Center of Gravity
… a wise man [is he] who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
– Matthew 7:24-25
The term “center of gravity” originates in physics and refers to an imaginary point in a body of matter where the total weight of the body may be thought to be concentrated and, therefore, useful in designing structures and predicting the behaviors of moving bodies when acted upon (Source: Britannica). Perhaps similarly, in the Work, center of gravity refers to the basis of essential grounding from which one prioritizes, decides and acts. The Work teaches that everyone has an eternal center of gravity.
Generally, however, center of gravity – originally grounded in essence – moves outward to what has been acquired from the particular circumstances of one’s life, such as interests, attractions, personal achievement and programs for happiness. It can then be observed that our center of gravity is outside ourselves.
“In this way, you, as it were, lose your original basis and become something acquired, something invented. Your feeling of I passes outwards into all sorts of feelings derived from life. A man feels no real inner stability when he derives his feeling of himself from life. That is, he is always afraid that something may happen to him, or to his fortune, or to his position, or his reputation. This is due to his identifying with everything that life has formed in him and this means that he only feels himself through personality. But other feelings of oneself are possible that are not derived from life and personality, and these feelings give a man a sense of stability that nothing outside him can take away. And it is from these feelings that a man begins to feel himself free, because they depend on nothing outside him, and so cannot be taken away from him. Such a man begins to be no longer so much a slave to outer things.”
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “Internal Considering and External Considering, VII,” April 3, 1943, Vol. 1, p. 274
“If there is valuation and if in spite of all difficulties we can feel that here is something that can eventually lead us away from our present states, and if in spite all the failures this valuation persists, then a center of gravity will be formed, a point in the Work will be established, and when this is so, it is a very blessed condition.”
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “Introductory Note on Practical Work,” December 14, 1943, Vol. 1, p. 370
“Self-remembering is the beginning of the attempt to bring us back into ourselves and so into our real center of gravity.”
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “Self-Observation and Self-Remembering,” October 21, 1944, Vol. 2, p. 535
Sometimes, center of gravity is used to describe something of importance, like a “center of gravity question” that one ponders for some time and thus it becomes a means for deeper understanding and even Self-remembering.