Calm, detachment, silence, quiet, emptiness and actionless action (wu wei), these are what maintain Heaven and Earth, the Tao and Virtue.1
Turn your attention within, for the fountain of all that is good lies within, and it is always ready to pour forth, if you continually delve in.2
I will tell you something. You know what space is. There is space in this room. The distance between here and your hostel, between the bridge and your home, between this bank of the river and the other—all that is space. Now, is there also space in your mind? Or is it so crowded that there is no space in it at all? If your mind has space, then in that space there is silence—and from that silence everything else comes, for then you can listen, you can pay attention without resistance. That is why it is very important to have space in the mind. If the mind is not overcrowded, not ceaselessly occupied, then it can listen to that dog barking, to the sound of a train crossing the distant bridge, and also be fully aware of what is being said by a person talking here. Then the mind is a living thing, it is not dead.3
No Yoga is possible without some disciplining of the physical instrument.
Through posture (Asana), breathing (Pranayama) and going inward (Pratyahara), we have been disciplining the body. Through posture the body-consciousness has become stable and stilled: ‘immobile and steadfast.’ This feeling should always be with us. Whether we walk or sit or lie down, whatever we do, there should be physical stability, a stable poise in all our limbs. Through breathing (Pranayama), a lightness, buoyancy and limpidity have come into the body-consciousness. And through going inward (Pratyahara) this body-consciousness has become luminous and bright. These qualities ... now have to be brought together.
But where shall we do it? First within our three and a half cubits, the space of our own body. Our world is centred around our body, so let us try to become conscious of that centre ... by diving into the body.
It is now necessary, with the aid of going inward, to draw into ourselves the whole spiritual world centred around our body. This is the primary purpose of inner concentration: the fixation of the mind at a centre in the body.
One feels, then, while moving, walking, sitting, lying, talking or working, that one’s true abode is the centre in which one is fixed: “I am actually there.”
These three limbs: steadily held posture, regulation of the breath and vital-force, the indrawing of the mind and the senses create stability, clarity and inwardness of mind, life and body. They may be practised at certain times of the day, especially at the junctures of sunrise and sunset, but the feeling gained by them has to be maintained throughout the day in all your movements and activities.4
We have to try to cure our faults by attention and not by will.
The will only controls a few of the movements of a few muscles... What could be more stupid than to tighten up our muscles and set our jaws about virtue, or poetry, or the solution of a problem. Attention is something quite different.
Pride is a tightening up of this kind. There is a lack of grace (we can give the word its double meaning here) in the proud man. It is the result of a mistake.
Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.
Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.
Attention alone—that attention which is so full that the ‘I’ disappears—is required of me. I have to deprive all that I call ‘I’ of the light of my attention and turn it on to that which cannot be conceived.
The poet produces the beautiful by fixing his attention on something real. It is the same with the act of love. To know that this man who is hungry and thirsty really exists as much as I do—that is enough, the rest follows of itself.
The authentic and pure values—truth, beauty and goodness—in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object.
Teaching should have no aim but to prepare, by training the attention, for the possibility of such an act.
All the other advantages of instruction are without interest.
Solitude. Where does its value lie? For in solitude we are in the presence of mere matter (even the sky, the stars, the moon, trees in blossom), things of less value (perhaps) than the human spirit. Its value lies in the greater possibility of attention. If we could be attentive to the same degree in the presence of a human being...5
The ‘mystical experience.’ Always: here and now—in that freedom which is one with distance in that stillness which is born of silence. But—this is a freedom in the midst of action, a stillness in the midst of other human beings.
In our era, the road to ‘holiness’ necessarily passes through the world of action.
Strive ... constantly to purify the eye of your attention until it becomes utterly simple and direct.
To have humility is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves, but in its sacred independence. It is to see, judge, and act from the point of rest in ourselves. Then, how much disappears, and all that remains falls into place.
In the point of rest at the centre of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud, a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.
Then I saw that the wall had never been there, and that the ‘unheard of’ is here and this, not something and somewhere else—that the ‘offering’ is here and now, always and everywhere—surrendered to be what, in me, God gives of Himself to Himself.6
With verticality the point is not to renounce part of our nature—all should retain its natural place: the body, the heart, the head, something that is ‘under our feet’ and something that is ‘over the head.’ All like a vertical line, and this verticality should be held taut between organicity and the awareness. Awareness means the consciousness which is not linked to language (the machine for thinking), but to Presence.7
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always –
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.8
And the children in the apple tree…
Heard, but half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea
Quick, now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
Costing not less than everything).9
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|Copyright © 2013 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing|
Featured: Fall 2013 Issue, Vol. XII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2013
1 From the Taoist tradition, The Book of Chuang Tzu, c.400 BC, Ch. 15, translated by Martin Palmer, Penguin Books, 1996.
2 The Essential Marcus Aurelius, translated by Jacob Needleman and John Piazza, Tarcher, 2008.
3 J. Krishnamurti, Listening to the Silence, Parabola, Vol. XV, No. 2, Summer 1990, p. 80.
4 Sri Anirvan, Inner Yoga, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1988, pp. 25, 26, 27, 56, 78.
5 Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, Routledge, 1963, pp. 105, 106, 107, 108, 110.
6 Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings, Faber & Faber, 1966, pp. 108, 95, 148, 91–92.
7 Jerzy Grotowski, from an untitled text dated 1998, published posthumously in The Drama Review, 1999.
8 T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Burnt Norton, Section V, Faber & Faber, 1942.
9 Ibid., Little Gidding, Section V.