly evolutionary explanations for it somewhat wanting) it is most desirable from a sacred point of view; and the universe naturally produces what is most desirable to God.

Man has these one-centered and two-centered functions combined in him because they are foundational; one cannot construct a three-brained or three-centered being without the underpinnings of the one-and-two centered actions of prayer. Some of the "secret" reasons the yogic chakras exist and relate to one another in the first place are subtly related to this question, which has universal implications, but that is another issue which can't possibly be covered in this series.

In the next essay, we'll examine the nature and consequences of three-centered prayer.

may your sould be filled with light.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Everything

Inline image 1

If one takes a hologram and cuts it into smaller pieces, the entire image is still present in each piece.

The universe is much like this. Each man is a reflection of the Being of the whole universe; and so, when a man attempts to remember himself, in essence, he remembers everything; or, at least, he has the potential to do this. This is one of the secret meanings of the title of Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales, "All and Everything."

 The feeling capacity of a human Being — which is measured by the degree of integrated interaction between all his centers, or chakras — is capable of sensing all and everything, that is, the entire universe, and everything in it, because all of the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions not only potentially, but ultimately, reside within the nature of Being — and since Being is permanent, eternal, and essentially unified and inseparable, the ultimate sensation of Self is the sensation of All and Everything.

 In undertaking inner work, a human being will gradually develop the capacity for greater sensation of themselves in the sense of personal identity and, inevitably — in the initial stages — ego, but this understanding extends to both lower and higher levels, and as it does so, it expands the capacity to understand life not just from the point of view of the personal, but into the extended realm of the multi-personal — that is, encompassing the experience of other sentient beings — and then further into other realms, which include not only the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, and the starry worlds, but also the inextricably intertwined and linked events that take place in what we call time, which is actually a single and comprehensive event... not divided units.

For the reader, surely, this is a philosophical proposition, but really there is nothing philosophical about it. The deepening of inner sensation and the development of capacity for feeling has, as its aim, the birth of the mind of God within the organism — and this does not take place in an instant, but rather, as a process of what might be likened to cellular division. Just as an embryo begins with insemination, followed by the unfolding of a distinct and lawful plan that causes cells to grow and multiply, so the soul which is touched by God acquires dimension through the growth of its cellular being, which is created through what Gurdjieff called impressions. He always referred to this as a food; what he made quite clear by way of allusion was that this food is intended for  this same embryonic growth.  

The law of correspondences dictates that embryonic development of a biological nature exactly mirrors the growth of the soul; just as the embryo must distinguish itself from a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells into organs, a backbone, limbs, a brain, and lungs, and then move from its womb into the world, so must the soul undergo the same growth and then move into higher realms by way of what we refer to as death. Swedenborg would have understood this principle quite exactly, since he understood that physiology and cosmology are both intimately related to neurology, psychology, and spirituality, and explained that in clear, unambiguous terms — a man many centuries ahead of his time. 

In the Gurdjieff work, it is sometimes said that we are cells in the body of God — and remember, each cell contains the DNA, the blueprint, for the entire body.

As one grows closer to God, as one's embryo develops, one discovers that one is connected to everything, and that all of the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions in the universe are both deserving of, and attracted to, feeling conditions, that is, they are drawn in to the cyclical action of the chakras by a form of spiritual magnetism.  So the growth of the Being-Body is analogous to every kind of growth, from the growth of the embryo to the amalgamation of planets around the sun — and the magnetism of gravitational attraction dominates this action. We draw the world into ourselves; and in doing so, we become the world.

When extraordinary masters such as Ibn Arabi explain to us that it is possible to know the entire universe, comprehensively, it is not hyperbole; it is part of a natural organic action available through inner work. Those who are familiar with his al-Futuhat-al-makkiyya may see some of his claims as boasts, yet the things he speaks of are exactly what Gurdjieff meant when he told Ouspensky that with the proper inner development, man was capable of things beyond anyone's imagination. 

These things have nothing to do with the manipulation of the material world or power over it; they have to do with the level of understanding a man can attain. In today's world, we conceive of understanding as an intellectual feat; but it is more properly an existential one, involving all of the senses and faculties, referred to in the great religions as enlightenment.

