Conversations September 10, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

5:10 AM. I am still not re-reading, making notes of loose ends, noting my questions arising from the material. But even scanning the material a couple of days at a time, as I do when I post previous entries onto the blog, reminds me of things I’d forgotten. It’s surprising, repeatedly, how much material we get through in a month.

So — coffee ready — onward?

Can you remember when you’d sit down and not know if there would be anybody on the other end of the line?

Still on my way to Carnegie Hall. There really is nothing like practice.

Someday we could talk about why practice makes perfect, if you wish.

I imagine that you could find me a new slant on any bit of folk wisdom there ever was.

Could, but won’t need to, once you readjust your view of the world. And in the service of that goal, let’s continue.

Yesterday we stressed the continuity of things. Today we might look at the unity of things, as a balance. For after all, it’s well and good to say that the individual is a convenient fiction — in order to erode false absolutes in your thinking — but still you live, and you know yourselves as more than flow, more individual than identical molecules in an ocean.

Time for a corrective, then.

Yes, but remember that when we change viewpoints it is to illuminate another side of the subject; it is not to un-say what we said before that may be contradicted by a new viewpoint.

So, until now we have been concentrating on the threads rather than the containers. Don’t now throw all that overboard when we begin to look at the rings instead of the strings. We spoke of porousness to indicate that one’s volatile consciousness contains input from (and, we didn’t stress, produces output to) other levels of being, continuously. And we said that the person-mind at any level (for at one’s own level it always seems like a person-mind, a mind that is a work in progress)

Lost it, sorry.

Slowly, slowly. Recalibrate?

All right. Ready.

Notice that although we intend to continue with our talk, you cannot produce the end of that sentence. Why not? Shouldn’t we know what we were starting to say? The answer — which we will not pursue here and now — is that the formation of sentences and the transfer of information from concept to sequential sentences is a two-person job, so to speak. It is a sort of trapeze act. But anyway, don’t worry the bone when you can’t just pick up from an interrupted thought. Continue, instead.

You come into life to be the ring-master of many elements, each of which is itself in the process of continuous flux in the same way and for the same reason. Does this not shed light on why life is so complex and continuously changing? It isn’t just a matter of astrology — of different celestial influences on an otherwise unchanging individual. It isn’t just sociology, at the other end, a matter of the patterns set up around you by your environment. And it isn’t just psychology, between the two, a matter of mind in an environment, although this is closest.

It is as common sense would suppose, only the unit is vastly more porous than is commonly supposed.

Remember always — perhaps we don’t stress this strongly enough or often enough — it isn’t that we are providing you with new material as much as a new way of putting together the pieces. So you will find bits in Seth or in Gurdjieff or anywhere and suddenly the connection will snap into place and you will see what was being said that you couldn’t, previously, ground in your life. And of course it will work the other way, as well. Something another body of information offers will explain what we provide here.

Now, you are in a body as ring-master of all these elements, aware of them to greater or lesser extent. At one level of consciousness all things seem part of you and you of them, and no meaningful separation presents itself. This is the infant before it forms an “I” relative to the rest of the world — and it is the individual awareness after it has gone through the perception of separation between the I and the other — more or less what you’re getting to now, conceptually. In the long meantime, your relationship with all those elements varies all over the place. Sometimes you are not very aware of forces beyond your definition of your consciousness and other times you are more so. (Besides fluctuations within any one person, there are wide variations between individuals, as should be obvious. Some at their most sensitive to other influences are not nearly as sensitive as others at their least sensitive. Each person-group differs from others in this, as in other things.)

In your case, Frank, you were never very aware of other people’s motivations. They always appeared to be somewhat mysterious. Similarly, other people’s reactions to you were often baffling, you being unable to trace a relationship between your behavior or even your general “aura” so to speak and people’s reaction to it.

Yes. I’ve often wondered, in recent years, if I’m not somewhat autistic in my self-awareness, fortunately compensating with concern for others.

Yes, and that came as a surprise, that last revelation, didn’t it? It’s worth stressing for others. The self-referential tendencies are countered, and very productively, when you concentrate on the welfare of others. It is in what may look sometimes like self-sacrifice and at other times like love in action and at other times like self-forgetfulness that one escapes the self-created prison. Remember the poem Yeats gave you in 1995. Does it make more sense now?

