Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lost in the mind

The internet has spawned a miniature explosion of Gurdjieff Kings and miniBeelzebubs--people who post long, rambling rants of various kinds. I've come across no end of lunatic "authorities" explaining the work, what it is, where it's at, how u do it.

Call it Gurdjibabble, call it Ouspenspeak: whatever it is, I find it repugnant.

My goodness. That does sound ironic coming from someone who has spent over three years expounding on Gurdjieffian ideas on the web. Doesn't it? So let's examine the question.

We all get lost in the mind. That is to say, we inhabit the intellect in a very mechanical way: we allow it to lead us here, there, and everywhere, dreaming magnificent dreams, while we delude ourselves that we're "awake," that we have become conscious--and even (in the most pathetic cases) issue haughty proclamations to that effect.

Some have referred to this propensity as "falling asleep in the work,: that is, becoming hypnotized by the intellectual aspects of the work, failing to grasp at all what three-centered work actually consists of. It takes a particular kind of vigilance, of organic self observation, to understand how this takes place, and to see how readily the mind usurps work efforts.

An overall failure to understand the need for sensation, relaxation, and a deeper connection between the mind and the body lies at the root of this dreaming. And in the end, only an organic, living connection to sensation, in which sensation becomes an active force, can create the support needed to carry inner work forward into deeper levels.

Teachers, writers, and authorities who are not putting the questions raised by this inner practice first in their approach may be sincere--they may be knowledgeable--they may be adept--but they are not engaged in investigation at the foundation of this inner work, which is where all real work must take place. Collectively, in service to both our own aims and the greater aim of the work itself, we are building a foundation that will take many years--many lifetimes-- to complete. The foundation must be carefully attended to, because without a sound foundation, the structure we put on it will collapse.

And that foundation is built within the organism, not in texts, whether on line or on paper.

So, like alcoholics, drunk on and addicted to the fumes of our own minds, we need to adopt the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Hence, my personal aim in this blogging enterprise has been to offer short, relatively succinct observations on the work, in an accessible format. The essays have to be relatively focused and examine a particular question. Of course, each post is an essay--that is, an attempt-- and there is no presumption on my part that my aim has succeeded. Each one is a shot in the dark.

More often than not, perhaps, I miss the mark. We are all like that. As such, I claim no special authority or insight. All I have is my own not grand, but very small, insights, which are certainly not unique and all gain their perspective, as it were, by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Inevitably, a good deal of anything said about inner work is recycled: that is, it has already been said by someone else, somewhere else, and perhaps even better. This does not excuse us all from the responsibility of exchange; it does, however, put us in a position of having to be attentive and responsible to what we say. Our thinking--presuming we do any--needs to be concise and focused. We need to have a sensation of ourselves "in the marrow of our bones" as we speak or write--or even as we read. And above all, what we say ought to come (as best as possible) directly from our own work and experience, and be grounded in it. This is what gives our work a living quality. Without it, we are merely members of that very successful organization which I call the Gurdjieff Quotation Society.

Without at least an attempt at this kind of inner intimacy--at the very least an awareness that it is possible-- we're lost. Lost not in the work, but in our ideas about the work, and our endless intellectual attempts to "figure it out"-- all of which might be characterized as an elaborate trick we play on ourselves, and each other, as we wait for something real to happen.

If anything real does happen-- if we are touched by those higher forces we seek a connection with--we get a terrible shock, as we see how faulty our understanding generally is, and how very little is accomplished by all our sophisticated intellectual meanderings.

So we can attempt each day to take in a little bit about the ideas--not a lot--to be gentle and careful about it, and to remember above all to attend to the energy within the body. If we don't cultivate an inner intimacy, what I call the organic sense of Being, all the ideas we encounter are, in the end, utterly worthless.

The question immediately before us is far simpler, more profound, and more intimate, than all our cosmologies put together:

How can sensation become an active force?

May the living light of Christ discover us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.