9. Hardrock In The Basement
The following are several short passages from the Arcana that sound intellectual but are extremely important. See if you can hear the importance in regard to the Work and the nature of the direction we are trying to go. These tell us a lot about the direction we have to go in order to change our thinking from the appearance to the way things really are:
....Exterior things cannot enter into interior things just as compounds cannot enter into simple things, therefore that the things which are of the body cannot enter into the things which are of the spirit, but only the reverse. (AC 2588 )
....Concerning wisdom, he said that there is no other wisdom than that which is of life and that wisdom cannot be predicated of anything else but life. I perceived clearly that the interiors of his thought had been opened. (AC 2592)
....By circumcision in the Ancient Church nothing else was represented and signified than that a man should be purified from the loves of self and of the world, and this also gradually and continually especially when he was born anew and made regenerate, for then the Lord flows in by an internal way, that is by the good of his conscience, and separates very gradually and continually those things which adhere to man from heredity. (AC 2632)
The next passage describes the human rational. There is the rational that can assist you in the Work and then there is the human rational which we use for getting around in the world, memory knowledges and so forth, a very natural basis. And if you talked to this very natural man, he would be indignant if you told him certain things. This is the rational which is described here:
The human rational, that namely which is born from worldly things by means of impressions from the senses and cognitions, almost jeers or mocks when it is told that a man does not live by himself, but that it appears to him as if he lives by himself and that a man lives the more, that is more wisely and intelligently and more blissfully and happily the less he believes that he lives from himself. This is the life of angels for they know that no one lives of himself except Jehovah alone.
This human rational would also mock if it were told that a man has nothing of his own and that it is a fallacy or an appearance that he has anything of his own, and still more, if it were told, that the more a man is in the fallacy that he has anything of his own, the less he actually has, and in like manner it would mock if it were told that whatever a man thinks and does from what is his own, is evil, although it may be in itself good, and that he is not wise until he believes and perceives that all evil is from hell and all good from the Lord.
Again this rational would mock if it were told that in heaven they are the greatest who are the least and that they are the wisest who believe and perceive themselves to be the least wise, that they are the happiest who desire others to be more happy, that is, it is heaven to wish to be beneath all and it is hell to wish to be above all.
That man is able to look from within into those things in himself which are beneath, is known by experience to those who have perception for they see so far as to reprove their very own thoughts, hence the regenerate can see what was the quality of the rational which they had before regeneration. (Arcana Celestia 2654)
Now let's say you had an adolescent and he was in the basement where he had a room and he was playing hard rock music through some very loud speakers. Meanwhile, up in the solarium, or upper room of the house, overlooking a beautiful mountain view, there is music, perhaps Pachelbel, playing, not too loud, not too soft, just right, just beautiful.
Now the adolescent in the basement room, after a few years go by, starts to get a little tired of the music in his room. He still has an affection for it, but someone told him, "You know, there are other sounds going on in this house. There is some beautiful music upstairs, if you listen." And he could listen and he might say,"I don't hear any music. I don't know what you are talking about." So he would either have to turn down the Hard rock or he would have to redirect his attention to the upstairs, and then maybe he could hear the other music. Perhaps he would have to move toward the door, and up the stairs, before he would hear what was always playing, what was always there.
The Work says higher influences are always trying to reach us. They are always coming down to us, but our attention is fixed on our worldly concerns, on our loves concerning self and the world. We are fixed next to that loud speaker. It is not that the music isn't upstairs, it is that we are in a place where we can't hear it. We are so full of those worldly loves that we can't perceive something else. So spiritual work is not adding to, it is turning down the natural man. It is starting to separate from the noise and clamor of outer life in order to move towards something quieter. It is an effort to elevate one's self toward something that is already there, but much finer. It is turning our attention away from a preoccupation with life on the natural plane. We can't really turn down the speakers, but we can start to move away from them. We can start to redirect our attention toward something higher than ourselves and our worldly concerns. "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (Matt. 6: 25)
Now in terms of the above, we have a lot of likes and dislikes. The Work says one of the places to begin is to start to accept what is. And you will notice the proprium doesn't like what is. It doesn't like other people the way they are. It doesn't like the world the way it is. It doesn't like anything the way it is unless it happens to suit it, which is rarely. So, let's get to acceptance of what is, which is a sort of observation.
