Monday, October 8, 2007

The development of emotional center

Today we are going to take a look at a very specific concept, and a very specific understanding of inner work. The results may surprise you.

So, lets take a look.
As Gurdjieff told Ouspensky, nothing can really happen until emotional center begins to participate in our work. (see the final quote of today's post for the exact reference.)

What's that all about?

In order to understand this particular question better, the reader would be well advised to re-read Chapter 9 of "In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D. Ouspensky, and the last chapter of Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson," by G. I Gurdjieff. I am only going to offer a few salient quotes from these two books to make the point, which has been hiding in plain sight for many years.

Let's begin with Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson. We're going to examine a statement about the nature of man's emotional being from page 1090, Viking edition:

"The second of the four personalities, functioning in most cases entirely independently of the first, is the sum of the results of data deposited and fixed in the common presence of every man, as of every animal, through the six organs called "receivers of vibrations of different qualities"--organs that function in accordance with the new impressions perceived, and whose sensitivity depends upon heredity and upon the conditions of the preparatory formation for responsible existence of the given individual.

Any close reading of the context of the passage this is taken from will leave very little doubt that Gurdjieff refers here to man's emotional architecture.

Let us draw two nearly inevitable inferences from this passage:

1. the structure of man's emotional being consists of six specific organs, or centers.

2. the organs receive vibrations of different qualities from the impressions that are perceived.

These six specific "organs" are the six inner flowers which I have referred to on many occasions in this blog.

Now, let's take another quote, this time from P.D. Ouspensky's "In Search of the Miraculous," chapter 9, pages 188-189 (Paul H. Crompton hardcover edition, 2004):

"La 6 is the highest matter produced by the organism from air, that is, from the second kind of food. This however is obtained only by making a conscious effort at the moment an impression is received.

“It is necessary to understand what this means. We all breathe the same air. Apart from the elements known to our science the air contains a great number of substances unknown to science, indefinable for it and inaccessible to its observation. But exact analysis is possible both of the air inhaled and of the air exhaled. This exact analysis shows that although the air inhaled by different people is exactly the same, the air exhaled is quite different. Let us suppose that the air we breathe is composed of twenty different elements unknown to our science. A certain number of these elements are absorbed by every man when he breathes. Let us suppose that five of these elements are always absorbed. Consequently the air exhaled by every man is composed of fifteen elements; five of them have gone to feeding the organism. But some people exhale not fifteen but only ten elements, that is to say, they absorb five elements more. These five elements are higher ‘hydrogens.’ These higher ‘hydrogens’ are present in every small particle of air we inhale. By inhaling air we introduce these higher ‘hydrogens’ into ourselves, but if our organism does not know how to extract them out of the particles of air, and retain them, they are exhaled back into the air. In this way we all breathe the same air but we extract different substances from it. Some extract more, others less."

Gurdjieff called "conscious labor" the act of bringing the attention to the point where impressions enter the body.

This statement cannot be properly understood from a literal point of view. Instead, we should ask ourselves, "where, exactly, do impressions enter the body?

Impressions do not enter the body through the eyes, skin, nose, or years. Those organs are simply collecting tools.

Gurdjieff, God bless him, made it abundantly clear in the last chapter of Beelzebub.

The vessels that collect the impressions are the six parts of the emotional being.

And they collect the higher hydrogens they need from the air.

What this all means is simple enough: in the act of conscious labor, the attention needs to be brought to the correct specific locations within the body as we breathe in and out. There are six of these locations, corresponding exactly to the system of centers expounded in the Enneagram.

There needs to be a very specific, precise understanding of the six inner locations, and the corresponding experience of what it is to have a direct attention within one of these locations. Active inner study consists of a very intimate effort to support the work of these parts. And above all, this work is not just to be undertaken in meditation, although that is the place where it is initially easiest to find it and to begin to understand it.

The whole point of work in life is to have an attention within the centers and to help them receive vibrations, or, higher hydrogens, from the air while we participate in daily, ordinary life. not only that, we are meant to study their function and purpose as we support them with our attention. If you return to the post on the allegorical meaning contained within Gurdjieff's Society of Akhldanns, you will see that he actually told us how each of the six inner flowers functions, that is, the types of impressions it is meant to receive.

So, breathing in, with a supportive attention precisely held at a certain point within the body, we attempt to be in relationship to our life, to the incoming impressions of our life, to the experience of our body, and to the vibration within that specific location that arises as we perceive these elements of Being with attention.

There is no need for the manipulation of breathing whatsoever. The whole point is in the attention. This is the manner in which we feed the emotional center with the substances it needs for our own development.

Again, nothing can happen in real Work until emotion begins to participate... and, as promised before, here's what Gurdjieff said about the matter on page 235 of the Crompton edition of Miraculous.

"Small accumulators suffice for the ordinary, everyday work of life. But for work on oneself, for inner growth, and for the efforts which are required of a man who enters the way, the energy from these small accumulators is not enough.

We must learn how to draw energy straight from the large accumulator.

This however is possible only with the help of the emotional center. It is essential that this be understood. The connection with the large accumulator can be effected only through the emotional center. The instinctive, moving, and intellectual centers, by themselves, can feed only on the small accumulators.

This is precisely what people do not understand. Therefore their aim must be the development of the activity of the emotional center. The emotional center is an apparatus much more subtle than the intellectual center, particularly if we take into consideration the fact that in the whole of the intellectual center the only part that works is the formatory apparatus and that many things are quite inaccessible to the intellectual center. If anyone desires to know and to understand more than he actually knows and understands, he must remember that this new knowledge and this new understanding will come through the emotional center and not through the intellectual center."

So there you are. Now you know something much more specific about the physical nature of the work that is necessary for the development of emotional center... something you may not have been told before.

I will be travelling to China starting Wednesday. Hopefully I will be able to share some rich new impressions during the next few weeks.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.


  1. Not only are you given to be able to write these good pieces, but you also get to fly to China. Is this really fair?

  2. Pierre, thanks for reminding me of this post. This material is important in the context of upcoming posts about the nature of the Chakras in relationship to the Enneagram. The subject has been much on my mind lately. The six "receivers of vibration"— chakras, as yoga calls them—have specific incontrovertible traditional meanings in regard to the enneagram. Taken as a whole, they lay out useful information about the nature of inner work.

    In particular, check the posts scheduled for publication 9/9/12 and 9/17/12, which will expound on some interesting material related to this.

    I think Ibn al 'Arabi would argue that viewed from the perspective of the Divine (the Reality, as he calls it) everything actually IS fair... precisely and exactly fair, from all and everything, into all and everything, according to level and measure. We can't see it from our perspective, but the universe is arranged so that objects, events, circumstances and conditions adhere to a higher law of justice. I feel certain Meister Eckhart would share that view.

    Not everyone would agree with them, and in the midst of great difficulty, any of us are not inclined to see it that way, but it's definitely true. Our lack of trust in this principle is evident; perhaps I can work within that understanding to see better why I don't trust.


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