Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A sense of urgency

Reader question:

How urgent is waking up? And how do we create a sense of urgency? 

I think Gurdjieff created that kind of sense when being vague about reincarnation and such. Do you think that assuming attitudes and beliefs that create urgency is a good idea, even if not true? Also, even if not true, looking at everything in life as a test or temptation, and thus gaining motivation to fight the unconscious illusions of life more readily? 

Response:

As is so often the case, you ask apparently simple questions that have what turn out to be, for me, surprisingly complex aspects. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

In some senses waking up isn't urgent at all, if one doesn't care about it. People can live whole and apparently satisfying lives without trying to do anything at all spiritually. There are consequences; sone physical (i.e., in this life) and some metaphysical.

We have to understand this in terms of selfish and unselfish behavior. To not wake up is to serve oneself; to wake up is to serve God.  One has to make that choice.

In terms of physical consequences, refusal to wake up (beacuse deep down at its root it is a refusal) gradually, or sometimes even quickly, destroys various aspects of the outer world, ranging from the cultural to the environmental to the outwardly spiritual. 

This is because forces dominated by sleep care for nothing other than their own satisfaction, and will sacrifice quite literally anything to obtain that. This is the force of the devil, who satisfies himself above all others; and sometimes what is sacrificed to the devil is much greater than life alone, because life in the end can't really be harmed. 

This is where the metaphysical consequences come in, because to serve oneself ultimately leads to hell on the astral plane, that is, a self-willed existence where souls engage in contests to torture one another—essentially, for eternity. The terror of the situation is thus not confined to earthly life alone, although literally minded Gurdjieffians often fail to understand this question properly. (I ought to mention here that people who believe they are not literally minded are often the most literally minded of all, simply because of the buffers they develop.)

On the other hand, if one wants to die to ego—which is really one of the great aims of all spiritual works—then waking up is very urgent indeed.

Next you ask an ethical question. Is it all right to use dishonest means to achieve something for an undeniably greater good? 

The answer, I think, is yes; but the dangers are self evident. If one fails, the opposite of the intended effect is achieved. It is a bold move; and yet Gurdjieff, as with other like masters, didn't always succeed when he used this method. The wreckage that he left behind, both theoretical and human, is not a pretty sight. One is tempted to say one has to break eggs to make an omelet, but  one can't be too glib about it when the eggs are lives and people. In essence, here one risks violating the most sacred principle: above all, do no harm.


Everything in life IS a test and temptation, yet that is only one of seven aspects. At a certain stage in the development of one's inner octave each object, event, circumstance and condition in life needs to be evaluated from this point of view.

 Yet I fear that this can't be characterized as a fight. When I turn it into opposition, a conflict that can't be resolved arises. It is, I think, better to understand the question more carefully as gaining perspective on the unconscious illusions — not doing battle with them.

Hosanna.

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