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inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #0 of 113: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 21 Apr 04 11:18
    
John Shirley is back to discuss his new book _Gurdjieff_, a biography of 
the famous mystic/trickster whose teachings are still carried forward by 
advocates of the Fourth Way (about which John will no doubt say more). 
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff traveled from his native Russian Armenia to 
various parts of the world on a quest for ancient esoteric teachings, 
learning much along the way and eventually becoming a spiritual teacher in 
Europe and author of books such as _Meetings with Remarkable Men_ and 
_Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson_. _Gurdjieff_ is an introduction to his 
life and teaching.

John is the author of numerous novels and collections of stories including
the Bram Stoker award winning BLACK BUTTERFLIES. His most recent novels,
from Del Rey books, are DEMONS and CRAWLERS, both currently in print. His
classic cyberpunk novels ECLIPSE, ECLIPSE PENUMBRA and ECLIPSE CORONA are
in print from Babbage press. He co-wrote the movie The Crow and is now
developing a documentary entitled The Spiritual Journey. His first
nonfiction book, GURDJIEFF: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas has just
been published by Jeremy Tarcher, a division of Penguin Putnam. An article
on Gurdjieff can be found at the authorized, fan-created John Shirley
website: darkecho.com/johnshirley - click on The Shadows of ideas under
NONFICTION there.

Jay Kinney leads the discussion. Jay has had a varied career as cartoonist,
illustrator, writer, editor, and (once upon a time) box-packer.  He was
editor of CoEvolution Quarterly during 1983-84, and publisher and editor in
chief of Gnosis Magazine from 1985-1999. He co-authored "Hidden Wisdom: A
Guide to the Western Inner Traditions" (Penguin/Arkana, 1999) and has
edited a new anthology "The Inner West: An Introduction to the Hidden
Wisdom of the West" due out from Tarcher/Penguin in June 2004.
Incidentally, he performed the marriage ceremony for John and Micky Shirley
when they wed.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #1 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 22 Apr 04 13:20
    
FINALLY got here. Two many damn steps. Software engineers. They need
to be in special re-education camps. 

I'm in a foul mood. Bad trouble on the movie adaptation front. Big
deals going south. 

So as a  guy trying to do the Gurdjieff I look at how I feel--I'm
angry because of a rip-off producer (or it may have been a
coincidence--the uncertainty is maddening), things going badly when I'd
worked so long on them, and I see my STATE. That is, I look at myself,
my inner state, with my attention, as if it were something objective
to me. But it's me who becomes objective. Once I do several things
(meditative, somewhat esoteric, taught privately) to get into this self
observational state, I see my anger  and disappointment as things in
themselves, like WEATHER in my inner being, that I have become
IDENTIFIED with. That's key to Gurdjieff and certainly to Buddhism, at
its best, the study of how we become identified with subjective states,
so that we're caught up in desire, or reactive emotion, negativity.
(All this sort of thing is parroted by celebrities in a vague,
distorted, trendy and childish form, when they become interested in
pseudo-Cabbala and the like, which has points of relation. They
wouldn't know real Cabbala, or Kaballah, or Qaballah, etc, if it bit
them in their surgically perfected asses.) Now that I see my state, I'm
no longer identified with it. Through other methods I'm centered in my
body's sensations in a way that prevents this nonidentification from
being disassociation. I mean, two minutes ago DISASTER struck. Now I'm
able to type up this material, grousing but functional, in a more or
less objective fashion, thinking about a subject that was initially far
from my mind. I did it through the Gurdjieff work.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #2 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Thu 22 Apr 04 14:41
    
Well, hi there John. Good to see you made it. Sorry to hear about the
film adaptation disaster. I had my own mini-disaster with Hollywood 25
years ago and it put me off dealing with those people ever again. Saved
me years of grief. <g>

Anyway, here's your new book on Gurdjieff, which is quite engagingly
written, by the way. Given your notorious background as SF & noir
writer, not to mention your other career as rock n' rolling madman, how
did you happen to get into Gurdjieff and "the Work" in the first
place? When I first met you, many moons ago, you were pretty resistant
to matters spiritual, esoteric, and the like. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #3 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 23 Apr 04 09:55
    
I'm there today...I'm here yesterday...

