Joseph the Egyptian, on guidance and life in exile

Saturday, April 7, 2007

9:15 a.m. You gentlemen have any more to say about things?

It’s up to you, really. We are always available, and we tend to lend you a sense of urgency when we need you to do something timely.

Yes, I have figured that out, finally. Of course, under the circumstances I get suspicious of impulses. Yet as I have no objection to doing your bidding, I act even when suspicious of whose idea it is. I expect due credit at least for being willing to be a dupe if need be.


Whatever. In my case, preparing so many past sessions to be postings has revived my interest in doing morning sessions, as I did last year. Was it only last year?! But I think that rather than resume with Joseph I will take advantage of my increased access — and I see now why you prompted me with that bright idea — to talk to others at the same depth if possible. If anything it should be easier so long as we stay away from factual matters that may be checked.

But – whom? Joseph the Egyptian comes first to mind, but then I think of Bertram, and John. Do any of you or all of you have a preference? What am I saying, of course you have a preference, and you are leading me like a tethered donkey. But that’s fine, let’s go. Proceed, friends.

We do approve your attitude – including your levity, your approach to the work. An attitude of skepticism, or of true-believer-ism, or of excessive reverence, or of insistence that certain fences must be absolutes and remain absolutes, would make all this far harder for you. Such attitudes have their advantages, and are worked out in other personalities, but you have found a style that works well for you.

So who is up?

[Joseph the Egyptian:] Your mind and mine run more closely together than you might expect if you considered only the great difference in our backgrounds. “Separated” as we are by gulfs of time and space, in cultures that make our very way of experiencing the world nearly incommunicable one to the other, if it were not for the threads we share we could speak only through chains of intermediaries, each of which would necessarily (by his very function) increase miscommunication. I am the source of much of what in you is so strange to your companions. My way in the world is to a great extent your way, and it is very far removed from what has been common in your world.

I lived in a high point in the culture that lived in the Two Kingdoms. You live in what seems to be a high point in your civilization. Yet how different your circumstances from mine! I was a part of the civilization; you are a dissenting seed.

I was maintaining; you in representing and fostering the same value as an orientation are revolutionizing. My times supported what I am. You came into being, with so many others, to turn your society to something that will support what you are.

The working out of this requires that you, and so many others, in effect be born into exile. Your lives are a working out of the progress toward opening –

Try again. Stay a little deeper. Until our connection is as automatic as yours with Joseph [Smallwood], you will have to concentrate more and resist meanderings. At the same time and for the same reason the temptations into meanders, into daydreams, will be greater now than later. So merely focus your attention half on the slide switch that you have set to greater access.

You were born as one going into exile. When you came of age (at about seven; that is, when you had formed a soul and were ready for an injection of spirit that would orient you to your life’s task) you realized unconsciously that you were not in congenial surroundings. We are not criticizing your parents or family or immediate circumstances, we mean that you were formed to fit into a society that did not exist, and you felt the divergence by your own inability to fit in to what existed. This does not refer to transient difficulties but to your fundamental orientation in the world.

This is an unavoidable if painful accompaniment to a life that is intended to break new ground. You could fit in or you could not. If you fit, then every movement toward what would come into being would be a painful stretch. If you did not fit, then every movement in the right direction would reduce the stretch, would be a clear indicator that it was the right direction.

This is said to you and for you, but also to and for so many others who have lived their lives in painful exile. It wasn’t accidental, it wasn’t unnecessary, and it wasn’t fruitless. But the working out of it is now! It is what you are moving toward. It is not a resting place but a vector. And I smile as I know that you don’t quite know what a vector is, but I use it through you because at some level you do know it – think of it as motion or inertia in one given direction. Your technical friends will cringe but that is close enough for our purposes. You are not going to be as comfortable standing still as you will be moving in the one indicated direction. And what direction is that? The one you are inclined to move in! That is what guidance is, you know, a pointer toward the right direction for you.

Hmm. I’m pretty tired already and it isn’t 10 a.m.

No need to wear yourself out. Great need to not wear yourself out, in fact. Steadfastness, not spurts and inconstancy. But steadfast does not mean unceasing, only unchanging in intent.

Thank you, Joseph. My correspondent says Joseph means “God’s servant,” which I like very much.

We can all be Joseph. It is our choice.

5 thoughts on “Joseph the Egyptian, on guidance and life in exile

  1. Remember reading this years ago. Tweak some details here and there and it could describe the contours of my life. Born into exile: I know that narrative arc front to back. Or as Nietzsche put it, one is simply untimely. Interesting also that it doesn’t get better or worse as one grows older, or maybe it gets both better and worse- either way the sense of exile doesn’t abate. It is what is.
    I also know why the literature of high modernism always agreed with me and I with it. So much of it was written under and about the experience of literal exile.
    There is always so much to see and learn in exile though!

      1. Well what did you find b/c the definition may differ from my mine! Really what I meant was if one scans the bios of the great (and not so great as well) artists, writers, and intellectuals from the late 19th century right through Ww2 an impressive number worked from 2nd, 3rd, and 4th countries. And of course we’re mostly, but not only, talking about Europeans….in any case, “spiritual” exile in addition to physical exile is a well worn theme in early-mid 20th century lit.

        If you’re inclined, Milan Kundera’s book of essays ‘Testaments Betrayed’ touches on this succinctly. I think his other book of essays whose name escapes me does also.

  2. Rita also used the term ‘vector’, as in, our lives do have a vector.
    Do you think that when Josepth talks about a ‘vector’ that this is related to Rita’s ideas?

  3. Once again, your blog offers up exactly what I need to read, when I need it most. And, once again, thank you for the work you do to share it.

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