Monday, October 1, 2012

Why people can't think

 The three principal centers,  which create the three “minds” that deal with ordinary life—moving,  intellectual, and emotional—each have three parts of their own. Those parts are also, in turn, a moving part,  an intellectual part, and an emotional part. This much was established by Gurdjieff in his talks  with Ouspensky as recounted in In Search of the Miraculous.

 A good deal was said in the book about wrong work of sex center, which for some reason (I wonder why?) fascinates people. But wrong work of centers in general is a serious subject, because it takes place every day, all day long, and it's not just about sex center or the fanaticism that produces when it's not properly satisfied and regulated.

 The principal failure in mankind to correctly perceive, understand, and react to his surroundings comes from a wrong use of centers that stems from the use of emotional center to do one's thinking. This is routine. Emotional center is faster than any of the other centers, and it gets out in front of the thinking center in reacting to almost any situation in life. Furthermore, it's the moving part of emotional center—the part that has all of the impetus, that provides the movement—that gets out in front of everything else. When it reacts, its action takes the place of thinking, because it is more powerful, it gets there first, and it always seems to be right. This is one of the advantages emotional center has over the other centers: regardless of the part it's using, it imparts color, influence, to every situation, a deep and even organic feeling which creates an intuition that what is being perceived is correct.

Ibn al 'Arabi may have been thinking of this when he pointed out that God appears to be different to every man because light inevitably acquires color according to the vessel that perceives it. In any event, once this part gets involved, untangling it becomes an overwhelming difficulty, and most people prefer to subordinate the other parts of the centers that ought to be regulating it—in particular, the intellect—to it, because there's a great satisfaction in being right.

Gurdjieff rightly pointed out that the intellectual center's role is basically to be a policeman. But a policeman of what? Primarily, this tendency of emotional center to usurp the place of intellect. We see this problem at work above all in modern politics—and make no mistake about it, few if any human beings are exempt from this kind of reactive action when it comes to politics. Remember, this isn't just the politics of government; it's the politics of families, lovers, children, pets, and jobs. Wrong thinking—thinking with emotional center—regulates most of this, and anyone who observes themselves with any acuity will quickly realize this is a significant problem.

The emotional center has two other parts that could participate here, and either one of them would provide a more helpful response. The intellectual part of emotional center might be smart enough to have a feeling intelligence about the situation that triumphed over immediate reaction; and the emotional part of emotional center would feel, above all, a sense of conscience toward it, since this is the part of the three lower centers that has the highest rate of vibration relative to all. (Rates of vibration in all the centers, are, by the way, ranked in a hierarchy, and centers are themselves functionally subject to the law of octaves.)

 Why does it work this way? It's probably a consequence of biology. Because of the need to process information that comes in in the fastest possible way to provide an appropriate response, the organism  generally employs the very fastest part it has to provide the first practical response—and in human beings, that's the moving part of emotional center. The emotional part of emotional center—of necessity, the specific part whose rate of vibration is the closest to our higher centers, approaching the rate of vibration of the intellectual (lowest) part of higher emotional center—has too high a purpose for external response of this kind.

 Moving Center is only useful in a general sense in the processing of incoming information, because it doesn't think or react. It just moves. This means that understanding how to think involves somehow bringing the intellectual center directly into relationship with this generally reflexive part of emotional center. Unfortunately, the rate of vibration of intellectual center is just too low for that—and consequently, it needs the support of moving Center to bring enough force to that action. This is why the mind/body connection is so important. Without it, there is no real counterweight to emotional reaction.

The inevitable consequence is that almost all of the reactions people have, which they presume are coming from what they call “thinking,” are actually coming from a completely different part. People don't think. They can't think, because the connections in them that could make this possible aren't rightly formed. Thinking involves stepping back from a situation intentionally, with the participation of the body, and going against the moving part of emotion, which comes at life with so much force.

In the chart of the hierarchy of centers, I've included some tentative indications about what human character or action applies to what part of the center, because there is a general logic to this. Readers can think it over if they wish. The point is that we can tell a great deal about how we will be in the situation, and how a man or woman is overall, by understanding what part of which center dominates both in their overall makeup, and in individual reactions within varying circumstances.

 This leads us to Gurdjieff's superficially inexplicable remark in Beelzebub that there are twenty-seven types of man. This premise actually isn't all that difficult to explain, in the end, so I'll do it here.

Logically enough for each type—moving, emotional, or intellectual man—one particular part of one center will dominate his external actions, and probably even be the locus around which his chief feature turns. For example, a man dominated by intellectual center might express his being primarily through the intellectual part of intellectual center. Oddly enough, this would produce a man who was pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of speed, able to collect lots of facts, but not do much of anything actually intelligent with them.  Perhaps you know folk like this. Each man or woman number 1, 2, or 3 thus has nine potential iterations, based on the nine parts, or loci, of his three centers, and it will thus be quite possible to predict exactly how he or she is going to do things most of the time based on this understanding. A rough outline of how this structure works is at the link.

So the science described in the quote is a real one, and one not so inaccessible if we want to study it in more detail.

 To be sure, given the way that centers work together, some of these 27 iterations are bound to rare. But each one of them can be useful under the right circumstances. The phenomenon of idiot savants, which I mentioned in an earlier post, and still mystifies psychology, can be easily explained if we understand that one part of a particular center is precocious and powerful, while the other parts are weak and even disabled.

 In any event, the examination of why people can't think has led us into some fairly interesting territory here.

 The overall point is that what most human beings do isn't thinking in the least. Thinking involves a complicated and specific set of interactions between all of the centers, and the mind has to play a very active part in it. The vast majority of problems facing human society today come because human beings cannot and do not think. They emote.

People who actually think are seen as threatening, and, more often than not, murdered, simply because real thinking inevitably leads one to what Gurdjieff referred to as "The Terror of the Situation:" conclusions that do not favor the status quo of our ordinary behavior.

Just ask Socrates about that one.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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