13. All Dreams Begin With "If"
We start with a quote from Nicoll:
The question put to Mr. Ouspensky is, Is there some way in which I could be helped to want to work? His answer is, But who will do that for you? Especially if only one T is interested. Don't dream about things you cannot do. Nobody can help you to want to work. You must want yourself. And you must do what you can. In this way your wanting will increase. But if you don't do what you can, you will lose even that which you have. If you do what you can you will want more and more. How can we increase the power of the Work? Only by working. There is no other way. If you learn to make small efforts, it will give you small results. If you make bigger efforts you will get bigger results. How can we do anything if we don't give any energy to it and if we don't give any time to it?
The question is: Can one store energy? The answer is, Yes, it is absolutely necessary. All the future depends on this. But you cannot begin to think about storing energy before you learn to stop leaks. There is no question of not being able to stop leaks. We spend our energy in the wrong ways, on identification, on negative emotions, all considering, lying, idle talk, and expression of negative emotions. These are open taps from which our energy runs. They must be stopped.
You must understand that many things which you ascribe to external causes are really in you. Take fear for instance. Fear is independent of things. If you are in a state of fear you can be afraid of an ashtray. You are frightened and then you start to choose what to be afraid of. You bring yourself to a state of envy, jealousy, fear, or so on, then you start to look for subjects. If one has the realization of being asleep...there is no "if." If is already a dream. All dreams begin with "If." Try to think about this.(Nicoll, Com. Vol.I)
I want to talk to your right brain for a minute. Do you remember the old Greek myth? Once there was a stable and a worker whose job it was to remove all the manure from the stable. He'd go in every day with his wheelbarrow and he knew just what to clean. He wouldn't have to clean everywhere, he'd just have to clean where the horses were. And every day he would fill his wheelbarrow and he would work all day long every day. The problem was, there were so many horses that they could produce more manure than he could shovel out in a day. So every day he went in, the job got bigger, no matter how fast he worked or how long he worked. Perhaps you know the rest of the story; he had to use a flood of water from the nearby river to clean out the stable. The river cleaned the parts of the floor that were already clean, and it cleaned the parts that needed to be cleaned. It cleaned the walls, and the roof, it cleaned the old hay out, the new hay, and the horses. It cleaned everything, and the worker's life was much better.
Let's pretend that I wanted some glasses cleaned. I gave a dirty glass to Ned and another to Paul to have them get the job done. Have you seen glasses come out of the dishwasher? The glasses are speckled if you don't use that liquid that makes them clear and spot free, all over, you know? Until then they are supposed to be clean but they aren't. Anyway, pretend Ned said, "Oh, I get the idea, but I'm not going to waste my time cleaning the clean part of the glass....I'm only going to wash the specks!" So, he would wash a speck but he wasn't going to waste any time cleaning a spot between this speck and that speck. Paul on the other hand, just grabbed the glass, put it in the dishwater, took a rag and wiped it, took it out, rinsed it, held it up and saw that it was clean! But he didn't waste a lot of time, because he cleaned all the parts of the glass that were already clean, whereas Ned was still hunting carefully for those dirty spots far into the night.
Our formatory mind often wastes our time. You can tell which part of you is the formatory, lower mind, because it always says, "Yes, but...." The formatory mind will "Yes, but..." you to death. You could say something like, "You should never express negative emotions," or "You should never express anger," and the formatory mind will say, "Yes, but what if someone took their car and ran over my brand new dog?" You have to think about that. Or you could say, "You should not feel anger." Then someone says, "Yes, but what about zeal? There is such a thing as zeal, I read about it once." The formatory mind would ask that and you could think about that for awhile. But the truth is, the formatory mind doesn't really care. It has no interest whatsoever in any of those answers. It isn't even interested in the question. It is just interested in piping up, because it wants to have its say and it will always want to have its say, but it is totally useless in regard to spiritual work. If you work with your formatory mind, you will spend your life with a wheelbarrow and you will spend a lot of time cleaning only the dirty spots on the glass!
But there are simpler ways. When the Work tells you, "Never express a negative emotion," just never express a negative emotion. That's simple. A simple truth. Now you may think, "Yes, but I'm going to miss some things that would be okay to express." Don't worry, they will be given back at the end. You will get them all back. There are other things in the Work that are similar.
Do you know there are angels who can actually look at someone and distinguish the good in that person from the evil in that person and they can love the good? There are angels who can do that. There are also angels that can actually experience something called zeal from good affections. A lot of angels are like that.
Consider the phrase, "First remove the beam from your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." Let's say you could and you did take a course in that subject. You could take psychology or something else, but let's just say you took this phrase as a course, in itself, from kindergarten through eighth grade, from eighth grade through high school, high school through junior college and junior college all the way through masters, studying the phrase, "First remove the beam from your own eye." They wouldn't even let you know about the second phrase, they wouldn't even hint that there was such a phrase. Now when you started your doctorate in that phrase, if you had not only understood it, but had started to live it, then they would mention that there is part of it that says, "then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your neighbor's eye."
Now I wonder. Do you suppose that a man who is identified with his proprium and love of self, and love of the world, do you suppose that man can actually distinguish between the good and the bad in his neighbor? Do you suppose a person who is totally identified with negative emotions that are active and is expressing them, could feel zeal? Do you think that would be possible? There is a saying: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water." In our Work, go ahead and throw the bath water out - the baby hasn't even been bom yet! Your bath water is too dirty!
