• January 30, 2016

    You have often made the distinction between living in the present and being present in the present. Could you explain this distinction one more time?

    Yes, there is an important difference between them. When I am in the present, I have attention on my sensations and my surroundings. I experience the here and now. This marks an important transition in the quality of my experience, from dispersed and dissociated to observing and connected.

    Being present in the present is another step. It reflects a shift in ‘I’ as well as a connection to the present, a shift from personality to being.

    What enables this shift to happen?

    Agreement…which is an inner alignment with the present. Agreement is an act of will. It is much more than acquiescence, or acceptance, or a lack of disagreement. Agreement is a magic somersault in which we jump over our own knees, as Gurdjieff would say. It changes everything, at least for a moment, and yet it remains largely unknown to us.

    Do you understand how much of our life is spent in disagreement? Even when we appear to agree, we are partial in response, we reserve our disagreements and wait to see how it all plays out. We are half-hearted. We doubt, reject, resist, withhold. Therefore, we are never really where we are and when we are. Do we not usually have a preference for something else, somewhere else, at another time? How, then, is it possible to be present in the present?

    Agreement is a complete inner action which awakens the heart and engages being. The most available opportunity to initiate an action of the will is to agree to be where you are and when you are. In doing so, you become present in the present. Your being is engaged. You have momentary unity of your faculties.

    Agreement is not centered in the mind. It is an action experienced in the body. It can be known as a subtle sensation of movement in your viscera which frees the heart to feel.

    The most amazing thing is that when I am present in the present, I experience the present as a limitless volume of space and time. From the point of view of ordinary life, the present is impossibly brief and insubstantial…a fleeting moment of transition from somewhere to somewhere else, from what just happened to what could happen next.  The presence of my presence in the present shrinks the past and the future into very small compressed places, too small for presence to inhabit, while the present becomes a vast space for encountering the unknown.

    Related Posts:

    Being Present – May 28, 2015

    Agreement – April 23, 2015

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  • October 30, 2015

    In the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, His Endlessness is very remote and not very relevant to the experience of us mere mortals. You seem to have a different view.

    In this I have a Sufi view. The fundamental concern of Sufism is to remember your relationship to God. Most of us do not know that we have one. But this view is not incompatible with Gurdjieff. In His Absolute Nature, His Endlessness is totally beyond our knowing, as Gurdjieff says. But included in His Nature is the quality of Compassion. And so He takes a form in which you can relate to Him and know something of Him, in which He is closer to you than your jugular vein.

    This is His extraordinary generosity, that He is willing to limit Himself in order to appear within His Creation as…you. Because your essence is a reflection of Him, the only Being. And your existence is how He knows Himself, thereby fulfilling the aim of creation. You are essential to the existence of the universe.

    The famous Hadith of Mohammed (PBUH), speaking as God, says: “I was a hidden Treasure and I wished to be known so I created a world to which I made Myself known; then they knew Me.”

    In the beginning there was only Him and out of this was all else made. He had no form and there was no space or time, an inconceivable state before the big bang of the creative act.

    Perhaps it is just my limitation, but I do not agree with those Sufis who say that they know God and can unite with Him. What I can know is His Expression in me, which Sufis call Rabbi, Lord. Each Rabbi faithfully reflects each vassal because that is who we can recognize. Like is known by like. Therefore, as Ibn Arabi says: ”He who knows himself knows his Lord.” Knowing yourself remains the key and it leads to relationship.

    Is this just theory, idle speculation? Or can you experience that the universe is alive, that you are sensed and felt, seen by this other? Most of us live a self-centered life. If you place yourself at the center, if you are the seeker, the one who wishes to attain, you have separated yourself from many possibilities and you must now rely on yourself. Can you decenter, become the one who is sought, the one who is seen?

    To be present is to step outside false identities. But who are you present for?

    Why is the Creator always referred to as Him?

    Because in relationship to the Creator, we are all feminine.

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  • August 28, 2015

    Last night, immediately, there was a sensation of immense energy from a high source, a kind of radiation that sought to enter. I agreed. I found the name of it and participated in it, breathing it in as fikr and emptying myself on the out breath. The heart awakened. The out breath became a return gift of the heart to the source of the energy. The actions of receiving and giving merged into a simultaneous, highly charged reciprocal maintenance.