 As we deepen our feeling-connection to the world and to God, an endless number of questions about our nature arise, accompanied by the most remarkable and unpredictable sensations and feelings. The unfolding of experience in life expands exponentially into untold dimensions. All of this unfolds into an understanding of what Gurdjieff called the Sorrow of His Uni-Being Endlessness; and that Sorrow, in a way that cannot be explained in words, has its birth in the fundamental substance of Love, from which everything is created.

May your soul be filled with light.

The structure of prayer- part 1

This set of essays will investigate the question of prayer from a structural point of view. It will take several essays to expound these questions.

If we speak of three-centered prayer, it's inaccurate; because actually, all five of the lower centers engage in prayer. To be sure, the two higher centers also engage in prayer, but we need not concern ourselves with these at present, since their own version of prayer is not germane to our investigation from the point of view of this level.

The lower centers engage in prayer naturally, if they are allowed; and our ordinary, conventional understanding of prayer can interfere with this.

I could speak of the prayer of all five centers, but perhaps it's most useful to understand the prayer of the three principal centers we can have an effect on, that is, prayer of the mind, prayer of the body, and prayer of the feelings.

These prayers are arranged in a definite hierarchy, the lowest of which is prayer of the mind, and the highest of which is prayer of the feelings. Most of us are strictly familiar with prayer of the mind, because this kind of prayer, which stems from the intellect, is the most verbally accessible, and words are the language we most readily understand.

The languages of the body and the feelings are not properly understood as languages, even though they ought to be, so we don't correctly understand how to perceive them as prayer, even though they can organize themselves into prayer naturally if a right connection to higher energies is formed.

All yoga is actually a form of prayer; and the self-organization of the centers into prayer is what we might call intuitive yoga. Intuitive yoga is what yoga originated as; when yoga originally emerged as a practice, humanity was much closer to its spiritual roots, and most men and women had their inner eye opened quite naturally. As mankind's nature deteriorated, contact with the inner eye was lost; and yoga became an organized, as opposed to intuitive, practice. This does not mean that the intuitive, or natural, form of yoga was lost; the proclivity for this kind of yoga still resides innately with the unconscious (where Gurdjieff said man's undamaged conscience was located.) But this intuitive form of yoga, that is, prayer, is buried.

This intuitive kind of prayer is, ultimately, a study of attention; but intuitive yoga is allowing the attention to have an attention, not attempting to form an attention artificially. This particular point is persistently misunderstood by our ordinary parts, who are functionally incapable of understanding things in any way other than "under their own control." Attention exists naturally and does not need forming; all that the initiate needs to do is become open to the force of attention, and it will appear without effort on the initiate's part. Admittedly, this takes a good deal of preparation; most often, decades of it. A good deal of the aim of Jeanne de Salzmann's work as expounded in The Reality of Being is the reorganization of yoga into its original and intuitive form; a work, by the way, which was one of the original aim's of Gurdjieff's system, which, as I have noted before, is nothing more than yoga with all of the yoga jargon judiciously—and intentionally—excised from it.

At any event, let's get back to the subject of prayer. 

Prayer must become active at all times. One simply cannot pray enough; another point which (despite Conge's concise observations on the matter) often seems to be lost on students of the Fourth Way, as well as everyone else—excepting perhaps the Muslims, who seem to have retained a soundly right valuation of this activity. 

But one needs to understand prayer from the point of view of all three centers, and be actively engaged in within each one. It should be noted that intuitive yoga naturally produces this result if the development of the three centers is harmonious and balanced. It was one of the original aims of the Gurdjieff work, in the form Gurdjieff encountered it (a very ancient form) before he adopted it to western ends and means.

The prayer of the mind is received through forms, and created on this level by the intellect and associations. It's helpful; it's necessary in order to conceptualize, which takes a more active form of thinking than just passive or rote interpretation. Gurdjieff described this kind of prayer when he was speaking to Ouspensky about prayer in In Search of the Miraculous. I say above, created on this level, but keep in mind that this kind of prayer has the potential to be informed by a much higher intelligence under the right conditions.

The second kind of prayer, prayer of the body, is received when the body develops an active attention of its own, and its own mind develops the capacity to work independently of the other two centers in a right way. (This "vivification of vibration" needs to take place before the body can work in active conjunction with the mind.) Without this correct relationship, prayer in the body cannot arise; but once it arises, it is forever present, as Brother Lawrence explained in his classic The Practice of the Presence of God.

