Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three centered being

Maybe the strictest measure of our partiality is our conviction that we can measure the world with words alone.

This conviction runs so deep–even in what I am saying right now, and how you are reading it–that it is unrecognizable to us. It is so much a part of what we are that it forms us. We are very nearly unable to conceive of anything without filtering it through this means of measurement.

The whole point, of course, of "three centered being," as Mr. Gurdjieff put it, is to measure the world not just with words, but within the direct and immediate organic context of emotional language and physical language–that is, the tangible sensory experience of feeling and sensation, both of which were always meant to participate equally in our encounter with, and interpretation of, reality. The fact that these two senses have been completely blunted- "Stumpfsinn, Blödsinn,"as he says in Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson–escapes us. We are supremely unaware of what it might even feel like to have them become active parts of our being.

Yet this is exactly what needs to take place. Measurement of the world must begin to expand to include all three parts.

One of the ways this was expounded on in Views From the Real World was by saying that we must "learn the language of the horse." I recall reading this many years ago–there is so much Gurdjieff material out there, it seems the majority of it always ends up having been read years ago–and yet I had forgotten it. It was brought up again recently, and when I heard it it puzzled me.

Why, I thought to myself, would I need to learn the language of the horse? I am, after all, both the horse, and the driver, and the carriage. I am all three of these things. They are not separated from me–each one of them is a part of my being. That's the whole point of the parable.

So I "have" no horse. I am the horse... I already know the language of the horse. That is, it is also my language–feeling is my language.

And, although I have forgotten it, the language of sensation is also my language.

I do not so much need to learn these languages as remember them. This, in fact, is part of what self remembering consists of: remembering that these other languages are also my languages. All of them share in the creation of my Being.

This adds a new dimension to the idea of listening. We speak of this action frequently when we refer to how to conduct an inner work. But what is listening? Perhaps what I am listening for is these other languages, which I have forgotten, but might be able to hear–and even understand–the capacity, after all, is innate.

Is it possible for me to issue an inner invitation?

Perhaps I can become the language of the horse–fluently speak and hear the language of the horse. I can become the language of the carriage–fluidly speak and hear the language of the carriage.

Because, however, we rely on this one centered vehicle of words to measure the world, we create divisions–a perception that there is a separateness. Instead of actively and organically perceiving that we are horse, carriage, driver all at once, we decide–using words, ideas, constructions, formulations– that we are a driver who "has" a horse and carriage.

Perhaps we forget that we are also the carriage and we are also the horse simply because it makes us more important if we are the driver. In assuming this position of command, which is fractional, and actually powerless to fulfill its correct function without the participation of the other two parts, we fail to actively inhabit the unity, which is both necessary and possible.

It's often said that someone who drives well, or rides a horse well, becomes one with the vehicle. The experience becomes whole. There is no separation between the driver, the horse, and the carriage. They are a single entity. No one part assumes supremacy. Each has equal value; each has a job to do.

Impartiality consists of this singleness of experience, which expresses a specific organic presence that cannot be defined using words. The surest sign of any understanding of this is an experience that can definitely be recognized as impossible to reproduce accurately with one part–that is, words coming from the mind.

My wife and I were joking around last week, and we decided that if there were self-help magazines for Gurdjieffians, they would have articles such as

How to experience three centered Being using only two centers!

And so on. The idea is funny, but that's how we practice. We use the mind–a single center–to gnaw away at what three centered being "means," not understanding that such an approach is useless and impossible.

I come again, as I do over and over again, to how important it is to invest in, to attain, an organic sense of Being. A sense of Being that has roots which grow into the body, deep into the body.

This is not a hypothetical question. It cannot be treated as a hypothetical question.

It must be conducted as an active search.

I'd like to wrap up this post with two brief announcements The first is a new website which features my photographs and local natural history observations. The opening installment features some rather exciting pictures of a juvenile great horned owl we encountered last weekend. Check it out. You'll like them.

I am also going to publish some of my own poetry at this site from time to time. In this particular instance, all the poems on the site will be drawn from a single series, for reasons that will become evident upon a visit.

The Hudson River Diaries is the name of the new site. Enjoy.

On a final note, I am publicly announcing (since the magazine itself has already done so) that I am now acting as the poetry editor for Parabola Magazine.

We are engaged in an active effort to expand the role of poetry at Parabola. Submission guidelines can be found at the website (there is a link to it in places of interest on the right.)

Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff Blog readers are urged to pick up a subscription to the magazine–it needs community support in these trying times!–and submit poetry according to the guidelines, if you are a writer.

May our prayers be heard.

1 comment:

  1. Could not agree with you more that the mind is not a very good instrument when approaching real things, for example, the Gurdjieff Work. It seems hopelessly inadequate when trying to touch three-centered Being, but why is this so? The late James Wyckoff suggested that we were driven up into our heads as little children and don't even realize it. And we therefore keep trying to understand the world with our mental brain with so little ultimate success.

    One of my most startling discoveries working as a pupil of the Work was that I actually had a body underneath my head. As a graduate engineer, I thought that the world was only what I thought. But during a sitting at the G. Foundation on Springfield Ave. in Chicago in the 70s, it became clear that my thoughts were only part of my Being, my Presence. When I began taking Movements shortly thereafter, it was clear that the mind and the body were hardly reconciled in any real way. What a shock that was!!

    But now decades later, it is also clear that certain exercises within the teaching, in addition to the Movements, and All and Everything, and the particularly mysterious and profound Gurdjieff/de Hartmann piano music are expremely practical, i.e. helpful in allowing one to actually live the teaching on a moment to moment basis.

    Thanks for this reminder.

    Don Olson

    May 1, 2011, 7:30 pm, EDT


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