Painting by Willaim Adie
All of our ordinary thinking, association, and reaction actually consists of making special plans. Because we're identified with the workings of the ordinary mind, we rarely see how calculating it is. This calculation, which is a strictly mechanical computational process, takes place perpetually, and very close to the actual events of each moment. The central processing unit that executes this activity is extraordinarily fast and capable, which is one of the reasons it escapes our notice; and the mechanical actions of this calculator determine our reactions to everything.
Gurdjieff called this mechanicality (at least, this is how he presented it to Ouspensky in the earlier days of his teachings) and yet it is oddly absent from his magnum opus, Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson. Clearly there's a disconnect here—which raises questions as to just how practical this conception of the process was in Gurdjieff's eyes as his teaching progressed.
In any event, it's certainly possible, from a technical point of view, to see this process in action, but one needs some years of practical self-observation in order to catch it in the moment, and even then something inside must change; a new relationship to the inner life needs to take place.
The issue is that an analytical approach to this seeing is in the end useless. Seeing otherwise becomes a reductive acton, an attempt to edit things down to what is perceived as desirable and undesirable; a common problem which just turns the new inner action into a derivative subset of the old ones. (This is what is called getting lost in the work.) No matter what the mind does, you see, it is positively addicted to making special plans. And special plans are what arise in us out of a desire to control outcomes. We're trapped in the classic self-referential triad of the the first three notes in the enneagram: encountering the material (objects, events, circumstances, and conditions) we desire power over it. And the mind, through its automatic computational evaluation of the situation, produces "results" intended to control outcomes. Outcomes are infinite; outcomes include our opinions, thoughts, actions, and even our inner state. We don't, you see, have any inner need to participate; we want to arbitrate.
This arises from desire; and as Gurdjieff told us, we must learn to allow non-desires to prevail over desires. This action relates to inner desire, not outer desires; and yet mankind perpetually confuses the two, mistaking the need to understand inner intention, which is the only intention that ultimately matters, with outer intention, which is only a reflection of the inner. Modern Yoga does not, for example, understand the difference, even though its outer intentions are for the most part laudable. Krishnamurti understood this difference, which is why he said Yoga is good for you (he practiced himself) but can't serve as an agent of inner transformation.
We're always making special plans; and this needs to be seen. It's inevitable; we should not try to interfere with it, but we do need to see it as it takes place. Ultimately, not this enters; and it forms a new relationship to special plans, which must be allowed to arise and execute themselves anyway.
I understand this will be confusing to some readers, but the points of observation are necessary. Ultimately, arguments, discussions and hypotheses about "who is seeing," "what is seen," "seeing itself," and so on must also be assigned the property of not this; because not this is a necessary action applying to all things.
In these matters, there is an awful lot of talking, little of it precise. Watch out for that. One must be far more precise; and prevarication, where one deliberately avoids a precise awareness within thought, is utterly commonplace.
If the emotive and intellectual parts of thought are working, a much better precision arises, and the subject of inner observation then doesn't change so easily. Seeing must be precise, not just automatic, or analytic, or emotive and reactive.
That is to say, it must become intentional: or, three-centered.
Note to readers: a new post at the microbial octave.