The perpetual action of these two kinds of prayer will inevitably attract and engender the third form of intuitive prayer, prayer of the feelings. This is truly esoteric prayer which, although it can be described, is best left to the initiate to experience.

More on this to follow.


May your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The intimate study of self

I spent part of the flight to China pondering and actively studying the question of breathing.

Breathing takes multiple forms; breathing of ordinary form can't be readily transformed into conscious breathing, and attempts to do it artificially can be dangerous. True breathing, transformed breathing, is an intimate and subtle action that is not intiated so much as experienced.

In the intimate study of self, breathing ceases to be an aggressive function. It quiets itself and of its own accord acquires a quiescent nature, one that resides within the body, rather than expressing itself as a mechanical action. So already, you see, it is a more conscious action, which provides the substances necessary for a permanent connection with sensation.

This residence takes place at the base of the spine. The true breath is tethered here, where it forms what we might call a pocket of silence. Within this silence, this stillness, there is a quality that takes in a finer substance which is different than the ordinary action of air. When connected to this yogic force, the breathing naturally subsides until far less mechanical action than usual is required to provide the body with its necessary supply of oxygen. One inhales much less than usual; breaths become measureably small, even tiny, and can still fully satisfy.

This is in part because a naturally informed- inwardly formed- breathing is able to work at a much higher level of efficiency.  It so happens that even in periods of physical exertion, inner breathing of this kind allows one to engage in vigorous activity without a great increase in the action of the diaphragm and lungs, as long as one is attentive and in relationship with the root nature of breath. The stillness, in other words, has an inviolable quality; breath is a quality that belongs to stillness, rather than stillness being a quality that belongs to breath.

When the breath becomes naturally available in this way- which results from a connection through attention, and not, generally, by way of any range of contrived mechanical exercises designed to invoke it- an intimate study of Self becomes more possible. Placing the attention quite intentionally at the root of the spine here allows for an investment of prana not only at this place, but also in the region of the solar plexus and the sex organs; in this manner, the entire lower system of chakras is fed with a more harmonious energy which produces a grounded state that notably increases the magnetism of the lower center of gravity.

It's sometimes possible to evoke this action through a directed attention, but it isn't truly necessary, since yogic breath arises naturally, when needed, and at the behest of higher forces. It's uncertain whether the initiate even can use excess energy acquired through more forced methods in any truly practical manner; energy of this kind can turn into a kind of negative emotion which can be quite poisonous.

Breathing deepens in direct proportion to inner awareness. That is, only insofar as inwardness is attentively cultivated will a conscious form of breathing arise and manifest, and this is a consequence of a certain kind of magnetism that develops through an intimacy towards one's being.

The deposit of prana, which Gurdjieff deferred to as coating one's parts to form a higher Being-body, inevitably leads to a different perspective on the activities in life. It might be said that this action becomes directly transformative, rather than idealistically transformative, since it eventually provides a bridge to parts of feeling that work with much higher energies than the ordinary self.

May your soul be filled with light.






 

To just live

  I see that very little thought goes into life.

One blurts out any old thing without thinking. One doesn't take the measure of things. I could be much more attentive and much more careful in the way that I think, first, and before anything else. If I were paying attention, the intellectual part would quite clearly see what is needed in terms of outward expression. There would be a connection between the inward state of attentiveness and the outward expression of life.

A connection of this kind need not be advertised. It need merely be lived. The inward state of attentiveness meets the outward state that is necessary; and one immediately understands that one will lose nothing by acting with kindness and generosity. Perhaps one even understands that the exchanges that take place require an attentiveness in order to affirm their sacred qualities. Or perhaps one doesn't; but one at least has a chance.

 There's a great deal of discussion about whether or not the intellect is worth much; body types weirdly believe that the body is somehow superior, and emotional types fervently believe that the feelings are superior. But the intellect is entirely necessary; and it needs to be invested in attentiveness in order for a connection with the body to be formed, and a relationship to receive feeling to be created.

