I pass this information about sensation on because I see that the permanent sensation, the organic sensation of Being, is so often misunderstood.
One can go a very long way into the ideas and preparatory work and get completely lost if one does not keep one's attention firmly placed on this question. Many groups, many group leaders, and many well-meaning individuals with a very sophisticated understanding of the Gurdjieff work manage to go far without awakening the organic sensation of Being. Sometimes they even awaken the other parts which are not foundational and can produce interesting results; but Gurdjieff himself warned about the futility of such work in Chapter 9 of In Search of the Miraculous, and his reservations about such work stand to this day as legitimate ones.
The whole point of the Gurdjieff process, if it's properly understood in an organic way, is that it is a whole thing, a sphere that contains all the necessary elements of work in it. My recent essays about the meaning of the "coating' of the higher being bodies shows, in a small sketch, the wholeness of the process and the way in which every part correctly contacts with every other part. One can't take just one part of it and presume one has done enough; all the parts must be brought together within a person and they must understand the connections between them. This means that a very active thinking part must participate, that is, one must exercise the intelligence and help it develop agility.
Unfortunately, once again, many branches of work have arisen where individuals prefer shamanistic approaches in which they loftily (and repetitively) claim nothing can be explained, there are no words, no one should try to answer anything, and so on, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately this kind of psychobabble, which is often originally inspired by legitimate blissful experiences, has become all too common, and folk imitate one another in it. These are not just examples of laziness in the intellect — although they are quite definitely just that — they are also dangerous ideas that prevent individuals from a healthy development of intellectual center, which needs to be challenged to develop in new and more critical ways, not invited to fall ever more soundly asleep in the delusional belief that nothing can be understood on our level.
To that point. I had an argument with a friend of advanced understanding recently in which they invoked much higher ideas, cosmologically "top level" ideas, about how there is no good or evil. While this idea is essentially true, it is true at a level that retains no significance for those of us at our level. Where we are, there is good and evil; and while it's equally true that at a certain level, nothing can be understood, this does not excuse us from making the effort to understand at the level we are on.
Not in the least.
A devotion to nothingness will lead to nothing. We have a habit of arrogating philosophies at levels well beyond ourselves and slapping them on to our understanding like Band-Aids. Don't do this.
Everything takes place within an ordered hierarchy in our cosmos, and the development of Being must be built on an intelligent, material, and compassionate foundation constructed of balanced elements of all three materials. This is the same thing as saying that hydrogens 48, 24, and 12 need to participate; and for each of these three faculties, or centers, they have their own hydrogens 48, 24, and 12 that build them.
If one doesn't lay down the corresponding structural substances that allow one to receive the next level of substance, no matter what direction the structure is erected in, eventually it becomes top-heavy or unbalanced in one area or another and is subject to toppling.
Gurdjieff's admonitions to Ouspensky about the ways which accidentally (or otherwise) ignore these principles still stand. In our own case, the structural necessity is acquired first through sensation. Everything else comes later.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.