Saturday, February 14, 2015

The teaching cannot pursue any definite aim

Broad Tailed Hawk, Sparkill, NY

ONE of the next lectures began with a question asked by one of those present: What was the aim of his teaching?

"I certainly have an aim of my own,"' said G. "But you must permit me to keep silent about it. At the present moment my aim cannot have any meaning for you, because it is important that you should define your own aim. The teaching by itself cannot pursue any definite aim. It can only show the best way for men to attain whatever aims they may have."

In Search of the Miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky, P. 106


Well, this is an awkward quote, isn't it? It has been sitting here on my desktop for nearly a month now, lurking around and waiting for me to say something intelligent about it — if I'm able to.

 What does it mean? Somehow, it begins by not making any sense — the teaching is aimless?

In order to understand this particular quote, one has to understand something that my own teacher, before she died, spent decades attempting to instill in our group members. That was that we must take responsibility for our own inner work.

Now, this goes against most of the instincts that we have; after all, human beings generally behave like sheep, and every single one of us shares that characteristic in one way or another. One wants to be part of the flock, part of the gang, part of a group that does the same things together; and one wants a leader, someone who is smart, charismatic, worthy, to follow.

One wants, to put it bluntly, a mommy or a daddy to do one's inner work for one. One wants them to hand out wisdom teachings like popsicles, with a merit system to accompany them. And one wants to be a good little doobie, doesn't one?  A well behaved disciple.

 One who ponders this may begin to understand why Gurdjieff intentionally — and ruthlessly — drove so many people who were apparently quite close to him away.

He actually did know what was best for them; and, above all, it was not dependency.

The point of defining your own aim, which Gurdjieff says here is the ground floor of your own inner work (well, let's be honest — he doesn't say that, but it's definitely what he means), is to take responsibility for yourself. One can't go anywhere or accomplish anything if one doesn't have an aim, that is, a direction in which one wishes to go.

Interestingly, in the end, all the great teachers indicate that the direction one ought to wish to go in is away from one's own selfishness; and yet this is quite difficult, because if one wakes up within one's life, well, in every direction one looks, what does one see? Selfishness. The ego manages to make certain that the being is surrounded by selfishness, a vast landscape of it, with nothing else in sight, so no matter what direction one goes in, one seems to continue to be surrounded by it.

 If one begins to see this quite actively in one's manifestations, it raises questions more awkward than the one of aim. And, of course, this idea of the outer teaching is relatively insignificant: after all, the outer teaching is always, in the end, a generalization, whereas any real inner work must be quite specific.


1 comment:

  1. Mr.Gurdjieff revealed his aim towards the end of his life; to change man's very conception of God,and make a new teaching for the new Aion,
    He said that either the world would Tstk (sound of crushing of an exoskeleton) or he would Tstk the World. I believe it will take 600 years to "turn the sod".


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