Sunday, February 17, 2019

The critique of the three parts

Photograph by the author

Gurdjieff explains, in Beelzebub, how the three primary forces of the universe begin to “criticize” one another when under the influence of the emanations of the most holy sun absolute, or other suns.

This may sound like an obscure cosmological concept that needs no further examination from the perspective of our level, but that isn't the case at all. The important point to consider here is that he was giving us an analogy between cosmological principles and the function of the three centers as we understand them; that is, the ability of each of the centers to function as an independent entity, with a fully conscious and functional mind of its own, and the ability to criticize the actions of the other two centers.

If one doesn't have a practical understanding of how this function operates, one can't possibly understand any of the premises of Gurdjieff's work from anything but an intellectual point of view; and that by itself is entirely deficient and insufficient, because although it can know a very great deal about Gurdjieff's work, it cannot understand it properly.

First of all, we need to understand that the intelligence of sensation and the intelligence of emotion are entirely whole and functional intelligences which are quite different than that of the intellect. The intellect is functionally unable to take either of these two roles on and perform it effectively. 

Secondly, we need to think about what it means to criticize. This means, in its overall context, the ability to observe and evaluate. Not to find fault with; although that could certainly become part of the process of evaluation. 

So we need to understand that only speak of observing ourselves, we can't just think of observing ourselves from the perspective of a single whole “I” which observes all the parts; we have to first consider the idea that each of the parts is a whole "I" in its own right, with the capacity to observe and evaluate the function of the other two parts.

What this means is that I need to see and evaluate the functions of my intelligence and my feeling with the awakened capacity of sensation; I need to see and evaluate my sensation and my intelligence from the awakened capacity of feeling; I need to see and evaluate my feeling and my sensation from the awakened capacities of intelligence.

These awakened capacities are not just what is call "conscious;" they are aware — that is, they function within a field of watchfulness that's quite different than just knowing and being conscious.

Once again, it's necessary to understand these intelligences and the way in which they function by living within them—living within the awakened capacity of these parts. Although this is certainly a fragmentary experience at the beginning of anyone's inward work, it can eventually become a more powerful influence. Then we begin to see not just that our awakened sensation anchors our Being; we also begin to observe from within it, to (for example) truly see the mind and the feeling as independent entities from the perspective of the sensation which we inhabit.

This can also be done with the feeling; if it arrives—a special condition under most circumstances—it, as well, can see and sense and watch the other two parts, intellect and sensation, from within its own capacity

So my awareness has this threefold action; and I need to learn exactly how that functions and understand that before I presume to think that I "know" this or that, or that I "understand" this or that. If these capacities become aware, I discover that I probably don't know anything; and I probably don't understand much of anything either. The three faculties, acting in a concert of awareness and critique, balance one another in such a way that it tends to put us into a state that the Gurdjieff work conventionally calls "question."

Now, perhaps we ask ourselves, what's that all about

It could well be that our understanding of these various capacities as awakened and aware entities in their own right is relatively weak, or merely just a concept that we have absorbed and attempted to digest with our intellectual parts. 

So there needs to be an effort to become much more sensitive within and acquire a better understanding of this which is based in practice and not just through our theories.

I think that part of the issue here is that the mind thinks it knows everything — and, in knowing everything (which it doesn't) it believes it understands everything (which it emphatically doesn't). There are important capacities of intelligence (a property that belongs to each of the centers, not just one of them) that cannot be understood through the intellect alone. Indeed, the center with the greatest capacity for the sacred is feeling, which is in its essence, the ability to sense and form a relationship with the levels above us. 

We can't do this without our emotions; and yet they have to be raised to a level of awareness rather than just reaction. Reaction is mechanical or reflexive; awareness is watchful and discriminating. Even after decades of attempting to strike an intelligent (three-centered) balance between these three parts, the feeling part is a delicate mechanism which can only function in the presence of energies fostered and offered by the other two parts. This support structure is what we attempt to create when we bring the mind and the body together; without the support structure, no feeling. 

And without feeling, no right sense of God, which is an essential aim of inner work.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.