inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #51 of 113: topsy-turvy (topsy-turvy) Wed 28 Apr 04 02:53
    
Addendum - I'm sitting here reading parts of The Fourth Way.

Q. I find that when I find a method to make me remember myself, this
works for a few times and then wears off.
A. You must always change these methods; they do not work for long -
it is part of our state. Take it as a fact; there is no need to analyse
it.

Boy, that rings true for me! I noticed it before I ever heard of 
Gurdjieff. For many many years I delved into esoteric systems, and I
began to notice something... the system would, in the beginning, give
good results, but with time, the effect would taper off. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #52 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Wed 28 Apr 04 11:38
    
JAY: Someday I'm going to write a book called THE WAY OF THE SKEPTIC.
SCICOPS etc won't like it much though as it will acknowledge the
existence of the spiritual. They see no evidence for it (though in fact
Martin Gardner has said he's open to it, and has acknowledged that
there may be something there). It's true what you say, so far at least,
there's no way to objectively prove spirituality--well, that's
arguable. Some people (see the book GOD: THE EVIDENCE) claim there's
some proof, like studies of efficacy of healing prayer when the
prayed-for person doesn't know they're prayed for, but I don't think
there's enough proof there either. But Jay, Gurdjieff said believe only
whatyou can confirm for yourself. And he didn't mean with an
scientific experiment per se, but with personal experience, objectivity
within yourself, skepticism about what might be your imagination, and
just trying the same thing over and over. He was constantly finding
ways to test the effects on people of vibratory phenomena; looking for
objective means of getting to the truth. Like a good scientist he was
willing to revise his conclusions upon obtaining new information. But
for the most part spiritual (or let's say esoteric) realities are
substantiated subjectively. And that's limited. Within the Work--this
is very important I think--there's an emphasis on being sort of
skeptical (people will say 'negative' because they don't like how
unflattering it can be) about spiritual experiences that people bring
to groups because they're so often the product of imagination or some
neurological surge within the brain. The real thing is subtle... 

JEFFREY/TOPSY: PRobably some of the methods they're talking about for
self remembering are just simple devices for prodding yourself into
being more present, but that's not the Work. Ouspensky by the time he
was doing the lectures included in that book had left Gurdjieff and
gone his own way. It's not a book I'd recommend. I'd recommend In
Search of the Miraculous by Ouspensky, as the real workhorse of
workbooks. I'd also recommend the works of Jacob Needleman. A nice
short one for starters is TIME AND THE SOUL. 

SOMEONE ASKED ABOUT SCIENTOLOGY: I don't see too much relevance in
discussing it here, but I will just say that last time, at a message
board, when I and some other people criticized it, the Scientologists
found out and BOMBARDED the board with bizarre harrassment posts, until
we promised to stop talking about it. That series of events perhaps
speaks for itself...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #53 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Wed 28 Apr 04 11:41
    
PS to Jay - I agree conventional skeptics (I'm an unconventional one)
would ridicule Gurdjieff--and I am glad they're there to do that. Why?
Just as I think it's good that our government includes both
conservatives and liberals. I think that progress in spirituality needs
the constant pressure, the filter, of doubt; it needs the *dialectic*
that arises from it. Furthermore those people are contrary, too, to
fundamentalists of any kind, and religious fundamentalists are
dangerous people. Hardcore skeptics do a lot of good. And I think
they're more 'awake'--or arguably they are--than the average religious
person. More alert anyway! If they really read deeply into Gurdjieff,
though, many of them might be given pause...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #54 of 113: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Wed 28 Apr 04 11:54
    
John, do you have any opinions about Eckhart Tolle?  His Power of Now
stuff seems to be a hodgepodge of various thoughts but there seems to
be some Gurdjieff, along with a lot of stuff from the Upanishads.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #55 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Wed 28 Apr 04 15:21
    
I don't know the guy. Is that really his first name? One of the great
mystics was Meister Eckhart...Anyway, I suspect "hodgepodge" is
probably what you have there, but who knows. I'm not saying he's wrong
or whatever. So many people, however, have taken bits from
Gurdjieff...Best imo to go tothe source...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #56 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Wed 28 Apr 04 15:25
    
From my book, Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas:

