Thursday, March 12, 2009

What is the aim?

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Yesterday, a close friend of mine in the work -- a woman who has in many ways become my teacher -- copied me on what was, in some ways, a routine piece of e-mail.

In other ways, it wasn't routine at all. It was a magnificent reminder of what the work is aimed at, how we work, and why we work. I'm not at liberty to publish her words, but I will speak my own along the same lines.

Over the past day, in examining this question of why we work, I have reviewed Frank Sinclair's comments in "Without Benefit Of Clergy," as well as comments about what both Jeanne De Salzmann and her son Michel guided the work towards during their own lives.

An unfortunate fact, I have discovered during online exchanges with people who consider themselves experts of one kind or another on the work, is that the understanding of the work is poor. At least, one would have to conclude that from the tone and level of the exchange I encounter. The work has nothing to do with arguing about ideas. If you think that's what the work is about, by all means, go ahead and do it, but this is not how I wish to work. I am, as it happens, an extremely argumentative type, and I do it myself, but that is not working.

The aim is not to have parlor room discussions about the ideas.
The aim is not to show up for meetings like a good little doobie.
The aim is not to adhere to a doctrine, or adopt a belief.

The aim of the work is to open ourselves to a higher influence.

This is not done with the mind. Not the mind as we understand it, that is, this part of ourselves called the intellect which we spend so much time nurturing. It must be done with a different part of ourselves, a mind that is much more whole, and composed of three parts.

It absolutely isn't possible to convey the type of work that is necessary in order to understand this in writing. The only way I know of to convey it is through 20 or 30 years of struggle in groups, with older people who know what they are doing, and even then, it may well not be successful. A man has to learn to take responsibility for himself in a new way in order for anything new to be born in him, and everyone -- myself included -- doggedly clings to all the old ways, the irresponsible ways, in every way possible, simply to avoid taking responsibility.

I've noticed that there is a judgmental sternness afoot in many self-appointed branches of the work. People want to adopt a severity, an extremism; they want a purity and an austerity, an adherence to rigid principles, the ability to disagree and condemn. Above all, everyone wants their opinions to remain sacrosanct.

In the midst of this, this blatant clinging to the ego, everyone loudly professes that they are being objective. The more complicated everything is, and the more right they are, the more they think they are working.

I know this game. I have certainly been a part of it for almost all of my life. But I grow increasingly weary of it. The work is not to argue and oppose; the effort must become an effort of offering and sharing. It must be an effort not to break down, but to support.

Do I see that my outwardly oppositional manifestation is actually a reflection of my inner state? I had better start doing so, because my manifestation in the outer world is nothing more than an exact reflection of my own inner disorder.

While we are at it, reminding ourselves of the need for this organically compassionate effort, let us also diligently remind ourselves that there are many ways to open ourselves to a higher influence. The Gurdjieff work doesn't have a monopoly on the effort, or the means.

As I have said so many hundreds of times, the work must become organic.

If I do not understand this, I must make it my aim. Until I understand what this means -- understand it not with the mind of my intellect, but with the mind of my body -- nothing real can happen. Even when I do understand this, the understanding is not permanent. I must understand it, understand it again, and then re-understand it ten thousand times in all ten directions before anything real begins to live within me. And even after I have well understood this with two of my parts, I must repeatedly stand in front of my lack, and call for the help -- the third force -- that can knit my being together.

Dispense with words. Turn the attention towards the organism.
Discover what it means to have a real connection with the body.
Discover what it means when the call to work comes from somewhere other than the intelligence of the intellect.
Discover what it means to have a living attention in more than one part.

This is the place where the beginning of an understanding of Love is born, and that is the aim of the work: to understand what real Love is. Anyone who thinks the work has a different aim has failed to understand even the first thing about why we work.

What is real Love? It is not even close to the emotions and words we use to describe love, in ordinary terms.

Love is the fabric the universe is constructed out of; it is the material of existence, the Web of creation, and the dialogue between man and God. It is transcendental, ineffable, indescribable, sublime, and perfect.

It is a force, an energy that calls us to our knees in prayer, whether we want to kneel and pray or not.

Let those who have ears, hear.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.


  1. Thank you. This was in many ways just the text I needed to read right now. Thank you.
    a young person from Finland

  2. Yes! yes! yes! thank you Friend for the reminder of what a "real aim" is... Your post brought me to my knees in deep gratitude ...e*

  3. Very well put. We "work" people often forget that this is not a competition and that we are all basically in the same position of helplessness. We all must work to become more understanding of each other.... this is difficult, and I feel one of the primary teachings of G and all traditions...

    A from O

  4. Thanks, Lee.

    I suppose it is a matter of bringing more of ourselves to the meetings (or the discussion boards on the Internet) when we are speaking (or writing). How can we be more open and less guarded or rigid? How can we feel that we don't really know anything about ourselves or about this world? And can we carry that to our daily life in the midst of hustle and bustle?


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