A voluntary intelligence is this organic intelligent intellect of being which arrives on its own, without being demanded, divorced, or manipulated.
It makes its appearance within being and supports the effort and the work without any prompting from the associative mind. There is a stillness that is preserved within its Being, carried into ordinary life, from which this capacity flows; and it manifests according to the magnetism of Being, the inner gravity of sensation.
It's a peculiar property of this organic intellect of being that it can’t manifest without its partner, the organic sense of Being. The two have to be there in conjunction in order to support one another's work; otherwise, they remain weak. And although you may think, well, it's a chicken/egg thing, it isn't in fact a chicken/egg situation at all. In our inner hierarchy, which has some peculiar inversions in it (maybe I will try to explain them later) the organic sensation of Being must arrive first in order to anchor the organism and its functions. Without this pendulum that swings back and forth to regulate activity and lend weight, an intelligence and Being that arises from sensation, the intellect of Being can't express itself; and the feeling of Being most certainly can’t express itself until the other two are aligned and in conjunction. Even though in order of rates of vibration the progression is intellect — sensation — feeling, the regulatory mechanism — the reconciling factor — in the relationship is always sensation. In this sense, without holy reconciling, neither holy affirming nor holy denying find the ground of Being for their manifestation.
My teacher Henry Brown used to call this phenomenon, a voluntary intelligence, the effortless effort. It can’t be invoked. The stillness arises. It is a companion to the active movement of the ordinary mind, and actually needs it as a support: yet it is the higher part of mind and of intelligence. It needs to volunteer itself, by itself, as this stillness that has its own capacity for receiving. And that stillness does not have any of the analytical components we are using to describe or discuss it here; in fact, all of the teachings about the mind: free attention, false personality, identification, my “parts”, all of this material falls away. The ideas here are like dead pieces of skin that are sloughed off in order for what is living and real to become manifest. Even using the word silence or quiet is unhelpful; once again, already, it’s analytical. I need to just be within the stillness, and appreciate the motion all around me, including my own motion, which surrounds the stillness. The stillness is the seed of the soul which receives life and all its Grace.
While all of this is essential and important to practice, it is also important to understand quite precisely exactly how it relates to the ordinary parts; and this is important in general terms, because in order to understand the disabilities our ordinary form of consciousness imposes upon us, it helps to know the way the harmonic structure functions, in the same way that it is good to understand music from a theoretical point of view. To extend the analogy, there is an entire theoretical structure of music which can become very helpful in the elaboration of it; yet in the end, in the practice, one must play music, which is very different than thinking of it. One must, in general terms, both think about it and play it; yet one shouldn’t think about it while playing, and one shouldn’t play it while thinking about it. The two exist side-by-side, but are separated; the playing is the higher activity, because it is the perfect and absolute expression of truth relative to what music is; within playing, there the stillness lies. Yet all around that, the theoretical structure forms the shell for the seed which can grow: so there you are.
Part 6 of this 6-part series will publish August 21.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.