Creating Conditions

Always thought I needed a lot of help to be the best me I can be. And I do. Nevertheless I recently discovered that I don’t have to wait around for help like a waif hoping grace will descend from above—the relationship between I and Thou is a partnership, not a one-sided call for help.

That means that if I want to be truly myself, to experience myself as a whole Being and act in the world at my very best, something is up to me. As Gurdjieff has explained so clearly, our job is not to be different from whoever we are, but to create conditions so that our best will be asked of us—perhaps by the job to be done, by the person we are with, or by the universe itself. In other words, I set up a situation in which I put myself into a small frying pan and light a small fire under it.

Planning is necessary. The sly man is called upon here to think out how to make demands on my best self. Because I know my weaknesses, I can lay traps to neutralize the tendency to give up or make excuses for not carrying through. Or I commit to something that has a finish date my good opinion of myself can’t refuse to carry out.

A central aspect of creating conditions is self-knowledge. The more we know about ourselves the easier it is to create conditions. Once the fire is lit and the witness is alerted, it’s up to our pride or self-image or honesty or whatever commits us to do an honest job as we meet what we’ve challenged ourselves with. Now all the different aspects of ourselves come into in play, as the energies of Heaven and Earth, above and below, light and dark, come together in us.

Here are a few ways I’ve tried that might work for you, too.

You are as resistant to cleaning out your closets as I am. So you light a candle, find Mozart on youtube, and start out with one shelf or begin by taking a few clothes off the rack to scan. Stay alert for moths and carpet beetles.

You have a deadline on a job that has been lying in wait for quite a while. Think of something you very much want to do with a friend—you might even get tickets to a show. Then tell your friend you will call as soon as you are finished, so you can meet.

The trick, if you want the energy of the universe on your side, is to plan your self-challenges with Intelligence rather than intellect because that’s what brings heart and mind together. Beware forcing. Move forward with intelligence, connecting mind to gesture, movement to mind.. Wanting, yearning or even stalwart willing to break through the resistance isn’t going to work because they are too one-sided. They are emotional and it takes all three aspects of yourself—head, heart and body—to in a partnership with the Other.


4 Responses to “Creating Conditions”

  1. donsalmon

    I love the way Culadasa refers to “creating conditions.”

    He says (in “The Mind Illuminated”) that awakening is like an accident. You can’t awaken intentionally, but you can make yourself “accident-prone” (by creating conditions!)

    This is just the old Christian idea of contemplation by will vs infused contemplation or Divine Grace – but it’s nice to have it put in contemporary language!

    For all the tricks I know, I’ve found in my mid 60s that the basics – keeping a solid (but not too rigid!) daily routine, and getting really good food and lots of (fun, it has to be fun!!) exercise, is crucial for infusing mindfulness and Divine Presence in one’s life.

    For me, the trick is starting early – classes are a help also. Jan (my wife) and I discovered a marvelous aerobics teacher at the local YWCA, and we’ve been going religiously (!!?:>) 3 mornings a week (6:15 – arghhhH!) for several months.

    Another one is – no sitting while watching TV (well, not too much) – doing stretching, light aerobics, light weights. And keeping “TV night” to no more than 3 nights a week (we tend to want to eat more on tv nights so limiting that is helpful too!


    • patllosa

      Sounds so like my own view, Don, but more with Tai Chi and Qigong, which I teach, free, to seniors and have done myself for 50 years. You and Jan and I should get together. Too much to hope you live in NYC?

      I tried to sign up for your blog but have to do it through some other program and I’ve decided not to put my info on any more web facilitators. Please sign me up at

      Liked by 1 person

      • donsalmon

        hmm, blog? not sure which one. I don’t have a regular blog at the moment, just some articles I post on a few different websites at the moment. No worries – we”ll have an e-course out in a month or so; will let you know about that.

        We left NYC after 30 years, a few weeks after 9/11 (Jan was a few blocks away when the towers were hit). Too bad – it sounds like it would be a fun get together.

        We hope to be traveling up that way more frequently in a year or so (Matagiri is up on Mt. Tremper – a Sri Aurobindo center we’ve been involved with since the 1970s; will be giving presentations on integral yoga psychology and related topics.

        Hope to see you some time up there – meanwhile, very nice to “meet” you here on your blog.


  2. patllosa

    I know t Tremper retreat well, Don. Do look me up. You have my email. Blessings on you both, Patty



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