Perhaps it seems pointless to keep using the word “organic” to describe a right relationship between the various inward parts of Being. Yet somehow, for me, the word has undergone a metamorphosis in meaning whereby it is the only word that can accurately describe what happens when Being is integrated.
As people read this, they probably ask themselves two questions. The first one is, “what does he mean when he says organic?”, and the second one is, “what does it mean, when Being is integrated?“
Well, the two things mean the same thing.
Gurdjieff used a wide range of methods to describe this, including his classic term “three brained Being,” or, “three centered Being.” But these terms become technical; that is to say, no matter what the intention is where we begin, they eventually tend to allude to the chemistry, physics, and mechanics of the experience, so to speak, and are difficult to separate from what Ouspensky said on the matter in his classic In Search of the Miraculous.
In reality, what we are searching for in terms of this experience is — well, experiential — and the technical terms don’t help much, anymore than understanding the “technique” of it all… if there even is one.
Being is existence.
This is the key to Gurdjieff’s “I am,” often invoked but rarely experienced. Say these words to yourself all day and all night, they will not induce an organic integration of Being. In theory, they may help; but even that may be misleading, because “I am” cannot be a mechanical action. It is a call to life itself; and is anyone familiar with biology understands, life itself is far more complex and mysterious than anything these (or any) two words can bring us to, no matter how profound they may sound in the midst of a pre-religious state.
When I say organic, what I mean is that something is experienced much more deeply in the body, in an integrated way, such that three things take place.
First of all, the body is firmly grounded, first in its molecular, and then in its cellular, nature. This means that the molecules vibrate in a certain way that brings the sensation of Being into the body throughout its entire ecosystem; and second, that the cells themselves receive this vibration in such a way that the cellular nature of Being — as well as its molecular origins — are properly sensed as a foundational understanding that does not need any words to validate it.
This particular form of sensation is pre-validated, and cannot be threatened by interference from the mind. Any sensation that is threatened by interference from the mind is not this sensation; and it is furthermore weak, formatory, superficial, and invoked, which has nothing to do with a right experience of the cellular nature of Being. To be sure, it may function as a precursor; but it is as milled flour is to a baked cake.
Now, as you read this, if it sounds unfamiliar — that is, you have not read it in other spiritual texts, even perhaps Gurdjieffian ones — that is because it is not part of the foundational understanding of other works, including Buddhism, esoteric Christianity, and so on. It’s furthermore rare enough, even among Gurdjieff students, that many earnest people do not quite fully understand this phenomenon, but are still searching for a deeper understanding of it—so that they can eventually awaken that sensation. There are, to be sure, some pundits within the Gurdjieff work — and they are rare enough — that have a right understanding of this faculty, but they do not publish it (most of them aren’t that articulate, and they certainly aren’t writers) or publicly or talk about it; they only “teach” it within groups, and even then, it cannot be taught, but only indicated as a direction.
I’m describing it as precisely as possible here so that students of the Gurdjieff work who have a specific interest in what makes it different than other works will understand that this particular faculty makes it very different indeed—so different that it already begins in a different place (here) than most works. Yet the entire premise of the Gurdjieff work and everything that he and his most ardent followers tried to bring to us cannot be understood unless this foundation is first established.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.