For the Week of January 23 - 29: Self-Remembering in Christ
William Congdon, Immacolata, 1961
God is over all, through all and in all.
- Ephesians 4:16
"It is useful to make [note] about what practical work means. The most important thing is Self-remembering. You must try to remember yourselves at least once a day, and you must do it willingly, from yourselves. All other work on oneself ultimately depends on Self-remembering. Only half a minute is necessary, and even if it consists in nothing else than stopping your thoughts and trying to relax everything, it is better than nothing. Don't think about Self-remembering but do it. … The first sign that you are doing it rightly is that you have a distinct feeling of force entering you, as if something had opened in you."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "A Note on Self-Remembering," July 7, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 38
Very early in his documented teachings, Maurice Nicoll emphasizes the one thing necessary in a life aimed at transformation – Self-remembering at least once a day. Self-remembering is an incarnational and re-incarnational practice. It is a recollection of the multiplicity of selves that we call "I." It gathers one's fragmented attention and reconnects to one's intention or aim. It reclaims life force and the feeling of "I" from the horizontal content of life to remembering the vertical context of life – becoming aware of God as the source and animating presence in and through all of life.
How does one practice Self-remembering?
Self-remembering is both a practice and a state of being, an effort to remember oneself in God and an experience of increased consciousness and Presence.
There are many ways of Self-remembering:
the twice-daily practice of Centering Prayer;
awakening and re-awakening to one's aim or intention;
becoming aware of the movement of breath in the body;
awakening to one's mechanicalness; experiencing enough inner separation to realize it is "it" that mechanically acts and not "I";
other prayer practices, such as the active prayer, the Welcoming Prayer or Lectio Divina;
consciously practicing any of the homework exercises offered in the Thursday night class or in intentional relationship with others in the Journey Groups;
spending intentional time in nature;
remembering one's Real Wish;
through taking in and transforming the shocks provided by life and the influx of higher influences;
and more …
"In Self-remembering a man must look in and look out at the same time. … One must see the outer and see oneself in relation to the outer. … An act of Self-Remembering is a double movement as is an act of breathing. And so Self-remembering can be thought of as consisting in some to and fro motion, psychological in nature, that has to be carried out consciously – that is, with a certain pressure of the attention that is given by aim or by the feeling of the Work. For example, I look at the person, and then at my reaction in the light of my aim, then outward again at the person, then inward at my reaction, and so on. Identifying then becomes impossible."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Enneagram," March 4, 1944, Vol. 2, pg. 410
Likewise, there are many degrees of Self-remembering, from a momentary sense of inner separation from reactions to the content of life to a profound and palpable communion with the Beloved.
Two descriptions of Self-remembering
"Our effort must always be clear – to be present, that is, to begin to remember myself. With the attention divided, I am present in two directions, as present as I can be. My attention is engaged in two opposite directions, and I am at the center. This is the act of Self-remembering. I wish to keep part of my attention on the awareness of belonging to a higher level and, under this influence, try to open to the outer world. I must make an effort to remain relaxed, an effort of attention. I try to know truly what I am. I struggle to stay present, at the same time with a feeling of 'I' turned toward a better quality and with an ordinary feeling tied to my self, my person. I wish to see and not forget that I belong to these two levels.
"We must see where our attention is. … I begin to realize that my Presence is where my attention is."
- Jeanne de Salzmann, The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff
"Deep within the cave of my heart, a depth that belongs to me alone, I recognize a fire that burns brilliantly and glows with warmth. Through that glowing fire I see the outline of a face, the face of Christ, but I also see my face, and then I begin to see Christ's face as my face. Sometimes I cannot tell Christ's face from my own face, and all at once I recognize a single face whose eyes are looking inward and outward. The word 'God' simply doesn't capture this infinite depth of my soul that stretches toward an endless horizon. By its sheer unlimited being I know it must be divine life, because it is life other than my own and yet entangled with my own life.
