Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Three kinds of consciousness, part II—The essential spirit

The emotive consciousness consists of a finer and more detailed rate of vibration than the intellectual consciousness or the organic consciousness. Gurdjieff would have said that it arises from finer substances; and indeed, compared to it, the organic consciousness, which is clearly a finer and more intimate level of vibration, is coarse. 

One experiences the fine detail of emotive consciousness in feeling, not in emoting; the difference is not subtle, it is a major one — and yet unless one experiences both, the distinction will not be clear.

The emotive consciousness forms around an intense kernel of sorrow, which has at its heart an anguish. The source of this anguish is unworded, just as the source of organic sensation does not have words to serve it. We say that these two other consciousnesses in the human body are unworded simply because they do not spring from words, they do not have a center of gravity in words, and the experience of them is not an experience that flows inwardly through words.

I note that it may seem there is an irony in writing words about this; yet it is possible, using words, to precisely delineate the nature of these other two entities, so that one can begin to have a more correct understanding about them. If I don't know that there are parts of my consciousness that are unworded, that exist independent of this intellectual awareness I generally employ, I miss something. And if I make the common mistake of thinking that these unworded consciousnesses, these other parts, are subsets of my intellectual consciousness, fractional elements of it, I also miss something — and furthermore, I misunderstand it. 

It's only when I inhabit my organic consciousness and my emotive consciousness as active, equally intelligent principles within life that I understand how this question is, and it is only then that I have a chance of engaging in what Gurdjieff called “three centered being."

One of the greatest difficulties in any inward search is the tendency to begin from the mind and then try to discover these other parts. Whenever I do this, I begin from my intellectual mind; and already, I am in London, searching for Paris. I can take the underground in any direction, but I won't end up in Paris, even though I may end up in shops that have the latest fashions from Paris. In order to get to Paris — to come to organic consciousness or emotive consciousness — a complete change of location has to take place. This is a change of inner location, of course, so I can't just go buy a ticket for it. That would be a transaction that I am in charge of — and there are no transactions that, of themselves, can get me to Paris.

Well, of course this is another analogy — a clever one, but it's not quite right. Perhaps one might better say that there has to be a revolution; but that implies violence, and it's not quite right either.

In any event, this finer emotive consciousness, this sorrow, this anguish, brings me to a real understanding that is carefully woven into the warp and the weft of understanding through thought — having an intellectual concept — and understanding through organic consciousness — having an immediate sensation. These two elements combine with the sorrow of emotive consciousness to lead me to know life in a completely different way, and the three elements together produce what is called compassion — a compassion born of intelligence, an awareness of mortality, and sorrow, which together produce a wine of the most inexpressible vintage.

It is this distillation of experience that brings me to understanding; and it's not a vintage I can drink all day long. In point of fact, if I drink too much of this, it will ruin me — and yet it is the sweetest thing I can bring to my inner table, the essential spirit of a communion that begins inside a human being and connects the soul to God.


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