I'm almost here. The whole point with most spiritual work seems to be
really being here. People make hay out of the simplicity of that
concept. Madonna and her pal Oprah earnestly saying, "If only people
would, like, be here in the present moment, girlfriend..." It's the
present day equivalent of the old idea of 'being one with God'. Easy
to talk about; easier said then done; open to question as to what it
means. In the Gurdjieff work it is perhaps more all-inclusive a
concept, more holostically demanding, say--that is, one has to try to
be "here" physically, in a way we're normally not, mentally in a way
we're normally not, emotionally in a way we're normally not. It
demands that we move toward that unity of Jung's but on a more esoteric
level and on a very active basis... I wrote this book, Gurdjieff: An
Introduction to His Life and Ideas (Jeremy Tarcher/Penguin) partly as a
means of teaching myself about Gurdjieff. I was drawn to his teaching
because I seemed to recognize it--anyway, I always knew that we're not
awake when we think we are, that consciousness is relative and very
conditional and we can be more conscious, that we're
'mechanical'--we're reactive, kneejerk, automatic even when we think
we're making choices, but it's possible to access choices more
genuinely. To make conscious choices. When I read in a Colin Wilson
book that those were some of his main ideas, I thought: Hey! That's
what I always thought! And I think that most people who question why
we're here, what life is, notice those things, more or less, on some
level. But he had not only articulated it powerfully, he had  provided
a way out. Hope. Consciousness expansion without drugs--important for
me as a guy who had abused drugs in the past...And he teaches how to
get to the present moment in a fuller, realer way than you get from the
usual suspects...and here I almost am...not quite here...trying to be
more here... 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #4 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 23 Apr 04 10:02
    
PS Jay - 

I wasn't resistant--I was skeptical. I aver it's not the same. You've
heard me say this before: it's about being selective, about separating
signal from noise. There's a hell of a lot of noise out there. I was
just arguing with someone about hermeneutic/esoteric interpretation of
Biblical passages. Sometimes, when Jesus, for example, says something,
it has a surface meaning and at the same time has deep esoteric
resonance, deeper symbolism. Other times when Jesus says, "Hand me that
claw hammer, will you, I'm trying to get this damn nail out, it's gone
in crooked...hell..." That's all he's trying to say. (You remember
that passage, don't you?) The point is I was always interested in
spirituality, in philosophy and even religion, but I was always
skeptical too and I believe you shouldn't approach one without the
other. Gurdjieff and the Buddha (go back to his earliest sayings) both
recommend this course.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #5 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 23 Apr 04 10:14
    
I mostly agree, although a lot of skepticism out there strikes me as a
ploy to keep things at arm's length. But in any case, here's something
I was writing before you slipped your PS in there...

So, fill me in on how this attentive "self-remembering" process would
affect the choices you make. If it helps get you out of reactive and
automatic responses, and helps you access more conscious choices, does
it necessarily assist in making the best choice or a better choice?

For instance, if you are doing lunch with some movie producer and the
conversation is bouncing between small-talking inanities and unspoken
jockeying for money and power in negotiations, would self-remembering
induce you to try to break through the sleep of the other person or
would it just enable you to be even slicker in getting one up on him?

There, how's that for a loaded question?
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #6 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 23 Apr 04 14:13
    
My answer is, none of the above...

Some of the activity in life is 'involutionary' or creative in the
sense of subjective work, and a conversation like the one you describe
might be one such activity, but still one would try to keep out some
inner attention for self-observation, for objectivity, and it does
affect you a bit. I might otherwise tend to snarl, "No I won't make
that change, that's idiotic!" But remembering myself (as they say in
the Gurdjieff Work) I would be less identified with an automatic
response, though it would pass through me, and I would have a little
space in which to find some more appropriate, intelligent response.
Like, "That's interesting, but if you make that change you lose
this...how about instead..." It's not appropriate to try to randomly
wake people up you meet--and I'm not all that awake myself, so it'd be
pretentious. I don't pretend to be enlightened or fully awake. What I
do manage varies. I'm still learning. It takes a long time. It's
supposed to. If a major spiritual change doesn't take much time, it's
usually bullshit--that is, it's the product of your imagination. Though
sometimes there are times of grace and a kind of serendipity that
might happen to people that give them a leg up quickly. It's rare but
it could happen.

