4. What Are You Missing?
Gurdjieff would talk occasionally about the horror of the situation. I think it is hard for us to realize the horror of the situation. Swedenborg says if you were aware of your inner states and could see the actual hells after you, you would run for your life. You would flee in sheer horror.
Have you ever been to a football game or a basketball game where a bad coach is teaching children? Let's say a kid just went to kick a soccer ball in goal and missed. You might see the bad coach run over there and say, "You stupid kid. You can't do anything right. I told you a hundred times...." And if you observe the kid's face carefully and you really observe what is going on, there is the horror of the situation. If you have ever seen that and felt how it feels to see a child treated that way, or be that child, you can feel the horror.
On the other hand, you may see a very good coach, when the kid kicks the ball and misses the goal, run over and hug the kid and say, "Come on, you're a great player. You just get back in there. You're doing fine." Then you've seen something different. From the kid's point of view there is a big difference. But if you see it from the coach's point of view, can you imagine the difference in his life? If you took the first coach and you brought him around to where he could have the second coach's experience of life, there would be a great change in his life.
One night I was waiting for the 6:00 o'clock news to start. I wanted to see news of America's Cup Race and I knew it would be the lead thing. So at six minutes before 6:00 p.m., my wife Roxanne asked me to drive our son Luke to where he was invited to stay overnight. So I had this opportunity to work on some negative emotions! As I was walking toward the door my head was down. That is often a clue to myself that I am involved in a negative emotion. I could hear my internal dialogue: "Geez, I was waiting for the 6:00 o'clock news. I'm going to miss it." Then Luke appeared carrying his bag. When we got outside he wanted to find a sled to take along for this Mend of his. So I got in the car and I was sitting there impatiently while he was looking for the sled. I was impatient. Then I thought, "Okay, I better practice doing some "External Considering." So, I pretended I was Luke hunting for the sled. I could see how his body was moving and what was happening to it. I tried to feel how he felt. The minute I did that, I realized he really wanted to get that sled for his little friend - an innocent, nice emotion. He wanted to give the sled to his friend. I had been going to let him fail at finding it. When he couldn't find it I had thought, "Geez, Luke, come on, I've been waiting forever.... Will you just forget it? Come on, just hurry up, will you?" I was rolling that around in one side of my head, and in the other, being in touch with what he was going through, his having a real affection, his wanting to do something nice.
I got out of the car and we found the sled. I gave him the sled and it was just really special. He gave me a second hug and there was a very loving feeling between us. Then I saw and understood that I could have missed that and not even known that I missed it. I could have done the whole ugly negative thing: "Come on, hurry up... blah, blah blah..." and not even known I missed the positive experience.
So, we miss a great deal by being in a negative emotion. We have no idea of the sacrifice we're giving. And we're sacrificing what the Lord wants to give us. We pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth." He really wants that good coach experience for the other coach, not just for the kid. When you struggle against negative emotion, or you are in one, you don't want to give it up. There is no question about that. But you have to start to realize not only is the negative emotion a bad feeling, even though we like it, but that there is a great price to be paid by hanging on to it. We miss what the Lord really wants to give us.
If you had a stomachache and I said I could get rid of your stomachache, you'd be happy to get rid of it. But if I said, "You're impatient. I can get rid of your impatience," it's not quite the same thing. Yet, if you pay attention to your body you will find impatience is a very negative experience physically. When you start to see the other side, if you have patience with your child, your spouse, or your friend, and have affection for them rather than contempt, you start to see what it can lead into. You start to see what the Work is about. The purpose really is to lead you to a new place, a place where the Lord really wants you to be. A place where He can bless you abundantly with the experience of heavenly life.
So there is a great price to be paid when you don't do the Work. And the Work is hard. When you do it, it feels as though you're giving up everything, and no one knows it, and what is it all about, what is it for? But there really is a flip side. The Lord is not going to fill the new cup until the present cup is empty and clean. So you're not going to get the good right away. But you will eventually - as long as you strive to do the Work.
There is a certain frame of mind that is necessary before one even sees a need or feels an urgency for doing the Work. The British psychologist Maurice Nicoll wrote about this:
A man should be able to see what affirms as well as what negates whatever he is thinking about, and hold them together and see them side by side. And between the two opposite sides, he will find a path for his thoughts. For all genuine thinking leads in some direction in the mind and it should lead to a new place and not always along the old paths to the old places where one has been before, where one can reach without really thinking.... When the Work is understood, then it has formed something in a man that he did not possess before and this instrument, so to speak, thus formed in him, starts to respond to influences of which he was not formerly conscious. You will see, therefore, how important it is to keep the Work alive in oneself and to hear its ideas over and over again and to think of them again and again and try to act from them. It is no exaggeration to say that the emotional center very seldom works in the right way owing to the action of the acquired negative part from which it has become, as it were, infected, from the contact with life. The only thing that can break it is for man to hear, see, understand and realize what negative emotions are, and to start by seeing them in himself. This will only be the case when he works on his negative emotions genuinely from the deepest inner individual perception of the truth and the horror and uselessness of negative emotions....We must try to free our thoughts from our emotions when they are negative. Anyone who has tried to do that separating of one's thoughts from one's emotions when in a negative state, has seen there is a lot involved. You will remember that there is a very hard saying in the Work that it is always your fault if you are negative....
You must realize that people love being negative, feeling they suffer, and so on...To make the effort to work on oneself you must actually feel something is wrong with you. It usually takes years and years before a person can even begin to see with conviction that this is so. The Work has to pass through layers and layers of pride, vanity, ignorance, self-complacency, self-indulgence, self- love, self-merit, and so on. Yet it can penetrate eventually. The first change is in the mind, to think differently. This is metanoia. In the Gospel it is translated as "repentance." It begins with realizing one's situation. (Maurice Nicoll, Psychological Commentaries on the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Vol. III, Shambhala, 1984.)
