• January 31, 2020

    The most important tool for work on self is attention. Without access to attention, there is no work.

    Perhaps you think you can develop your attention, that you can have more attention if you make efforts. There are qualities that can be developed over time with effort but, in my experience, attention is not one of them.

    The secret to accessing more attention is to observe and understand inattention. This is yet another example of the via negativa. The problem is that the ‘me’ that would practice attention is itself the source of inattention…the source of distraction. Attention itself is not a property of the ordinary world and it is not something that can be manipulated by the elements of this world for more than a few moments. Instead, can I observe my tendency to be distracted?

    Attention is a natural function of the universe by which it establishes connections with itself. Attention is the very life of the universe, the means for knowing itself in its particulars. This will not make sense to you until it is part of your experience.

    One thing I can do to enhance my access to attention is to clean up the vestiges of past attention. I leave behind me a trail of connections which are held by attention…things promised but not completed, unnecessary worries, possessiveness about things like a car, a wallet, a future meeting and so on. Can I lift attention from these small fixations when it is not needed there? Is this something I ‘do’ or is this simply allowing attention to call itself back from the places where it has been left and is no longer needed or where it is not needed now?

    Let’s call this ‘retrieval’. Can I retrieve misplaced attention? Can I invoke attention and then allow it to call to itself the scattered bits of itself that are not needed where they are? Obviously, this does not include removing attention where it is properly placed on people, things and tasks you are committed to.

    Invocation of attention is a potent tool. Attention can attend to itself. In fact, only attention can attend to itself; everything else is too slow.

    The secret? Learn how to summon attention and learn how to submit to it. Presence is your reward.

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  • January 13, 2020

    This is my failsafe, my touchstone. Can I let my mind rest upon nothing? Just for a moment? I am not talking about blanking out the mind or stopping thought. This is the opposite of control. Can I let go, fully release? Can I, in one moment, completely submit…my self, my breath, my posture. And if I can? I get an immediate hit of ecstasy.

    Now I’ll warn you about this ecstasy thing. It’s not the same as extra joy, not euphoria nor extreme happiness. Ecstasy is laced with pain, with sorrow and with exaltation. Its exquisite intensity is inherent in its contradictory nature. Ecstasy is not one thing but rather the simultaneity of many things…a dose of another reality. This is the door-opener that takes you to the heart of the Universe.

    This is not something that can be maintained for long periods, at least in my experience. But if I can perform this maneuver, it’s like being shot out of a cannon and I have a moment when the work can be remembered and understood.

    The key is submission. Can I learn to submit? The whole of life is a lesson in submission. Every sacrifice I make for another’s sake, every sincere confession of my limitations, every time I voluntarily give up my point of view, I am learning the path of submission.

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  • May 13, 2019

    What happens when work on self makes it possible for me to work in a selfless way? What does this mean?

    It is easier to say what ordinary efforts are like. Ordinarily, I am identified with my work. My efforts are motivated by my wish for attention and praise, a feeling of worth, to belong, to achieve a personal aim, to make money that I ‘need’ for the things I want. This is all perfectly normal and mostly unconscious, but easily observed nonetheless.

    To be identified with one’s work is to harness the enormous power derived from making work an extension of me. In effect, I defend my work with my life. I may feign a cynical attitude or pretend to be detached but without the psychological props provided by my work, I virtually cease to exist. If I can live outside my work it is because I have found an even stronger identification. Ordinary work is animated by self and is an expression of self.

    So, to return to my question, what happens when it becomes possible to work in a selfless way? Could work efforts be much more difficult if they are not powered by ego and the perpetually humming motor of identification? Where will the motive come from? I suspect there would be less resistance if ordinary self is not involved, but the power plug I have depended upon all my life has been pulled.

    And how would I feel about my work? Ordinary work comes pre-defended by my ego. My view of my work is centered in me, I know what it means and what it is worth and I have my reasons to explain why others may not accept it. Without this protection, my work is incredibly fragile. I do not see it centered in my own context but in a much wider sphere where there are many eyes and judgments, all valid in their own way. The certainty with which I make a gesture is immediately prismed when it enters the world, fractioned by the limitations it must inhabit.

    This is my surmise. Selfless work, what I might call real work, is extraordinarily difficult and exhausting, not the effortless unfolding of some spiritual fiction.

