Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Belly Center
Absolute Nature Experienced through the Belly Center
What is the absolute nature then, whether we are referring to the unmanifest absolute or the absolute dimension? We have discussed its qualities of stillness, silence, peace, nonbeing, and emptiness. But we can also experience it as an immensity, a solidity and presence. One way of understanding this is to use the notion of the three major centers of subtle physiology, the belly center or hara, the heart center, and the head center. When we experience the absolute through the belly center, we experience it as a solid and immense presence, more substantial than any physical substance.17 We feel we are more fundamental, more basic, than anything else; all manifestation, including the physical world, appears as ephemeral and wispy. Yet, when we sense inside we cannot find anything, there is no sensation of any quality. We are completely empty inside, so empty that our inside is total absence. The full impression is that we are so light and free because we are total absence; yet at the same time we are immense and solid for we are the most fundamental truth. We are both absence and presence, the emptiness of nonbeing and the fullness and solidity of being. Yet the fullness and solidity of being is not another quality added to the emptiness of nonbeing. The solidity feels more like full emptiness, solid absence. We are this solid nothingness, immense and immeasurable, and the universe is simply the glow of its intensity.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 395
Attachment and Desire in the Belly
The past exists in us as activity, and the content of personality is an activity, a movement. Ego activity is the substance of suffering; it is contraction itself. You can see this more specifically if you look at the activity in each center of the body. If you look at the activity in the head, you’ll see concern and worry. In the heart, it’s a sense of guilt and frustration. Looking at activity in the belly, you’ll see it as attachment and desire. But it is all the same thing: ego activity. And ego activity is always connected with issues from your past. It is what is called personal karma, or the wheel of life and death. It is the movement of your mind, your personality, your choices, preferences, judgments, resistances—anything you do actively. The moment you choose to do something or to reject something, you are acting, and that inner activity is the content of personality that makes the personality unclear. It muddies the water and separates the personality from the clear stillness of Essence.
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 10
Distinguishing Physical Sensation from Essential Substance
The capacity to sense oneself must become so refined that the individual can discriminate between physical sensation and the sensation of essential substance. It is not enough that the mind be quiet. It is also necessary for the body to be sensitive. The mind can be quiet while the body is deadened. The body has to be awakened so that the center of sensing, the belly center, can be activated. The belly center, or what Gurdjieff called the physical center, is the center of sensing for all parts of the body. Its deepest function is the subtle sensing, the sensing of essential presence, that the Sufis call the organ for touch. Touch is, in a sense, the most intimate of the physical senses. The skin must be directly against an object to touch it. There is no intermediary medium, like sound for hearing or light for seeing. So this subtle capacity is a very intimate one. Accurately speaking, it is sensing essence by being essence. It is the most direct way of perception. This capacity of touch, connected with the belly center, is very intimately connected with the embodiment of essence. It is the body center; its mode of perception is embodiment. Here, perception as touch, and being, are the same act. So this capacity is the most important one.
Functioning of the Essential Self in the Belly Center
Yes, usually the belly center has to do with embodiment, with the capacity to sense oneself. However, the belly center is also the will center. In a sense, the ultimate function of the will is to surrender to what happens, surrender to the now. And surrender to the now means not to hold on to something. The true function of the will is complete surrender to what’s happening without holding on. That is will. The essential self, like all essential aspects, can function in any of the subtle centers. When one is being the essential self its location is usually the heart center. However, when the essential self is functioning in relation to identifying or disidentifying from any content of experience, it becomes associated with the belly center. The essential self is more like a potential for experience, and it also manifests as a capacity for identification. One of the results of that capacity for identification is embodiment. Embodying something means you are identified with what’s happening. An essential state is present. You are embodying it if you are it. The true self has the capacity to identify with something you are experiencing, but it doesn’t have to. It has a choice; it has the freedom.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 79
Inner States Presented as Images
But sometimes the inner states do present themselves in images that have symbolic meaning. For example, some people have difficulty seeing the Green Essence as it is—just a pure emerald green presence—so they see a green valley in their hearts. But we can go beyond the images and just see the pure state. In any case, it is useful to be able to distinguish, for instance, between an image arising in your consciousness and what you are seeing that is actually present in your heart or your belly.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 322
Loving the Truth for its Own Sake
So we see that there are practical sides to loving the truth for its own sake. To love the truth for its own sake, which has to do with the heart, we have to involve the belly. The Kath, the Hara, our belly center, supports the heart’s love of the truth. The heart cannot survive on its own, cannot survive without the support of our actions, which are centered in the belly. Sincerely loving the truth is ultimately useless if we don’t sincerely live the truth.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 242
The Belly Quality of Basic Trust
The presence of basic trust indicates that you have the innate sense that life is fundamentally benevolent, and that that benevolence exists independent of you and your actions. You will have this sense to the extent that your grounding in the universe has not been disturbed. The relative presence or absence of basic trust is a belly quality, something one’s whole being is either grounded in or not. The disturbance of basic trust is a significant factor in ego development because the perspective of ego is diametrically opposed to the sense of basic trust. The ego’s perspective arises out of a lack of this trust. It is based on distrust, on paranoia, on fear, on the conviction that you’re not going to be adequately taken care of and that the universe is not there to hold and take care of you in the ways that you need. This conviction causes you to believe that you have to engage in all kinds of manipulations and games to get your needs met and to make things work out.