Swedenborg helps us to see that it is only our fault if we identify with negative emotions, accept them as our own and act from them. This is called "making evil our own." It is true that each of us has a proprium which we got free of charge. It inclines to evils of every kind. But we are not held accountable (it is not "our fault") as long as we do not identify with it and make it our own. What I'm saying is, it's not my thought! I'm not the source of that thought. That feeling did not originate in me. I did not make that feeling. They, the spirits that are with us bringing those thoughts and feelings, they are the source.
Once you start to see that a thought comes into you and that a feeling comes into you, then you start to see a relationship between a feeling and a thought that marries it. They always come together. But if you have a thought, and can stop it fast enough, it may alter the emotion. Then you start to have a different relationship to the things that flow into you. They are not you! They come to you! Now they are attempting to be you. They want you to take them and act from them. And when you act from them, then you are identified with them and you are making them your own. Then, of course, you have more difficulty separating.
Watch people down the street get into a street fight. You can see the hells operating into their memory and into their proprial will, and combining. Then their behavior changes and they are stabbing and hitting each other as if the hells were them. Now if you turn a round and see that anger come into you, feel it, and see the thoughts that justify it, and separate, then you realize, "Those thoughts come from the hells, that thought isn't me. It is coming into me and I don't wish to act from it. I feel like it's me! It feels like my feeling! It feels like my thought! But it is not me.
So, it takes Revelation to tell us this is an appearance, that things are not as they appear to be. The Lord separated the will from the understanding so you don't have to act from whatever flows in. If the will and the understanding weren't separated, then we couldn't be saved because all sorts of horrible thoughts and feelings would flow right in and you would have no choice but to act from them. But the Lord gave you the ability to separate from those influences that activate your proprium and stir up your corrupt desires. Earlier I referred to this as "drawing back into the interior man" in order to view objectively what is flowing in to the exterior man. This is also known as the separation of the understanding from the will, something the Lord has done for us so that we need not drown in a flood of negative emotions. At a time when "every intent of the thoughts of the heart are only evil continually" the Lord provides a way for us to ride out the storm.
Through Non-identification you start to see from your understanding the nature of influx. You see truly and clearly and are not fooled by appearances. "Oh, I think this, I feel that," "I'm feeling angry," or, "I'm feeling depressed." No. You see, instead, that depressing influences are attempting; to enter you and have you feel their feelings as your own. That is a different relationship. It is theoretical at first, but the more you start to observe, it becomes not theoretical any more. It becomes a reality.
A lot of this work is bringing things that are separated back together again. If you take a person about whom you don't see any excuse for his behavior and keep that picture, somewhere during the week you will find the same thing in your-self in a parallel form. You don't have to wait long! Then you start to see other human beings as just like you. I think the prayer starting with "Our Father" is a reminder that each of us is one of His children. The more you observe yourself in others and observe them in you, the more there is this equaling out and you start to lose your self-importance.
We need to forgive our neighbor for his behavior, for his negative states, and one way we do that is by practicing External Consideration. We don't just forgive them by saying it doesn't matter. We need to Externally Consider to such a degree that we actually free them from our negative emotions and judgments in relation to them. If we have been able to see the same behavior or attitude in our self from observation, by recalling a time when we behaved in a similar manner, then we can imagine what it would be like to be them and we may feel compasssion. Then there is a lifting that actually frees them from our negative state. We no longer have that feeling of resentment against them. Forgiving the neighbor a negative state is an emotional experience;. We also find we are more forgiving toward our self the next time we are doing the same thing.
We must stay awake and not participate in the negative emotions and actions that come to us all the time when we exert no effort and attention to separate from them. One person can make a difference. In the book, The Hiding Place, author Corrie Ten Boom tells the true story about two women in a concentration camp during the Second World War. At that camp they were in, hell was there, with everyone hating each other, feeling they were better than each other. The two women were pulled into this negative state too. Then they remembered their aim and began to read the Word which they had with them. And just by small changes, such as saying, "I'm sorry," as they stepped over each other, instead of, "Get out of my way," within a week or so the entire atmosphere of the camp changed. It took one person being awake, being aware and not being identified with the evil sphere, to make a tremendous change, even in those circumstances. One conscious person can make a big difference in the world.
It is so important to get that elevated view of things, to think from Divine Revelation. That is why the Lord says, "Get up into the high mountains," "Flee to the mountains," "Lift your eyes unto the hills." We talk a lot in the church about starting to regenerate and become available to societies in heaven instead of in hell. We want higher influences operating through us. So that's what you want to do, and of course you want to do this not for yourself, or not just to make your life happier. Remember the bad coach? If he could coach the second way, he would find not only that he's be a happier coach, but he'd also find that he has happier kids, the mothers would benefit, the team would benefit, the league would benefit, the world would benefit. In order to get cosmic benefit of that proportion the bad coach will have to give up his own ideas about what will make him happy - like screaming at kids so they'll try harder. He'll have to see that certain hells get great delight in coming through his external man and screaming at little kids. He'll have to see that this is not the kingdom of heaven.
And all these things will be added unto you. First seek the kingdom of heaven, and all the things you want in life will be added unto you. For example, I couldn't have asked for anything more than that relationship with Luke tonight. What more could I have asked? I wanted that relationship, but I couldn't get it myself. I had to give up what I thought I wanted - which was to watch the news - and then the Lord gave me what I really wanted. I got what I was missing.