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  • January 10, 2019

    I have said many times that the real enemy of work on self and the greater Work is self-importance. Perhaps this statement needs further elaboration?

    What is self-importance? Is it the strutting, boastful ego attempting to impose its will on others? Or is it much deeper and more pervasive than that?

    Is self-importance also the ongoing concern about self, anxiety over what happens to me, to my plans, my wants, my accomplishments, my happiness? Can I live without the worry that I could be doing so much better?

    Is an exaggerated sense of guilt about what I have done or not done also evidence of self-importance? Yes, I need to make efforts to keep my word and to respect the needs of others, not only for the sake of others but also for the sake of my own conscience. When my conscience is clear, my capacity for work is much greater. But despite my best efforts, I will fail to meet my own standards and I will certainly fail to satisfy the wants of others. Do I become excessively concerned about, and bound to, the judgments I make about myself? Do I assume that my life and the lives of others rotate around my shortcomings? Is holding onto my guilt also evidence of my self-importance?

    When do I accept my imperfections, when do I accept forgiveness, when do I agree to feel compassion for myself and for all the other sentient beings who are doing the best they can in a world that does not favour or support our best intentions? Does my ongoing judgment of myself stem from a sense of self-importance?

    If I am not important, if I am not precious to myself and others, perhaps there can be room for the importance of relating to a universal being. Perhaps by realizing my unimportance, I am more able to find and express the gesture that is right for this moment. Can I then trust the work to guide me?

    Of course, if you take this view as a blank cheque to do what you want without guilt, you have missed the point…which is that what I do from a sense of self-importance takes me away from the work.

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  • November 17, 2018

    What is the role of sacrifice in this work?

    At some point in your work on self, you may discover the mysterious power of sacrifice. To me, sacrifice belongs to the old ways, the ancient traditions which once shaped our understanding of our place in the world. Now, it is largely forgotten if not rejected…having been superseded by a more user-friendly sense of personal evolution with a minimum of pain.

    I do not wish to make a logical assessment of sacrifice…what it means or how it works….just some observations.

    That for which I make sacrifice is made more valuable; its power is enhanced by the value of what has been sacrificed to it. The message of Jesus has survived 2000 years because of his voluntary sacrifice. Without Easter, who would remember Christmas?

    Genuine sacrifice seems to require that it be voluntary but I am not certain this is so.

    Sacrifice for my own benefit is not sacrifice but a kind of bargaining or exchange. To sacrifice I must lose something of value to me without compensation. Yet, there is also a sacrifice of substitutes, where I may give up a personal attachment in order to come closer to my Friend.

    When an impasse is reached and there appears to be no way out, sacrifice may be called for, to break the stalemate. A sacrifice releases energy and opens up fixed positions. In this case, the sacrifice may need to be known but there are other times when it must be hidden so as not to attract the notice and approval of others.

    Sacrifice that engenders resentment or self-importance is not real sacrifice and would better not be made.

    Every kind of work can lose its virtue when mixed with human fears and ambitions…burnt offerings to propitiate the gods, for example. There are no rules to follow here. You must discern the murmurings of your heart to find a gesture which is sacred, one which lifts the spirit.

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  • August 21, 2018

    I would like you to consider the underlying assumptions of your life. Where do you turn for meaning, to make sense of your life? Who or what do you rely upon for support?

    Do you struggle with these questions? Perhaps you manage to be distracted most of the time by the details of your doings and wantings? But if we are at all alike, I think your life is circling around these questions.

    Speaking for myself, I know that I need context. I need my life to relate to a larger context. When I discovered Mr. G and the idea of the work, I thought this would prove to be the context that I needed. This discovery was very important and it has helped me to realize some key insights into myself and the world. However, I found that the work also runs out of meaning if it does not serve. The work itself needs context.

    Now, service is a word that is freighted with pre-conceptions. There is service to good causes, service to others, service to humanity. You will need to test them. Can they bear the weight of your life? If not, there is something missing. Can you find out what is missing?

    Perhaps you think that it makes no sense to look for something that isn’t there. However, I suggest to you that if you recognize something very important is missing, and allow yourself to feel this, you could enable that precious something to find you, because it is also missing you.

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