Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Confluence of Truth: becoming a perfect idiot

Sculpture from the Cloisters, Manhattan

A moment comes when I experience a feeling of total solitude, when I no longer know how to relate to what surrounds me. Everywhere, always, I feel alone. Even when I am with close friends or my family, I am alone. I do not know my relation with them, what actually connects
us. This feeling of solitude and isolation is created by my self-centered thought—my name, my family, my position. I need to live with this solitude and, passing through it like a door, come to something much greater: a deeper state of total "abandonment," a state of "individuation."
This is no longer a state of isolation, because the isolation is included, as well as the entire process of thinking and experiencing, with all the provocations and responses involved. When we understand this process on all levels of consciousness, we are free from influences in that our
thinking and feeling are no longer fashioned by outer events or inner experience. 

When the mind is without provocation or response, there is "abandonment." Only in this state can we find the real.

—The Reality of Being, Jeanne Salzmann, P. 168

Every human being represents an individual and completely realized truth of its own kind. Now, it is equally true and a matter of objective fact that every single manifestation in the universe represents an equally valid truth; but a human being collects many truths within Being. That is to say, a human being is a summary of the truths they encounter, a mirror of truth itself.

But to say that we are a mirror of truth is still inaccurate, because we are not just mirrors, but repositories. Many different threads of truth come to rest in each human being; and those truths cover both microscopic and macrocosmic data, such that both very small and very large truths of many different kinds find themselves resident together with any human being. The Buddhists attempt to explain this with the term Dharma, which is interesting but nearly useless, because it lacks precision and has become a kind of jargon. The term is useful only to the extent that it is used to refer to the confluence of truth, which takes place in awareness.

Confluence of truth means the coming together of truth. Truth has an infinite number of different natures and truths all have equal value in that all are true; yet we would probably agree that the truth of, for example, a glass marble and Christian philosophy are quite different things. Yet to a certain extent, within a human being, they discover an equality, being recorded within Being as things that exist, concepts to ponder, or facts to deal with. Being becomes the great equalizer which takes all truth and expresses it within Being itself, which is the only vehicle capable of both taking truth in, comprehending it, and sorting it out into organized structures.

Meister Eckhart certainly understood the nature of this confluence of truth, because he spoke about it many times in terms of the German word Gleichgültigkeit, which is a specific quality that objects, events, circumstances, and conditions have in common. It means, literally, “equal validity.” In man, in other words, all things have equal validity; yet human beings, of course, do not take all things as equally valid. In our ordinary state we pick and choose, and we want to decide for ourselves what is valid and what isn’t. This is contrary to a state closer to God, in which all things are equally valid — in which we stand as agents occupying a point in space-time representing the confluence of truth in that particular place. This sounds, of course, like some kind of a science-fiction description, but it is not at all: rather, it is a description of human beings as representatives of God, in which each one of us inhabits a distinctive awareness of our place in the middle of a singular confluence of truth.

This idea of a singular confluence of truth is equivalent to Gurdjieff’s idiots, individual expressions of Being equivalent to the ancient Greek word ídios, meaning “one’s own.” The word, in the sense he used it, was meant to denote an individual or individualism — and in this sense, according to Gurdjieff, even God is an idiot. Individual derives from the late Latin word individūus, that which is not divided, or, whole. In this sense, every Being with consciousness represents a whole and undivided single and unique expression of a confluence of truth, a repository into which everything that that Being receives is deposited. 

Perhaps, as you gather these various threads, you will begin to get the gist of what I am saying here about this. The fact is that if we wish to be what Gurdjieff called “objective,” we do not get to pick and choose what we like and don’t like. We inhabit the confluence of truth that we represent without compromise. This does not relieve us from the responsibility of discrimination or action, but it does impose upon us the requirement of understanding our place first. Hence the emphasis on seeing ourselves. When we see ourselves, we do not just see our reactions, our associations, our virtues and vices. Instead, we are required to inhabit everything that we are, all that has taken place within us, every single experience, fact, understanding, and so on that has converged upon us up to this point within our Being, and measure it all according to a force of intelligence and Being that includes it. It is this inclusion that is important; because in order to become what I would call a perfect idiot, one has to embody everything that has taken place in one’s life—as well as everything that is taking place at this instant — simultaneously.

 That, of course, sounds like a tall order, because it is impossible for the intellect to undertake such an action. Yet the confluence of the three centers, the active participation of the mind, the emotion, and the body of sensation, is well able to encompass this action. It isn’t even necessary to keep all of the confluence of truth in mind at one time, because the confluence of truth within Being becomes the tip of a needle, which penetrates the current moment quite precisely with what we refer to as presence.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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