    Many fourth way schools try to make use of the ‘food diagrams’ taken by Ouspensky from early talks by Gurdjieff. They describe three forms of food which can, under certain circumstances, be assimilated by human beings in order to produce higher substances for our possible evolution. These diagrams are complex, incomplete and internally inconsistent. The actual transformative processes can be known directly, sensed and felt. But there is more.

    Human beings can access energies beyond those they can make. And the energies we can access, the foods we can assimilate, are only part of a larger picture. Our greatest value to the Work is the food we produce for higher beings. We are indispensable links in a process of receiving, transforming and giving. When we are able and willing to serve our purpose, much is given to us at that time, enabling us to succeed in our task.

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  • July 18, 2015

    It is clear to me that the real challenge in this work is to persist. It is easy to forget to work. It is easy to be distracted by life in the world. I have all kinds of good intentions but almost no follow through. What can be done to persist?

    Yes, this is the key issue. The most important requirement for work on self is simply to show up on a consistent basis. The problem is that work on self does not serve or meet my personal aims, it does not satisfy any of my hungers, it is not reinforced or supported by my habits and it is not valued in the ordinary world. This work is abstract, hard to grasp. From the viewpoint of ordinary life, work on self is an unnecessary and impractical ‘luxury’ which offers no rewards.

    If work on self does meet personal needs, if it is supported by my habits, you can be sure that it is not real work. Therefore, it is very difficult to remember to work, to make efforts. To make efforts consistently, I need the right motive and this does not fall out of the sky. My very nature supplies wrong motives with the greatest of ease. Do not pretend you can decide to adopt the ‘right’ motive.

    Can I begin to observe myself? My behavior? My gestures? In the beginning, there will be some sort of self-serving motive, likely some sort of vague notion about self-improvement or getting the approval of others. Over time, with a certain amount of observing, the attention of observation naturally transforms the original motive into something more objective and far more useful, which could perhaps bless you with a whiff of self-disgust. Remorse enters and takes up residence. Contrition makes an appearance. Not because I am adopting someone else’s catechism but because I see what is going on in me.

    It is very important not to indulge in sensations such as remorse but to see them as helpful guides, reliable and trustworthy advisors, neither scourges for self-flagellation nor badges of honour. There is nothing special about these developments, nothing special about me. I am a product of this world and I am constructed like the rest of my specie. This realization makes possible a right motive to work which supports persistent effort.

    Lack of persistence is rich and fruitful ground for observation. What are the distractions which rob me of my ability to make consistent efforts? What resistances do I have to work efforts, resistances I can actually observe in the body? Finding, observing and releasing resistance to work on self is a profoundly useful form of work on self. The rationalizations for resistance can be very amusing. Can you be endlessly curious? Do not be satisfied by the first insight, the easy explanation. Find the contractions and sensations that sustain resistance to work. How would you describe their accompanying psychological state? Is it arrogance, defensiveness, fear of failure?

    Persistence in our work can also benefit from a correct understanding of obligation. This is a vast and subtle subject but we can at least open the door on it to see what is there. As one of my teachers once said to me, ‘if you want to think about someone, oblige yourself to him’. To obligate is to promise, to bind yourself. Life imposes many obligations…to parents, children, your employer. If you want a dog, you are obligated to walk it. There is value, always, in meeting your obligations in life because failing to do so weakens you, weakens your access to will. As a general rule, promise little and always do what you say.

    But a work obligation is different; it has no benefit to others or to you. When you are obliged to do something for others, you are likely borrowing the will to meet that obligation from them. You may not wish to disappoint them or earn their disapproval. When you obligate yourself to do a work task, you borrow the will to accomplish it from the work, provided the task does not serve anything else. If the task is interesting to you, or promises some sort of benefit, it will probably not serve as a work task. Taking on a work obligation begins to give you a relationship to work.

    Let us say that you have no interest in meditation and you feel that you are not very good at it. You could obligate yourself to come every day to group meditation, without fail, just to do it, for its own sake. Learn to exercise the will to work by choosing small, inconspicuous tasks, not worth the notice of others. And then fulfill them without fail, going whole hog including the postage, as Gurdjieff said.

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