A little more, year on year. I’ll enter it.


There are those think the day a long weariness,

Life a long never-releasing swampland clinging.

Can they never in their ceaseless counting and reckoning

Look up to the bird on the wing, or the hour?

Cease telling your beads of worry and amassing.

Your prayers are in every breath you take,

will it or not. The grave’s no prison

to match that spun by blind men building.

We who know pass you this directive;

Live your limitations as a blessing bestowed;

Build your castles but omit the bars;

Pass through the glowing.

Now, to stay with our earlier point, you, Frank, were not so aware of the reactions or motivations or independent life of others because you were blinded by the sun of your own solar system, so to speak. Your contemporaries were more rumor to you than reality. To put it in Meyers Briggs terms, you were 100% intuition and 0% sensory, and of course this was for a reason, and was not a cruel fate, but it did need to be lived out and thereby modified.

Now, seeing your life this way — using you though unknown as we have been using Hemingway because known — you can see

Can see what? Lost it.

A person’s actions, thoughts, reactions, may be as baffling to the person-group as to any others. What you do in life is not necessarily about what you think or assume or hope it is. There is so much going on behind the scenes. Is it a wonder that you sometimes awaken from a dream and wonder what you’ve been doing? But some people can live more comfortably knowing more, others, more comfortably knowing less. And — like the hired man Tarbox who said it to Emerson as a young man, that you like to quote occasionally — “people are always praying, and their prayers are always answered.” You get out of life what the person-group really wants. The difficulty is that what the person-group wants and needs may be very different from what the volatile consciousness that is trying to coordinate the group (what you may call the ego) wants. That is the basis for much suffering, and in the largest sense all suffering is needless. However, that is a little too philosophical for life in the physical, we realize.

Nonetheless, let’s say it again. In the sense that suffering is the difference between an ego’s expectation or desire and a person-group’s need and desire, all suffering is theoretically needless.

Does this not shed light on the virtues Christianity traditionally taught? Patience, for instance? Faith? We teach nothing new, only suggesting a new way to see accustomed things not understood from the accustomed ways of seeing them. If instead of turning away from things that seem outdated or even repugnant, you see them as based on facts seen through another peephole, you can gain so much so quickly, because these other systems were worked out in detail, long ago.

I can’t even remember the four cardinal virtues. Prudence and temperance were two, I think. Let me go look. [Looking in the catechism that I bought a couple of years ago for just this purpose:] fortitude, justice, prudence and temperance. I’ll have to look up what the catechism says about them, to see how it fits.

The key is how you look up elements of another systematic way of looking at life. If you are going to absorb the wisdom without becoming enmeshed in the system — and this is your goal here, of course — you need to temporarily enter into it, then retreat, reframe, and retain the insight, just as you did with the seven deadly sins.

If you were to look at the four cardinal virtues as your cheat-sheet to sneak you by the final exams so that you could get into heaven, they would be of no use to you whatever. It would be like trusting in the ownership of a roadmap to get you to your unknown destination, or more it would be like trusting that your faith in the roadmap would get you there. But that is absurd. The purpose of a roadmap is to represent relationships so that you will see which roads lead in which directions, and what you may expect to find along the way. Some don’t need maps; some need them at first and not later; some always need them. But we can’t think of any case in which somebody got to a destination by blind faith in the concept of a map.


No, GPS is more like relying on guidance; it is a roadmap not spelled out but implicit.

To wrap up for today?

Today, we’ve barely started, as you know. But, slow and steady. How did you amass a quarter of a million words?

All right. Till next time, then.

Take a look at the roadmap.

I will.

2 thoughts on “Conversations September 10, 2010

  1. Can you say more, or tell me where you say more, about how you got the poem from Yeats? It’s beautiful.

    Also, I’m able to hold onto the idea of “vastly porous unit” – that’s very useful.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne.
      Don’t know what to say about how I got the poem from Yeats. It wasn’t a process any different from getting anything else from somebody, as far as I can remember. I was receptive, and he had something to say, and it flowed.

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