Claymont Court, Charles Town, West Virginia.
Just below the surface of what we call our day-to-day world lie riches. The “surface” is how we see the world and believe it to be. If in a moment this overlay—this veneer of interpretation—lifts, we find a new world. Not a new world of clever intentions, political theorising, and utopian devising, but a new world—the real world. We may like it, or not, but it is not a fiction. If we dislike it, then at least we have something real to dislike, if we may.
Probably everyone here has experienced a lifting of the veil of everyday perception, and has some sense of what is behind it. Most of us have had some sense of this at a Level One course, and this is an aim of the Level One: to enable a direct experience of what is real within the musical life and our individual lives.
An aim of the Level Three course is to establish a personal practice sufficient to bring ourselves and the real world into closer relationship and accord. Actually, they are not apart; but in our normal state we are not present to it. Our work at Level Three is to practice the making of efforts. When we bring intention to bear upon an habitual or mechanical activity, our state changes. When our state changes, we have an opportunity. When we have an opportunity, we have another opportunity.
There are different kinds of efforts, and it is necessary that we learn to distinguish between them. Otherwise, we make the wrong kind of effort, and lose an opportunity. We are different kinds of people, and each of us finds greater ease or difficulty with a different kind of effort.
There are three areas within which we make these efforts of different kinds: physical, mental, and emotional. This is what is meant by the expression that a musician has three disciplines—of the hands, the head, and the heart. Each day we should place some demand upon each of these faculties. Each of us is unbalanced in our development of these faculties, and the harmony of their operation.
But, we begin by doing nothing. While we are doing nothing, we watch ourselves doing nothing. It is crucial that this observation of ourselves is impartial. We see ourselves as we would a well-loved friend. We make no judgements, we accept ourselves as we are, and no mistakes are made—save one: the failure to remain impartial. As long as we maintain our impartiality, we are outside and observing this creature within whom we live. Otherwise, we become enmeshed within the creature and its concerns.
As participants within this course, we have three areas of responsibility:
- Ourselves, and our personal work.
- The house, the property, and the community of which it is a part.
- Guitar Craft. Guitar Craft involves all the people that have a measure of commitment to this project, and the power behind Guitar Craft’s appearance in the world. We may call this power the power of music, or the operation of the Muse. But when we stand face to face with music, we see for ourselves what lies behind this particular quality. When we have seen this for ourselves, in this finer sense, we also have a responsibility to what lies behind music.
When this is a real idea, and not just a bright idea, the three responsibilities are the same responsibility. In Guitar Craft we refer to this responsibility in the principle: honour necessity.
Friday, 29th. September 1989
Sunday All Over The World have changed their status from being a touring band to becoming a studio band. This frees up much of the time which I was holding for touring, and means that I have as much time for Guitar Craft as is likely to be needed. So, I am writing to our registrars around the world and asking them for their needs and requirements during the next two years, so that we can establish a medium term plan for courses.
The international nature of Guitar Craft is to be encouraged. The visit to New Zealand will involve Guitar Craft in a new hemisphere which will involve Australia and Japan.
A new factor which will arise is the presence of a strong European contingent, centered on Germany. This may well become the GC office in Europe, which can handle mail order and all the other excitements of office life. Also, the centre for a European League Of Crafty Guitarists undertaking regular performances, particularly from 1991 onwards. I am very happy to be closely involved with this. In time we may need a property in this area, for those who wish to work closely with me on an extended basis. This is probably outside the two-year period we are considering, but if anyone really wanted to work with Robert, they would buy a house in this village and not wait until he announces a new scheme. If Crafties wish to work together, they will move together; and it is up to the Crafties who have that need to respond to it, or to begin to respond to it.
A new factor in America within the next two years will be the beginning of communities of Crafties. Perhaps one of these will become a permanent Guitar Craft centre. There are two kinds of Guitar Craft communities: the community where Crafties live and work together; and the Guitar Craft community, which is official. The second one may or may not happen in my lifetime, but the first can happen tomorrow. If serious Crafties wish to support each other, let them take the initiative and find the building. We make courses available to partners where possible, but we have not yet found a place for children in courses. At Red Lion House we did have young visitors occasionally, and there were problems and disruptions.