One thing I'd like to say is that if people reading this fear that I'm
touting a cult or my own little Trip or I'm proselyzing for Some Weird
Group here--I can only say that I go out of my way in my book to point
out that there are other perfectly good spiritual traditions, that
people should be skeptical, that Gurdjieff (despite his making fun of
various religions and cults and people like mediums) said there were
other great traditions, and most of the time if someone asks me where
they'd go to study meditation or spirituality, I usually *don't* say
"the Gurdjieff Work". It's too challenging for most people, especially
at first. It's very oriented toward the real and not the imagined
--which gives it a reputation for "negativity, they're so negative,
man" among new age types. This same reputation I personally found
encouraging. . .I usually point them to other traditions that emphasize
mindfulness--which I think is the common denominator, in the best
sense, of esoteric teaching--such as Thich Nat Hanh (I always seem to
spell his name wrong though I have books by him), or Ibn Arabi (ie,
Sufism), or the better Christian mystical teachers like Fr Thomas
Keating, or the better Zen schools. Gurdjieff has a lot in common with
Zen, especially when you learn his techniques--many are sort of like
Zen with hermetic enhancement. 

Indeed, I'm not even a stone Gurdjieffian. I am personally quite sure
he was NOT right about every last thing he said, and I am not incapable
of switching, sometime, should I choose to, to Vipassana (spelled
variously) Buddhism, say. I do think he really seemed to have something
for the modern age--and he was a fascinating character. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #7 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 23 Apr 04 14:14
    
I really should re-read these things before I post them, you can't
edit them can you...I see typos...then for than and other things...okay
I'll be good after this...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #8 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 23 Apr 04 15:13
    
Hello John.  Welcome to Inkwell. I am nearly done with the book and
have found it an adventurous read.

You have mentioned what drew you to Gurdjieff. (“Hey! That's
what I always thought!”)  That and the title of your book suggests
that you were drawn as much to the man as to the ideas.  Did that
resonance with Gurdjieff persist throughout the stages of the book? 
Did you learn anything from your book research that shifted your
assessment of Gurdjieff?  Where there any particularly surprising
discoveries from your research?
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #9 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 23 Apr 04 15:39
    
Ha, good question. Yes I learned things about him that deepened my
sense of his humanity. He had a middle-eastern sense (he was from the
Caucasus area) of the possibilities of polygamy that seemed at odds
with his having been raised in the Orthodox church. He never did quite
resolve it, perhaps. He had children with a couple of his followers,
but he didn't require sex of anyone, or force it on anyone. He was
magnetic. Toward the end of his life he wrote that he had not conquered
all that he wished to have conquered in himself, or so I take it from
his "third series". He was human. He made some mistakes. But nothing
excruciating, really. He was no cult leader and would not allow anyone
to become worshipful. He gave away as much money as he took in. But he
was capable of cultivating donations from rich, foolish people for his
cause--you might find fault with that, perhaps. He also said he was
sort of 'addicted', if that's the word, to the use of his projected
will, when young--a kind of silent, projected mesmerism. He had to take
a vow to get over it--it was quite tempting, because he could put
something out (so he said, I wasn't there to confirm this) that made it
possible to bend people to his will...silently. He recognized that
this was what people call 'black magic' and he 'struggled with this
inherency' (it was a kind of inherited ability he refined in himself)
and this struggle yielded spiritual benefits. In the Gurdjieff Work,
inner struggle, struggle with habits and compulsions, carried out in a
certain way, is often fruitful--indeed, in any spiritual tradition, of
any substance...

So yeah I saw his humanness...I already knew that he smoked, drank a
bit (never was seen drunk, exactly, that I know of), ate too much at
the end of his life...Yet he had a paradoxical kind of inner discipline
and made great demands on himself...Sometimes he would invite a
beautiful young girl up to his room just so that he could act surprised
when she came and he would send her away. He did this in order to
create conditions for struggle with a tendency in himself...Most people
don't bother to try to deal with their compulsions.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #10 of 113: Cindy (loves2sing) Fri 23 Apr 04 15:50
    
Hi, John and Jay. I'm delighted to find this topic.

I'm a student of the Diamond Approach, developed by Hameed Ali, who
writes under the pen name A.H. Almaas. Are you familiar with his work?

At this point in the discussion, I'd like to suggest that *truly*
being present involves more than just mindfulness. 

The usual state of being is to have one's mind somewhere else, it's
true... and mindfulness brings the awareness into the present moment.
That's a significant thing, but it's still not being fully present.

The usual state of being also includes not fully inhabiting one's
body, and *embodiment* is also an essential part of being present.

