Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Structural issues

In the study of inner conditions, it can take many years of careful observation in order to understand some of the points that Mr. Gurdjieff made to Ouspensky. Compounding this matter--the challenge of investing all the time, that is -- it's an objective fact that the scientific system of inner evolution which Gurdjieff expounded is a detailed and highly technical one.

Inevitably, just as not everyone has a naturally adept moving center, not everyone has an inherent ability--or inclination--to understand the more difficult intellectual aspects of this work. Some people are bad at movements. Other people can't think very well. Still others are an emotional mess.

Well, this is what we have to work with.

Over the years, it seems as though people with particular strengths have divided into camps. There are those who enjoy the study of the ideas -- they almost revel in them -- and invest in a strongly psychological interpretation of the work. Then there are those who act more like shamans, feeling and sensing their way to every discovery. All of these approaches are valid. Each one of them has its strengths and weaknesses. And every approach seems to "partly forget" that in an effort to attain a three centered being, all of the centers need to be working together.

Gurdjieff's original teaching, as expounded to and by Ouspensky, has all of the trappings of a high Djana yoga practice, that is, an extraordinary intellectual development that grasps the principles needed to master the other two branches. Nonetheless, it seems clear he abandoned that and moved into a much more intuitive and direct approach through experience in his later work.

One could engage in a great deal of argument about why that took place. But we won't.

Subsequently, Jeanne DeSalzmann made what appeared to many to be significant changes in the way that the Gurdjieff work was conducted. My own investigations and experience lead me to conclude that she never deviated whatsoever from the original premises and intentions of Gurdjieff's work. She was working on a specific point, at a specific level, that she had a comprehensive understanding of. It was, and is, so to speak, the ground floor of the work.

That is not to say that it is a "lower" work. The ground floor of this work is higher than the top floor of some others. She was not, as far as I can see, of a strongly intellectual inclination, and it was not her place or her intention to expound further on the structural and theoretical premises Gurdjieff introduced. There is no doubt he left a great deal unsaid; and he did this because those who came after him would have to make the efforts to understand those matters.

Every one of us who keeps the Gurdjieff work alive in our own practice -- whether we are priests or shamans, movers, empaths, or "scientists" -- has a direct responsibility to help move the work forward in whatever way we are able.

For my own part, in presenting the material to the public in a contemporary forum, I have attempted to balance structural and theoretical work -- of which you will find a good deal in the hundreds of other posts on this blog -- with experiential and so-to-speak "touchy-feely" material. For myself, caught between the demands of an active intellectual life and a fairly sensitive (as well as potentially explosive) emotional part, it is not always clear as to where the strongest values lie.

There are times when I have specific and meaningful insights about the structure of the work that are definitely theoretical in nature, but nonetheless appear to be significant. Some of those are embedded in the essays at the website.

There are other times when it seems to me it's nearly impossible to convey anything real to people through the medium of theory. Actually, I tend to lean in that direction, and have for some time.

That does not mean that theory is useless. In terms of practical work, there can be moments where a significant (and only partially theoretical) insight explodes like a supernova in the midst of an actual experience. That happened to me this morning.

At such times, the structure that is revealed and the connections that are drawn are so vast and intricate that they defy any ordinary attempt at explanation. In instances like that, I feel like I have looked over the Grand Canyon and then been left to describe it in 50 words or less.

An even more significant problem is that that's all people really want to read: "50 words or less." I try to keep these essays short, so that readers won't get bored, and so that no one is asked to swallow oceans in a single gulp. Generally speaking, with some few exceptions, long books filled with endless detail about esoteric matters bore the death out of me, and I suspect I have plenty of company on that one. I think that esotericism is a strong wine, best sipped one small glass at a time.

Today I am faced with the dilemma of attempting to describe the structural insights that I had without writing a long piece, and it simply is not possible. Consequently, I am going to write an essay for publication on the doremishock website. I hope to have it done before I leave for China next Monday.

The piece will consist of a further examination of the structural nature of emotional center -- which is, I wager, far more complex than most of us suspect. It will also offer some suggestions as to why the role of this center in inner work is so absolutely vital. In doing so, we will touch on some much larger questions about the inner structure of man that may help better explain why Gurdjieff contended that man has the structure of the entire universe in him.

The reason for this rambling prelude is to give readers a heads up. Those who are interested in structural matters should prepare themselves -- if they have not already done so -- by reading the essay on chakras and the enneagram. It is required reading for the next set of theoretical insights. In addition, the essay "on the development of emotional center" is important reading if one intends to grasp the nature of the new material.

So. We'll see if I can pull it off.

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


  1. I am a voratious reader, gifted with a towering intellect which is both a blessing and a curse. I know that ordinary language thinking is not "real" thinking, which comes in right brain holistic metaphors and images. But this is my mental center, with it's various parts, and I have learned to seperate them.

    I loved gymnastics in school and got top scores in that as being on the math team and the physics team.

