On Friday I shared another reading from Mrs. Staveley, one of Gurdjieff’s students in which she highlights that we have “two myselfs” within. One me that is full of fears, anxieties, resentment, greed, self-preoccupation, busyness, and so on. She says, “It is me. Turn and twist as I may, I see it as me-myself. It is how I am and I cannot change it, nor get rid of it, nor go away and leave it behind. Everything is in chaos, splintered into fragments.” And one me that we can access sometimes when we get quiet. Of this me, Mrs. Staveley says, “when I have the sensation of my body, and when my mind becomes interested in this, something new can take place. I have a totally different impression of myself, am more whole, more real, more true. There is a sense of presence and this too, is me-myself. At such a moment I know this with luminous certitude. It is something fragile and precious and yet potentially of great strength. At such a moment I am free and without fear.” She poses the question, “How can this be? Two me-myselfs—so very different, contradictory. What connects them?” This idea of the two selves is an essential framework of most spiritual paths which in various ways acknowledge that we have a “small self,” a small “i,” and a “large Self,” the big “I.” The Self is sometimes understood as the original sense of wholeness that includes but is not limited to the small self within. In reality we do not have just one small self, but rather we have many differing and at times conflicting small selfs each with their own agenda. Gurdjieff called them small “i’s.” Various psychological theories such as Ricahrd Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems around since the 80’s but currently gaining popularity, call them “parts.” The overarching idea is that we contain a multitude within and we can begin to observe this, allowing a different impression of ourselves to emerge, something more whole, real and true. Not only are we made up of different “parts,” but we have within us different centers of intelligence - through thought, feeling, sensing - and structures of consciousness that shape the way we perceive. There is an entire ecosystem within us. An ecosystem that is part of many ecosystems. It is helpful to have an awareness of these ecosystems and to be aware of, as Mrs. Staveley invites reflection on, what connects them all. And so let us continue to ponder, “How can this be? [So many] me-myselfs—so very different, contradictory. What connects them?” What connects these ecosystems? Perhaps we can allow this awareness to deepen our embodied sense and feeling of this vast interconnectivity.
Here the Readings from this week's pauses:
Prayer for Spiritual Strength For this reason I bow my knees before [God], from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of [the Divine’s] glory, [God] may grant you to be strengthened with power through [the] Spirit in your inner being, so that [the Christic] may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to [the ineffable Mystery] who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to [God] be glory in the church and in [the Christic] throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. — Ephesians 3:14-22 "And it is the level of expression that is secondary—that is, truth in the form of words and formulations can come only out of silence, the state of the pure energy of consciousness anterior to its assumption of forms; words; ideas; associations; the organization of impressions, images, programs . . . The mind alone—the mind that is not nourished by the silence of the fertile void of pure Being—as such is incapable of guiding human life. The ordinary, isolated intellect, no matter how brilliant or inspired, has not the energy to command our thoughts, words, impulses, memories and experiences in a way that conforms to truth and the Good. This, in sum, is the tragedy of our era, of our knowledge in the modern world.” — Jacob Needleman, forward to the Gospel of St Thomas, translated by Jean-Yves LeLupe Two Myselfs — What Connects Them? “ Sometimes there are moments when one catches a glimpse of the vastness, the tremendous scope of this universe we live in, of which each of us is a trifling particle. Such moments our brief and fleeting, but they can evoke the experience of a or wonder and sometimes it kind of almost objective gratitude. Then life floods in again with its busyness, it’s pettiness, it’s obsessiveness, it’s preoccupation with trivialities. So it is with this work. At moments one can be almost overcome with a glimpse of the grandeur of what one is working toward but only dimly sense. It seems almost ludicrous that such a puny thing as oneself could have even a taste of the possibility of being connected with such a glory. But we do; and undoubtedly it is a wise dispensation of Nature that we cannot have more, as our machines would be destroyed, just as an apparatus designed to take 110 volts would be damaged if it were suddenly required to take even as little as 220 volts. We must prepare to be able to handle a higher voltage. So I look at myself. I see myself as I am with all my fears and anxieties, my greed, laziness, stupidity‘s, my conceit, busyness, and so on. It is me. Turn and twist as I may, I see it as me-myself. It is how I am and I cannot change it, nor get rid of it, nor go away and leave it behind. Everything is in chaos, splintered into fragments. But sometimes when I can be quiet, when I have the sensation of my body, and when my mind becomes interested in this, something new can take place. I have a totally different impression of myself, am more whole, more real, more true. There is a sense of presence and this too, is me-myself. At such a moment I know this with luminous certitude. It is something fragile and precious and yet potentially of great strength. At such a moment I am free and without fear. I see that there is in me a wish for this state. But when I move, I return to the previous state, the state of every day. How can this be? To me-myselfs—so very different, contradictory. What connects them? Let this thought, this question be with me today. ” — A.L. Staveley, “Themes I” "...belief alone [a single unsalvageable flaw in our traditional understanding of Christianity] won't get us to oneness, which is a state of consciousness, not a theological stipulation. Perception founded on separation can never sustain oneness. And until we learn how to stabilize that seeing-from-oneness within us, our Christian practice is doomed to fall back into twoness, where exclusivism, judgment, intolerance and even violence will continue to sabotage Jesus' message of universal love." – Cynthia Bourgeault “Let your roots grow down into [Christ], and let your lives be built on [Christ]. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." — Colossians 2:7