Guitar Craft works by inclusion, rather than exclusion. How may we design a situation which includes our families in Guitar Craft, if they wish to participate? The Claymont experiment provides a lot of information and experience of what is involved in community, and we have our own experience from three years at Red Lion House. There is no one way to organise a community, but there is one fundamental necessity: the commitment to a common aim. Those with greater commitment are the residents; those with lesser are the visitors. My sense is the answer will develop organically. It goes like this: there is a need, one recognises the need, one addresses the need.
My best wishes to the touring team for their performances, and to you all.
Wednesday, 1st. November 1989
Here is a question: what do you do when you have no enthusiasm, no interest, and no energy? The answer is simple. You cook lunch. And then you wash it up, clean the bathrooms, run the office, practice guitar, practice silence, and cook dinner.
Here is another question: what do you do when you can’t do anything? The answer is simple. You do what has to be done. Like cook lunch, wash it up, clean the bathrooms, run the office, practice guitar, practice silence, and cook dinner.
The principle is this: suffer cheerfully. You are now being asked to deliver on your commitment to the course. Any fool can change the world, but it takes a real hero to cook lunch without demur, without complaint, and with a smile. This point of reliability is the basis of the spiritual life.
The one greatest single thing that I have learnt from Guitar Craft, this remarkable and unfolding action of which we are all privileged to be a part, is the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse. The Creation is creating itself all the time. This is not a finite event. It is ongoing. And we are part of this ongoing creation if we wish to be, and if we wish to place ourselves at the service of the creative impulse.
Guitar Craft is only one example of the remarkable emergence of a major action of healing within our troubled world. The creative impulse, which invents Guitar Craft as it goes, is itself a vehicle for a far greater power—the power which maintains the Creation. In a word, love. The healing power, the power of making whole, of making holy that which is already holy but fragmented, acts through agents. Love does not exist, because it is not a power which can be constrained by existence. But, as we all know, love is quite real. To be present in the world, it must be borne and carried by loving agents. The creative power is also a power which is beyond existence. To be present in the world, it must be expressed through play, this creative action which is quite necessary. Play is spontaneous, in the moment, and seeks no outcome, no result. The play of craftsmen and artists is in the moment, but moves from intention and seeks to generate repercussions.
I suggest that all of us have some sense of this, whatever words we may use to express it.
If we wish to participate within the loving, creative unfolding of our world, we place ourselves at the service of this unfolding. Because this is so much at variance with what we would call “a normal way of living,” most of us need instruction, techniques, exercises, and help. If we are clear that this is really what we wish, we test this wish.
The particular challenge of a Level Three course is crossing The Great Divide. The Great Divide is with us in many small processes throughout our day, but generally we can escape from it, for several reasons. But over a period of three months it hits hard. The Great Divide is a necessary and inevitable part of any and every process. It is where we are too far from the beginning to go back, and too far from the end to go forward. It is the point where processes break down and go off course.
If we wish to be vehicles for the creative impulse, it is no good falling apart en route. The passenger gets thrown out. Our friend love gets dumped in the mud, and our pal healing action gets helped into the ditch. So, we must introduce a small point of certainty. This is commitment. Commitment carries us through The Great Divide. Commitment comes from who we are, and exerts a demand upon what we are. I have just read again the aims declared at the beginning of the course. Consider them again for yourselves. Is this real for me or just fine words?
Commitment is to be practised daily. And here is a small beginning to this practice. It is an exercise called The Job Of The Day. There are three areas in which jobs may be done:
1. For ourselves.
2. For the house.
3. For the community.
I suggest that for now you address jobs for the house. The practice is simple. During the day we notice something in the house which could be improved or remedied by a simple action. For example, there may be cobwebs around a window. Or the window may be dirty. Or the toilet may have run out of paper. Or the flower bed by the kitchen may need weeding. We will only notice these small things if we are alert. So, this is part of our practice in alertness and presence. Before we go to bed, we consider tomorrow’s job of the day. At the end of our morning sitting, we remind ourselves of our job, and later in the day we discharge it. Then, before we go to bed, we consider if we have executed our small task and consider the job for the following day. If this exercise is taken seriously, it can lead further.