 One can ponder too much or overthink exactly what an attention is; but it does have the quality of intelligence, that is, a perception that is inwardly formed, and that sees exactly how things are. In this case, I am able to bring a different quality to my reactions, even when I am engaging in rather ordinary exchanges, sharing stories, making suggestions, listening to the ideas of others, and so on. All of these actions can be attended to by bringing my parts more together while they are taking place. The intelligence has a vital role to play in this action.

This isn't some lofty spiritual practice or some form of inner magic; this is just being attentive and simple. The results of an attention of this kind, a simple attention that more actively intends a connection to life, can be quite remarkable. They speak for themselves. Then I don't need to get tangled up in analysis of what the Self is, how to remember it, or how to forget it. I can just live.

 It's often said that the idea of inner work is to take the work into life; and yet how often is this done? One shows up at spiritual events of a dozen different kinds and thinks that that is where the spiritual work takes place; whereas, really, the spiritual work takes place at the cash register when I truly take a look at the person who I am engaged in exchange with. It takes place when I make sure that the cat gets some attention. It takes place when I remember that I need to attend to relationship with the people around me; not in some exotic way, but in a quite ordinary way.

 So I really need to be in my life. To be in my life with a precise attention. Of course, I can't do everything; this is going to come and go, and I have to allow that.

But I can make the effort.

May your soul be filled with light.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Invested in ego

 Things changed inside me many years ago.

I don't know how to explain that, but the changes were permanent. My experience of life underwent a fundamental change that was accompanied by a series of religious ecstasies. Because of their medieval character, it was a highly disconcerting experience for a 20th and 21st century individual. These experiences did not fit into any reductionist or scientific mindset, and indeed didn't fit into the range of experience anyone else I had ever met had, with perhaps one notable exception. It quickly became obvious that the tell people anything about these experiences was a profound mistake, so I rarely, if ever, mention them in public.

In any event, the changes were permanent, and they raised permanent questions which have been alive in me ever since. At the time that the changes took place, I said to those who I confided in that if one ever once gets a real taste of God, one never stops seeking God. In fact, one cannot forget oneself or get rid of the urge to seek God intensely, and in every action of life. There is a part of oneself that can awaken and will not go back to sleep, as far as this goes.

This kind of action in human being could be a dangerous thing. One does not actually want to change; and once one begins to have a fundamental change, one that is permanent, one cannot stand still. One is utterly required to go forward into the unknown, relentlessly and without fear, no matter what one confronts. The way back is not there to be had. This is a distinctly uncomfortable and sometimes even frightening experience, because it challenges everything that one knows about. It especially challenges the ego, which is much less hidden than it used to be.

I spend a great deal of my day watching the ego in action, both my own and that of other people. I'm astonished at what a chameleon it is. It manages to hide in plain sight at all times, and it does a particularly good job of this when it is manifesting in those of us on spiritual paths. It's positively bizarre to see how many ego-manifestations dominate exchanges between those who aspire or profess to various levels of spiritualization. I've seen the most shameful and blatant displays of ego from some people who supposedly have the "greatest levels of development." All of them, to the last one, appeared to be completely unaware of how noxious and obvious the way they were behaving was. If there is ever an experience that causes one to question everything, this kind of experience is it.

Well, I'm probably like that myself some of the time. But there is always someone in me keeping an eye on things, and in my better moments, I realize how important it is to feel a sense of shame in regard to this question. Eventually, one begins to understand why one should not make a spectacle of oneself, in any way, under any circumstances. And it is possible to make a spectacle of oneself in 10,000 different ways. Exercising and expressing humility can only be done one way, and it begins with an inner action that has to be alive in order to emerge.

Society and humanity have organized themselves relentlessly so that almost everything that takes place involves making a spectacle of oneself in one way or another. We celebrate crudity and coarseness; and while both of these actions, too, are flowers that bloom within the heart of the Lord, they do not have a higher nature. So much more is possible. Yet we are blind to it.

 One can develop a great deal of sensitivity without properly understanding this question of shame. And one can develop a great deal of sensitivity and still be cruel and unfeeling. The propensity of evil to find its way into situations that begin by expressing themselves as the good is very nearly unlimited; and only a conscious and watchful eye can see such action of ego. One needs to be forever and constantly on one's guard, because lower influences take great delight in hijacking the action of higher influences and masquerading as an aspect of them.