My own experience is that embodiment practice brings me into the
present moment, grounds me, gives me a sense of being solidly present,
more than anything I do with my mind.

Off to amazon.com to get your book...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #11 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 23 Apr 04 16:04
    
Well that brings up a question I’ve had for a while.  In reading the
different books on Gurdjieff, it would seem that he cultivated
different aspects of his Work with the various students.  

Sometimes it seems as pointedly different as in the tale of the
trickster god who walks down the road with a cap that is red on one
side and blue on the other. The townspeople argue about the color of
the stranger’s cap. Then when we walks back through town in the
opposite direction, he shifts his cap around, so that the townspeople
end up bickering even more after having their impression confirmed.

So that which Ouspensky would absorb was different from what Hulme
absorbed and still different from Bennett or Orage.  Leaving the
students a source of conflict – perhaps intentionally planted conflict.


What did you find in looking at the primary students of Gurdjieff? 

(Cindy slipped)
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #12 of 113: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Fri 23 Apr 04 16:27
    
I'm going out and buying this book tonight.  Living in the now as an
action and a lifestyle is something I have recently become very
interested in.  Not just thinking about it, which I have done for a
long time and is very counter-productive.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #13 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 10:45
    
Cindy wrote: "*truly* being present involves more than just
mindfulness." I was saying something of the sort earlier (my holistic
remarks, though that term has connotations I don't want), and in fact
what you describe is essential to the Gurdjieff Work. Indeed, I have
*heard* that Almaas and the diamond thing is obtained from Gurdjieff.
That it originated there. But I don't know, just something I heard.
Could you say more about the diamond method?  
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #14 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 10:54
    
CHRYS:

What you describe is, imo, something of an illusion. People are
oriented differently--Gurdjieff said that there are three centers, and
some have their 'center of gravity' in the mental, some in emotional,
some in physical. Now if a person has a mental sort of orientation,
like Ouspensky probably, you approach him a bit differently, and set
him different opening tasks, than someone who is sort of 'heart
centered'. But --here's the point--that's just a sort of means of entre
to the person and ultimately you want to teach the same things to them
all: inner unity, a capability to be in the body as much as the mind
and heart, to be in the heart as much as the mind and body, to be in
the mind as much as the heart and body (all this sounds here like a
formulaic simplicity but in fact I'm just wildly simplifying), to
create something that is in command of these centers, without losing
your individuality. Once that something is created, or the beginning of
it, then other things can be taught that are pretty universal.
Gurdjieff assessed people and found them mechanically fixated in
various ways and chose appropriately various ways to make them aware of
those fixed patterns, those chief features in themselves. But he also
taught them all the same principles, and tried to get them to do the
same things in the long run: to create real being, real I, real "I am" 
through inner work. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #15 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 10:54
    
Paul: Thanks! 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #16 of 113: Cindy (loves2sing) Sat 24 Apr 04 11:14
    
Re <13>, here's an introduction to the Diamond Approach from the
website, www.ridhwan.org 

There's lots more on the website, if you're interested.

----

The Diamond Approach® is the spiritual teaching, the path, and the
method of the Ridhwan Foundation and its educational branch, the
Diamond Heart® and Training Institute (DHAT). The approach has been
developed by A.Hameed Ali (A.H. Almaas ) over the last 25 years.

The Diamond Approach® is a contemporary spiritual path that has arisen
in response to the needs of today's humanity. It utilizes modern as
well as ancient methods and makes self-realization accessible to more
people who are interested in re-discovering and integrating in their
daily lives the true self, the essential nature that is innately who we
are. 

To make spiritual realization accessible to more people, the Diamond
Approach recognizes and takes advantage of the continuity of the
psychological and spiritual dimensions of our existence. It extensively
utilizes the insights of modern psychology about the human ego and
personality and extends that understanding into its logical completion
in the spiritual dimension. Thus, the Diamond Approach remains a true
spiritual path.

The purpose of this work is to access our essence or spiritual self,
not to resolve psychological issues, although many long term
psychological issues are incidentally resolved in the process, as they
would be on any true spiritual path. 

The Diamond Approach differs from most other paths in that it
recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and adapts itself to each
person's unique needs at the time. It does not require that people
adapt to some ideal, but takes people as they are and helps them to
take the natural next step for their unique development. 

