11. The Inward Dive
For most people, even for educated and thinking people, the chief obstacle to their obtaining the stale of consciousness called Self- remembering lies in the fact that they think they possess it already. They not only think that they arc conscious at every moment and aware of themselves, but they believe that they are conscious of their inner lives also, that they arc fully aware of all the thoughts and emotions that pass through them in a continuous stream. It is evident that a man will not be interested if you tell him about a state of consciousness that he thinks he already possesses. Of all the thoughts and feelings that pass through him mechanically, he is scarcely conscious of one millionth of a part. Yet actually, the state of consciousness called Self-remembering, in which a man is aware of himself and all he sees around him, and at the same time aware of his aim and all the thoughts and feelings passing through him, which come to him in flashes, and can only be made more permanent in him by long and special training. This special training begins with Self-observation. It is only by means of observing himself uncritically, and over a considerable period of time, that man can begin to understand that he does not remember himself, and realizes that most of the time he lives in a dream. (Nicoll, Com. Vol.1)
When I started to be a diving coach I had a very promising young girl student. One of the first dives you learn, and one that is difficult for any new diver, is called the inward dive. Standing backwards on the board, facing inward, the diver jumps off the board and jack-knifes down to the water beneath. The first thing you tell a student attempting to learn it is, "Keep your shoulders in front of your hips, keep your head in front of your shoulders, bring your arms down and then throw your hands right down at the board and push your hips over top." And that's easy to say and they all understand it, and they all listen to it and then none of them do it, because they know if they throw their hands right down at that board, and their head's in front of their shoulders, shoulders are in front of their hips, that their head is going to hit the board. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them otherwise, they know that's going to happen, even though you tell them it won't happen. So, what they do is, they think they're going to do it right, and then they don't do it. They drop their shoulders behind their hips, they throw their hips way back, and then they can't do the dive. And you tell them, "Don't drop your hips back," and they say, "Okay, I intend not to do that," "I plan not to do that," and then they throw their hips back and leave their shoulders back and they can't do the dive.
For three years I talked to this girl every time she tried to do an inward dive. After three years she was able to do certain things, cheating, but she was landing very flat, which hurts a lot. She was very frustrated, and every time she asked me what she should do I told her the same thing I had been telling her for three years. So one day I was observing her on the three meter board and she was different. I could see something happening. She wasn't talking to me, she wasn't looking at me, she wasn't planning her excuses. She was very intent and she was making a decision. She had decided, on faith, to risk her life. It's not easy to do that. In diving you have to do that. And so she went through it and I could see her effort; every bit of her muscle wanted to let one of those previous mistakes happen and she refused. She stood over the board and her hips went up and she spun like a top and she came out about eight feet high and cut the water like a knife. She came up, and when she looked at me she didn't have to say a thing! Understanding happened. When they talk about the marriage of good and truth and the offspring, if you had looked in her face you'd have seen something was born! And that relates to the Work.
Thinking about the Work and knowing about the Work from experience are not the same thing! We have at some point to be willing to sacrifice something very valuable to us, and then it can all come together for us. At a certain point the time for practicing is over. There is an ocean of difference between practicing and doing what you are practicing to do. You have to make a shift. You have to go inside and find out what it is you know, and then do it. That is a very important shift. It is an important shift for athletes, for actors or for artisans; it is a very important shift for anybody to make.
That's what this Work is about, the shift from learning to doing, from knowing to understanding; when you put the menu down and you start to eat the meal. It's a big decision. Once you have made that decision you start to go with something else. You get in touch with something entirely different.
We know from the Gospel that you do not learn your way into heaven. When the young man came to the Lord and said, "I've done everything since my youth. I obeyed all the commandments. What else is there to do?" The Lord said, "Sell all that you have." And the man went away sorrowful. We know that is not about earthly goods. We know that is about the pride of our own intelligence, all the things we know.
It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Of course camels can hold a lot of water - a lot of truth. They are really good in the desert. They can go long distances, much like understanding and knowledge. You can accumulate large amounts of that. It can be useful when things are difficult. But it's not easy to get through the eye of a needle. The shift has to take place. All those things are necessary but at some time you have to go sell them.
In Heaven and Hell it speaks about innocence, about the willingness to obey and to be led; the willingness to recognize that all we know is nothing unless it is from the Lord. All we do is not from ourselves. So that shift is a very important one. David turned down the armor when he went to kill Goliath. He went and got five smooth stones, and he only needed one to kill Goliath. It only took five loaves of bread to feed the five thousand.
You always come back to some very simple truths. It sounds very complex: there's Self-remembering, Self-observation; you have the interior man, and you have the interior of the exterior. You have all these things, but that's not it. None of that knowledge is going to get you into heaven. The scribes and Pharisees did not earn their way into charity by all they knew. They had to give that up. They had to be willing to change and become poor in relation to something. That shift had to take place. The Lord talks about innocence. He talks about His burden being light. He talks about the need of coming to Him, and that He stands at the door and knocks. If you want to, come in, but a change has to take place first. What is the door that stands in the way? What is that shift? What has to happen?
We have to become passive to certain things, like our proprial states and love of self. We have to start to let go of these things in us. We also have to start to let go of a certain knowing we have, as if we know how to get to heaven. Let go of knowing about it. Let go of thinking about it. Start to experience it. Make a place for the experience to happen.
You cannot effort yourself into regeneration. You cannot learn your way into regeneration. You can only learn to allow the Lord to regenerate you. Allowing the Lord to regenerate you is something that is an experience. The Word asks, "Who among you if your son asks for bread would give him a stone?" Well, if we asked the Lord for the experience of love to the Lord and love to the neighbor, would the Lord give us theories? No. He's not going to give us theories. He's going to give us that experience. And that is what we want to start to feel. That's the shift. It's like explaining what a mango tastes like. No one can explain it, but you can stop looking for it in your mind, you can stop looking for it in the books. You can start to look for it within your experience. Many people miss the fact that the first coming happened, that Jesus came. They were waiting for Jesus to be born the Savior and they missed it. They missed it because it wasn't what they expected. It didn't come the way they had wished it. It didn't clean up their external world. It didn't solve their external problems. So they said it didn't happen and that He was a liar, and they killed Him!
What are we looking for? What experience are we waiting for? How do we envision this change, this regeneration? Are we looking somewhere where it's not going to be? Are we waiting for an experience that has already happened? He says, "Phillip, how long have I been with you and you don't know who I am? I am the Father."
The experiences are there. There are experiences available to us. There is manna. We may not be in the promised land but there is manna every morning. Those states are available, but we can't store them up or they won't taste good. We can only have them when they are given. Nicoll says:
Sometimes, merely looking out externally, at the heavens at night, at the myriad of stars, produces a momentary state akin to Self-remembering. It does this by withdrawing us from our personal feelings. Everything that takes force away from our personality may bring about a trace of Self-remembering. If we are identified with the reactions of our personality and at the same time we try to Self- remember, we will find it is impossible." (Nicoll, Com. Vol. I)