...And thus we waste our lives away, letting ourselves be carried
along on a conveyor belt of automatic reactions—and at the end of the
conveyor belt, is a furnace. During a talk to students, Gurdjieff put
it this way: “Next to awareness, the most important thing is Time. The
flow of time through us gives us our chance to extract what we can.
Time is a three-fold stream, passing through our three centers. We fish
in this stream, if we catch enough we have enough to create the three
bodies, and become enduring. Time is the sum of our potential
experience, the totality of our possible experiences.” 
          One day, not so long ago, I was walking in my yard on some
household errand, thinking of my career, and generally
free-associating. Then suddenly something recalled me to myself—-this
recollection to myself was the product of past attempts at such
remembrance-—and I made an effort, forcing myself to step back from my
free association; to stop dreaming, and look around. As I did this, I
tried to see my  sleep-walking state of a moment before, and did indeed
glimpse it. So there was a moment of contrast between my earlier state
and this fresher, slightly more awake state: my previous state seemed
like a tunnel, to me, now. It was like a dim burrow, with only a few
blurs of color, and twined  in the shadow walls the  people I’d been
thinking about; the desires I’d been anxious to satisfy: these had been
a kind of shifting, nauseating wallpaper for my perceptual tunnel. As
if I’d been, up till that moment, what the Tibetans call a “hungry
ghost” in my own personal bardo state—for surely I’d not been truly
alive. I had been sleepwalking through this tunnel--now I was out of
the tunnel and able to look around—and simply see where I was. I was in
my yard, on a fine early autumn day, its details springing at me with
a new three-dimensionality: with dappled sunlight and vivid oleander
blossoms and ribbon-shaped crackling leaves underfoot, an
astonishingly-engineered spider web to one side catching the light;
bees drumming the air, birds calling with intricate repetitiveness, the
vigorous shapes of oleander branches and tree-trunks setting off the
vivid blue of the sky, the fragrance and gentle pressure of the air,
the feel of my body, sensations alive in the midst of all this—and a
great deal more. All of this was around me, within me—-and I’d been
completely unaware of...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #57 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Wed 28 Apr 04 15:30
    
correction: Typo in that bit I just quoted, the word 'of' not supposed
to be there at end.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #58 of 113: gary (ggg) Wed 28 Apr 04 19:07
    
fascinating!).

re <42>: there was a movie that reminded me of ouspensky's novella, ' the
strange life of ivan osakin ' made by harold ( ' five-minute buddhist ' )
ramis and starring bill murray (who i heard someone say was into the Work).

yea, ' ground hog day ' - a film about how to wake up, and get it right.

my own encounters came while i was in l.a., thru some friends that were
heavy into mr. G, and a little later thru someone up here in 'frisco that
studied with a gentleman named nyland, i believe.  i'd also read, at the
time, a book called 'the teachers of gurdjieff' which, whether true or not,
was interesting.   then translating rene daumal: another perspective.  (this
is still bac k in the '60s ... )  i gravitated more towards the teachings of
the buddha,
but reading your accounts here makes me interested to re-view.   (i think
daniel goleman's first book, on meditation, included the Work)

anyway, to continue the buddha thread, what's the requisites for being a
teacher of the Work?  lineage, training, transmission, ceremony, etc. ?

p.s. when in san francisco, check out fields bookstore, which always has the
most complete stock of books and periodicals regarding mr. g, as well as
everything and everybody else
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #59 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Thu 29 Apr 04 00:12
    
Mrs. Ruth Cook used to run Field's bookstore.  I haven't been in there
much since she passed on, but it may as well be a shrine for anyone
interested in these ideas.

I second John's recommendation of Needleman's 'Time and the Soul'.  I
recently finished reading it and have acquired several additional copies
to give as gifts.  So far, those gifts have been very well received.

John, did you have a particular reader or kind of reader in mind as you
wrote the book?  While the book is generally chronological, it is not
stringently so. Was there a prinicpal or plan you were following for
laying out the material?  For instance, did you make an effort employ
your understanding of the Work ideas in the execution of the book?
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #60 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 29 Apr 04 00:22
    
Gary - I'm in the San Francisco area and have been to Fields. My book
is there, someone told me today. In said book I mention analogies
between what I think of as essential Buddhism and Gurdjieff. Also Zen.
Groundhog Day was also mentioned in the book as being apparently a
parable of Ouspenskyan recurrence (or Nietzchean?) and Gurdjieffian
self observation. I like that movie just as a  movie too.

