Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Notes toward an essay on responsibility, part 7: Administration, Awareness, Surrender

The three base paths of the Qabalah indicate three paths towards taking responsbility for oneself. Their traditional names are Tau, Shin, and Qoph. I see them as three kinds of intelligence, or three modes of responsibility towards myself in a material sense. Do not be put off by the olde worlde jargon, Qabalah makes for exceptionally powerful psychology.

Tau: Administration.

I used to disrespect my administrative self, calling the Work of administration "administrivia". Now no longer. Administration matters. Not only does it matter, but it is the source of that bridge between the insivible world of feelings and everyday life which we ordinarily refer to as "sanity". It doesn't matter how screwed up my life is as long as I am tending to it, every day a little and no more. Balance in everything even balance itself.

There is a lot more I could say about administration which only applies to me. So I will content myself with a warning: administration has a life of its own. I cannot precisely describe how, but trust me on this: pay the same respect to your detail work as you would to a household pet. Disrespect this quality as your peril.

Shin: Mindfulness

How do I get safe enough to drop my act? When I have administered enough and created enough inner space, then mindfulness tends naturally to arise.

Mindfulness is always 'on'. It may seem like we sleepwalk much through the day, which is true for experience, but I think it is fair to conclude that some aspect of consciousness is always 'on', always watching impartially and recording everything. It is like forgetting about surveillance cameras in public: mindfulness is the ultimate surveillance. It is continual, persistent, constant, impartial, and very easy to ignore. So easy, in fact, that Buddhists propose a whole body of practice around creating mindfulness.

There is no need to work at mindfulness. It already is. If I just clear away stuff through administration, mindfulness appears as if it is always there. Which it really is.

Unlike Administration, Mindfulness cannot be disrespected. If you abuse it it simply vanishes from conscious awareness like quicksilver. You fall asleep and wake up again an hour or day or decade later wondering what happened to "you".

I don't think I need to mention how absolutely essential mindfulness is to responsibility. And I want to reinforce that the only way to clarify it safely is through Administration. There are other ways that are more esoteric and not sensible or practical in the context of a blog.

Qoph: Surrender.

Surrender to what? To body intelligence. To inklings and intuitive hits that you can't put into words. To the non-sensible. To the chaotic. To the overwhelming.

Surrenders basic message is this: there are some things you can control, some things you can't, and some things you cannot control or not control but instead must surrender to. The stuff you can control, you can Administer until it is fixed. The stuff you can't control, you can be Mindful of it until it passes away. The stuff you cannot control and not control is a bit beyond language.

The best example of the Surrender path is relationships. You can't control, nor can you let go of control. Either way causes backfiring. It is a paradox which is only resolved at a higher level and that higher level is this:

You have to surrender to the process of the relationship; go with the flow; let it be and let it happen. If it hurts, deal with it. If it feels good, keep your head down.

There are some things in life you can't completely control. The body is one of them. Feelings are another. And relationships are the big one. I find it helpful to consider how I treat my body, my feelings and my relationships as training wheels for how I treat the universe, the powers that run this universe, and the divinity that creates it continually, That is to say, I respect my body AS the universe. I respect my feelings AS angelic and archangelic forces. And I respect my relationships as divinity itself. Anything less is a copout to me.

Disown Surrender, and you automatically fall back on to controlling (Administration) or witnessing (Mindfulness) as a solution to the chaotic, and I can tell you now that both these attitudes really piss Surrender off! Imagine someone very intense, sensitive, and beautiful is trying to express his feelings to you and share his soul. Do you do your tax or read a bus timetable as he shares this stuff? Or, what is sometimes worse, do you coldly witness and impartially reflect back the essence of what you have heard. You would be pissed off too if someone you cared about disrespected you vulnerable feelings like that. Treat your relationship with body, feeling, and others, then, with the same respect and reverence.

Most people are skilled at living with the first two intelligences, Administration and Mindfulness. They like and enjoy working with them. But very few people are apt at Surrender, and I believe this can be the greatest bottleneck which stops higher levels of responsibility.

This is the final notes on responsibility in the series. Coming up I will post sundry extra pieces as they occur to me, and perhaps one day I will post the complete essay that these notes are working towards.


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