There comes a moment in inner work where one begins to see that one must feel shame; it becomes organic; and one furthermore begins to see that one must keep a very close eye on one's inner troublemakers, because they are always interested in bringing out the worst in a situation.

 may your soul be filled with light.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Called by Heaven

If we were able to open up and let the metaphysical sky fall down into us- it travels on a pathway involving not only the top of the head, but the center of the forehead and the base of the cerebellum- the light of heaven would descend into us unimpeded, and a higher Will would surely be done.

Since very ancient times, it's been the aim of religion- and yoga- to make this possible, yet it remains, for the largest part, impossible. We’re blocked from this action; and perhaps wisely so. A man or a woman can only receive what they are prepared for, and we are all so full of contradictions and negativity, so consistently subject to their action, that true heavenly forces would be catastrophically corrupted if they entered us.

This is, indeed, one of the many esoteric points of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthy Delights, which represents a progressively corrupted Tantra. As I have pointed out in my analysis of the painting, it depicts an inner action, not an outer one, and the theme is not the corruption of the world, but of the soul.

In what may be the supreme irony of our existence (and I assure readers that I speak here for myself, as much as for any other) we don’t sense this process; what Gurdjieff called sleep renders us unaware of it. Negativity and contradiction- unmindfulness- dominate our very superficial inner actions, and we dwell primarily in these superficial aspects of Being... fearing our deeper, inner, potentially transformative waters.

It is as though we spent all our lives on the surface of an ocean periodically subject to fierce storms and terrible waves,  not understanding that this was but a fraction of existence; and that underneath us, a profound, serene, and stately realm contained a much more fundamental aspect of our Being.
Our preoccupation with the external prevents us from seeing, through the inner eye, the remarkably fine, and heavenly, aspect of Being and of Reality, which penetrates everything. A sensation of this brings a unique and remarkable fineness of perception; some drugs may mimic it, but no external chemistry can truly plumb the depths of Being as it exists and manifests within inner consciousness. Truly, it is possible to not just know, but to see, to feel, how everything is contained by everything else... until there is only one thing.

Heaven is calling us from within, exactly where Christ said it was located. Through these influences, each aspect of life becomes an inner treasure. Those treasures are a blend of outward impressions, the sensation of experience, and the inner combination of these impressions through blending with associations. The deeper this action is, the more fully the Kingdom expresses itself.

We encounter these treasures through feeling; we understand them through intellect; we sense them with the body. Paradise is composed of a feeling-experience derived from this action, which is bestowed by Grace.

There is no need to be under the influences of Hell; the difficulty (and the paradox) is that so much of us, deprived of any proper understanding of heavenly food, are eager for them. They offer a crude kind of stimulation that can in no way compare to the influences of Heaven; in ignorance, we pursue them, unaware of the fact that to do so persistently reinforces the gate that stands between us and the inner Kingdom of Heaven. 

I've seen this through much experience, but knowing it has not provided any ready remedies. This is part of the search; to continually question how I am, and why things are arranged this way. We are called by Heaven; but we are expected to work to get there. The abundant mysteries and Graces strewn along the path multiply as one draws closer; and some are unbearable, as though we were creatures very nearly unfit for the light we can receive. Only a gradual approach can prepare us for the opening of the inner flowers.

May your soul be filled with light.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dominated by Hell

 Hell is generally treated these days as though it were a philosophical concept, something that didn't exist. Yet the manifestation of hell, like the manifestation of heaven, is directly reflected in the manifestation of material reality, and both qualities arise in the course of expression of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions.

We can see the results all around us on the planet. Anyone that thinks that hell is a concept ought take a look at the way human beings are treating one another, and the steady deterioration of the environment on this planet. All of these things — war, criminality, the absolute destruction of our water resources, our air resources, and the slavish devotion of mankind to the gratification of his own greed and sensory impulses — are objective manifestations of hell. All of them are taking place in the midst of what ought to be, objectively speaking heaven — or, conversely,  at the very least, the magnificent holy planet Purgatory described in Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson.

 A failure to believe in higher principles — atheism, and the tendency to invest all meaning in material things, as modern scientists are wont to do — creates a world dominated by hellish influences, and we are in it. One of the chief features of hell is that the creatures who find themselves in it are in denial of the facts; to them, hell is some kind of heaven.