The Diamond Approach emphasizes the personal aspects of spiritual
reality, something that is not usually addressed by most spiritual
paths. The development of the personal essence, the Pearl Beyond Price,
is central to the Diamond Approach, and that is how the uniqueness of
each individual is honored, supported and developed to its full
potential. This intermediate step makes the transition to the boundless
dimensions of spiritual reality easier to attain. 

The Diamond Approach has the view that spiritual reality is primary
and the material world is an epiphenomenon of this spiritual reality.
This is in contrast to the materialistic perspectives dominating
society today, of which most psychotherapy is an expression. The
orientation of the Diamond Approach is to discover, realize and
actualize our true nature, our deepest spiritual dimension. The Diamond
Approach uses a specific methodology which incorporates methods such
as meditation, self-remembering and inquiry, all aimed at achieving the
goal methodically and scientifically. The map is well defined and the
methods are efficient and effective.

The Diamond Approach offers experiential knowledge of the entire
spectrum of existence. The physical body, the psychological make up of
the personality, the essential aspects of the soul, the boundless
dimensions of being, are some of the areas of knowledge understood
within the Diamond Approach®. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #17 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sat 24 Apr 04 11:49
    
Nice to see they figured out how to put those little (r) symbols in
their text.  <G>

John, I've got a book related question.  You were able to write your
book in what is, to me, a remarkably quick and efficient manner. (It
took less than a year, as I recall.) How have you trained yourself to
write steadily and avoid writer's block? Do you just try to write a
certain number of hours or words every day?

And second question: Did writing this non-fiction book seem to access
a different part of your brain (or whatever) than you usually access in
writing fiction or screenplays? In other words, did writing this book
seem more left-brained as compared to writing novels?
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #18 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 13:09
    
Cindy: It really sounds as if Almaas used Gurdjieff as his
springboard. The timing of the creation of the thing suggests as
much--the last surge of 'countercultural' or 'spiritual subcultural'
interest in Gurdjieff was around 30 years ago. 

Anyway he doubtless brings his own new methods and ideas to the basic
method...I'll check it out...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #19 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 13:19
    
Jay, the book took much less than a year to *type* but I have been
trying to understand Gurdjieff (and related teachings, Gita etc), for
15 years, and I regard the book as being written "in my head" over that
period, in a way. I did rewrite it quite a bit after its first draft
too. Richard Smoley (for a while my editor and author of INNER
CHRISTIANITY, a book I recommend) gave me pointers that I acted on, and
Jacob Needleman. 

I have always written a great many essays--many are under nonfiction
at the js website--and have published nonfic, even in your magazine
Gnosis, but it's true that it's a greater challenge to the poor
shriveled left side of my brain to write a whole nonfic book...See, if
they did an MRI on me they'd find the right side of my brain is like,
huge, and the left side is a shriveled little walnut...Last night I was
out to dinner with a physics professor and a professor of computer
science and was frequently left to smile and nod as if I knew what they
were talking about...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #20 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 13:21
    
We can also talk about Jay's new book, selections (as I recall) from
Gnosis magazine, sort of the 'best of contemporary spirituality' in
abbreviated form. If you haven't got a whole lot of background in
esoteric spirituality and you want to get a clue fast, Jay's books,
like Hidden Wisdom and his new one are really crisp and intelligent and
useful. Is there an arc, or general sort of 'take' on spirituality
that comes out in your selection of material for that collection, Jay?
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #21 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sat 24 Apr 04 13:35
    
You're speaking of _The Inner West_ which is due out from Tarcher
(same publisher as your book, not entirely coincidentally) in June. I'm
hoping to have my own interview happen on Inkwell.vue in a couple of
months, so I won't spend an inordinate amount of time plugging the book
here. BUT, since you asked, <g> the general 'take' was to provide the
general reader with a good intro to the various facets of esoteric
spiritual traditions of the West (i.e. Western culture). 

Richard Smoley and I did that already with _Hidden Wisdom_, to a
certain extent, but _The Inner West_ is different in that it is an
anthology of articles by a variety of writers, each on a different
subject, and many of them more in-depth than _Hidden Wisdom_ could be,
because we were juggling several dozen topics in that book.

Most of the material in _The Inner West_ first appeared in GNOSIS
Magazine over the years, so in many ways it is a Gnosis anthology,
though not labeled as such.

It even includes an article on Gurdjieff by Richard, in the section on
spiritual teachers. I see it as a complimentary companion volume to
_Hidden Wisdom_.

