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The Sphere of Being

Amwell 30.12.1950

It is necessary to understand that the conception of being is not easy to grasp. In one of the formulations about being given by the Work it is said that your being attracts your life, but this formulation, like most of the other formulations in the Work, has great density of meaning - that is to say, one cannot understand it superficially, because meaning after meaning will appear to you, the more you reflect and study what being is and especially in yourself. The study of your own being is essential to working on yourself. I mean, you cannot ignore your being and take it for granted and yet say that you are in the Work and doing your best to work on yourself. Such an attitude is sheer nonsense. As O. said, quoting Solovyev: "Everything has its being, a stone has its being, a flower has its being, an animal has its being, etc." That is of course quite true, but what do we mean when it is said that a stone, a flower, an animal, has being peculiar to itself? Then again, what do we mean when it is said that our being attracts our life ? Here, for example, is a person who attracts people of a certain kind. What is it that attracts these people? What attracts these people is that person's being. Of course we do not see it in this way. We may, under certain circumstances, think it is unfortunate that this person attracts these people. What we do not understand is that the sphere of this person's being attracts only certain things and repels others. But at first we have no idea of this and even complain about it.
Now let us think that being exerts a certain sphere round it. This sphere has its own kind of intelligence. Let us take, for example, the sphere of being of a pigeon. Included in this sphere of being is its power of finding its way back from great distances. Or again let us take the sphere of being of a dog; it can pick out its master from among a crowd of people or it can find its way home when its master cannot. This belongs to its sphere of being. Or take a bird that builds a complicated nest, brings up its young, and then migrates to Africa. All this belongs to its sphere of being. Every animal possesses a sphere of being which is, so to speak, its life, and through which it is acquainted with regions of the world that a man does not know anything about. Then also in connection with the particular sphere of being with which they are endowed they have their own forms of happiness, their own forms of pain, distress and so on. We must imagine, therefore, in reflecting on what being means, that it is something that surrounds a person like a sphere and brings about what happens to him. Of course, if a person is placed in a nunnery or a monastery he is cut off, to some extent at least, from the sphere of attraction that his being would exert when he was in life, and so one realizes that such isolation has its origin in the idea of changing being almost by brute force. Whether such discipline has its effect I cannot say. It may be so in certain circumstances. In the Fourth Way the method is different. In the Fourth Way it is knowledge that must precede change of being. That is, through knowledge of one's being one can begin to separate from certain elements in it, so that eventually one has changed being so that it does not attract the same things as formerly. But this meta-morphosis only begins through metanoia or change of mind, because, if there is no change of mind or new knowledge, there can be no meta-morphosis or change of being. If we could see being through some spiritual vision, we would see clearly that certain elements in being cause all the trouble that a person complains of. In spiritual vision we would see, as it were, that something was in the wrong place, or that something was exaggerated very much or something lacking, and we would also perceive that as long as this construction of being remains as it is it will increasingly attract what it has attracted in life. Here is a man, for example, who gets violent, who is very proud, and so also very suspicious, who exalts himself in his own estimation and so feels he is surrounded by enemies - in such a case we would with spiritual vision see that the trouble lies in the structure of his being and the sphere it exerts on everyone around. All animals, insects, and so on, have intelligent spheres of being and attract the life that they are supposed to lead. It is only Man that has not an intelligent sphere of being and that is why he must study his being and learn to attribute to himself any unpleasant things that recurrently happen to him and not blame other people, which is the mechanical thing to do.
How then can we change being? By applying the knowledge of the Work through self-observation to ourselves. And remember that you do not change by being told what to do. You can only change through seeing what you have to do when you realize what your being is like.

(Maurice Nicoll - Commentaries, vol.4)