Every human being dwells within the atmosphere and conditions of these influences and choices during ordinary life, and can only be qualified to serve angelic or demonic forces within the context of the way they react in this life. Either one forms something strong inwardly, which resists the downward movement, or one's spiritual being is consumed by the dogs of war, and one succumbs to the forces of darkness.

 This is going on at every moment, in every human being. The struggles are manifested outwardly, in the actions and events of life; but all the real struggles take place inwardly, and the results and consequences are simply the outward expression of these inward struggles; reflections of what goes on inside mankind. The terrible events that continue to dominate life across the planet accurately express the degraded inner nature of human beings. When no inner effort is made, results are objectively horrifying.

There has been a gradual deterioration in the psyche of man over the centuries, as Gurdjieff pointed out. As a consequence, humanity is now dominated by the forces of hell, which are in ascendancy. Ascendancy, that is, on this level; hell seizes everything it can to turn it to its own ends, and it is much easier to seize things on this level, since it is a lower one, and more readily influenced by such forces.

We are in a place where we must make a clear choice about which direction we want to go in.

Modern human beings don't like seeing such questions in front of them; they seem to have a medieval flavor, and it's fashionable to scoff at the idea of heaven and hell, as though they were quaint entities invented by fantasists of earlier ages. This goes on simply because human beings can't see the correspondence between the natural and the spiritual world. The fact that the natural world expresses inner or spiritual qualities is completely lost on human beings. The religions still preserve this idea; but a growing number of individuals are abandoning it.

 What isn't realized is what Hieronymus Bosch made so clear in his paintings: hell is already inside us.

It's worth considering when one reads all the old tales about casting out demons.

 may your soul be filled with light.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Intersection and remorse

 The intersection between ordinary life and the divine is perpetual; it is never ending, and always in a state of transformation.

It's odd that we see these things as separated, instead of understanding that all of the things that arise are a consequence of divine influence. Sometimes, when we see a particularly striking moment or object, or encounter a particularly moving event, the relationship becomes more clear to us, but we are usually not attuned to it.

This is because the inward flow that we ought to be open to is not active. In general, our whole being is passive towards this receiving facility; the awareness is drawn outward into the world, and fails to attend inwardly, where the world originates. To turn towards the inward quality is to turn towards perfection; to turn towards the outward quality is to dissipate it. This also represents the coarser and finer substances in life: that which is fine, is inward; that which is coarse, is outward.

Life ought to be a constant and unrelenting investigation of this question. To the extent that finer substances within Being are inwardly formed, gain strength, and can sense and identify the conjunction of the divine with outward life, a man or woman increases their spiritual Being. This process creates an unavoidable connection to a morality of feeling; that is, a higher form of moral responsibility towards others that cannot arise as a consequence of outward effort. The process is closely connected to what Gurdjieff called conscience.

Conscience ought to act constantly and in every moment in life, so that feeling participates in one's outer consideration of others, and so that one is present enough to see precisely how one ought to deal with others. There needs, in other words, to be a very precise attention, an intimate attention, in any interaction with others. This is perhaps even more important than the moment to moment attention that one may try to achieve (one never does, after all, try though one may.) Since one cannot achieve a full attention, one must focus one's efforts on a right attention in the moments when it is most important, and these moments of contact with others are vital in such inner effort.

Action ought to come from the heart and from conscience. This needs to be lived, not thought about. Every moment of life is a moment of responsibility and consequences in which these two properties must come into play if one is to act in what Buddhism calls a right way. To the extent that the action is unselfish, it is always right action, and to the extent that it serves one's own selfish aims and purposes, it is never.

Unfortunately, the terrible consequences of living in a world that is dominated by lower influences and those who are on the whole quite comfortable with manifesting all the forces of hell are such that every human being of right thought and action is forced into some inevitable compromises. We should recognize this, acknowledge it, and understand that some sins — although not all — are forgiven. One should question this deeply within one's own life and understand that one is making such compromises as they are undertaken. We will all be held accountable for these actions.