The principle which I find helpful when confronting The Great Divide is this:
Begin with the possible and move gradually towards the impossible.
So, when nothing seems possible, look and see one small action which is possible. And then discharge it. It may be as heroic as getting out of bed. And then cleaning your teeth.
The Level Three gives you a taste of what is actually involved in basing one’s life on craft principles, whether we have any interest in playing guitar or not. Our rule of life is this: act on principle, move with intention. At Level Three we practice making a commitment for three months. Some of you have expressed interest in Level Four. At Level Four we say this:
In Guitar Craft we have three obligations:
1. The obligation to work.
2. The obligation to pay to work.
3. The obligation to suffer the consequences of our work.
In Guitar Craft we have three rights:
1. The right to work
2. The right to pay to work.
3. The right to suffer the consequences of our work.
But, we are not yet ready for this.
The situation is good.
My very best wishes to all you heroes.
Friday, 10th. November 1989
Herewith several comments for your attention which may have some relevance to the courses. Please make these as available as you consider appropriate.
Firstly, the current Level Three course was set up in such a way that the Level Three and Six Projects would mutually support each other. The presence of the combined experience of the long-term Crafties was necessary given my physical absence. I am very happy that there are four of the L6 team available to respond to the needs of the Level Three as they arise.
Secondly, finding local performances for the Home Boys will not be easy and probably not immediate. This should not be forced but allowed to develop organically. In commerce there is a legitimate level of coercion which is accepted as fair and ongoing. This is because of the high level of dishonesty and wastage which is assumed by participants. My own way of working within commerce is to put my hat on something when I can deliver. In this way my personal wastage factor is at a minimum, and when I make a call to someone important, they pick up the phone to me.
For example, Wayne Forte at ITG and the current plans for touring next Spring.
In the world of craft, one presents oneself to the world and is recognised and acknowledged, or not. The best example for us is the way in which Guitar Craft has grown and developed in nearly five years, having only minimal interface with the music business. Guitar Craft Services operates within both worlds. This is a very difficult position to be in. The local performance team is presenting itself to the world in a gentle way, because it lacks the particular kind of power which is necessary to coerce and force the commercial world. This means, in practice, that gigs will be slow in coming in. Two relevant Guitar Craft aphorisms are:
Offer no violence.
Good time is being in step with ourselves.
Thirdly, life on the road is too hard to easily describe. It is not a life based on rationality. If anyone has been there for extended periods, they know the alienation and distress. Accepting the life is a measure of the musician’s commitment to play music. Our failures in living up to our declared principles are generally forgivable, but rarely excusable. They are less rarely excusable on the road. But, they remain unacceptable. The performance team are acting on behalf of The League Of Crafty Guitarists, and therefore Guitar Craft, and the standards are particularly high. This team needs our support and goodwill.
Fourthly, the Claymont community was damaged by gossip and carelessly made negative comments. We all have our own opinions and bright ideas, but they are subjective. Anyone within a role, which is objective, must leave their prejudices behind. It is not possible to gossip and be in a role. In this privileged position, one is able to see and be with others in a clean, clear, and direct relationship. But if subjective opinion is brought within a role, and the operations of that role, something is spoilt. The situation is redeemable, but at a price.
Disagreements and disputes are inevitable whenever people work together and often need to be addressed. Guitar Craft is not an encounter group. My own recommendation is this: if we have emotional heat, let it go before addressing someone. Then, be clean and direct in what one has to say. It is unwise to dispute when one is caught in a negative state: everything said is tainted.
If we have suffered umbrage, and been hurt by the carelessness of another person—particularly by a person with greater seeming experience—we have our part to play in redeeming the situation. Forgiveness is a major key in leaving our everyday prison. The Lord’s Prayer is so commonplace that we overlook it as an unbelievably high instruction manual in the practicalities of how to get into the kingdom of heaven. Our capacity to forgive others is paramount. I believe that to really forgive, the state we have to be in is considerable. What freedom when we let go of our legitimate-in-the-normal-world grievances! This is not the everyday person in us who is forgiving.
