Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
"And the fifth: the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred 'Martfotai,' that is, up to the degree of self-individuality.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I'm on my way back home from China today.
It occurred to me that it's a rather sobering job to carry on this effort of presenting material- both personal, and of a broader scope-- in a contemporary voice representing a viewpoint which is, as best it can be, formally aligned with the Gurdjieff Foundation, and the lines of work established by individuals who knew Gurdjieff personally.
No one ever asked me to do this... and perhaps I'm a fool for trying. There are times when I hardly feel up to the task, and no matter what, I am certainly "standing on the shoulders of giants," as Newton put it.
Or at least trying to.
Nonetheless, the effort is what counts. We must all do our best to meet life as honestly as we can in the midst of our shortcomings, without pretending that they either negate our actions, or excuse us from taking any action.
Along these lines, today it occurred to me that man is under an esoteric obligation to engage in creative work.
One of Gurdjieff's "obligolnian strivings" is an ongoing effort to understand the laws of world creation and world maintenance. This striving cannot be undertaken passively or intellectually: the understanding that's called for here must absolutely be three-centered, since anything short of that isn't real understanding. It needs to be organic.
In order to understand in this way and at this level of Being, a specific kind of participation is required. Now, we all automatically and mechanically participate in these laws--in this no choice is offered (short of the absolute refusual of suicide, the danger of which was, readers may recall, why the notorious organ Kundabuffer was originally installed in man.)
However, a mechanical participation isn't enough. We are called on by our Creator to participate actively in the creation and maintenance of worlds- both inner and outer. That is, a call comes "from above"- from a mystery which we are born into, but have for the most part forgotten how to sense-- to participate consciously in the action and consequences of world creation and world maintenance.
This means that man is actually under a cosmological obligation to create. It's not for the glorification of ego, or of humanity (goals we are all too easily lured into believing in, by the largely secular forces of this level), but for the fundamental support of the universal process of evolution of consciousness.
In the arts, we see levels. There are more and less conscious elements. (Poetry, for example, is "more conscious" than prose: it is able to transmit what is inwardly formed at higher rates of vibration.) Make no mistake about it, creative endeavors are all, in one way or another, part of the effort by the universe to raise the level of vibration-- a subject Mme De Salzmann broaches multiple times in "The Reality of Being."
Man, as part of this general effort, is triply obliged to make efforts to create, as a consequence of this obligolnian striving: first, to help himself understand his own inner world (the aim of all artists); second, to help men understand each other (the aim, collectively, of "the arts"); and third, to help men understand God--the aim of mankind.
Even atheists can comfortably sign on to the first and second premise, but perhaps that's beside the point. What we are investigating here is the fundamental obligation and responsibility of men and women to engage in creative activity.
I recall Betty Brown telling me, years ago, that Mme used to say that man's creative activity would be what "saved the planet." And indeed, we all taste something of the essential in the creative act: an undercurrent that reminds us that this is-- after all the uproar-- what life is for.
What we may not see is how vital this effort is to the nurture of not only our own Being, but also that of mankind, and the planet itself.
I hope, insh'Allah, to write a further entry on questions of creative effort later in the week. But this is enough for now.
May the living light of Christ discover us.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I keep finding myself in the midst of life... And, invariably, daily, within the question of life itself... a compelling question, one that arises not from any casual thought, but from the depths of the organism itself.
Work in life, I see, must be a living work. It can't just remain a work of the intellect, a theoretical work. That may be where it began for me, many years ago, but it has since- like water percolating downwards into the darkest, most intimate parts of the earth- penetrated into the very bones, the marrow, of my life.
This is how it needs to be. My work needs to permeate me, to saturate me, or my wish has no power.
If I misunderstand this need... If I keep searching from within intellect... My wish is a lost wish. I'm puzzled by where it is, why it doesn't motivate me more... Why, as Dr. Welch used to say, I don't work.
So many of us reach middle age without a clear understanding of this point. It's at this point, however, that the shock of realization can become most powerful, and create the most fertile possibilities. That moment when I see that I am turly growing older, that this process ends in death (yes, finally I begin to irrevocably admit that to myself, rather than equivocating it) and that the "meaning" I try to extract from the achievement of outward tasks pales in comparison to that question.
I am headed towards an appointment with death. How am I conducting myself?
So it's here, at this age, where I face the real terror of the situation, that I discover the greatest possibility. It's possible for the elements inside my body to enter a new relationship, where the intellectual urgency of the situation...fused with the beginning of a meaningful emotional understanding... meets with a newly energized, active physical force that actually has the power to sustain an effort in life, instead of just thinking about it.
We talk a lot about that force, and we read about it. Yet we have so little understanding of it. In some ways, the discussions about it and the intellectaul framing of it- the form we assign it- are a hindrance. It's only by the living of it, the sensation of it, that I can investigate it, and the moment I deconstruct that to attempt an understanding, I have already misunderstood.
In a way, then, it is only in the silent contemplation, the silent appreciation, of this moment that I can approach the question. (The only medium I have discovered with the potential to leave enough open air in the question to allow it to breathe naturally is poetry.) These discussions of life we engage in become wearying... They're so repetitive,, aren't they? We must find a way to be more than just parrots... and yet the parrot in us so dearly loves itself.
We have both an obligation and a responsibility to engage, and to exchange. It's not enough to just sit here absorbing the vibrations- I'm called upon to be active enough to stand in the middle, between the active and the contemplative elements of my life, and to supervise a dialog between them.
Ah, that sounds good... Yet "I" don't "do" this. If it happens, when it happens, it is the living work itself that does it... And perhaps we might say that this living work has no "I", at least not as it is understood now. The living work is already connected to- arises from- transmits- a force that transcends this little "I" that loves itself so much.
So to be touched by this potential for a living work already requires a surrender. I don't well understand the nature of that surrender... I can taste it with the soul much better than I can touch any part of it with the mind.
And it's that intimate contact alone which can lead me deeper into this question of what I am, and why I am here.
May the living light of Christ discover us.