This means that a great deal of thought and attention needs to be paid to pondering each instance within life where action is called for — and, of course, that is all instances, isn't it? So thinking about philosophical conundrums of the nature of the universe, although attractive, is hardly anywhere near as important as thinking about where I am right now and what I am doing. It isn't in my grasp of extraordinary principles that my Being is measured; far more of it is measured by my attention to my fellow human beings, and how much conscience and understanding I exercise in my relationships to them.

To see a bit more of this in a deeper way will certainly produce remorse of conscience.

May your soul be filled with light.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stop

 If one is present enough to see one's impulses, one will see that they are constantly false. How many times a day does one have inconsiderate impulses that put oneself first over others; how many times a day does one want things that one should not have, get the idea that one should do things one clearly knows one ought not to do? Our psyche is a Pandora's box. It seems to pop open and spit out negative things that we didn't know about every single day, usually, by the hour, or even minute.

Ibn Arabi called these actions the actions of the "evil-commanding ego;" Swedenborg ascribed many if not all of them to the action of spirits, most of them from hell, who have a decidedly malevolent impact on mankind. Arabi, of markedly like mind on the subject, called these spirits Djinn; reaching into even more eastern traditions, the Buddhist doctrine of hungry ghosts lends the idea further credence.

The link to the article shows that there are some odd and weirdly provocative modern evidences supporting this widely held belief.

 My own teacher Betty Brown called these things influences; and she certainly taught me that people fall under them— very frequently, under bad ones. The explanation offered by van Dusen (again, read the link) offers potentially legitimate, if hardly mainstream, explanations for actions such as the Sandy Hook massacre. But regardless, I think we can all see the action of aberrant thoughts and provocative, yet extremely negative, material in us.

It is there.

 Some readers will probably argue that it is a copout to ascribe these to an outside agency; and indeed, Gurdjieff never would have put up with such an idea. His emphasis, after all, was on personal responsibility — a very strong emphasis. If one wanted to argue that his ideas have anything to do with Swedenborg or the Islamic philosopher's ideas about spirits, what they have to do with them is that one must resist by taking responsibility for one's self. To the extent that one is unconscious or identified, one simply invites bad influences to move in and take over. The old Protestant adage about this, "idle hands are the devil's playthings," might as well apply to an idle attention as much as anything else.

So I need to stop and see myself in the middle of life as these actions take place. There needs to be a constant action of intelligence — and in this case, the intellect, if well formed, will already do the job — that stops the rest of the Being before it identifies with these impulses. One must, in other words, constantly see these influences, and resist them by saying no, without judging them or mistaking them for a part of oneself, which would induce guilt or fear, or both.

My thoughts on this are not fully formed; I'm still absorbing the implications. But I thought readers might enjoy van Dusen's essay, which raises some significant questions about just how much we know about the psyche.

Van Dusen's book "The Natural Depth in Man," by the way, is an excellent read. Try it out; you may come away from the very first chapter with a new impression of what we are, and just how very, very much we don't know about ourselves.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bitterness, hardness, cynicism, anger

 The outer part of the self is subject to many influences that degrade it. Personality, it seems, has little in it that speaks of unity; so often, it seems that it is at war, not only with others, but with itself. This reminds me of a comment Gurdjieff made in Beelzebub in Russia:

 "At first, as long as these upstarts who had accidentally been brought to power carried on the petty intrigues proper to them just among themselves, it was still only 'half a calamity' for the common undertaking; but when, thanks to all kinds of 'maneuverings,' intrigues began between all the members of the League, and they broke up into different 'factions'--a pernicious custom which is very widespread there and obstructs the actualization of every promising beginning--then even such a good beginning as this League, founded for the general welfare of contemporary three-brained beings, began, as they say, 'to crack at the seams." ( Beelzebub's tales to his Grandson,P. 559.)

 The issue of political factions is hardly the point here; our Being cracks apart at the seams on the inside. And this is exactly why the outside reflects that kind of situation. It's largely because of the acquisition of a wide variety of negative attitudes that this takes place; negativity is, after all, the first and foremost cause of a lack of unity. And negativity arises primarily because egoistic impulses, which attempt to dominate everything, are frustrated. 

If we wish to have non-desires prevail over desires, we need first to see that desires are selfish. Outer considering is an essential part of beginning to understand unity.