My very best wishes to you all.
Wednesday, 22nd. November 1989
The action of craft is mysterious. How does it appear, where does it come from, and why does it call to me? Much of this is hidden from us. That is, much of this is hidden from us in our normal condition. When our state changes, we find that our “normal condition” is actually quite abnormal. When we are alert, less is hidden. What seems hidden is often in full view, concealed only by our blindness. If our eyes are open, we may see or not. If our ears are open, we may hear or not.
Last week I was in London, pursuing the concerns of the professional musician—money and business. While on the telephone in my wife’s little studio apartment, I looked up. In front of me was a well-kept secret: the budding flowers of a winter blossoming cactus. Out of each tip of this little creature, the delicate white of emerging flowers were appearing. This beautiful, living creature spoke to me across the room, shaming my absorption in the morass of business, giving me hope. Before I noticed them, they were invisible. Then, noticing appeared.
Our blindness and deafness are a measure of our dullness and our blunt acuities. Much of our blindness and deafness is a result of holding opinions. Opinions trap our attention in a world where perception is impossible. Opinion is not experience. A real question comes from experience. I may have a profound question about the power of koans to distress the mind, but have I spent a night in meditation on a koan? A question which comes from opinion limits its answer to a world where real answers are hard to find.
In Guitar Craft we are becoming vehicles for the creative impulse to express itself through music. We are training ourselves to respond to the promptings of music. For this we must be both reliable and responsible. This implies a measure of freedom in our capacity to respond. Three of the primary freedoms in establishing reliability in our lives are these:
1. Freedom from like and dislike.
2. Freedom from our opinions.
3. Freedom from the opinions of others.
This does not mean we have no opinions, likes, and dislikes. Neither does it mean that we should have no opinions, likes, and dislikes. Nor does it mean that we should deny their presence in our lives. It simply means that we must have freedom from their hold over us. But before this, we must know them.
We begin by looking at our opinions and prejudices. It is important that we do not try to change them. Three of the primary knowings are these:
1. The knowledge of our ignorance.
2. The poverty of our knowledge.
3. The recognition of necessary knowledge.
Our lives are too short to acquire these three knowings by accident. During our Level Three we must experience at least the first two of these: the knowledge of our ignorance, and the poverty of our knowledge. Hopefully we will also begin to recognise, and acquire, necessary knowledge.
At Level Three we share a house with a number of other people. Some of these I will like and some I will dislike. Probably, all of them will irritate me at some time. Almost certainly I will irritate all of them at some time. But why should we live together in this unlikely and irritating manner? It is easy to believe we are making pioneering attempts at community living, and that this has some intrinsic merit. This may or may not be so, but it is not our main reason. The aim is to acquire a large amount of information about ourselves, and this creature we inhabit, within a relatively short period of time. The intensive manner of living-with-others which we practice is a sure and effective way of discovering what we are. It is not necessary for us to live in a house with a lot of people for the rest of our lives. But, it is necessary that we undertake this for a period of time.
Necessary knowledge is very easy to find. We already have enough necessary knowledge to guide and direct us for the rest of our lives. Guitar Craft principles are all instructions in qualitative endeavour. Necessary knowledge is very little, but to recognise it as such needs discrimination. Our problem is that we acquire both necessary knowledge and huge amounts of unnecessary knowledge.
The recognition of necessary knowledge is direct. It is not the everyday part of us which recognises necessary knowledge. The acquisition of necessary knowledge occurs when knowing moves from what-we-are and speaks to who-we-are. This knowing carries with it a charge, an energy, upon which we may draw. This is because the knowledge comes from a world that is other than the everyday.
When we begin to have some sense of the difference between necessary and unnecessary knowledge, we begin to recognise the difference between necessary and unnecessary questions. A true question comes from our experience, not our opinions, and contains its own answer. If we have been present within an action, it is within our experience. If we are present within our experience, our experience is present within us. If this is so, we may re-enter our experience and question it. Necessary questions are practical.