Requisites for being a leader, I'm no expert on that, not on much of
anything--my book is an *introductory* wor. And I'm not one of the
leaders. ANd in fact it's sort of both hierarchal and democratic at the
same time--it's run by councils.  But my impression is that in the
Gurdjieff Foundation (which I think is probably still the most reliable
source of the teaching, though in fact I have every reason to believe
that the smaller school started by Nyland is good too, and he was a
good teacher;  but be aware there are schools that call themselves
'fourth way' or the one with that Burton character which are just silly
cults) leadership is determined by having been extensively taught by
Gurdjieff's primary students, or by having been one of his students,
combined with sheer seniority and a quality of respect earned when
people sense you have created a kind of integrity, Being, a
completeness that makes you stand out...But I'm sure since these are
human beings there are politics that happen, and jockeying, and
factioning and bad blood and so on. Still, the main leaders seem very
solid...And elderly. 

Rene Daumal's MOUNT ANALOGUE is a really useful allegorical tale for
understanding Gurdjieff's thinking...

Nonidentification (in a healthy way,not in the sense of
disassociation) is very buddhistm it seems to me, and very
Gurdjieffian...In esoteric buddhism I believe there's talk of the
development of a body of light, no? 

Mrs Cook had a close connection to the Gurdjieff Work as I understand
it though I'm not sure she was in the Foundation or anything...

Chrys-- what reader in mind--well I hoped to appeal to young people,
as the work needs them and I wanted to reach them for several reasons
but the book is for anyone with the requisite questions about life...

 I just tried to write the book as lucidly as I could, and I used the
general course of Gurdjieff's life plus events in the lives of people
around him (just the tip of the iceberg) to set up discussion of the
ideas, sort of letting events in those lives prompt particular
subjects. I did actually have a kind of 'octave' in mind in the book
but don'tknow if I achieved that. Notice the number of chapters. I
tried to sort of let Gurdjieff and followers speak for themselves but
if I had an insight I felt was valid I put it in. I got a few things
off my chest! Like the stuff about the misuse of the enneagram, and my
ideas about the way to approach Beelzebub's Tales. I took the risk of
being pretentious--a book is terribly lifeless if one takes no such
risks.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #61 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Thu 29 Apr 04 00:41
    

<Like the stuff about the misuse of the enneagram>

Yes.  I have been mystified by some of the applications of this.

And Yes, I sensed a structure - which is why I asked about it.  I also - at
times - found myself wondering about why you brought up a paricular idea in
the midst of the history.  (My copy of teh bok is in my hotel room right
now, so I can't offer a specific example.)

Mrs. Cook:  There is a small booklet published of a conversation Dr.
Needleman had with her.  It is full of gems.  A favorite of mine comes up
when she is speaking about her life with her husband.  She remarks on doing
without 'all the necessities'  which is a wonderful way of redefining a
necessity - and how it made luxuries available.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #62 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 29 Apr 04 12:34
    
I brought up particular ideas in the midst of the history because it
was a strategy to discuss ideas more or less comfortably, without
having too much bland discussion--sort of to embed it in story. Perhaps
that's my science-fiction writer background. I wanted to show also how
Gurdjieff's history --especially when it was from Meetings with
Remarkable Men--was integrated with his ideas. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #63 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 29 Apr 04 12:37
    
Two quotes from Gurdjieff's greatest student, Jeanne de Salzmann:       
"You will see that in life you get back exactly what you put in. Your
life is the mirror of what you are, it is your image. You are passive,
blind, demanding. You take all, you accept all, without ever feeling
indebted. Your attitude towards the world and toward life is the
attitude of one who has the right to demand and take. Of one who
doesn't need to pay for gain. You believe that all things are due to
you, only because it's you! All your blindness is there…”
                                                           
“According to Gurdjieff, the truth can be approached only if all the
parts which make up the human being, the thought the feeling and the
body, are touched with the same force and in the particular way
appropriate to each of them—failing which, development will inevitably
be one-sided and sooner or later come to a stop..."
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #64 of 113: gary (ggg) Thu 29 Apr 04 18:12
    
embedding ideas in story is certainly the strategy too w/ beelzebub's tales,
eh?

nonidentifying isn't a bad way of approaching buddha's 'anatman' (non-self),
lingo-wise.  and, yup, development of body of light is definitely part of
esoteric buddehism (e.g., vajrayana/tibetan): we're all bodies of light on a
nth-dimensional holographic mandala of light ...

fields is in my 'hood so i'll look up your new tome there.  ( (the new
owners are
starting to do 'events,' by the way.))    ask 'em about my books and you'll
get smile, i'll bet.
... i'll see if i can find one of my unpublished daumal translations and
post it here, if you like ...

