Saturday, March 3, 2012

Being of Two Minds

We sometimes say we're of two minds on a subject, without quite understanding just how true this is, or how much it applies to the question of how we are and what we think.

Roughly speaking, a man actually has three minds—in more than one sense.

 First, we can understand this by referring to Gurdjieff's commentary in the last chapter of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, found on pages 1090 to 1093.  In it, he explains that the body, the intellect, and the emotions are all separate and individual minds in man, which must blend together into a whole in order for a real “mind” to emerge in a human being. This is the basic theoretical premise of a great deal of Gurdjieff's system.

 Second, we can understand it from a more holistic and tactile point of view, in the manner that Jeanne de Salzmann presented it: there is an inner mind, an outer mind, and a third mind—intentional (as opposed to voluntary) consciousness, which forms a bridge between the two. This third mind is the part that sees. Her emphasis on this act of seeing is an attempt to bridge the chasm between the two minds, one of which—the outer mind, the mind of personality—completely dominates most of a man's life.

 This isn't to say that the inner mind, the mind of essence, can't dominate a man's life. That intimate mind, which is connected to a higher principle, can become tremendously alluring if it is sensed, and invite a man to sink into a lifetime of contemplation and meditation which, although entirely rewarding, fails to make the connection with the outer part which is so vitally necessary in order to accomplish the work that mankind was put on the planet for.

So we have an exoteric mind—which is referred to as personality in Gurdjieff's original system—and an esoteric mind, which he refers to as essence.These are indeed exactly the same parts of ourselves—the same minds— that de Salzmann refers to when she asks us to bring the inner and the outer together. The difficulty consists in the fact that the outer mind, personality, is the mind that sees, interprets, and dominates everything. It is an interfering factor, since it takes over the entire functioning of mind, which ought to be a tripartite arrangement.

When Gurdjieff spoke about creating an inner center of gravity, a permanent center of gravity, in one's being—a subject that de Salzmann also spoke about at length—he is referring to a center of gravity located in, and weighted by, essence. The mind of essence is an entirely different mind than the mind of personality; the sensation of the two is distinct and unmistakable, and one cannot confuse one for the other. It is, in other words, possible to know exactly where one is in this work if one learns to sense the distinction. Before that, everything is hearsay, hypothesis, and theory.

Presuming we understand what the mind of essence consists of, and how we sense it with the whole of our presence, the question remains as to how we bring that into relationship with the mind of personality. It's quite difficult, really; only the influence of higher material can assist in that, because the balancing act that is required on the part of a man is much too delicate and dynamic for him to manage on his own. The best that he can do is see that he is divided, that there are two minds in him and that both are active, and to attempt to sense both of them at the same time as often as possible, through the action of seeing how he stands between these two qualities of his manifestation... and what, as de Salzmann used to say, he lacks.

 The standard understanding of what to be of two minds means—to be confused, to discover oneself within a dialectic of contradictions—is a dead end. All of this is just manifestations of personality, which is fundamentally polarized, partial, and lacks the balance required—which can only come from both the action of essence and the presence of intentional awareness, both brought into relationship with it.

The question of what intentional awareness means in this instance is also a difficult one, since it does not mean what we think it means. The thinking part that is thinking what it means is already part of personality, and personality assumes it knows what attention and intention are, when in fact, it has little or no idea. Attention and intention are already qualities influenced by a higher level of vibration; even with these two qualities, we must come to them in ourselves with a question of what they are, rather than an explanation of what they are. They can't, you see, be invoked or explained—even though our personality insists that this is exactly what has to be done.

If the influence of essence begins to penetrate, and we become intimate enough with it to understand that it is calling us to a new relationship, intention and attention can arrive to assist us.

But not on our terms.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.


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