 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #22 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sat 24 Apr 04 13:38
    
But to respond to your comments about typing and writing... Even if it
is already "written" in your head, I assume that you had to set a
discipline to download that through your fingers, no?  That's what I'm
curious about. (This is partly a question for my own selfish reasons,
since I'm intermittently plagued by writer's block, and also have the
bad habit of not knowing what I want to say until I'm typing it. Haha.)
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #23 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 15:59
    
Just briefly, before we get back to Gurdjieff and related
traditions(I'm saying that because the subject of writer's block and
creativity triggering and so on is one that generates lots of
discussion and, well, cursing, in itself and I could go on about it for
a while), I'd say that for me, I tend to work in a disciiplined way,
more or less, when I have a definite paying assignment or when I really
get rolling on something I write on spec. The lash of the bill
collectors gets me working pretty efficiently. Though in the case of
the Gurdjieff book there was more of a sense of it being a labor of
love, as the pay out front, while not negligable, was not what I
usually get for that much writing. I sometimes have to psyche myself
into writing, and the older I get the more this is the case, as I lose
my youthful sense of 'invulnerability' and--perhaps after having taken
hits, having measured myself against the great world--feel less
confidence. When I was young I was quite unreasonably (rather
cluelessly) confident and this led to my being prolific. The ideas and
words are there for me now, as much as ever; the confidence though is
weaker and I must go in search of it within myself. I sometimes start
writing almost at random, toward a general project, because I know it
will lead, by some kind of creative free association, back to the work
I want to do, and then I can cut the floundering later. See what I
mean, Jay?! This subject! 

Anyway when I do have a paying gig I make myself do a certain amount
of wordage a day--some times it's easier to do that than other times,
depending on my state and distractions. If this seems 'unartistic' - so
much a day - well, that's why we have word processors, for ease of
editing later.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #24 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 24 Apr 04 16:03
    
Some quotes about Gurdjieff...

Ouspensky: “I saw a man of an Oriental type, no longer young, with a
black mustache and piercing eyes, who astonished me first of all,
because he seemed to be disguised and completely out of keeping with
the place and its atmosphere…this man with the face of an Indian raja
or an Arab sheik seated here in this little café…in a black overcoat
and a velvet collar and a black bowler hat produced this strange,
unexpected and almost alarming impression of a man poorly disguised…”
Kathryn Hulme: “We stood before his table waiting for him to look up.
He made us wait for an interval that felt like eons, then slowly raised
his head and gazed at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever
looked into—even slightly angry as they were, scowling. “Excusez-moi,
Monsieur…etes-vous Monsieur Gurdjieff?”
 Solita Solano:  “I hoped for a demigod…not this ‘strange’ ecru man
about whom I could see nothing extraordinary except the size and power
of his eyes…He seated me next to him and for two hours muttered in
broken English…I decided that I rather disliked him. Years passed. In
the autumn of 1934, in a crisis of misery, I suddenly knew that I had
long been waiting to go see him and he was expecting me….”
AL Stavely: “You could say his regard rested on us—upon each one of
us, and in that regard was the merciless compassion that never missed
anything…We sat in a circle around him, attentive and in that strange
state of heightened awareness…Something in one was free, even light,
and something else seemed to be squirming and twisting to get back to
what was familiar, known, secure. It was very disturbing. Everything
was unpredictable…”
John Bennett: “It must have been half-past nine before Gurdjieff
appeared. He came in without a trace of embarrassment, greeting the
Prince in Turkish with an accent that was a strange mixture of cultured
Osmanli and some uncouth Eastern dialect. When we were introduced, I
met the strangest eyes I have ever seen. The two eyes were so different
that I wondered if the light had played some trick on me…He had long,
black mustaches fiercely curled upwards…his head was shaved. He was
short, but very powerfully built…I discovered that Gurdjieff had the
peculiar property of appearing to be a different man to everyone who
met him.”
person… 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #25 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sat 24 Apr 04 16:22
    
<Gurdjieff assessed people and found them mechanically fixated in
various ways and chose appropriately various ways to make them aware
of those fixed patterns, those chief features in themselves.>

I understand.  But nonetheless, it seems sometimes that different
aspects of the teaching were *entrusted* to different students. 
Ouspensky, while he apparently participated in and benefited from the
dances, doesn't appear to have been cultivated to carry them on.   If
that is the case, then how does one go about finding the best
inflection of the Work for oneself? 
  

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