(faScinating!
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #65 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 29 Apr 04 23:18
    

Attributed to the Buddha: “When walking, the practitioner is aware, 'I
am walking'; when standing  is aware, 'I am standing'; when sitting,
is aware, 'I am sitting'; when lying down, is aware, 'I am lying down.'
In whatever position one's body happens to be, one is aware of the
position of the body. When one is going forward or backward, one
applies one's full awareness to one's going forward or backward. When
one looks in front or looks behind, bends down or stands up, one also
applies full awareness to what one is doing. One applies full awareness
to wearing the robe or carrying the alms bowl. When one eats or
drinks, chews or savors the food, one applies full awareness to all
this. When passing excrement or urinating, one applies full awareness
to this. When one walks, stands, lies down, sleeps or wakes up, speaks
or is silent, one shines his awareness on all this."

Something I wrote in a kind of Gurdjieff work journal once:

Sometimes I get tired or depressed. It's amazing how subjective our
evaluation of our lives are - how when one wakes up depressed, the
situation will look bleak; when one wakes up cheerful the same set of
conditions will seem hopeful. It's instructive. I've found that I can
step back and look at the physical feelings of discouragement or
depression as things-in-themselves; it's as if I stand behind myself,
slightly, or inhabit a place that's almost in my spine, where there is
a kind of current that is always the same, in some sense, no matter
what one's emotional condition is. The Work seems sort of weighted
against trying to fix oneself, trying to change and improve oneself, as
that sort of gets in the way...of, ultimately, changing and improving
oneself! That is, trying to change per se seems to get in the way of
self transformation, which is paradoxical - but paradox is so much a
part of esoteric work I sometimes think it is one hallmark of the
authentic. Still, there's no doubt that the Work changes people, over
time, and that some part of it involves saying "no" to oneself, as for
example when one has a clear choice between reacting negatively or
"letting something go" and one makes that choice and suffers the
consequence consciously.  But this isn't something one undertakes all
the time, but only at the right times. Generally one doesn't try to
change oneself, one simply sees, and fully senses what the reality of
one's condition is from this moment to the next, as openly and with as
fine an attention as possible. And that is somehow transformative, by
slow degrees. And yet I find that stepping actively into that state
alleviates my depression. So once more - contradiction, paradox. 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #66 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Thu 29 Apr 04 23:23
    
“We are flatteringly called three-centered beings, but we have no
future because we have two centers filled only with our past habits.
Our centers are empty because we haven’t filled them consciously.
Everything we have is passive. Life becomes always a discussion between
three centers: like or dislike, yes or no. All our time and energy is
wasted by this discussion…. The best way to ‘remember’ what we are is
sincerely to stop inventing those things we are not. We invent to hide
ourselves…We are 1 per cent ourselves, 99 per cent sociological.”
--Margaret Anderson paraphrasing remarks by GI Gurdjieff

“Remember the man who came, who shattered everything, who took you
with his bare hands, who drew you out of your dreams and set you down
on thorns in the full light of day; and remember that you do not know
how to remember.” –Rene Daumal
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #67 of 113: gary (ggg) Fri 30 Apr 04 08:53
    
Someone was walking along a path, in what is now ancient India, and came
onto a grove where some disciples of the Buddha were working.  He noticed
them and stopped to chat.  When they explained that they were a gathering of
disciples of the Buddha, he asked what that entailed.  One replied: We chop
wood and carry water.  But, said the man, I chop wood and carry water: does
that make me a disciple of the Buddha too?  The monk smiled and replied:
"When we chop wood we know we are chopping wood; when we carry water we know
we are carrying water."

Mindfulness is available to us, as meditation, every moment.  Breath, for
example: being aware we're breathing in, being aware we're breathing out.

Your notebook has a very powerful moment for me: the recognition that this
is not about self-improvement, as so many often misconstrue, certainly
easily given the society's tendency to categorize and color with its own
ideology.  Indeed, how could the Work be considered self-improvement without
by that very word, "self-improvement," enforcing a dualism that enchants us
with myriad delightful delusion ...

... change of course is essential to life. But trying to change, when the
change we wish to become is already available to us, innately ... ?  Thus
techniques for change can become fetishes and further traps.

To open up the Daumal channel a little more ...