We talk about events coming in. You expect the world to go one way and all of sudden you have a flat tire. You thought you were going to a concert or on vacation and all of a sudden you have this flat tire. You can get to where although you see the proprium is irritated you can accept the event as the way things are, and realize that certain things have to be done; you are going to have to pull over to the side, you are going to have to unload your trunk and so forth. It is just an event. That is what life is about, and you will just have to do certain things, but your attitude isn't that it should have been otherwise. The attitude needed is, this just must be done. You can start to have the experience that as unexpected events come into your life things will have to be done; changing tires, pulling over to the side, finding your luggage lost in Chicago; you're going to have to get on the phone, call your lawyer, or whatever you have to do. What you can start to discover from the Work is that the emotions that naturally attach to those things that have to be done, do not have to attach to them. You can stop identifying with them as problems. You don't identify them as, problems. You just take those logical steps and you don't identify with the emotions called irritation, frustration, anger, and all the emotions that wish to attach. You start to detach and just do what is before you to do.
There is another step after that, which is starting to will what has to be done. But that is down the road a bit. So let's say you have to give a class and you are nervous about it. You have to say, "I have to prepare. I have to be there." And you just do it and you start to separate from the anxiety although you are aware of it. There is a change of force that's possible which is starting to change from a negative will to a positive will, to I want to do it. But what you'll find is the proprium doesn't want to make that change because if you will to do it, no longer can you feel bad about it or suffer. No longer can you have self pity, no longer can you complain to your friends about the fact that, "I have to do this report," or "I have to do my taxes," because if you choose to do it and you will to do it, then all those negative things can't happen. You can experience that if you will to do it; all the negativity will drop off.
The next thing you will experience is that you don't want to let go of that negativity. The proprium doesn't want to let go! It delights in negativity.
The acceptance of what is is the beginning of separation, and willing it, is the letting go of negativity. And you will find that your Pharoah of Egypt is not going to let you go so easily. But you will find out that you want to be free and that there is such a thing as freedom and you don't have to be in slavery.
I want to discuss the fact that your proprium can define life as endless problems. You will find in the natural world that life and its problems are unsolvable. The proprium wants to keep solving its problems; "If I can just get through this exam I can relax," "If can just get this car fixed I can be done with it." The proprium thinks that way. But life is just a conveyor belt of problems and they are going to come no matter what, forever. You are never going to get to the end of them so you might as well give it up. What we have to give up is the proprium itself. Life is unsolvable, but it also tells us life will solve itself.
When I was on a trip this weekend to West Virginia we were in a traffic jam in Washington. Now where is it? Where is the traffic now? It solved itself, although it looked like it would go on forever. I knew it couldn't go beyond 7:00 or 8:00 at night because everyone was trying to get home and when they were all home, the road was empty. Life will solve itself although maybe not at the speed that the proprium likes. If you accept it you can watch life solve itself. You got through high school. All the problems that you are so concerned with today, life will take care of and solve. "What does it profit you if you gain the world and lose your soul?" (Matt 16: 26)
At the Cathedral now they are fixing the steeple. That will take care of itself. Five thousand years from now it will be a supermarket, so don't concern yourself. But right now it is a big concern to many of us. Should we spend the money? That is not what we are here for. We are not here to solve life's problems although we have to go through certain motions.
There was a man who had a lot of problems with his hearing and any time he heard a loud noise he would get really furious. When he was a kid they yelled at him a lot. When they got angry they slammed the door. So loud noises were jarring. He had this problem that when he heard one of those loud noises he would get irritated and so angry that he lost a lot of energy.
So he went to a hypnotist and said, "Look, I am having this problem and it is hurting my family and my business." The hypnotist said, "All right, there is help for that." He taught the man relaxation and how to stop thought and how to use an anchor, a gimmick to achieve a nice relaxed state, and he said, "Now when you hear a loud noise you can use these methods to relax." And he also gave him a record, a sound track of cars, loud trains, slamming doors, shooting guns and everything that bothered him. The hypnotist said, "Take this record home and put this record on every morning and practice the things I taught you. When the sounds are coming at you, practice your response. In time your response will change."
So, the man took the record home, and put it on. He heard the gunshots, the slamming door, and he started getting irritated. Then suddenly he thought, "This is silly. I can solve this problem," and he turned the record off.
The Lord put you down here and He said, "I am going to put you on earth where things are going to happen and it is going to bring up the very things you have to work on and change." And everybody says, "Let's change the world so it doesn't come up!" But you can't do it! You just can't do it!
