Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The second division

Today we're going to continue to take a look at the allegory contained within Gurdjieff’s “Society of Akhldanns,” but let's start off with a quote from Dogen’s Shobogenzo, taken from the Nishijima and Cross translation, book 3, page 159, in the Chapter “meeting Buddha.”

“Sakyamuni Buddha addresses a great assembly: “if we see both the many forms and their non-form, we at once meet the Tathagata.’”

To see the many forms and to see their non-form, as described now is a liberated bodily experience, and so it is to meet the Tathagata.”

I am offering this quote just to make the point that Dogen understood seeing to be a bodily experience--that is, it arises from the organism itself, and not the organism's psychology. This brings us back to yesterday's point that we are meant to use the direct and immediate sensory abilities of the organic inner tools we are given to understand our life and our experience, not the associative thoughts which we mistakenly believe lead to understanding.

The passages on the Society of Akhldanns highlight the subtle sophistication of Gurdjieff's methodology, where he presented esoteric understandings in an elaborate historical allegory. This is in keeping with a long-standing tradition in both Christianity and Sufism of presenting practical spiritually refined concepts in the form of stories.

Gurdjieff, furthermore, for all his apparent complexity, offered us what may be more accessible information on this subject than we find in the distant, obscure, and flowery language of Dogen's Buddhism. He was, in other words, a man for our times, offering us a work for our times.

...Well, no one said all of this was going to be easy or obvious. We now come to the second division of the society, which in our hypothesized system of allegory is associated with “2”, or, sex center.

"The members of the second section were called 'Akhldann-strassovors,' and this meant that they studied the 'radiations' of all the other planets of their solar system and the reciprocal action of these radiations.”

This passage may well be read and viewed, among other ways, in the context of the formation of an inner solar system. In this context, the other planets are our “other centers.”

In Gurdjieff’s chemical system, sex center is the seat of si 12, which is the highest “hydrogen” or higher substance automatically created by physical processes in man’s body. The passage suggests that sex center has a hitherto unexplored capacity to evaluate the quality of energy within all the other centers. So if we were to explore our overall inner structure from the perspective of the flower at the base of the spine, we might then explore our inner energies from the perspective of the sex center flower.

In my own experience, sex center energy tends to divide itself into two qualities: the obvious biological one, which carries an overwhelming power of its own, and a peculiar intangibility when one attempts to bring it into relationship within the context of the multiplications.

We’ve probably all heard, over the years, a great deal of commentary about what Gurdjieff called “wrong work of sex center,” that is, inappropriate use of the Si 12 energy, which produces a kind of fanaticism. On the other hand, we hear little or nothing about “right work” from this center.

The passage about the society suggests that in a right work, our sex center has an entirely different capacity which we know little or nothing about. That is to say, the energy of our sexuality may have a use in terms of seeing the energy within the other centers.

I have had a number of discussions with a friend, group member, and elder in the work who believes that the proper transubstantiation of sex energy involves its transmutation from our usual erotic impulse into a compassionate one.

When we originally had this exchange earlier this summer, I took the understanding—logically enough--as one applying to external manifestations, but I now wonder whether we should examine the inner question of transubstantiation and compassion.

Do sex center, and sex energy, have anything to do with developing a capacity for evaluation of, and compassion towards, ourselves? It doesn’t seem like an irrational suggestion. One of the first consequences of wrongly formed self image seems to be damage to the function of sex center of one kind or another.

These questions can’t be answered with glib theories. The effort needs to be to immerse ourselves more thoroughly, and more respectfully, within the sex center itself to see what is available there. Only by forming a relationship and “making friends” with it can we begin to form a more complete picture.

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

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