I’ve typed the title of this post. It is a concentration of four recent and current preoccupations made in the hope that something will come of attending to them in common. These phrases – a sentence is left implicit, waiting to be discovered – lay out a series of relationships. Initiation is a starting place, a premise? The Subtle is named. It has the place of a center from which to move, outward? An Approach qualifies any potential action as a kind of action that holds to attitudes developed within a practice as opposed to those demanded by a goal-driven agenda. And Quality is placed as an object towards which this incantation is aimed. Quality hangs over the whole. Quality is somehow related to the Subtle.
That’s misleading. Stepping stones imply that the effort is intended to get us from this side of the stream to the other. That our goal is somewhere beyond. A fault/trap of language, one of so many. Why we need to enter into riddles….
How do we confront our predicament creatively? One of the most significant aspects of our situation, a factor that has become increasingly harder to avoid over the years, has been the need to acknowledge the growing futility of so many avenues of action we’ve been accustomed to take for granted.
This has led to frustration, a sense of being hemmed-in. We balk at the edge of disillusionment, afraid of what might be on the other side. Instead of dealing with our situation we end-up increasingly defending our emotional reactions, afraid of what it might mean if we gave-up on our strategies. Strategies intended to provide us avenues of action, but strategies that have become nests of unintended consequences that proliferate suffering while distracting us from the possibility of arriving at any other way of being.
Before this last Sunday’s conversation Jeppe shared a link to Anthony McCann and Dougald Hine’s talk in Västerås, Sweden on Anthony’s Politics of Gentleness. It proved to be a useful… shall I say helpful prod. In no small part by the way in which delving into Anthony’s language provided a different way to look at our own considerations. Case-in-point, the distinction he makes between useful and helpful.
This is not the place to analyze or explain Anthony’s work in depth. But I would like to delve into a few points and how they influenced our dialogue.
We’re still in “beta mode.” Not quite ready to take our conversations on-line. More on that soon….
In the mean-time we’ve had weekly sessions among our core group with whoever shows-up on a given Sunday. At the end of last week’s conversation Declan asked me to take another look at Krishnamurti & Bohm‘s final session in a series, The Ending of Time. I haven’t had a chance to share my response with him yet.
This week Declan and Emily and I arrived at the topic of time from another direction. Declan mentioned that many of those who have expressed interest in this project temper their enthusiasm by voicing frustration over a lack of time to get involved.
In their video Krishnamurti and Bohm are two elderly men. Both, most likely, already terminally ill, reaching an apogee on the trajectory of their conversations. There is an air of… well of a lack of air in the last fifteen minutes. A sense they have reached a point, out there…. And they are about to fall to earth. Just shy of recognizing where it all might lead. A striving tone, flickers just at the edge of their words. A striving they would repudiate under any other circumstance. A boyish, awkward, shy, final probing. A latent egocentricity flirting, with a tacit, innocent selfishness as they ask if there might be “more to it….”
We’re unaccustomed to interactions without goals. We expect an agenda. We look to judge worth based on expectations met. This strategy appears to work, on the surface, but there are serious problems if this mode of action absorbs all our attention. It turns us into machines when we treat everything as a cog to be tuned to some high, but arbitrary efficiency.