Conversation Notes for February 21-22nd
February is devoted to a time of ‘stopping’, in which residents and guests are invited to enter into a spirit of shared enquiry and deep questioning of what is to be next for the place and our place in it.
Here below you can read short reports on each day, put together by Robin Thomson, and updated every day or two.
To start at the beginning of the notes, please click here...
Wednesday, 21 February
Perhaps studentship consists in uncovering what is already and inherent in us – finding our real voice, our real being, and inhabiting it and speaking from it.
Each of us has a particular aspect, and it behoves to respect this and draw it out. At the same time we are each an iteration of the One Self, the singular image, and our own self is incomplete, provisional, until it achieves completion in that singular.
When we are with others we are almost certain to make conjectures: who the other is, what they are like, whether we like them and so on. (This also goes for countries, ideas, political movements and so on, and the conjecture can be collective as well as individual.) While we may not be able to stop this natural occurrence, we can practice awareness of it and try to listen for the real expression of the person and their voice; otherwise the conjecture will become the basis of our observations. Consider a portrait painter: the art of seeing not only the form but the qualities inherent in the subject. When the walls of conjecture are pulled down, we see the beauty and inherent expression of the things we regard; their beauty seems to increase. ‘Were it not for you, I would not have created the universes’.
Our service to one another is in mirroring each other – that is, reflecting the real ‘voice’ of each other back to them while being informed of ourselves by their reflecting at the same time. We become the place of the seer and we become the place of the seen. Our relationships are unequal – not in the sense of superiority and inferiority, but of uniqueness – just as three and five are unequal but neither is better than the other.
Thursday, 22 February
Who do we find ourselves to be, today?
Different experiences open: in one case in the sense of the arrival of a stranger, and in another, of being closer to my real self, such that habits have lost their claim and have fallen away.
So who are we in fact?
We have been told in our studies, but do we actually know? This knowledge is not ours; it is beyond our ken, beyond our limit.
And yet it is known who we are. That is a lodestone by which we can navigate. Our way meanwhile, not knowing, is that of the seeker on the way, who discriminates between the degrees – ‘not this, not that’ – not denying the reality in every thing, yet preferring those things that hold more light.
Maybe not yet the vision of the perfect gnostic, who sees the beauty in all the degrees.
But by discriminating we can come to see that all things are unique and not equal to one another.
Oneness is not that all things are the same; rather, they differ in their level and nature, but by virtue of oneness they are all of one reality.
As for knowledge, real knowledge belongs to the Real and is lent when the ‘place’ is receptive. But we do not attempt to accumulate or own knowledge, and cannot; all we can do is to be places in which it can flow.
One of the factors that creates this condition is the presence of questions.
Answers, on the other hand, tend to block the flow.
It was emphasised that mystical knowledge is of a different order to intellectual results; ‘you can’t get there from here’.
For the next notes, please see here...
Fresh notes will be posted regularly.
Join the conversation from where you are.
Send your thoughts and contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please use the subject line 'February Conversation' – many thanks!
The Red Sail
Katharine Tiernan writes about St Cuthbert's years
in retreat, for Beshara Magazine
The Twenty-Nine Pages
An Introduction to Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of Unity
is available from Beshara Publications