• March 15, 2017

    Observing myself, I find that I generally operate in two different ways. One way is automatic. I move and breathe and even speak and act without noticing what is occurring. The other way is sensitive. I am aware of my movements, my speech, my surroundings. I am aware of my sensations.

    The difference in these states is reflected in the operation of attention. When I am operating on automatic, attention is unanchored; it is attracted by bright, shiny things in the environment, interruptions, associative thinking, fantasy and day dreams. In short, it is not usefully engaged because it has no ongoing content to attend to. Mr. G called this world 48.

    When I am in a sensitive state, attention is somewhat anchored in sensations and I am aware of myself and my surroundings. This is world 24. Sensitive energy is at work, enabling engagement in my life. Attention on sensation allows me to enter the present. Attention on sensation also makes possible a transformation in which the higher (attention) mixes with the lower (sensitivity) to create the middle (consciousness). As I become conscious, I am able to think, sense and feel in a coherent way. This is world 12.

    Each of these worlds has a different ‘I’. At the automatic level, I means a series of fragmented identities that consist of bits and pieces of conditioning, habit, associative thinking and self-imagery. As I do one thing, I am thinking of another. At the sensitive level, I is centered in the head brain but it is able to notice and question its behaviour. Nonetheless, I remains divided; body and mind do not easily function together and the heart is not receptive to feeling. At the conscious level, I is no longer centered in the head brain but rather is able to occupy body, mind and heart in a coherent manner.

    In the sensitive state, I is full of intentions. In the conscious state, I has the power to be appropriately responsive to needs as they arise because all of its capacities are working; intentions become intent.

    Now, all of this may just be useless conceptual blather to you. Or it could be useful if it helps you to distinguish for yourself the different states you inhabit. You experience all three, of course some more than others.

    The key is sensitive energy which is the bridge to consciousness. Oppose automatic habits and you will experience more sensitive energy. This is the ‘inner friction’ that the work talks about. Do not suppress conflict but also do not indulge in expressing it, which is likely just discharge. Do not suppress your emotions; allow yourself to experience them for the sensations they generate but, again, learn to refrain from unnecessary discharge in which the energy is lost. Do this not to become a ‘better’ person but simply to become more available to the spontaneous arising of consciousness.

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  • December 7, 2016

    When you talk about observation of self, you refer mostly to observing our physical manifestations such as posture, gesture and tone of voice. Is it also useful to observe our thinking?

    This is not something I recommend because it too easily leads to subjective introspection and more thinking, which is not observing. You can try it and see for yourself. There are forms of meditation which facilitate an awareness of the thinking process…shamatha/vipashyana…but these practices are performed sitting on a cushion. Our aim in work on self is to observe in real time while living our lives. We expose ourselves for observation most fully in the course of our ordinary activities.

    But if you are looking for more to observe, you could consider observing your state and then working with it, what Sufis call muhasibi, from the Arabic word hasib, “to reckon”.

    Do you mean states such as fear or anger?

    Yes, provided you do not become too analytical. Naming your state can easily lead to analysis, which runs counter to work in the present. The ancient Sufis actually proposed something much simpler. They observed in themselves that there were two main sensation-states which needed to be distinguished…contraction and expansion, or as they would say, Qabid and Basit. Qabid is the state of constriction which is characteristic of fear, anger, guilt, shame and self-criticism. This state expresses limitation and the boundaries of the self. Basit is the state which includes openness, generosity, expansiveness and euphoria. Both are sensations but they have different effects. Each has its own difficulties and its own opportunities. You may have a natural inclination to prefer one state over another but do not assume that makes it better or preferable.

    For Qabid, release from contraction is needed. The recommendation is to invite the sensation of remorse. For Basit, sobriety is needed, so invite the sensation of thankfulness. These ‘prescriptions’ are homeopathics; they are similar to the state they modify, not opposite to them. Opposites are antagonistic and the result is that both antagonists are strengthened. Instead, move in the same direction as your state but with knowledge of the means by which it can be shifted and transformed.

    To have success in this exercise, you must know your state but also you must know the sensations that are homeopathics. It you know them well enough, perhaps you can then invite them into your experience. This is practical alchemy. It’s efficacy is proved by trial, not by theory.

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  • November 8, 2016

    You have said that remembering yourself as a being, rather than as a personality, is the first step towards real service.

    Yes, real service must come from who you are, not your conditioning, your ideas or the concepts you have picked up from religion or politics.

    Is there a further step?

    Yes. A work group is able to invoke special states and qualities which are in some way needed and may not otherwise be available. You could say it is a larger remembering.

    Qualities such as love and compassion?

    Those are the popular ones. There are others, such as glorification, objective sorrow, loyalty, joy, steadfastness, protectiveness, understanding, truth, retribution. There are also qualities that have no name in English. Each is a manifestation of our origin and a means by which it comes to know itself and its possibilities through us and the world.

    A genuine work group is a repository for the possibilities that exist in human beings and humans are an expression of the possibilities that exist in the universe.

    I use the word repository intentionally, to indicate that these qualities can find a place in us, probably a temporary one, but they do not come from us and they are not developed by us. Just as we have being, the universe has being. From a certain point of view, there is only one being.

    This is not work that can be done by us individually?

    Not in my experience, although individual practice also has value. Each of us is too limited. We need more than one. We need to acknowledge otherness to create a large enough space for higher qualities to descend. Matthew 18:20 says: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The participants cannot be of the same type. There must be a proper place for them to perform their service, a place which has been prepared in advance. Names are also important.

    The prophets were invocants and they used their work circles to call down something that was needed. They unfolded our possibilities as beings. In a small way, their work can be continued. They left instructions on how to repeat what they did. They tell us to call upon higher powers in order to establish a communication. It says in the Koran: “Remember Me and I will remember you.”

    Religions have work ideas embedded in them but these ideas must be separated from the many foolish notions added by meddling humans.

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