Saturday, June 28, 2014

A settled attitude

This morning, while speaking to my son, I mentioned to him that while it is impossible to change outer circumstances — I think I can, but this is my ego speaking — I can change my inner circumstances. That is, I can change my attitude.

My attitudes are fixed and settled, and above all my attitudes are habitual. They repeat themselves over and over again; and anyone who has carefully studied Mr. Gurdjieff's description of the infamous organ Kundabuffer— literally, the organ that prevents the vessel from receiving — will remember that its chief characteristic was that it caused people to derive a perverse satisfaction from doing the same thing over and over again.

This is exactly how my attitudes are. I enjoy them. They are a sweet food for my ego, a doughnut I keep munching on. It makes the ego fatter and fatter, but I could care less. It tastes good. All my attitudes taste good to me, and it isn't until I begin to question them that I begin to understand that I am completely enslaved by them.

The path towards understanding myself from within is to see that my attitudes are repetitive, that they come up again and again, obsessively, like tire tracks.  They have an attractive pattern to them, but in the end, they are just records of a heavy vehicle that has crushed everything in front of it on its way to nowhere.

I have to follow them quite carefully and tolerate their repetitive nature in order to see just how stupid they are. Yet still, while I'm doing this, I'm in love with them. I need to see that too.

While I was contemplating this question, I looked up the word attitude in The Reality of Being.  The concept is discussed a great deal; and always in this context of knowing myself, in seeing how I tilt in one direction or another, how my center of gravity is off kilter. Every one of my attitudes is attached to one thing or the other; and it's only when a finer energy is present in me that I am freed from them to one degree or another. I don't, as Jeanne de Salzmann points out more than once, do this or make it happen; I become open to it. And my tensions resist this opening.

The more I see myself, the more I see how fundamentally confused and conflicting my attitudes are. They are a jumble of ridiculous ideas, postures, judgments about others, not one of which is actually connected to the reality of who I am and where I am. If I am looking for the dream I live within, they comprise a good part of it — perhaps the greater part of it. And yet I must tolerate this; because that is who I am, and it is only in encountering this that I begin to admit my helplessness and the fundamental flaw embedded in my sinful nature: my own dreams of divinity and goodness pervert those things. I think I know them; but they only know themselves, and I am not of them. If I am very fortunate, if I receive an allocation of grace, then I can know something real; but on my own, no, that doesn't happen.

Yet the seeing and suffering of my attitude is exactly where an opening might take place, if only I am there for it.



  1. wot was that about Derrida and Heidegger!!! Anyway, u r obviously having fun.
    A couple of lines from the late Dr Michel de Salzmann (where did that 'de' come from?):
    'The word "teaching" should refer strictly to a direct relational experience that takes place in the presence of a teacher, in particular through oral transmission.'
    'Wholly apart from etymological and more abstract considerations, we should realize that esotericism is not at all to be found in ideas themseleves, whatever they may be, but in the capacity to understand them correspondingly...' (Footnote to the Gurdjieff Literature, Parabola, vo v. N3.).
    But of course for G, and lover and son, and many others, all this requires the development of 'higher bodies'... so I guess we should focus on that - developing the 'mesh' (Mme's term).... :)

  2. Btw, with great respect, it is clearly the case that 'outer' circumstances are changed by people (this is not just ego talking)...It's not for nothing that we live in the 'anthropocene'...Many of g's tales concern how changes were disatrous - and also how change might be possible - for instance abstaining from meat at lent.....Bennett is quite perceptive on this in his 'Talk's on Beelzebub's tales' (Coombe Springs Press, 19770. ....partic 'the reconciling force in history' ....'the principle which this story illustrates is of vital importance for any practical undertaking or reform...the essential distinction is between the unattainable ideal and the practical aim. The error lies in supposing the the practical objective can consist in the incomplete attainment of the ideal' (p.37).

    1. of course we should also remember that 'outer' includes our own bodies..... :)


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