Swedenborg says that fine things can go into gross things and spiritual things can go into physical things, but the physical gross things cannot go into the finer spiritual things. That is a very important fact to realize.
The appearance is that if we do our work we will go into heaven. We can't go to heaven! We have a physical body. We cannot go to heaven and we cannot think our way to heaven, because heaven is fine and we are material. It is spiritual, we are natural. So what does that mean? It means heaven must enter us. That is very important. If you are working hard to get to heaven you are doing the wrong thing. You have to start to empty yourself and make a place for heaven to enter you.
The appearance is the opposite. So I put a picture of a person and behind him a big circle. The circle is his internal man and in the circle you have snakes and tigers and lions and such. Outside of the circle you have heaven wanting to come in. You can't take the circle of lions and tigers and snakes to heaven. You have to start to get rid of those negative emotions, those negative thoughts, and start to become passive. You have to start to let go of self-importance, let go of likes and dislikes, opinions and considerations. Become as little children. Blessed are the poor. Give up your riches and heaven can start to enter you.
Do you think that good spirits can come into you if you have hate for your neighbor and contempt? If you have anger, how can heaven come into you? It can't. Heaven cannot come into you while you are holding onto those things. It can't chase them out if you want to have those delights. You have to let go of those states and as they start to leave, then heaven is attracted and heaven can come in.
First, observing T is attracted by the truth. It loves truth for truth's sake and it brings down certain spirits who love truth. But you have to go beyond that, beyond love of truth. You have to begin to have an affection for the goodness that truth is going to bring, which gives you a horror about the evil and the falsity that you observe coming into your exterior man. And that is starting to be horrified at the situation, starting to see 'IT's nature (and 'IT' is not you.) You start to observe and you wish the heavens to come close so the good can start to lead and can become a true love for others and that process can take place! The whole concept about the fine into the gross says that.
You have to stop thinking about going to heaven, about thinking your way to heaven, about working your way to heaven. You have to allow yourself to be open to heaven, you have to start to listen to the sounds up the stairs and turn your direction away from all your concerns and your anxieties. Heaven is not going to be there. Solving your anxieties, solving your concerns, is not going to bring you heaven. Fixing your car, getting the money, getting the kids through college, is not going to do it, because heaven is not there. Let go of those concerns. When those start to mean nothing to you then all of a sudden something that is real will start to be important to you and change your direction.
We are in a very strange situation. If we want to get to heaven we must realize that the proprium is not invited. Imagine you are fighting the drug situation and you work for the Drug Enforcement Administration. You have fifty or sixty agents in the room and you are going to discuss how we are going to handle this drug problem, and how to deal with the junior black Mafia. So you start to talk about the problem, the strategy and the setup. Everybody is under cover. We could get a buy, we could do this or that. And you make good plans. But then every time you go out there on the street to make a bust or a buy, you find it isn't heroin at all. It's only powder. The charges are withdrawn.
You would have to wonder, "What's wrong? Someone on the task force must be on the take. Someone must be paying for the information. How many do you think are on the take? Five? Out of a hundred, how many? Maybe six?"
Well, out of a hundred 'I's here in this room, how many do you think are Work 'I's ? The Philadelphia police force has much more integrity than we have! A strange situation.
So you have to start saying we are not among friends here. The people who come to this class are the scribes and the Pharisees who want to grab this new teaching and use it for their own benefit. They are the double agents, working for the proprium. So it says you have work 'I's. You have to start to listen to the content of what they have to say! You have to start to get those Work 'I's together. The harvest of heavenly joy and peace is truly great, but the laborers (or Work 'I's) are few.
Who can you trust? You have to be wise as serpents. Start to watch everybody. All your 'I's! Observation is needed. Don't pick your agent, or those few you can trust, too soon. Start to watch. That is the situation. The propriums are here and I think you will find that most of the 'I's are not your Work 'I's. It is hopeless. The Lord says without Me, man cannot do it. He can see that what you think is good is not good, what you think is true is not true, but you think it is, and you are trying to do your best. However, it is the self acting and every time you go active instead of passive, the wrong agents appear! But the Lord is near. And of course, turning it over to the Lord is so necessary.
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has its job to do even though they know there are double agents. They can't just give up. Every police force knows there are corrupt police and they also have to get to work every morning and do their work anyway. And that is where we are. We have to work, but we also have to understand that we have the problem. We cannot be trusted. We often don't know non-Work 'I's from Work 'I's. Just take that into account. Start to watch all your 'I's.