Bitterness, hardness, cynicism, and anger are all part of this process. Wherever they arise, and wherever we try to use them as hammers to break apart the frustrations and inconsistencies of life, we just do more damage. It surprises me to see how much of these qualities are thrown about by people who claim to be on spiritual paths. The incessant bickering about which version of Beelzebub, for example, is the "correct" one. Individuals who engage in this kind of destructive argument see no contradictions whatsoever in their behavior; and this is exactly the point. There is a deep and complete unawareness of the very nature, of the root, of the problem. It may seem redundant to point out that self-justification justifies itself, but this particular question isn't understood properly in an inner sense — by the time self-justification begins, by and large, a wrong inner action has already taken place,  because a selfish result can only arise from a selfish action. 

Human beings just don't see that none of this matters — they don't see that, that is, until they are actually close to the moment of their own death, at which it becomes apparent that this entire enterprise was about something other than our opinions. By that time, of course, it is too late to take any decisive action that could change matters.

 There is a need to leave all of this nonsense behind and invest in a sensation of the divine, which unifies. The sensation of the divine, the inflow of a higher energy, quiets all of this noisy, egoistic claptrap, because it puts it in perspective and reminds it that it is part of a larger order. If we are truly under the influence of higher energies, we let go, and there is no point in breaking into inner (or outer) factions who argue with one another. We begin to see that life has nothing to do with garbage of this kind.  But this can only take place if a higher energy — the Lamb of God — enters us. This, and only this, is what takes away the sins of the world. 

We do not take away the sins of the world ourselves.

If a human being does not display softness, receptiveness, and an inherent understanding that their ego manifestations are in the greatest part destructive forces, things just go in the same old way they always do. They crack at the seams.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. The temptation to sink to the lowest ones while believing that one is engaged in a pure or sacred activity is strong; and it's easy to succumb to it. We believe in our own Will so much more than the Will of any higher force; and one of the greatest functions and evidences of sleep is that we do not see this, not in the least.

 We must go against such tendencies in every part of life, as much as possible, and develop a consistent willingness to humble ourselves and surrender our opinions, our ideas, and our negativity. This is not an enjoyable activity; which may be why so few of us are willing to do it — so few of us, that is, in an inner sense. 

 May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Concentration of Being


Being is a substance.

The universe is composed of Being. Human beings are concentrated forms of that expression of Being, and man's Being-duty, an idea Gurdjieff introduced, is founded on the principle that a man must concentrate his Being in such a way as to express sacred functions.

We could conduct long discussions about how one ought to go about achieving that; and everyone does. Inner works are rife with opinions on the matter, many of them (distressingly, and unconciously) ego-driven.  Yet it seems to me that the reason one ought to fulfill one's Being-duty is not often discussed.

Why should we do such a thing? Because Gurdjieff says so? Or even, "just because?"

On our level, the whole aim of inner work is to mediate the flow of the Divine Being into life. This is the essential action of Being-duty. One can construct other, more selfish aims, but real service always consists of this effort to become transparent enough that the Divine Principle can arrive from a higher level, flow inward into the essence of Being, and then be radiated outward — without manipulation—into the surrounding environment.

Man or woman, in other words, receives sacred impulses or energies, and then emantes them, without interfering. This, at any rate, is how things ought to be arranged. Alas! Nothing of the kind takes place, and our true purpose in being here is thwarted. Yet the purpose cannot and does not change, no matter how many layers of philosophy or self-interest mankind applies to it.

This task in life ought to be the absorbtion and concentration of an energy that is composed, above all, of Love; and that energy ought, after concentration in the abdomen, the heart, and the other essential centers or chakras, be radiated outward naturally, without the contamination of ego or personality. To become open, as Gurdjieffians call it, would be to become open to Love; there is no other principle, and there is no other inner work, because this is what Reality is made from and founded on. Any action that fails to emanate from Love already comes from a lower place, and there are an endless number of them in us.

Be very wary of those who claim to work, but are not loving. Measure each condition in yourself and others according to this question, and attend. There is much to be learned in this exercise, and you may be shocked if you conduct it with real attention. There are many, many liars out there, and in us, and they run most of the show; yet none of them can stand even a single instant of the Light of Love, if it is turned on them.

So this is Being-duty; to Love. Either self-remembering begins here, grounded in Love, or it does not begin at all.

May your soul be filled with light.