Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Organizational skills, part II

 So, in a world where we all crave order in one way or another – well, at least most of us do – what is the difference between conscious and unconscious efforts at organization?

Of course, the glib answer would be that conscious efforts involve three centers. But I think we want to get down into the granular nature of the question, rather than deal in gross platitudes.

The word organization comes from the Greek organon, meaning, among other things, a tool or instrument, or a sense organ. To organize is to systemize various things in such a way that they become tools. So organization by default implies usefulness: that is, that which is disorganized has less use than that which is organized. We could extend the analogy a bit more and point out that organization has a direct conceptual connection to the organs in the body, their order, and their usefulness and interaction, which creates Being.  Readers interested in taking this further should definitely refer to Swedenborg's work on the subject, which was extensive and fascinating.

When we organize, we must organize in an inner manner first, because outward order cannot be manifested without a corresponding inward order. We actually all start out with such an organized inward order; but it is in disarray now, which was perhaps the whole point of everything Gurdjieff taught.

Without bringing our attention to the point where impressions enter the body, we are unable to see the disorder of our inwardness, and consequently unable to bring a corresponding organization to our inner Being. Once we attend to ourselves, and see the disorder, perhaps something new can begin to emerge; but until then, everything just takes place automatically — or, as Gurdjieff explained it, mechanically, that is, without conscious participation.

Conscious participation involves the arrival of critical thinking; but critical thinking does not come just from the intellectual mind, which uses logic. There is also a critical thinking of sensation and a critical thinking of feeling. This is because each of these faculties is a mind of its own, equally capable of critique, although not in the way we usually understand it using logic or the intellect.

So we must bring these various parts together at the point where we encounter perception (see the previous post) in order to begin to understand how organization functions inwardly and outwardly; and then we must measure quite carefully, using the critical faculties of our various minds, the substance and nature of what we encounter inwardly and outwardly, not just following the coarse materials of our desire or the relatively unintelligent materials of the facts we have gathered—nor simply enjoying and being taken by the bodily sensations we encounter—but rather, applying the critical faculties of each center to our experience of what is taking place.

One of the whole points of the "stop" exercise in the Gurdjieff practice is to catch oneself in the middle of identification; but the reason that this exercise is done is not just to counteract identification, but to apply a critical evaluation to it, so that one sees how these three critical functions can work together in order to understand inner organization.

There are, roughly speaking, three different kinds of organization that a man can impose on his external world depending on his being before it develops an organic sense of Self. Those three kinds of organization are material organization (the organization of things), emotional organization (the organization of desires) and intellectual organization (the organization of ideas.) Each one of these has great power in its own right; but any one of them easily becomes destructive when it is exercised without balance. Generally speaking, every outer organization human beings form conforms to one of these three tendencies more than the other two; and one can understand more or less what an organized situation will be able to produce, depending on where its center of gravity lies. Organizations where all of the influences are equally balanced are rare, both inwardly and outwardly; but a conscious effort is aimed at achieving just such a balance.

Nothing can function well without organization, that is, integration into an organic whole which functions through the action of its various organs.

So now we have a new understanding of organization which is based on what it means to have Being, and to be in the body.


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