Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Prayer and worship in the Gurdjieff Work


Perhaps the best commentary on the place of prayer in the Gurdjieff work is the chapter on prayer in Michel Conge's exceptional book, Inner Octaves. This fine piece of work is, unfortunately, unavailable to the general public–a situation intentionally created by those who control the publishing rights, but, in my view, profoundly mistaken, since it only encourages the illegal distribution of the book–which is absolutely inevitable in the day and age of the Internet. Anyway, if you can get your hands on a copy of this book–legally, of course–do so.

During the last month or so, I have been pondering the question of the Enneagram and centers of gravity. Today, in a parallel but related line of inquiry, some insights arrived regarding the nature of the two principal prayers used in the Gurdjieff system. The below excerpt is from a brief new essay on the subject, entitled Chakras and the Enneagram: Centers of Gravity and Conscious Shocks, available to read on line, or for download in .docx format at www.doremishock.com.

The below commentary occurs in the context of the essay's wider field of investigation, which I daresay will be of interest to Gurdjieffians, if perhaps not the general public.

The two prayers

There are only two principal prayers found in the Gurdjieff work. This may seem odd in what is so clearly a religious practice, despite protestations to the contrary. We needn’t feel this is so unusual, however; the early Hesychasts and the writers of the Philokalia managed to reduce their practice to a single prayer, the “Lord have Mercy” prayer alone, which was deemed fully sufficient to achieve salvation.

One could argue that point; however, what is certain is that Gurdjieff reduced the essential prayers in his system to the only two he considered as absolutely necessary, according to the science of the Enneagram. I say this because each prayer is, as it happens, specifically related to one side of the diagram, and directly related to what Gurdjieff called a conscious shock.

I am–I wish to be

This prayer is the Abrahamic prayer, that is, the Old Testament prayer for being that founded the work leading to Christianity. It derives from the statement that the Lord made to Moses when he encountered the Lord in the form of a burning bush: “I am that I am.”

This prayer is specifically related to the first conscious shock, which is a work of essential affirmation and conscious labor. This particular work relates to the energy on the right side of the body–an energy which, esoterically speaking, is directly related to the work of the individual and their own personal effort. This work might be contextualized as an effort to show oneself as worthy through preparation, although there are many other dimensions to it.

Lord have Mercy

This prayer is the Christian prayer, i.e., the New Testament prayer that represents the covenant of love brought by Christ. It is furthermore the Prayer of the Heart, as practiced by the Early Church Fathers of the Philokalia. It belongs to the second conscious shock, and the left side of the Enneagram. This work relates to the energy on the left side of the body, which is sent from above as help. The prayer itself represents a call for help, and is in fact an abstract of the core of the practice of both Christianity and Islam--that is, submission.

Both prayers are absolutely necessary in order to achieve harmonious development, and furthermore stand in technical accordance with the principles expounded in the science of octaves.

Because each one is specifically associated with a conscious shock, we see that worship, in both the old and New Testament form, is actually an essential--perhaps the most essential-- component of the Gurdjieff system. It is just worship in what one might call an unfamiliar context.

This makes perfect sense, because if we wish to discover a truly effective worship, certainly, it won't be one we're familiar with.

May our prayers be heard.


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