This week I got furious at someone for the way they were sensing! I was helpless! There I was. All the Work in me came out and was lost in that one experience and it shocked me. Someone else was using sensing in a way that upset 'IT.' I had thought that 'IT' was a Work 'I'! He had seemed one of my best agents. I had been impressed with that guy! In a moment I lost my best worker and was pressed against the wall. Reading from Nicoll about such things:
The whole conception of esotericism is concerning this development of a new man in oneself. It means overcoming the violent man. The violence in you. If anyone says, what are we working for? What is the idea of the Work? We can say the supreme idea of the Work and all esoteric teaching is and has been, that this new being can arise out of the old. If you work on yourself long enough with increasing understanding you will reach a higher level, however small, in yourself and you will know at once that the Work is true. The door into this possibility is your Self- observation. You must understand that when you are in a problem you are in an event. The only way to transcend a problem in life is to transcend it by not identifying with it. You cannot solve your life problems because life is unsolvable. But you can transcend them by not identifying with them. And after a time they will transform themselves. But if you identify with a problem you will become negative and eventually this will lead to violence.
You came down from a very high place and you were not meant to identify with life on this planet, but to take life on this planet as a means to an end and not an end in itself. When the events of life are taken mechanically then there arises in you what is called a problem, but what you have to do with a problem is to discover it, not to identify with it, then you have a different inner world from the external world. The first idea of self-remembering is to bring the work and what it teaches in between life and your mechanical reaction to it. Put the Work between you yourself and life. Then you will take impressions quite differently. (Nicoll, Com. Vol. I)
There are two ways of dealing with events once you become conscious of their mechanical action in you. One is to try to separate from their power by not identifying , for you are under the power of what you identify with. The other way is to will them. I was afraid of a new double- decker bus that would swing around the corners at full speed. One wet day I got on the top of the bus and as we were flying around the corner at full speed I willed it to fall over and the extraordinary thing was that my fear left me immediately. From that I learned that a great amount of fear comes from hoping that something won't happen. Try to will what you have to do. The general idea is that if some event is inevitable you can do two things: either try to separate by Non-identification or will it and go with it. I will also tell you a secret. You have to will one another. This is the beginning of conscious love.
In the Work you cannot murder a person in your heart without suffering consequences. The Work is about developing the internal side of you so that it so governs by the power of the Work that you cannot behave badly to anyone in your mind or your heart or your soul without immediately feeling a loss of force. I want you to get the distinction very clearly. The Work begins in a man or a woman who is beginning to understand that he or she cannot with impunity think or feel mechanically. Higher influences are near or far according to the inner state of yourself. (Nicoll, Com. Vol.1)
Someone asked what it means "stop thought." You will find you can stop thought. You may notice negative emotions and what thoughts go with them, but if you just drop them, often it will stop. And if the internal dialogue continues you can just ignore it, or stop listening as it were, as you might to a radio in the background. Of course sometimes you are enjoying the negative thought. The minute you know you are having a negative emotion or a negative thought, just realize it has nothing to offer you. Just stop all thought.
A negative thought gives you the illusion that it can be of help to you. Say you are obsessing which has nothing to add to your life, and in fact, depletes your energy. Take worry. I could worry all tonight about tomorrow's problem coming up, and if I allow myself I will. I keep thinking if I plan enough and get enough answers I can solve all the problems, but it is not true. With mechanical thinking the only thing to do is the minute you realize you are doing it, just stop it. Will it stop forever? No, but the minute you realize you are doing it, you stop it again. Maybe it will be only five minutes, maybe an hour, whatever. And if you want to do something constructive instead you could make a list. That would be doing something with directed attention and effort; outlining what you are going to do. And what you will find out is that the thought keeps coming back! So stop thought again. Just turn it off like a radio.
You will find in time that there are longer and longer periods when you are not thinking negative thoughts and feeling negative feelings. And then you will find that you don't need to think. That is the hard rock music in the basement, that internal dialogue that we think is our life, or our brain and our thinking. It is not! And in the longer spaces you will find things come to you and you do things more creatively without this activity that we think is thinking, which is not thinking.
Stop thought. When you hear the internal dialogue in your head expressing negative thoughts, just turn it off as you might a radio. If you continue to hear it, just ignore it, and see what that experience is like for you.