Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The five obligolnian strivings: inner meanings—an introduction

Koi, Tenryu-Ji, Kyoto, Japan

Reading a thoughtful and well- constructed essay on developing a practical relationship to the five obligolnian strivings, I was drawn to a consideration of the inner meaning of these five strivings... that is to say, a series of questions and ponderings regarding the mystical implications of the teaching. 

This was not so much a didactic exercise as an attempt on my own part to organize and distinguish my own thinking on these matters.

The outward questions in regard to these strivings are compelling ones; yet in attempting to fathom the gist, or essence, of the Gurdjieff work one must also reach towards the inner meaning, the heart-meaning, as it were, of Gurdjieff’s practice. I say the heart-meaning, because it is the emotional level of vibration that both contains and conveys the highest level of meaning available to us. Indeed, this is the place closest to where God can touch us; and if we do not conduct our inner work in the hopes that God can touch us, why bother working?

In working outwardly, I think outwardly and I reason outwardly, no matter how much I may reference the inner. I engage in what’s called formatory thinking; and it is called formatory because it has a form. Everything that adheres to form, no matter how "good" or practical or valuable it is, remains formatory; and yet it is the going beyond form, into the unknown and perhaps forever unknowable inner realms, that matters, because it is here in this unformed and unknowable realm that our inner life arises and thrives.

This habit of form causes me to treat everything I encounter in terms of "work ideas," religious ideas, and so on as toolkits. In this sense even the higher ideas Gurdjieff presents us with are toolkits, to be employed something like a Swiss army knife. It’s nearly impossible to resist this temptation, which crops up everywhere in life; yet it’s in spiritual territory where such temptation becomes the most insidious.

When I perceive ideas and forms as a Swiss army knife, I see them as though the form had a set of blades that were adapted for every situation: a knife, a saw, a file, and even tweezers. Of course I’m going to approach these five obligolnian strivings from the same perspective and see them as toothpicks and pliers; I cant help it. Yet these outward applications that appear to provide me with ways of "fixing" my inner state of Being and my outer circumstances aren’t quite the point of the whole exercise, even though the rational mind can scarcely conceive of any other way to experience them.

The Swiss army knife, I see, is never enough. If I buy one (adopt the form) and it has one hundred blades, almost immediately something will happen for which I discover there is no blade. The knife is eminently practical and attractive, but it cant help me in this new circumstance; instead I have to rely on my intuition to discover a response.

That intuition is an inward knowing, not an outward toolkit; and although the toolkit may yet prove to have its use in this new situation, nonetheless, it cannot be employed without the creative and unpredictable intervention of consciousness. That is, so to speak, the one-hundred-and-first blade, the blade that can never be fashioned, but is always needed.

With all of this in mind... and attempting to at the same time open the mind to admit something far greater and more tactile... over the next few posts, I'll be taking a look at the five strivings from an inner point of view.  


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