Here is an example of a practical question which may arise on a Level Three: How may I behave in the kitchen when the person in charge knows less than I do? This is a question which can arise easily in many areas of our activities—whether kitchen, office, or performance circle. So, it is an everyday question. It is also a very sophisticated question.
The first principle in accepting instruction is honour the role. A role is a necessary point within an archetypical pattern. If the role is discharged, an eternal pattern is given an opportunity to unfold within our world. One point within a pattern has access to all other points within the pattern. In other words, access to one point brings access to the whole. When a person plays a role, their initiative moves to that part of them which resonates in conformity to the role. Their everyday self acts on behalf of that part of them which is eternal. This everyday self is an instrument which responds to the direction of an eternal action. Within a role, a person has access to the larger pattern, and the pattern may speak directly through the person. In this state one may experience insights and knowings which are hidden from our everyday eyes.
The second principle in accepting instruction is respect the person. A role is part of the whole, and in a sense is the whole. The person is partial. Anyone who undertakes to fulfil a role, knowing what is involved, undertakes to suffer. The distance between the worlds of potential and actual is never so wide as when one is between them. If we are accepting direction, we are ourselves fulfilling a role. On a personal level, the instructor may have less knowledge than us. On the level of role, the instructor has access to the complete picture. If the pattern is to emerge, we accept direction. From our position in role, we allow the pattern to emerge, and in this sense also have access to the whole.
The third principle in accepting instruction is discharge the function. Eating is necessary. If we are to honour the eternal event of communion—that is, the sacrificing of life that life may continue—we need a kitchen. If we need a kitchen, we need a kitchen supervisor. This is because at least one person must have a complete picture of what is involved in our temple of life and death. The kitchen supervisor accepts the responsibility of holding an overview of all that occurs within the kitchen. This is a role. This does not imply omniscience, and one discharges the role as best one may. The assistant cook has the job of discharging the task which is given to them by the supervisor. This task is partial, but contributes to the whole. If all the parts are discharged, the whole is honoured. The responsibility of the supervisor is to discharge the whole. The responsibility of the assistant is to discharge the whole of their part. If the assistant is acting in role, they will have a sense of the whole to which they are contributing.
Let us restate our question: How may I behave in the kitchen when the person in charge knows less than I do? I ask myself these questions:
1. Is my knowing knowledge, or is it opinion? My opinions on food are called a “food trip.” This is a knowing which comes from personality, and not our essential nature. This kind of knowing has its value and its place, but its place is subordinate. The instinctive perception by animals of food which is healthy for them is a direct knowing of the body. We are the only animals that override this recognition of good food and replace it by opinion.
2. In what area is my knowing superior? Is the supervisor instructing
me in what to do, how to do, or why to do my task? Only a supervisor at Level Ten and above will be able to instruct me in all three. So far our kitchen supervisors in Guitar Craft have given instructions in what to do, and occasionally how to do. How to do is a matter of technique, and an incompetent assistant would be wise to ask for help from someone with more experience.
Expertise in a particular school of diet—for example, macrobiotic—involves the whole of the person. The way the expert eats is inseparable from how they live. When this is so, the supervisor is able to organise the kitchen as a microcosm. This is more than holding an overview of the functions of the kitchen. It involves knowing what the functions represent in the pattern of the kitchen, and what the kitchen represents in the pattern of living. Then, the supervisor may give instruction in the whys of the kitchen. In the normal unfolding of process, this level of expertise takes twenty-one years to acquire.
3. Is the kitchen at variance with my honouring the strictures of a particular diet? A vegetarian kitchen is a common denominator among diets, in the sense that everyone eats vegetables (with the possible exception of eskimos).
4. Is the operation of the kitchen at variance with my moral or ethical beliefs? This is unlikely.
5. Does the operation of the kitchen violate common sense? Here are two Guitar Craft principles which apply:
i) Honour necessity.
ii) If the spirit moves, follow.