Everything that we do in the Work comes together around External consideration. It is a matter of love of self versus love of the neighbor. Love of the neighbor or External consideration is what it is all about. In the Old Testament we have the Laws of Moses, the Ten Commandments, and so forth. In the New Testament the Lord says, I teach you two commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself." That's it. "On this hang all the Law and the Prophets."
So all the Work and everything in the Writings hangs on loving the neighbor. You may say love of the Lord is primary, but the Lord continues to tell you, "If you have done this to the least of My people, you have done it unto Me." If you love your neighbor, you love Me, He says. So, we focus on the neighbor knowing that the reason we are doing that, which takes conscious effort and attention, is because we wish to do what the Lord tells us to do. Doing it is a form of love to the Lord.
We need to practice External consideration in everything we do. For instance, can a person who has never observed the true nature of his proprium in himself love the neighbor? No. He thinks he loves the neighbor, but if he observes long enough he will find that he only loves himself in the neighbor, or he loves the neighbor loving him. That is what he will find out if he observes. If he doesn't observe, he thinks he loves the neighbor. He doesn't love the neighbor. Can you be identified with your proprium, with its love of self and love of the world, and love your neighbor? No, you can't. Because then the proprium is active and the proprium can never love the neighbor. It hates the neighbor! It can't do both.
So you may ask, "What don't I, or shouldn't I, identify with?" There are a thousand different 'I's not to identify with, because they are all self (or proprium). Can a person express negative emotion and love his neighbor? No, you can't be expressing negative emotions and loving your neighbor at the same time, it is impossible. Can you be caught up in your suffering and self-importance and love your neighbor? No, you have to sacrifice self-importance and suffering because if you don't sacrifice those you can't love your neighbor. Can you be actively attached to your loves and desires and love your neighbor? No, you have to be passive to your self.
The Work says you must make your self nothing. You must observe your self, and you must then not identify with your self. You must become passive to that self, and must make it absolutely nothing and not express things from the self. Then you start to make the glass clean so that something brand new can happen -something that only the Lord can infill, something which is His love for the neighbor, in you, as if it was your love. He is not going to change your love. He is going to give you something brand new. But He says that is not going to happen like putting new wine in old bottles. You are going to have to have a new form and a new will. And you have to get a new way of new thinking, new ways of approaching the new state. Everything of self must become passive. He tells us a man must sacrifice his life to find it. You have to die to find this new life. What dies? Everything we've been talking about in the self. Everything we've observed has to become passive, has to die. We start to be passive to the evil. It is in the self (i.e. proprium), but we don't go with it. We don't make it part of us. We see it's not part of us and we ask the Lord to remove it and replace it with something brand new called love to the neighbor.
All the Work is in context, or relationship, to our neighbor. You will observe that most negative emotions have to do with human beings. If they don't, you will relate it to a human being. You are driving down the road and you hit a pothole. You will blame either the state, the road, the federal government, the guy who built the car, or the guy who made the creosote. Somebody has to be blamed for this pothole, because we look for the neighbor to blame. We feel we are Number One. We are King, the center of the universe, and other people are all below us! We have to reverse that order. And that is what the Work is all about.
So we have the old will and we have the new will. You don't have to worry too much about what we'll do when we have the new will. When the new will comes, you will see clearly what to do - but a lot of people clearly want to see before they can see clearly! We want to see before we have the done the work that allows us to truly see.
If we were our proprium and there was no possibility of a new will, then there would be no point in doing any of this work. But because the Lord separated the will and the understanding, and made it possible to implant a new will through our understanding, that makes it all worth while. You can see the part that is your proprium, and the nature of your proprium, which is never going to change. That proprium is in touch with societies in hell, groups of evil spirits whose very life is love of self and love of the world. But the fact that you can start to separate from it, not be active, but be passive to it, allows the Lord to start the process of implanting a new will - and love of self and the world is not what will delight it. It will be delighted with something entirely different. So, the fact that you can see "IT" is from hell and not identify with it and know that 'IT' is that way, rather than thinking and feeling, "I am that way," is good. It should not be upsetting to you.
The Writings tell you the proprium is that way. The Work tells you 'IT' is that way, so it shouldn't surprise you. You will just find out like the woman in the Word where the Lord told the woman everything about herself. The Lord tells us all about ourselves and you will observe that what He says is true. Don't worry about it. You have no need to be attached to that proprium. You have no need to justify it, or feel guilty for it, or be upset by it. You just need to notice that this is the way your proprium is.
You don't have to make extra efforts to be miserable. There is enough provided. There is plenty of Work, because it doesn't take much to make the proprium miserable. Just the wrong kind of pillow (a foam rubber one rather than a goose down pillow) does it. Now the guy in a cell, in a prison in Vietnam probably wouldn't care, but my proprium, it cares.
Patience. The Lord asks us to have patience and He really, seriously means it. Be patient. He is doing it. Constantly, He is doing it. All the time you are observing things and thinking nothing good is happening, He is doing everything inside. He is purifying your internal man. He does ask us to desist and not do certain things when we are capable of not doing those things. And there are things that we are not capable of desisting from yet, but we are capable of starting to see that they should not be done. And someday in the future we will have the possibility of desisting from these things as well. But today may not be the day.
So, the frustration you feel is something you observe, and you start to be passive to it. And then you start to become patient and you trust in the Lord to lead you through states, and you have that new relationship instead of wanting to regenerate on your own, which is impossible.
The Work says: "Man cannot do, but he must do what he can."
from it, speak from it or act from it, which is to express it. (Remember, 'IT' is not you.)