"[Science] cannot explain my experience of this other-than-intimate presence, which is me but not me, because – in truth – I simply cannot account for my own existence. … [T]he more I try to know myself on this inward journey, the more I encounter another presence I call God; and the more I travel inward, the more God there is than self, and truthfully, the further I go, the less I can speak of either God or self; there is simply an entangled fire of love. In the search for who I am, I find God, and in finding God, I find my 'self' as no separate self but being itself, flowing into and out of an unquenchable power of divine love."
- Ilia Delio, Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian
- Watch: In today's short video segment, Ilia Delio states, “We need to retool ourselves in terms of consciousness, inwardly and outwardly." She underscores the need for contemplative practices to assist in both developing inner separation and gathered attention. At The Church of Conscious Harmony, the contemplative Christian tradition is intricately woven into how we live our lives as monks in the world. The primary tools we use, in tandem with the Holy Spirit, are Centering Prayer and the Work. Again, from today's video:
"[In contemplation], I experience something deep within me that I name as the presence of God. And contemplation is that centering process of being with God, a leaning on God, a stillness in God. And as I do that, my levels of diffracted consciousness begin to gather and they gather into what we might call higher, integrated levels of awareness, so that as they become more integrated my mind becomes in a sense more attuned to that divine presence, and therefore I begin to, in a sense, know myself in that presence in a deeper way, a way of unity, a way that this God-me language begins to transcend and fall away, because now it's a me-God, you know, it's a type of unitive relationship. So Teilhard [de Chardin] would see the mystic as the forerunner of evolution. In other words, what he would say is that
contemplation and the maximization of consciousness then becomes the fastest mover of evolution. In other words, one then moves out into the world and sees the world in radically new ways, and acts out of that new conscious awareness."
Homework: Practice Self-remembering at least once a day. If you have never practiced Centering Prayer, you may wish to access the method here and begin building one or two short periods into your day. If you are a beginning practitioner of the Work, the practice of Self-remembering begins with the practice of self-observation, so you are invited to practice uncritically observing yourself in the moment, without commentary. Others may wish to try some of the forms of Self-remembering listed in this email. What do you learn? What do you experience?
- For more about Self-remembering, attend tonight's class at 7pm Central Time in The Church of Conscious Harmony sanctuary or via Zoom, using one of these connections:
Open Zoom, click on Join Meeting and enter this meeting ID: 254-442-699
With this connection, you will only see the speaker on your screen and not other Zoom participants. Please plan on connecting at least five to ten minutes early. For further tips on using Zoom, please see the bottom of this email.
- Read more about Self-remembering by reading the Commentaries cited in this message in their entirety. Others can be found in the index.
- We urge you to not forward this email to friends as it is for those we have said Yes to an invitation, to this particular path of access to the Way. The messages are intended to build upon one another and create a container of high intention and purpose.
- If you have not already done so, you may wish to join a Journey Group where Centering Prayer is practiced together and where this and all messages can be engaged in a small group for greater depth. You may sign-up for a group here.
- An archive of previous emails may be found here; all emails will subsequently be posted here if you need to reference them. Notes from the previous week's classes and free recordings of the classes will be posted soon.
- From the tradition of the Work, our primary reference will be the five-volume series, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, by Maurice Nicoll. We will abbreviate this reference as simply Commentaries when citing. These can be downloaded as PDFs from: https://selfdefinition.org/gurdjieff/maurice-nicoll-directory/. Additional sources in the tradition of the Work will include writings by Beryl Pogson, Bob Hunter, J.G. Bennett and Rebecca Nottingham, among others.
- From the tradition of Christian spirituality, transformation and evolution, we will be drawing from the works of Thomas Keating and others, such as Thomas Merton, Bernadette Roberts and Ilia Delio.
- There is a free Centering Prayer mobile app timer available for both iOS and Android platforms. Search your app store using "Centering Prayer."
Tips for Connecting via Zoom
A device with a larger screen, like a desktop, laptop or tablet, provides the best visual experience.