If during my work in the kitchen I notice something which is obviously wrong, I bring this to the attention of the supervisor. In an emergency, I act immediately. If I notice that food is rotten, I tell the supervisor. If I am warming up yesterday’s soup and notice that the soup is not fresh, if this does not meet with my approval, I may draw this to the attention of the supervisor. If I am instructed to continue, I have three principles to follow:
i) Honour the role.
ii) Respect the person.
iii) Discharge the function.
If I am prepared to follow these principles—unless I have expert knowledge, a specific diet, or a belief system which is being violated—I shall:
i) Acknowledge the authority of the role of supervisor.
ii) Accept that the person in the role is doing the best they can in balancing all the different factors involved in maintaining the kitchen, including keeping a budget and the Rule of Quantity: honour sufficiency.
iii) Warm up the soup.
Otherwise, I state cleanly, clearly, and directly that I am unable to follow the instructions of the kitchen supervisor, and I leave the kitchen.
If I have expert knowledge and am aware that an operation in the kitchen is less than it might be, but not prejudicial to general well being, I may draw this to the attention of the kitchen supervisor. Often the best way to do this is outside of role, outside the kitchen, and on a personal basis. This is action outside role, and that role may be more fully discharged. Where one of us has a level of experience or expertise, this will generally be recognised and called upon. Where one of us has a level of self opinionation, this will generally be recognised and overridden.
Three primaries of necessary knowing in the matter of food are these:
- Knowing what to eat.
- Knowing how to eat.
- Knowing why to eat. That is, do I know the results of my eating? The repercussions of this one are considerable.
A question: How much do we know about food, its cooking, and eating?
My very best wishes to gourmets and gourmands all.
Monday, 27th. November 1989
This is my final letter to the course. Our final day is December 5th. and on that evening The League Of Crafty Guitarists and myself are playing at the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles. Twenty years ago this week I was playing this same club as a member of King Crimson. Eric Burdon was in the audience, and he booed us. Actually, I didn’t hear him; I was told of this afterwards. On December 6th. our course in Los Angeles will complete. Please send to us your best wishes. On the 7th. I shall fly to London, en route for Italy where some of us will meet again.
After three months of living together, we will probably have dropped some illusions of community life and our personal capacities. We may be happy, even enthusiastic, about the prospect of changing the world. But are we able every morning to practise sitting for 30 minutes, doing nothing? It is necessary, although exceptionally painful, to see what we are. Our motivations are unpleasant, selfish, unkind; our minds a windfill of prattle; and our capacity for action uncertain at best. When we meet ourselves face to face, it is an unpleasant surprise. Probably the most difficult personal work I have ever undertaken is to bear what I am. If I am able to find forgivingness for others, I may find forgiveness of myself. If I am able to find forgiveness for myself, I may find forgivingness of others. The two are inseparable.
The first moment in which I was present to myself in this life was very early, probably about 6 to 9 months old. I remember the experience of being in my pram when a plane went overhead and made a noise. The Fripp baby was disturbed, moving in the pram to try and cover itself. At this point, there was a clear separation between who I am, and the little creature I was living in. I had no fear, but the Fripp baby was disturbed and sucked me into its concerns. This clear experience of being apart from the human animal, with a sense of both who I am and what I am, and then the two merging, was my debut in the world. This experience has remained with me since. I know that I am not my body, but live inside this human animal. I also know how easy it is for my animal matters to involve me in its concerns. This is a limitation and restriction upon my freedom of action. Is it possible for us to maintain a clear sense of who we are, and what we are, and to separate the two?
Some 28 years later, pursuing similar concerns, I spent ten months at Mr. Bennett’s school in England—Sherborne House. A considerable cause of personal distress was the degree to which the whirring noise of my mind caught and held my attention. One day, while in the tape store which had become my responsibility, I realised that I was not my thinking. Neither was I my feeling, nor my doing. In a sense, this was a great relief. Nevertheless, I had a relationship with these instruments that operated and functioned, nominally upon my behalf.
