Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rejection and lying

Boar
From a 3rd-4th century Roman Mosaic originally found in Turkey
at Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington, DC

 In pages 126 through 130 of In Search of the Miraculous, Gurdjieff explains the principles of development in octaves at some length, and discusses the way that notes get deflected.

All of this material is rather complex, and I'm not at all sure we need to understand the technical implications of it. What is needed is to understand how we reject the life, and how we lie, and these two things can be understood quite directly, in action — at which point the implications of Ouspensky's material become clear.

We reject life. Life arrives as it is, without any attitudes. It just is what it is. But we have an octave of attitude in us, that is, there can be an ascending, affirming element in us, or there can be destructive and untruthful forces that don't want to meet life as it is and tear things down, inside and outside.  Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that you are somehow special, and don't have this in you. You do.

Many systems call the destructive or untruthful forces ego; and this is essentially correct, because selfishness — the "false personality" which Gurdjieff said ruins man's inner life, and thus his outer one — uses attitudes to serve ego. Ego doesn't wish good for others or wish for right things; it wishes only for itself. All is well and good when its own wishes coincide with the good or the right; but the moment they don't, the good and the right go out the window, which is why human affairs look the way they do from day to day.

This rejection always begins in the instant when life enters, at the point where impressions enter the body.  When Gurdjieff explained that that moment was critical for developing what he called higher hydrogens, what he meant was that placing the attention at the point where impressions enter the body is what makes it possible for the octave of the good to develop. Higher hydrogens aren't just some magical chemical substance for inner power; they have a purpose, and that purpose is to help us serve God and the good.

 These impressions can be inner ones (which we are generally asleep to, that is, insensitive to or ignorant of) or outer impressions — it doesn't matter. What needs to be seen is that there is a turning away at that instant when they arrive, a will to make things bad. That is, our attitude instantly turns what we encounter into something that ought to be deflected, ignored, or devalued, because it doesn't suit ego and our image of ourselves. One of the principal reasons for this deflection is that human beings always think they are more important than everyone else around them, in point of fact, that they are important in the first place, when nothing could be further from the truth. We are, as Peggy Flinsch once said to us, tiny little creatures. Yet we think we are huge.

In any event, it's this instance of lying that takes place constantly when we are confronted with Truth—that is, things as they actually are— that ruins us. All of us have crystallized insanities inside of us, hard, cold places that Truth bounces right off of the instant it touches it, and we deploy them at the front of our being in order to keep reality from coming in. If we aren't present to our lives and we don't see these attitudes and how we reject,  no inner work can possibly take place.

 The tendency is for human beings to be snotty, cruel, nasty, rejectional, selfish, and contemptuous of others. The ego wants to tell us that we know more than everyone else. Interactions between people are dominated by this kind of attitude, which may express itself outwardly, but is always an exact reflection of the inner conditions. And we can never know our inner conditions unless we fully understand that our outward manifestation shows quite clearly what they are.

One doesn't need technical diagrams or esoteric explanations of octaves and chemical factories to understand this. Putting it in a technical framework may be helpful — since in modern times we (like Ouspensky) prefer to favor things that appear to be scientific, it may satisfy us to understand it from that perspective — yet it doesn't matter in the least. 

We just need to show up in the instant one we are alive and let life come into us honestly.

Coming back to the beginning of this piece, the point is that that moment of deflection of the octave is the moment of lying. The instant that the negative attitude, the lie, arrives, it prevents any shock from helping the octave to continue in a harmonious direction of development. So when we say we want to see, in a certain sense, what we want to see is the lie,  the moment of rejection, how automatic and mechanical it is in us, and how it tries to get there first in front of everything else to determine the direction things take.  This idea of "who gets there first" is perhaps the most essential point of Gurdjieff's parable about the Karapet of Tiflis. See the link for both the story, and my own commentary on what Margaret Flinsch told us about it a few years before she died.

My full notes on the meeting with Peggy will be published at this site in a few days.

This lying goes on constantly in people, so much so that they can live the vast majority of their outer manifestations in life completely identified with and engaged in this kind of activity, and never once suspect that everything they do is lying.

It's a shame we are like this. One of the principal reasons for it is that we don't use the intelligence to think; we deploy emotions in the place of thinking constantly, and erroneously believe that it is thinking. This destructive habit—the failure to understand properly through the thought process—is grinding man down. 

The difference between developing a truly sacred intensity of feeling and trying to run life through the "feelies",  that is, our habitual, mechanical, and automatic  emotional reactions —which are nothing more than various forms of emotional masturbation — is a vast one.

 In any event, we need to see this moment when we lie, and I will explore that a little more the next post.

May your soul be filled with light.

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