Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't just think about it

Last night one of my best friends was over for dinner. He's an expert yoga teacher; like myself, a member of Dr. Welch's group, one who had days and years with the best of those who worked directly with Mr. Gurdjieff.

 Our discussion took on echoes of the previous post: the search for wholeness and meaning in life—which can only come through the education of our lower parts by the higher. And inevitably, we began to talk about how a higher energy informs us in this work.

Jeanne de Salzmann focused a great deal of her work on this receiving of higher energy. Now, this is a subject one does not encounter much in Gurdjieff's writings; not, in any event, overtly. Yet by the time the work was in her hands, it had evolved into a new stage in which different things were possible for those who worked, and it became much more necessary for those who followed this teaching to open.

My friend was with Dr. Welch in the last hours of his life, holding his hand. At one point, he leaned forward, and the doctor said to him, "it's all about being present.” These were some of the last words he spoke; he died within the day.

It's all about being present.

Present to what? And for what?

If we aren't present to ourselves, we can't be present to a higher energy. If we don't receive this higher influence, if we don't open ourselves to it, the education of the parts that are confused and entangled with this ordinary life is impossible. And the parts are not only firmly glued into ordinary life, they prefer to stay there, and whenever another influence arrives, the gravity and consequent tidal forces of centrifugal force inexorably pull a man away from the center, towards the periphery of his life, where it appears all the "real" activity is.

We are vessels into which the world flows; but it flows into us from two directions. It flows into us horizontally, in a quite literal sense; engage with life as it is, and you may begin to sense this organically, instead of just thinking about it. It flows into us vertically; engage with life as it might be, and you may begin to sense this organically, instead of just thinking about it. Either way, if you want to understand the quality of the inner and the quality of the outer, you can't just think about it.

Until and unless we open to receive something higher which can help us, we just think about it. There is a point at which we have to discard the philosophies.  Receiving a higher influence isn't about having a philosophy. Emotional education does not consist of deciding how one will behave. In the midst of higher influences, how one can behave or will behave has already been decided, because under a higher influence, behavior and attitude do not belong to us, even though we manifest them. And a man is only free to the extent that he manifests the higher.

I may part company with some of my fellow Gurdjieffians on this point. I'm surrounded by people who are sincere, deadly serious in their effort to be (some a little too deadly serious.) The majority of them seem to be interested in emphasizing I am—I wish to be. This self affirmation, self discovery, the understanding of the self: yes, all absolutely necessary. Yet in the end, if one begins to understand the whole nature of the work, instead of just focusing on self-remembering—the energy of the descending side of the octave, where it begins, one must see that the offering—the need to return to the source—must eventually become the essential action.

An assertive entanglement with personality does not learn to let go in the manner that is necessary for this second stage of inner work; yet it's easy to get stuck there, and the ego (which never really goes way, but quietly whispers, "I've gone away") subtly encourages every aspect of that attachment.

 The energy of consciousness, manifesting within the law of three and emanating from a divine source, offers two specific actions in the context of manifestation in the octave. Both are called “shocks.” The first manifestation, or conscious shock, as Gurdjieff called it, helps a man to be himself in a sincere and uncompromising manner. The second conscious shock helps a man to surrender what he is back to the divine.

The process of digesting one's whole life which I mentioned in the last post is an essential part of that process. I'm not sure that undertaking work on this directly would help anyone; one must come to it in one's innermost recesses and understand it before anything can be undertaken there.

One of the interesting points about the second conscious shock—the second manifestation of divine assistance in life— is that in this instance, help from above descends. That is to say, a force is sent downward that meets us and helps lift us up.

 When we say Lord have mercy, we are calling for that specific help—not to manifest ourselves for ourselves, but to offer our manifestation to the higher.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.


  1. Just looked up Dr Welch. He sounds amazing. I wonder who is leading the nyc foundation now. In Paris I suspect it is Dr Salzmann's son. A v family affair...Saw him once in 1997.
    Dr paul - of philosophy of course -wiseacring (such a big smile).
    I remember Dr Salzmann once saying to me that he made sure g was not responsible for his 'education'. Not an easy man - I believe I annoyed him for not being sufficiently reverential...perhaps not suitable material for him...

  2. Paul,
    Dr Salzmann died quite a time ago. The group that Mr and Mrs Welch founded continues as a "peer group" with a small steering committee but no recognized "leader". Mr. Frank Sinclair was the President of the NY Foundation when I left their folds, and as to Paris, I do not know how it is run. For what it's worth, that's my info. --Richard.
    PS I met with Dr Welch on several occasions and he was a very straightforward person. Mt contact there was his stepdaughter, the daughter of Mrs Welch, who I am told was the real driving force of the two. but by the time I came she was in middle stages of Alzheimers, and they both died somewhat after. Patty, my contact and their daughter took care of them in the last days and once was late for a meeting she had with me (They lived above her in an apt building they owned). She came down and apologized for being late and that was the first and last time I recognized the scent and aura of sanctity surrounding her, something I had only seen in Mme de Salzmann once before.
    I mentioned it to her and she was quite grateful, as she was pressed in a "Vice-grip" of responsibilities.
    A super effort which showed results that I could clearly see.

  3. Thanks for that

    Yes, Michel de Salzmann died in 2001.
    When I was last there in 97, his son Alexandre(!)appeared to be being formed as a group leader...


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