A little time later, in the bitter cold of February 1976—while pushing a wheelbarrow of compost past the woodworking shop—in a flash, I saw that Robert Fripp did not exist. This insight probably lasted about half a second, if one measured it on a clock. It was a terrifying and frightening experience. Fripp was disturbed to see that he did not exist. So, I know that whoever I am, it is not this creature I inhabit; neither is it the accretion of habitual behaviours called Robert Fripp. But, who I am has a relationship with what I am, and what I think, feel, and do. That is, who I am should have a relationship with what I am, and what I think, feel, and do. And this is where we find pain and suffering. The relationship is distant and unreliable. I see the distance between myself and Robert Fripp and his concerns.
If this distance is of real concern to us, we develop the relationship. The Guitar Craft principle is this: we begin where we are. But, we have to know where we are. So, we do nothing; and while we’re doing nothing, we look. Perhaps we can do nothing and look, while having a left hand. If we can do nothing with a left hand, we are on the way to doing something with a left hand. After three months, perhaps we know where we are not. That is, we have dropped some illusions. We have a clearer sense of our reliabilities, impulses, and capacity for action. Hope lies in this: music is possible, despite what we are.
In time, and with practice, our centre of gravity changes. Our everyday concerns and worries remain the same, but we no longer live in the same place as the concerns and worries. They live in the basement and the cellar, and I live on the (American) first floor (English ground floor). Here, my perspective is quite different. I see things in a different way. One day I visit the second floor, and I have another perspective from the vantage point of being above and looking down on the first floor and basement. This is a place where I would really like to live, but there isn’t enough room for my baggage. So, I go back downstairs. While I lived in the basement and cellar, I believed that I lived on ground level. This was an illusion. To move upstairs, I have to know where I am—without blame, excuse, and apology. Then, I can visit upstairs.
Life in the cellar is dark, and because of this, is lonely. In the dark we can’t see other people. When we visit upstairs there is more light, and we can see other people. Perhaps they can help me? This is true, but only to the degree that I am able to help myself. The degree to which I am able to help myself, is the degree to which I am able to help them. The degree to which I can help them, is the degree to which I can help myself. When I visit the second floor, I see that these other people are members of my own family. Members of a family are the family. That is, in a sense, they are the same person.
It is a common error to believe that we are on our own. This is an aspect of egotism, of failing to see beyond our nose. Help is always available, but we are not. The one greatest lesson of Guitar Craft, for me, is the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse. Despite who we are, help is always available. Despite what we are, redemption is always possible. But, this does not occur by accident. It involves our co-operation. It is necessary that the creative impulse enters the world. So, our co-operation is also necessary. When we make a commitment to enter this sphere of co-operation, all the rules change. We enter a privileged situation.
In my view, this course has been operating under an umbrella of protection. This is also true of Guitar Craft as a whole.
In the creative world, an event is instantaneous. In our everyday world, it unfolds in time. A creative event is instantaneous, and we experience the repercussions from it as a succession of different moments unfolding sequentially in time, one moment after the other; while actually, within the creative moment, they occur all at once. The process, the pattern of the event, is eternal. The event’s appearance in the phenomenal world is restricted, constrained, and limited by the necessary conditions of operating in the everyday world. The creative, eternal, and unfolding moments can, and do, come together in our experience; and when we experience this interface, we experience an extended Present Moment. This implies that it is possible for us to experience the complete event of Guitar Craft. In a sense, within the overall Guitar Craft process, the future reaches back to invent the present and repair the past. (If we recall the performance by The League Of Crafty Guitarists on the Level Two weekend, we may recall the visit by a substantial presence).
But there are no guarantees that Guitar Craft will stay on course, or survive at all. If Guitar Craft is to become what, in potential, it already is, our co-operation is necessary. These three months have only been a small indication of what is involved. There are exercises which we can practise to develop our capacity for co-operation with the eternal moment. When necessary, and when we are ready for them, they will be made available to us. But, until we have some idea of what it means to be alive within our left hand, little else is possible.
At the present moment we are struggling. The office is underfunded, we don’t have a home, and we are unable to meet the requests for help which are made of us. This will continue throughout next year and change in the Spring of 1991. Then, a new current will appear and carry us with it, if we are ready. Of those among us, who is able to make a commitment to this next year of preparation?
My very best wishes to you all.
(Revised January 2011)