Conduct and observance

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

the positive side

We drove to Vermont and back this weekend to see my teacher. She raised many important questions and there is much material there to digest.

It's true that I have focused my work for the last five years on negativity, and I frequently talk about that.

Last week, Kath asked me, "where is the positive side of this?"

Mea Culpa.

Those of you who have read my essay on the Enneagram will know that it is my absolute conviction, based not on theories, but irrevocable personal experience, that love lies at the heart of the universe. The universe is created by love, and sustains itself on love. Ultimately, there is nothing "negative" in the universe. The entire enterprise is founded on and fed by a force that is infinitely merciful and compassionate.

Of course this contradicts the idea of the Law of three, which predicates a positive force, a negative force, and a reconciling force. Or at least it appears to.

In fact, it does not contradict this law, because the law of three arises from a single source which is whole. We may call that force God, or Dharma, or Allah or Jaweh, for lack of a better word, but it is one force. It only divides itself into three forces as it manifests in what we call reality. Paradoxically, even the negative force, the denying force, is born and draws all its sustenance from love. (Meister Eckart delved into this at great length in his sermons and the book of divine consolation.) Our entire conceptual perception of "negative" is based solely on a flawed understanding of relationship. And I suppose that stands to reason, because our own inner negative perceptions arise from a flawed condition of relationship.

All of us have the opportunity to do an inner work that connects us to what we might call the source of prime arising, to connect us to God. This inner work is a work of self re-membering, of taking the inner parts which are separate and making them whole again. In doing so, we join together the parts of a mechanism that is divine in nature. We are not separate from God; we are within God, not apart from God, seeking God. In a supreme irony we dwell within the very heart of compassion and mercy itself, and are blind to it.

Our biblical fallen nature lies within our perception of duality. When Eve ate the apple, she acquired the knowledge of something called "good" and something called "evil." The fact that such things do not exist at all -- there is only one thing, and it is called Truth -- points to the delusion we signed on to when we acquired an intelligence that discriminates. This discriminating intelligence directs a barrier between what we call the self and the love that creates it.

I speak here of mysteries. I confess it. My understanding is in most ways no better than yours. But I do know that this infinite mercy and compassion sustains us all, and that we are held within its hands at every instant of this existence we experience.

I furthermore know that we have the right to participate. We do not have to be shut out of this essential quality that runs the universe. The fact that we have lost the ability to sense the bliss that God intends all of creation to find its repose within does not mean it does not exist. There is a way to it. The doors are not shut. Ouspensky's pessimism, his obsession with how enormously difficult everything is, is misplaced. Gurdjieff's great wail of anguish about our condition, "Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson," states the case but hides the cure. The possibilities are greater than we can imagine, and more immediately available than any of us suspect.

Let's not forget that the 20th century did not just produce Gurdjieff. Paramahansa Yogananda brought us a much more positive message. Some may feel that his way was too naïve, too simple, altogether too hopeful. I suppose they would probably feel the same way about Jesus, who also chose to affirm man's possibilities with love rather than speak endlessly about how deteriorated and lousy he was. It's probably true that we need a bit of the bitter draught Gurdjieff served up; at the same time, let's remember, there much to be gained in sipping a bit of Rumi's divine nectar.

My teacher spoke this weekend of moments where nothing needs to be done, of moments where she simply sits quietly and receives the impressions of her life. To me, these moments, where we discover a true peace that requires nothing more than service in the act of perceiving, are at the heart of what it means to be human and what it means to be alive. The rest is a merry-go-round with the lights, and music, and the appearance of movement, but we always end up traveling in a circle instead of arriving at the destination we think we are on our way to.

These moments of sitting quietly and taking in our life quite simply with this organism we have been given are real work. In those moments, I sense the loving hands that hold us.

More and more often, as I grow older, I believe that the heart of our work is joy, the heart of our work is acceptance, the heart of our work is to find a way of supporting and valuing, rather than criticizing and tearing down. There is an infinite amount of bliss and joyfulness available within every life that can somehow be found if we approach an effort towards becoming whole.

That bliss and joyfulness does not come from the ego or the deeds of the ego. It does not come from any deeds we do. It springs solely from being in a relationship with that force which descends from the source of prime arising and travels in a current through the entire universe, creating everything along the way.

Let us affirm ourselves and our possibilities. Let us not dwell on pasts that seem to weigh us down, on sins not paid for, deeds not done, potentials not realized.

Let us stand up now in our lives and throw every burden that weighs our souls down away.

Let us meets every adversity with effort, let us treat every individual--including ourselves-- with respect, let us remember that within each one of us is a spark of the divine, an ember that just needs to find a little air in order to begin to glow with a new light.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

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