Saturday, May 10, 2008

creation and experience


I met with a good friend Saturday to discuss our personal work, and eventually got onto the subject of how we create ourselves.

The thinking mind--the formatory apparatus, as Gurdjieff would call it--manufactures a tremendous amount of the so-called "inner dialog" that takes place. This inner dialog instructs us as to how we are, how things outside us are, and makes a seemingly endless series of value judgments about the world around us--

and, yes, about ourselves.

The ego, or what Gurdjieff might term "false personality," is just this construction. It tends to have two polarized modes: either it aggrandizes situations, aggressively inflating the value of the individual, or it devalues situations, running an inner dialog that finds fault with everything and everyone, but perhaps most particularly with itself. Hence its two main modes are either positive narcissism, or negative narcissism.

Our formatory inner barometer is detached from any real, integrated work of centers--after all, its activity springs from a fraction of a center or at best a few fractions-- and is consequently almost unerringly inaccurate. We find ourselves in the unfortunate position of perpetually referring to a faulty instrument in our effort to assess where we are.

This ongoing assessment is an act of self-creation that re-creates us in our own image, rather than the image of God. Another way of seeing this is that we set ourselves up as our own Gods-- and, more often than not, tyrannical ones. We are consumed by our own creation: the image that pops into my mind is Goya's painting of Saturno devouring his son. A disturbing image, to be sure, and perhaps a little too close to home for any real comfort.

So if we invest in the conceptual activity of formatory apparatus, the process of thinking and psychology creates what we are. We analyze life; we confuse this analysis with truth, and all our experience is filtered through this mechanism. We aren't living the life we encounter; we're living our analysis of the life we encounter. The activity is reflexive, because analysis begets more analysis of the analysis.

The alternative we seek is to experience what we are, which does not require the mediation of the conceptual mind. Living within the immediacy of the moment is an act of participation, not analysis. And that act of living springs not from an experience of the mind, but an experience of the organism. That is to say, it is rooted in the organic sense of being, in the sensation of our cellular matter, and the sensation of the living energy that animates our body.

So we find ourselves betwixt the possibilities of creating ourselves through thought--and thus serving our own will, such as it is--or allowing oursleves to be created through the immediate experience of our lives.

Both are acts of creation, but in the one we are slaves to ourselves, and in the other we become servants of something higher.

When we allow ourselves to be created there is, indeed, no "I"-- as another friend, rlnyc, commented on yesterday's post. (Great comment-well worth reading.) There is, instead, "something else."

Whether we choose to call it "Truth" or not is perhaps immaterial.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

1 comment:

  1. It's Monday morning and it is raining. The world is happy, the plants and trees are delighted as they drink the nutritious fluid through capillary action. Only human beings are inconvenienced, grumbling under their breath or commiserating with each other on the "bad " weather.

    Everything else understands -- only man "thinks".

    And what does he think with? Formatory apparatus perhaps, but almost certainly the formatory apparatus thinks in language; that narrow bandwidth of linear surface meaning.

    I am currently reading a biography of Albert Einstein. I am only at the beginning, but already have much fruit for pondering.

    I have always known about infant thinking, because I have crystal-clear memories all the way back to when I was months old. The infant does not think in language but rather in images or pictures. But even before this the infant thinks in pure sensation. What a delight!

    Having come from the primordial bliss of the womb it thinks organically, first without language of any sort. Slowly as it plays with its body and begins to form an idea of its shape and limitations, it thinks in pure sensation -- with it's toes in it's mouth, so to say.

    Then it thinks in pure images -- picture thinking, if you will. I call this first thinking. Only later will it observe the big people talking and walking. Then the infant will begin to learn language. There is very little real thinking in language -- it is like a recapitulation, narrow and linear, like real thinking looked at through the wrong end of a telescope, containing only surface meanings.

    Most of us ride on the backs of those few who have not forgotten how to THINK, and it is certainly not containable within language: It is rather, what Mr. Gurdjieff called "Pondering."

    Einstein didn't begin to talk until he was three or four years of age. Personally I think it was because he was blessed with a precosity of real thinking, so much so that to him, language was a tiny little door that ideas can really barely fit through. They thought he might be a dullard, but instead, he was free from a deficit of "first thinking", so it took him a while to come down to the level of the "eye of the needle" which is language.

    Then he suffered from a condition known as echolalia, where he would repeat phrases and sentences to himself in order to test them out before speaking them out loud to other people.

    To alienists (psychiatrists and psychologists) of the time and even now this is considered to be a symptom of retarded development, but I ask, a retarded development of what?

    Much later in life Einstein told a psychologist, "I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express in words afterwards."

    So you talk about the "inner dialogue", and I have to ask, of what possible use or good is this inner dialogue? It cannot be in the present, because the dialogue itself takes time and is in "Time".

    By the very nature of this "inner dialogue", out of necessity must allude to the past or the future and only reference the present in relation to the other two. One cannot "talk" about the present, because it exists in Eternity, and is outside "Time".

    Gurdjieff was occasionally visited by old friends who wanted to speak to him about the past, and he steadfastly refused to be dragged into sentimental discussions about "the good old days".

    I say stick around in the present and the "good old days" are NOW!, always NOW!!!. There is no inner dialogue needed whatsoever -- only a presence to what actually is, and the beingpardolgduty of pondering,what I call for lack of a better phrase, "First Thinking", the real thinking proper to a MAN.

    -rlnyc

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