In farming the earth, the seasons are rigid and predictable. Winter begins each year at the winter solstice, and although it will vary in rainfall and temperatures, it is always winter and always comes at this exact time. The same, of course, is true of spring, summer, and fall. The outer farmer can rely on this predictability and need not be concerned with the grape harvest during threshing time or pruning during the time for sowing.
The seasonal fluctuations of inner farming are, by contrast, unpredictable. Every moment brings with it a new challenge and there is no telling when a labor may become relevant. Now confusion or lethargy sets in, so I must reaffirm or reformulate my aim, as discussed in January. Then negativity flares up, calling to mind the principles discussed in October. Then again, momentum seeks to overtake me, so I must apply the methods taught in May. To farm myself, I must remain armed with all my tools and be ready for the unexpected.
The acreage of outer farming is land; the acreage of inner farming is time. The more time we invest in self-observation, plugging leaks, cultivating attention, and applying any of the methods taught here, the faster our work progresses. On the other hand, the more time we waste through only intermittent practice, the more we allow our habits to reassert themselves and beat back our progress. There is aggressive competition over our time. Every thought, mood, desire, and sensation, competes to dominate our internal landscape and waste our time. This explains why it is so difficult to even remember to do our work. Unless we are vigilant, our impulse to work is crowded out by these other impulses. To dedicate more time to inner work—to utilize more of our acreage—we will have to continually shore up our impulse to work above our crowded internal landscape. We will have to remember more and forget less.
For this end, we employ the counting exercise. We aim to remember our work at least 100 times a day, tallying our progress through keeping count. There are various external aids for this, from the mechanical clicker to the digital phone. All are useful, as the point here is to attach an objective number to our frequency. Each time we remember, and make an effort to apply any tool of this teaching, we ‘click’ on our counter.
Tallying our moments of remembrance by itself motivates us to increase their frequency. At the same time, it exposes patches of our day lost in prolonged forgetfulness. Why was I able to click fairly frequently on my way to work, but entirely forgot once I stepped into my office? Why was I able to maintain good frequency while at my desk but lost remembrance altogether during lunchtime? The longer patches of forgetfulness outline the parts of our acreage that are presently under the full sway of Personality. This indicates unambiguously in which direction our farming must proceed.
When a seed germinates, it pushes its root downwards and its stem upwards in a line vertical to the plane of the earth. Likewise, when we successfully apply any of the methods taught here, we push through the artificiality of our Personality and touch Essence. Personality relies on our not-seeing, or self-forgetting. The more often we remember, the better we utilize our acreage, and the faster we will see progress in this work.
This is our labor for November.
Farming the Emotional Function