If we don’t harvest in July we can’t thresh in August. If we don’t uncover illusion we can’t Be. In this work — as in any work — one thing opens the door to another, while the neglect of one thing prevents the completion of another. Having discovered our wrong thinking in July, it invariably follows that we proceed to formulating right thinking in its stead. Our August labor will revolve around winnowing the right from the wrong at the moment the habit seeks to assert itself. To fit the moment, our weapon must be brief and potent. Our right thinking must be coined in the form of an aphorism, a succinct command, the smooth stone David used to stun Goliath.
How can we work with a well-established habit? Suppose I discover that fear of the future is a predominant negative emotion in my psychology. It regularly invents imaginary scenarios of catastrophe that pull me away from reality and hinder my ability to Be. My desire to work with this habit introduces a new active force to my work. But the inertia of having spent years indulging in fear opposes this initiative and serves as the passive force. In themselves, the two forces counteract each other in stalemate. They generate self-observation, but they don’t bring about change. The fear remains, and my inability to confront it only produces guilt, frustration, self-deprecation. In order to change, the pulling and hauling of two forces is insufficient; a third neutralizing force must intervene.
This post is inspired by Myrto’s and Anselmo’s workshop on emotional fear. We have been working with this subject for a couple of weeks. Negative emotions such as fear, judgement, or irritation, are the largest waste of energy in the micro-cosmos; a good reason for exploring work with fear. I would like to share my own experience with handling emotional fears, such fears that one can project on oneself or other people.
June invites us to review our understandings around the physical body and preserve them, lest they rot and ruin. Since formulating an aim in January this year (or since you joined this work), what have you understood about the physical body and its relation to your aim? If you do not factor what you’ve learned into your present efforts, then you are neglecting your harvest. What have you learned about haste, about being present while dining, or about working through physical fatigue?
During recent months, the topic of expectations showed up for me again and again. I start working on my excessive planning habit and notice expectation lurking around. I do a breathing exercise and at the back of my mind I expect an immediate result. I put a book on my chair to create an element of voluntary suffering, and here it is again – something in me expects a miraculous effect in just a few minutes.
Observe the first hour of your day. Which weed habitually saps your good earth? Is it chronic worry? Is it a bad mood? The point is not to let these negative emotions reach a degree of intensity that depletes your good earth. Be patient, recognizing that a newly-formed discipline is inevitably weaker than a long-established habit. If you persist, then in forty days you will be bundling and burning weeds and harvesting and storing wheat. But for now, your May Labor is to photograph the first negative ‘I’ that intrudes into your day, and start formulating a work discipline around it.
When I first met the Charioteer, I almost fell in love with him. An impulse to be like him, to reach the state of his consciousness, to arrive at an internal Place where I can Be, like he is. The Charioteer is neither Male nor Female. He has the powers of both archetypes. He stands calm, serene, in his beauty, holding the reins of moving horses. He is moving and still at the same time. He has full control of the chariot, but he is not affected by any externality. He has the ability of a constant connection with an internal source of deep emotions and inspiring thoughts , filtering out the noise of the outer world.
We are in search of the miraculous — not in Egypt, Ceylon, or India, but standing on the street where we live. The present is reliably there. It is up to us to Be there for it, to use it as a catalyst for self-consciousness. Our skills have improved. Having formulated aims around our habits during January, experimented with non-identification during February, pruned and refined our work during March, we are naturally brought to the position of asking ourselves: which of our efforts really work?
The idea that drew me to becoming a farmer is that we can actually make nature more efficient, rather than just letting it grow wild. We can direct its resources to make a much more abundant harvest. There are two different levels of being here: an unkempt system and an intelligently orchestrated one. What is more beneficial to man?
If you’re new to this teaching, now is the time to formulate an aim. If you’ve already formulated an aim in January, now is the time to examine whether it still reflects what you’d like to harvest. Bearing your aim in mind, what must you prune today to ensure a plentiful harvest tomorrow?
What began as a simple aim for 2017, to self-remember when talking, has blossomed into a new level of understanding in the work I had not bargained for nor knew existed. The aim still exists but it is now part of a greater aim aimed at accepting, moment by moment, chief feature…
The habits we tackle in this work didn’t spring up last month. They grew in the course of years. We discovered this during January, as we labored to set an aim for 2017. One layer of habit gave way to another. Those who initially aimed to minimize unnecessary talk discovered an attitude of vanity beneath their talking. Those who initially aimed to curb haste discovered a need of pleasing others beneath their hurrying. Our formulation of aim began around habits the size of branches, and through self-observation expanded to encompass mature trunks. “And now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees,” says John the Baptist. “Every tree therefore which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”