Saturday, April 13, 2013
Ibn Arabi called these actions the actions of the "evil-commanding ego;" Swedenborg ascribed many if not all of them to the action of spirits, most of them from hell, who have a decidedly malevolent impact on mankind. Arabi, of markedly like mind on the subject, called these spirits Djinn; reaching into even more eastern traditions, the Buddhist doctrine of hungry ghosts lends the idea further credence.
The link to the article shows that there are some odd and weirdly provocative modern evidences supporting this widely held belief.
My own teacher Betty Brown called these things influences; and she certainly taught me that people fall under them— very frequently, under bad ones. The explanation offered by van Dusen (again, read the link) offers potentially legitimate, if hardly mainstream, explanations for actions such as the Sandy Hook massacre. But regardless, I think we can all see the action of aberrant thoughts and provocative, yet extremely negative, material in us.
It is there.
Some readers will probably argue that it is a copout to ascribe these to an outside agency; and indeed, Gurdjieff never would have put up with such an idea. His emphasis, after all, was on personal responsibility — a very strong emphasis. If one wanted to argue that his ideas have anything to do with Swedenborg or the Islamic philosopher's ideas about spirits, what they have to do with them is that one must resist by taking responsibility for one's self. To the extent that one is unconscious or identified, one simply invites bad influences to move in and take over. The old Protestant adage about this, "idle hands are the devil's playthings," might as well apply to an idle attention as much as anything else.
So I need to stop and see myself in the middle of life as these actions take place. There needs to be a constant action of intelligence — and in this case, the intellect, if well formed, will already do the job — that stops the rest of the Being before it identifies with these impulses. One must, in other words, constantly see these influences, and resist them by saying no, without judging them or mistaking them for a part of oneself, which would induce guilt or fear, or both.
My thoughts on this are not fully formed; I'm still absorbing the implications. But I thought readers might enjoy van Dusen's essay, which raises some significant questions about just how much we know about the psyche.
Van Dusen's book "The Natural Depth in Man," by the way, is an excellent read. Try it out; you may come away from the very first chapter with a new impression of what we are, and just how very, very much we don't know about ourselves.
May your soul be filled with light.