Issue 713
This week's practice

 

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Dear Friends,

Fear not, little by little we are edging towards a full service.  The company that delivers the emails still hasn’t given us a full bill of health.  They are keeping us on a regime whereby we can only deliver a few emails at a time simply because three people, having signed up to receive Wisdom Works, marked it as spam.  This means that , apart from the labour involved, Wisdom Works can only come out once a month, at least for the time being.

What applies to Wisdom Works’ slow progress back to health applies to me also.  After what I hope will be the last course of chemo injections I went down with a fungal lung infection, which is dangerous and utterly debilitating.  I will, hopefully, be over it about a month’s time.  One thing is certain, however, is that, although I have to measure out my energy in spoonfuls when it comes to physical things, it hasn’t stopped me thinking.  As it says below: You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.  And I have found the strength to keep thinking, and - as you can see - writing.  That is not only Wisdom Works, for I’m well under way with the five-week course on Philosophy as a Way of Life, which is not based, but definitely supported by my own immediate experience.

The other thing I noticed when there’s not much physical energy available is the care and attention you give to things, everything stripped back and simplified and, above all, attentive.  In that state you really do appreciate the ‘quiet presence’, which is  our essential power.

With my very best regards, William

This week's reflection

YOUR POWER IS A QUIET PRESENCE

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.  Marcus Aurelius


 

I was at home the other day.  I was feeling dull and heavy.  I felt fed up and generally inert.  I heard a voice say: ‘Go for a run.’   My first response was to reject it, but instead I obeyed.  I didn’t ask why?  I just heaved myself out of the chair and went.  When I came back I felt so much better, so good indeed that I settled down and wrote, which is also something I like to do but only manage in my better moments.

This is an observation given to me in a group and it describes very simply a change of mental, emotional and physical qualities.  It describes the movement from lethargy to activity.  Out of this activity arose a more reflective state of mind.  What it also describes is a rise in consciousness.  To bring about a rise in consciousness, a conscious decision has to be made.  Here the decision was simple:go for a run.  This is straight forward enough, but when you're in the grip of lethargy going for a run is the last thing you want to do, especially if you are totally identified with your state.  "If this is how I feel then, this must be who I am."  This is our usual thinking.  The truth is, however, as in most cases, not what appears.


 

The power we really possess is a quiet underlying presence.  When we seek out that presence rather than becoming identified with any of the qualities that at any time dominate the mind, then what we need at that particular time will be become evident.  It may require a movement out of inertia into action.  It may require a movement out of an active state into a reflective one.  From reflection there may be seen the need for further action.  One thing's certain: action under the direct influence of reflection is action which is informed and creative.  It is also brighter and energy enhanced.  When lethargy holds sway then following in its train can come a whole string of negative emotion.  In the observation these negative emotions were summed up with the words: fed up.  This is a funny expression.  It would seem to mean fully nourished, but when we feed ourselves on negativity, nourishment is the last thing we get.  Feeding ourselves on frustration, anger and concern debilitates rather than enlivens.  Negativity by its very nature draws consciousness into itself.  Vitality when given to negative emotion creates the opposite of itself, debility.

The more debility holds sway, the more identified we become.  The more identified we become, the less consciousness we appear to possess.  To cut through all this requires a conscious decision.  The start of conscious action may be provided by two potent words: Not this.  This is an ancient but entirely effective formulation.  In fact it is said twice: Not this.  Not this.  It's not repeated just in case you didn't hear it the first time.  It means Not this: you are not all these physical involvements which can so easily come to dominate your thinking, in this case the sense of lethargy.  Not this: you are not all the emotional toils that have come to colour your thinking: I felt fed up.

Not this.  Not this. cuts through all this.  It prevents conscious energy from empowering these thoughts and feelings.  

In the moment of disengagement, new possibility becomes available, and if the voice of reason is telling you to act then act.  Don't ask questions.  Simply respond. I didn't ask myself why.  I just heaved myself out of the chair and went.  At moments like this the quiet knowledge rises to the surface and presents the knowledge from which we must act.  Failure to do this means that the habitual and the unconscious is inevitably being re established and reinforced.

Practice:

Don't trust the apparent thoughts and feelings
that are dominating the mind at present.  
Constantly go back and connect with the essential thing.  
Then act from the knowledge that is presented in the moment.  
Trust in that.

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