Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Commentaries on transcripts: the first transcript, part III

I suppose the question at this point may now be, why would an organic sensation of being give one a sense of individuality?

Our ordinary sense of individuality — of being a person — is almost invariably formed by our personality, that is, the associative thoughts which form and flow in relationship to external events. We take personality for granted; so much so that it is nearly impossible for us to think of being an individual as connected to any other part of what we are, of any other thing we know.

In this way, Gurdjieff's concept of essence is almost entirely forgotten in modern psychology; so one never hears psychologists and analysts talking about getting in touch with one's essence, and so on. Or, if one does discuss an essence of anything, it is the essence of personality that people infer. Essence as a separate conscious (or, more correctly said, unconscious) entity unto itself is either not understood or misunderstood.

When I say that it is misunderstood, what I mean is that people conceive of essence through personality; and it isn't possible to experience essence through personality. It is like saying that you can experience Beethoven by listening to Prokofiev or Mahler. The very idea is absurd; and yet it persists, because the experience of essence is unknown.

When Gurdjieff says that everything a personn thinks and does are lies (and he already brings up this concept on page 2 of the transcripts) what he means, at the root, is that one has no experience of essence; because essence is closely connected to sensation, and sensation cannot lie. Its mind is connected to instinct, that is, its roots lie at the deepest part of what it is to be; and as we shall see, later in these commentaries on the transcripts, instinct is perhaps the most important part with which one can make an inner effort.

In the arousal of sensation and the investment in the organic sense of being, we experience individuality in this sense: we are not divided into two; indivi— not divided, and dual— two parts.  The two parts come together; one is of the intellect, and personality, and one is of the body, of sensation, and essence.

The idea that one cannot think about sensation in order to understand it is made clear enough in what Gurdjieff says in this first transcript; what is necessary is the experience of and investment in it, which immediately brings one to a part of oneself that does not lie.

The reason we cannot invoke this or make it happen is because one cannot just tell a liar not to lie; the liar will always lie. It is in his nature. So it is in the nature of associative thinking to lie; and the only way to change the center of gravity on this issue is to bring to the table a part which doesn't participate in the lying. Now, the liar loves to run the show; he's used to it. So the minute a recognition of the lying takes place, the liar says, "Okay. Don't worry. I'm going to tell the truth now," which is automatically a lie, because nothing else can come from that part. The liar even invents imaginary parts that supposedly don't lie, and presents them saying, "Here you go. Look. I'm not lying! Isn't this great?"

The part which tells the truth — who engages only in being — is essence, tied firmly to organic sensation. Only this part doesn't lie; and since it is unknown, we buy into every statement the liar makes. It is only when the one who tells the truth shows up unambiguously and with his or her own authority than anything begins to change; and then the liar is astonished. 

He or she discovers that they were only ever half of the picture; and that the other half has all the authority in this area of not lying. 

If one is a smart enough liar, one immediately sees the advantage of forming an alliance with this part, since it can help one achieve things that are impossible under one's own volition. Suddenly one becomes capable of seeing a new kind of unity which rises above the trap one has been locked in for so long. This can be a subject of fascination; and it takes considerable study, because the organic sense of being needs to be welded to personality, and that takes years of practice. 

Just putting two people in the same room, who suddenly notice each other and become attracted, this does not make a marriage. Even having a priest officiate over it isn't enough; the marriage only takes shape over many years of hard work.


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