"The great transmutation which changes the face of the world:
man dances in his prison, the best he can.
To dance better, he measures himself against his prison.
He dances by numbers, dances well.
He realizes it is not on account of measures
that he dances better:  he bawls.
He gets tired, he laughs.  But he cannot stay there.
He pulps everything, and dances.  He plays the part
of the prison and his body, and realizes that his dance
is entirely determined by them.  But the dance?
It is himself.
He is no longer in prison.
(The prison appears:  the face of the world, one believes it changes, it
only seems better.)
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #68 of 113: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 30 Apr 04 11:29
    
A note to those of you who are reading this discussion as it occurs but are 
not members of the WELL:  you can participate by sending your questions or 
comments to inkwell-hosts@well.com. We'll post 'em pretty quickly as they 
roll in.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #69 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 30 Apr 04 11:41
    

Another entry from my work journal:
“Someone once asked the writer Evelyn Waugh how he reconciled being a
devout Catholic and being also a misanthropic, sour acid-tongued
irritable S.O.B.. He said (I'm paraphrasing): ‘Sir were it not for the
influence of God in my life I'd be scarcely recognizable as human.’ In
the Work I'm more stable. I'm more freed than I use to be. I'm a little
more conscious and that is its own reward. Life also seems more
meaningful; this too is its own reward. One's problems and the dark
aspects of one's personality do not go away; but everything becomes
grist for the mill: even when I screw up, if I observe myself in the
way I was taught, if I take a real impression of it then I derive
benefit from even my mistakes, at least in a certain precious part of
myself...”
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #70 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 30 Apr 04 11:45
    
Gary: As I hint in the post above, aiming at changing oneself per se
is, as you suggest, a way to get lost. I mean, if you're beating your
spouse or you're a drug addict, find a way to quit. But in spiritual
work you instead just do the work, stands apart, in its own light
somehow, and this has a healing effect, but the main thing is the work
itself...a longer-term goal...

I resonate with Daumal's piece, aboutthe prison. I once told a guy
long in the work that I feel that although I'm still in prison, I've
gotten to a point where I am sort of able to climb to the window and
look out and confirm that freedom is out there...Before now I wasn't
sure there was anything but the prison. Now I can work to escape. He
said: Same for me.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #71 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 30 Apr 04 14:43
    
You know, one of the challenges I've had in reading your book - and I
should interject that this isn't the book's fault as the book is
admirably readable and lucid - is in forcing myself to read about
Gurdjieff's working concepts.

No doubt it is a function of my asleepness, but there is something
about his thinking that my mind just bounces off of....BOING! It's kind
of the opposite of those instances of inner recognition where one
comes upon an idea or way of thinking about life that just "feels"
right and true. Instead with Gurdjieff I tend to get instances of inner
non-recognition...a sort of gut level "what the f*ck?"

Now, it may be that all the emphasis on "Work" and "Will" gets my
inner Lazy Duffer in a tizzie and my brain just shuts down. I won't
rule that out, by any means. But another possible explanation is that
his concepts and ideas are sufficiently "stand alone," (i.e., enclosed
within their own conceptual universe) that I've always sensed that they
resist a casual familiarity. Either one seriously engages with them
and accepts them and works with them, or one might as well leave them
alone. So, I've always chosen to leave them alone and go elsewhere for
my spiritual inspiration.

I can see the usefulness of things like the Law of Three and Law of
Seven, but something like the Ray of Creation begins to overload my
system and I think "egad, this is no better than Blavatsky or Steiner's
jabberings about Root Races and Cycles and Planetary Hierarchies. I
suppose it could be true (whatever that means) but I don't feel like
taking his word for it."

As you note from time to time in your book, there are some parallels
between G's ideas and, oh, a Hermetic concept or a Taoist one or a
Christian one. But, by and large, he seems to have concocted his own
unique teaching...his own tradition, as it were. 

So, my question for you is: hmm, I don't even think I have a question
here. I'll just say that I admire your engagement with the Work and the
introduction to it that you've provided with this book. Has this book
whetted your appetite to do more writing of this sort?
 
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #72 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 30 Apr 04 15:28
    
