Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movement, the inner, and the outer

Today we have occasion once again to return to the passage I recently cited from Swedenborg, in which he relates the arising of inner phenomena to the outer expression of them through movement.

A good friend of mine recently indicated that she thought Swedenborg hadn't really said anything new, but only spoke of truths that are well known. This idea is profoundly unfortunate; Swedenborg was, for his time, at least as original and unusual as Carl Jung, who he influenced, and displayed subtleties of understanding that can only be properly appreciated after reading and pondering many hundreds of pages of his work — an exercise few people undertake. Almost everyone I know prefers to read short passages from major works, rather than sitting down and reading the entire work. It is a function of the terrifically short attention spans currently developing in humanity, which will not serve us well over the long run.

In the (now, ironically) brief passage at the link, one notes the clear connection that Swedenborg drew between the nature of outer movement and the inner forces that create it. Gurdjieff created the vehicle of his movements in order to study this question as exactly as possible; and the outer form of the movements was, above all, constructed to reflect inner truths, as well as serve as an active expression of their implementation in the transition from inner Being to outward motion.

We should not presume that Swedenborg, because of his interest in physiology, failed to understand the spiritual implications of these actions; far from it, the passage in question is directly related to Gurdjieff's studies, and in fact serves as a foundation for them. We cannot understand the movements without understanding that they arise from the same inner forces examined in Swedenborg's investigations: that is to say, every outward expression is formed initially by an inner energy that springs from a Divine force.

Some four or five years ago, one of the most prominent movements teachers from the Paris foundation paid a rare (and perhaps final) visit to New York. During her class, she repeatedly emphasized the need for the connection to the energy — everything, absolutely everything, was undertaken in relationship to an inner energy, and there was relatively little discussion of exactly how the outward form ought to be arranged or engaged in. It is not that the outward form was ignored; quite the contrary. But it was to be understood from the beginning and repeatedly driven home that the outward form was not the point. The inward form was the point; the connection to the energy.

This is not just true in movements; it is true in life itself. Swedenborg was not speaking of dance forms when he wrote what he wrote; but he well understood that when we see movement in life, we mistake it as an end in itself, rather than seeing movement as an action that arises from a divine source of life and energy that motivates everything, puts everything into motion, and ultimately governs its behavior.

The study of inner Being is a study of this energy; not of the forms that arise from it,  which are secondary, but tend to easily usurp our attention.



  1. almost sad, the final visit, about a system that has no future...there will never be a new movement. And is it really necessary that we read the 'entire work', I'm sure Krishnamurti for one would have laughed at this idea - but why should I refer to the usual suspects - perhaps because they have some weight....My intuition is that the foundation is corrupt and a deadening influence - I feel sad for those few who are siging up with their monthly contribution

    1. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with you, but have you ever been involved with the foundation at all, or are you relying solely on "intuition"?

    2. Of course Lee is right sometimes we should read the whole work - but not always - and comments on 'humanity' are always a little difficult. Obviously G. made many of them :) I was in a group led by Pauline de Dampierre in Paris in the 1980's and subsequently for a brief period in a group in Sydney, Australia. Jim Wykoff used to visit this group. I attempted/did the movements, nearly always led by Pauline. Madame de Salzmann was around at that time as was her son Michel. In some ways it is an aristocratic family business. I would have benefited from Lee's blog at that time! It starts to become quite a commitment (like any church) after a while. With a movements class one day, a group meeting another, Sunday work days, Sat morn sittings (voluntary). Occasionally early morning sittings (7.30) at Pauline's apart in Neuilly....and perhaps accompanying her on a morning walk in the park. There where good moments

    3. and of course that's just my view....

    4. Thank you for sharing that, Paul. Being relatively new to the Work I get discouraged by these kinds of comments. Joseph Azize from Australia often writes comments like this; that the Work is missing the mark of Gurdjieff's aims and is in need of something new.

      All one can do is approach it with sincerity and effort, and a deep inner receptivity and listening.

      I would very much like to hear Mr. Van Laer's view on this.

      Blessings and Peace to you my friend.

      Br. Corey

    5. you're absolutely right. and there a good, well-intentioned people involved in groups all over the world. some merely emulate the form. some don't even do the movements (for lack of teachers etc., as in New Zealand). Peter Brook once wrote to me 'trust and question in equal measure, and beware of theories.' It is good advice. Btw, if you are interested in 'vedanta' did you ever come across Agehananda Bharati's autobio 'The ochre robe?".

    6. and I regret the discouragement. One simply has to be discerning. Some groups are obviously better than others - and have more, or less contact with Paris (or NYC). remember that when G returned to America he thought the groups that had been set up where producing 'candidates for a mental asylum' :) It does come back to a healthy use of intuition....we live in challenging times!!!

    7. Thank you, Paul. That book sounds interesting.

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