Wednesday, July 18, 2018
How I began "the Work"

conscientious objector

The conditions of life in which a man is placed at the beginning of his work, in which, so to speak, the work finds him, are the best possible for him, at any rate at the beginning of the work. These conditions are natural for him. These conditions are the man himself, because a man's life and its conditions correspond to what he is.

Any conditions different from those created by life would be artificial for a man and in such artificial conditions the work would not be able to touch every side of his being at once.
– P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p. 55

For more about my understanding as well as links to more conventional definitions of what is "the work" see here.

For me, what brought me to the work was an experience I had when I was 20 years old. I had lost my draft deferment, and was in the process of trying to obtain a Conscientious Objector deferment (CO). At the time, I really did not expect to get this deferment, but it was my last hope, other than moving to Canada, as I was not going to be drafted. I've always been non-violent, and strongly opposed to killing and war.

It was the Saturday night before the Monday morning which I was scheduled to appear before my local draft board in Concord, NH. A friend from high school had come up earlier in the day from Boston to lend moral support.

We both took a Sunshine LSD tablet, I had only taken a psychedelic drug (mescaline) on one or two occasions previous to this, so I was very inexperienced in using such a drug.

We had been sitting around, inside, listening to music and bullshitting. It was raining outside. At that time, I was staying with two friends in Ogunquit, ME, having moved to Idaho after loosing my deferment.

One of the two guys that lived in the trailer that I was staying at came home, and more or less was doing his own thing in the kitchen nearby, as my friend and I continued to talk a few feet away from where he was busy in the kitchen.

I was trying to make a point about something, and then I found myself at the end of the thread that I was talking about, and found myself unable to remember what it was that I was trying to make reference to … I had lost my train of thought.

Doug, the guy that lived there, caught this, and commented something like, "Lutz, you always do that!"

At which point, I lost it, and started to internally criticize myself, thinking that I was stupid, too shy, didn't know what I was talking about, and other related thought of self-deprecation. After a few moments, my friend noticed that I was internalizing, and probably beginning to have a "bad trip". Of course, I had no idea of what was going on, as I was extremely identified with inner considering.

My friend next said something like, "hey Tony, it's only a trip. It will be over in a few hours, don't hassle yourself."

At which point, I, figuratively slapped myself in the head, and realized what was going on, that it was only a trip, and that my thoughts were being heavily influenced by the drug, that I was not a bad person, that all hope was not lost, etc. I thanked him for the observation, and told him that I had forgotten what was going on.

This forgetting reoccurred several times in the next hour or so, and each time my companion would remind me that it was only a trip, at which point I'd say something like, "oh yeah, I'd forgotten again."

Eventually, the effects of the drug began to dissipate, and at the same time, I became better able to recognize the situation and bring myself back unassisted.

When morning broke, we went outside, and I was a little overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the natural world (as opposed to the man-made world inside of the trailer). We went for a drive, with me driving, and the influence of driving and moving down the road, help to center me, and to avoid internal considering.

After the friend from Boston left, later that morning, I was alone in the trailer. I put on some music (Sweet Baby James album) and went to the bedroom, and laid on the bed, listening to music and trying to Center — a concept that I had previously read about. I simply tried to be aware of my body, my breathing, and the music playing in the background.

After a few minutes, and with my eyes closed, I began to hallucinate brightly colored, wire-formed, geometric shapes. After about 30 seconds of this, I became so identified with the hallucination, and forgetting about Centering, that the colored shapes went away, and it was dark, once again, behind my closed eyes.

I had never experienced anything like this before (nor ever since), and was very amazed at the occurrence. I thought to myself, can I do this again? At which point I tried to Center once again. After a few moments, the same hallucination came back, and of course, I became identified with it, and it went away. I tried and tried to do it again — to Center and bring them back, but to no avail.

Following that incident, I continued to used psychotropic drugs, and would on occasions get a re-occurrence of this form of negative identification with my shortcomings, and be forced to struggle with this form of identification. Of course, I had never heard about identification or inner considering, but I had been given and was continuing to receive first-hand experience of them.

I might mention that the original trip was quite frightening. I thought I was loosing my mind, going crazy and unable to control my mind. The first few dips into darkness were very intense, and quite scary to me.

Because of all this "stuff", I began to read, even more that I had been doing, trying to find somewhere, someplace something that could explain just what the "hell was going on".

After a few months, another friend that I had met (he was working in the bookstore that I frequented in Idaho), suggested that I look over the book called the 4th Way. He had never read it, but had heard that it was very detailed about explaining how the mind works, and maybe I would find it interesting.

I'm not sure, exactly, what page it was — maybe by page 3 — that I said to myself, "aha, this is what I've been searching for, this term, Identification, describes what I've been trying to understand. The rest is history (for me).

Oh, and by the way, I got the Conscientious Objector deferment, somehow managed to escape performing alternative service, and was reclassified 1-A by my local draft board, following the ending of the draft on January 27, 1973 by then president Nixon.

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