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 doremishock.com 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.