    I practiced yoga, qigong, mr. gurdjieff's movements, and other experiences which have shown me deeply into my physical body.

    I started meditating and "sitting" shorty after i was born and sat zazen between the ages of 1 and 3, followed by pranayama and other exercises redolent of many different spiritual diciplines.

    I am a musician in outer life and understand my emotions, which built up in me when i was very little, both negative and positive. I have always kept to my conscience so that I could be of use someday and benefit someone other than my own self.

    i say all this because even with all this preparation and intentional suffering which i placed upon myself, it took mr. gurdjieff himself - not his books or words or even the transmission of his work through the Foundations, to awaken me and return me to life; whereas before, i was as a dying man. Only mr. Gurdjieff showed me to how to look up and ponder the sun, planets and moon, and my place in the vast scale of things.

    Only mr. gurdjieff taught me that i was as nothing, but a nothing that could become a something.

    mr. gurdjieff said once that "god helps me".

    i am privleged to say,

    mr. gurdjieff helps me - brought me back to LIFE; woke me UP as well as DOWN, gave me both god and the devil as friends and confidants.

    i say all this not to brag or as an inflation, but to say that it is the BEING of mr. Gurdjieff that still exists, awaiting to help us, independent of anything else.

    Most great books are one trick ponies, with lots of filler. Mr. Gurdjieff taught through his being as well as his words and actions.


    Let us be Men and Women who remain still inside, while the "world" turns, as in the dervish dance.

    I look forward to your exposition.


  2. I think a lot of students also forget that the lower centers are the path thru which the higher centers are accessible.

    All the structure, all the theory, and simple emotion, all the physical activity, is designed for one thing: balance, AND THEN access to higher centers with all that implies.

    Such higher centered contact may come in brief flashes, but that is fine, and probably all that can be expected.

    Personally, I consider G to be wholly an intellectual center enterprise: even movements are designed to disconnect a rational function and allow a non-rational*
    thought process. Jeanne Salzman I believe knew this: the zen practice was largely another way to be "quiet" enough to let the non-rational part of intellectual center express itself.


    * non-rational: ie: those intellectual processes that, for instance, Taoism used paradox and metaphor to access. Which I refer to as the "being" beyond the "thinking".

  3. In the last year, after seperating from the NY Gurdjieff Foundation after 15 years (I was deemed too unbalanced and argumentative and disrespectful of elders - all the qualities that Gurdjieff would himself applaud - "stepping on corns" and giving the elders some resistance to "work" with),"something" has happened to me!

    It is so deep the language cannot explain it nor clarify it to others, but my "knowledge" and "being" have coalesed into an "understanding" which is so much more than I hoped for in my own search that it can only be defined as "miraculous".

    I see the "work" in an entirely different way than ever. I see that it is ENTIRELY INVISIBLE. I see that it is concerned with the goverment of the entire cosmos - the "Solar System" and beyond, as well as down into the very depths of the cells and even further, down to the quanta.

    It is not just what Madame DeSalzmann so rightly pointed out; that the Earth needs a certain kind of energy and work done by a certain number of people or she will have failed in her own beingparkdolgduty, but that our "work" affects the WHOLE of creation.

    I SEE that we are machines for the ingestion of experience and impressions, and that the resultant "alchemy" produces certain "chemicals" which grease the cogs in the entire universe, at least in my own case as far as the solar system and some distance beyond it's confines.

    When I notice my response - ability I get such a clear view of a different "reality" that it is virtually unexplainable. Mr. Gurdjieff said to his fellow passenger on the train in 1915 that he (we) was in the "Solar Energy Business"

    This was way before solar energy became a topic of technicalogical interest. I now know he was talking of something else.

    When I "eat" (or "SEE") my suffering and impressions I produce a something which is needed. I am myself a chemical alchemical labratory, and a labratory must follow scientific principles of cleanliness and non comtamination, otherwise the products (results) are sullied.

    But those who understand -- a compound word meaning that which "stands under" knowledge and makes it a house built of stone rather than a shifting pile of "information" may somehow find these words, hidden in a comment on a dear friend's blog, like something hidden in a secret drawer, and know that they are not alone in their Gnosis.

    I also see that for myself, there has happened what Mr. gurdjieff advised Ouspensky must happen in the very beginning. The metal in the retort have been melted so that they are of one piece, and have become magnetized so that they act as a radio or some other gizmo, so that I am getting strong signals, from far, far away. I am sending back my love, what little I have of the real thing, and this strengthens the "telegraph" line, so that we get clearer and clearer communication between where we are, and where "they" are.

    Damn, the Earth may yet serve her purpose, through the efforts of those who Mr. Gurdjieff has touched, and though I am a nothing, I am a nothing which has become a big something, like a diode, or pickup for a guitar. The vibrations are strong, and the signal is clear.

    May the same be true for those who read these words. So mote it be, the blessings of the lord be upon you, and the sanctity of the archangels, God and all his servants, unto the devil himself.



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