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Life is Real Only When "I AM"

posted Jul 28, 2011, 1:31 PM by Jim Turner   [ updated Aug 1, 2011, 7:30 AM ]
August 1, 2011


"Come, it is simplicity itself. Dare to take upon yourself the name of Man."




Pythagorean Man




When Mr. Gurdjieff said "Life is real only when 'I AM'," he left it to his readers to interpret this statement on the level from which each person was working - that level being dependent on the amount of work the individual had done on him or herself. Now perhaps we can look at the meaning behind these words so that the understanding of how change comes about can be more real for us. 

"The One divides in order to unite." This concept is familiar from many traditions; what we wish to look at here is just how the One does divide. The cause of creation is Love. God is Love. There is a saying in the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) , "I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known; so I created the world that I might be known." God divides himself that he may be known.

The question that we are asking is - how does this come about?

It is essentially very simple; in fact, it is simplicity itself! For if we follow the Via Negativa, the way that is based upon negation of the illusion and negation of that which creates the illusion (i .e., the false "I") that feels that it is separate from the unity of all life), then we understand this process as creating a sense of separation of the individual from his or her Creator. Paradoxically, in the path of negation you affirm separation by assuming, in the first place, that there is anything to negate; but in Reality, separation must always be an illusion, for there is only One Absolute Being.

He said, "I was a hidden treasure, and I loved to be known .... How is it possible for anyting to be known, and for that knowledge to be confirmed, if there is not the illusion of separateness? If there were no mirror, then how would we be able to know what we looked like? If there was not the exterior world, the outward form, would there be any chance of knowing the hidden "withinness" of things? In this world it is necessary that there be a vehicle through which and within which there may be knowledge; thus a world of apparent duality is formed.

The apparency of separation, of duality, is necessary for the creative process to unfold. So although the way of negation, aimed at bringing us to a desireless state is a very real way, it is only one half of the picture. The way of the Work in the West is the way of affirmation, but this is made possible only through the way of negation that has gone before.

First comes the way of negation, and then comes the way of affirmation. First comes the realization of who and what we are through the discovery that all that we thought we were is illusion (thought being a process that is already past, already gone); and then comes the affirmation of what we really are and thus the beginning of the next stage of the Work.

So if you say "I understand" to what is being said here, then surely you do not understand unless you are so far along on the path of knowledge that you realize that in saying, "Yes - I understand," you are creating separation for a whole creative process to take place and thus are responsible for the affirmation of the word which initiates it. If you could realize what is being said here you would know that the moment you say "I understand" the implication exists that there is someone who does not understand.

Yet that very process awakens in the other the yearning to know; the thought form created at the moment of the statement will inevitably call forth its relative opposite - in this case, the realization that the other does not yet comprehend what it is that you have affirmed, and the desire to understand.

In the Work we come to know that it is through affirmation, made possible only by negation, that real change can come about; and the moment that real change does occur then we are subjected to a totally new set of laws. We have free choice. We can revert to the old set of laws which brought us to the point of negation - think, for example, of all that has led you to read what is being said here - or we can make ourselves ready to understand another set of laws that are available to us through committing ourselves to saying ''I am."

"Life is real only when 'I AM'." Life is made real only when we come to affirm the presence of God by saying "I AM !" Not stating that there is separation, but affirming the whole creative process by stating the very word that brings that process into manifestation!

"I AM" - I am because I know that I am one with God. "I AM" because I know that He needs me to affirm Him by saying 'I". Through that affirmation He divides Himself in order to unite - a mirror is made, comparison takes place, need is created, desire is born in man - and so we see the ongoing process of evolution.

... God is Love and Love becomes relative only when we desire, when we want, and when we apply the word "I" to life. The false "I" is made of the substance created out of desire. And yet if there were no desire then the Love of God could not unfold itself into the relative world. This is perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes for the aspirant on the path. We are asked to give up our desire and to come to understand the real world, and yet God needs for us to say "I", if there is to be any change, any on-going process in our world. God needs man to say "I", having affirmed his Unity with God in saying "I AM" so that life has, at last, become real for him.

Desire is relative; Love is absolute. The former without the latter is impossible; and yet without our desire - our yearning - Love cannot break out of Unity and bring about the miracle of diversity. God needs for us to want to know Him and thus to be awake to the laws that govern real change within the cycles set before time.

We have free choice. We can remain in the tight knot of Samsara, governed by the old laws based upon want and desire, or we can begin to learn from those who have already seen into the real world and know the laws that are necessary for a new order to come on Earth. The East has traditionally followed the way of negation. Now the West, through all that has gone before, is asked to follow the path of affirmation in the Knowledge of the Unity of God, knowing that in saying "I AM" life becomes real for the first time, and thus we begin to fulfill our destiny in being born man and woman.

- from The Path of Affirmation by Reshad Feild


*          *           *


Listen, O dearly beloved ! 
I am the reality of the world, the center of the circumference,
I am the parts and the whole.
I am the will established between Heaven and Earth,
I have created perception in you only in order to be the object of my perception.
If then you perceive me, you perceive yourself.
But you cannot perceive me through yourself.
It is through my eyes that you see me and see yourself,
Through your eyes you cannot see me.


Dearly beloved !
I have called you so often and you have not heard me.
I have shown myself to you so often and you have not seen me.
I have made myself fragrance so often, and you have not smelled me,
Savorous food, and you have not tasted me.
Why can you not reach me through the object you touch
Or breathe me through sweet perfumes?
Why do you not see me? Why do you not hear me?
Why? Why? Why?


For you my delights surpass all other delights,
And the pleasure I procure you surpasses all other pleasures.
For you I am preferable to all other good things,
I am Beauty, I am Grace.


Love me, love me alone.
Love yourself in me, in me alone.
Attach yourself to me,
No one is more inward than I.
Others love you for their own sakes,
I love you for yourself.
And you, you flee from me.

Dearly beloved !
You cannot treat me fairly,
For if you approach me,
It is because I have approached you.

I am nearer to you than yourself,
Than your soul, than your breath.
Who among creatures
Would treat you as I do?
I am jealous of you over you,
I want you to belong to no other,
Not even to yourself.
Be mine, be for me as you are in me,
Though you are not even aware of it.

Dearly beloved !
Let us go toward union.
And if we find the road
That leads to separation,
We will destroy separation.
Let us go hand in hand.
Let us enter the presence of Truth.
Let it be our judge
And imprint its seal upon our union
For ever.





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