Jay  - As for the ray of creation and his cosmology, well I just
barely touched on it. There are people who explain it better. "...his
concepts and ideas are sufficiently 'stand alone,' (i.e., enclosed
within their own conceptual universe) that I've always sensed that they
resist a casual familiarity." Yes and no--I know what you mean,
though. When he talks about the near impossibility of 'doing' and
emphasizes how very machinelike we usually are, it's a 'hard saying',
man. You know if the truth was easy to accept, there'd be a lot less
mystery about our condition. Everyone would know what the problem is.
But people puzzle about it and they try this and that theory...no one
knows. Because seeing that truth is sort of like biting your own teeth,
seeing your own eyes sans mirror. Hard to do. But he showed us a way
to do it...These ideas, somewhat laid out in IN SEARCH OF THE
MIRACULOUS, often puzzle people (to some extent) at first, yet
something draws them--then they do the Work and they re-read them and
suddenly it's *like reading a different book*. Suddenly things stand
out for them. Oh THAT's what that meant. Because they had experienced
it, first hand, through the Work. I will again maintain that the Work
*is* the same, fundamentally, in the deepest esoteric traditions.
Gurdjieff has more ways of getting results though imo than many. 
  I will say that it's not that far from Plato, Plotinus, and
Pythagoras, and some find Kabbalistic parallels. It's also not far from
the theology behind "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People"--that book,
that idea, that God's influence is there but is sort of indirect, and
we have to work our way back to God, as God can only have limited
influence on our level. That's not such a strange idea. But his
cosmology is really not that central, imo, to doing the Gurdjieff work.
What matters is the work toward greater consciousness. The ray of
creation is talked about, it seems to me, mostly to put things in
perspective; so we have a sense of where we are in the universe. We're
not the center of the universe. And we can have a kind of inner
orientation toward the current of the ray, or so I understand. 
     I'd like to write about --in answer to your question at the end,
Jay--the meaning of life, or anyway I'd like to do a kind of survey of
explanations for the question, what is the meaning of life. My teen son
is worrying at the issue now...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #73 of 113: John Shirley (john-shirley) Fri 30 Apr 04 15:41
    
One of the themes of my book is that spiritually speaking, people
expect too much for too little. I tend to be the same. Have to work to
be otherwise. 

Now and then there's grace but mostly we're called to work at it to
make that connection. It's as if we're in a waterless desert valley
where we can't get the radio signal we need, the frequency so we can
get directions for escape,until we climb tothe top of a nearby
mountain. There, our equipment will pick up and we'll be told which way
to go, to get to that green place of rest. But first we have to climb
up to where the signal can be picked up. That climb is arduous.

Onetime a student of Buddhist meditation was complaining to a
Rinpoche, "I've been sitting in meditation for two years and I still
have not Seen my Mind!" (Seeing your mind is an important developmental
step to liberation in that kind of meditation.) The Rinpoche laughed
and asked how much the man sat each day. Two hours a day, the man said.
Seven days a week? No, the man said, six days a week. Okay that's 104
days out of two years you do not meditate. Subtract that from the time
you said you worked. ALso you only sit two hours a day. That's 14 hours
a week, 52 weeks a year. SOyou've meditated not for two years but for
52 times 14 hours times two. How much of those two hours was your mind
wandering? How much were you really doing as you were told, while
sitting, attentively, really working? Uhhhh....the guy admitted it was
only maybe ten minutes per session. So now it's cut way, way down...

The guy ends up admitting he's only really meditated for a few
weeks...
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #74 of 113: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 30 Apr 04 17:09
    
John, as you put it: "When he talks about the near impossibility of
'doing' and emphasizes how very machinelike we usually are, it's a
'hard saying', man."  Yeah, I quite agree, and no doubt part of my
resistance to Gurdjieff comes from the part of me that prefers to kick
back, swig a beer and watch a ball game. Sustaining practices for
extended stretches has never been my strong suit. 

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, Gurdjieff's emphasis on
people's mechanicalness is a particular "angle" or approach that
fosters a certain kind of attention. Another approach altogether might
be to teach people to go around and try to discern and encourage the
divine spark within each living being. That is, I suspect, a different
kind of attention. 

The G approach is saying most people are 'merde' and maybe you, if you
work real hard, can wake up. The other hypothetical approach might say
that all people are actually particularized manifestations of God and
that the more conscious one becomes (and becoming more conscious in
part involves expanding your compassion for others) the more this is
obvious. 

Now, I suppose we could say that Gurdjieff's approach is the "glass is
half empty" approach and this other hypothetical approach is the
"glass is half full" approach. I think most esoteric traditions have
been of the "glass is half full" school which is quite something else
from the "half empty" outlook. 

Maybe the ultimate result for both is the same (though I'm not even
sure of that) but it seems to me that the 4th Way "Work" isn't
necessarily "the same" as the work in most esoteric traditions. 

But, then again, there's the very real possibility that I don't know
what the hell I'm talking about. And I mean that. Caveat emptor.
  
inkwell.vue.212 : John Shirley, _Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas_
permalink #75 of 113: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 30 Apr 04 17:36
    
Hey, Jay, can I take a stab at formulating your unasked question>? 

How does one verify for oneself something like the idea of the Ray of
Creation?
  

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