Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 7 May 04 07:02
Thanks to John, Jay, and everyone else who's contributed to this discussion. Today is the last day - at least the last day that John and Jay agreed to show up; of course you're all welcome to continue. Consciously, of course.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 7 May 04 07:51
Thanks, Jon. It's been fun. John, a winding down question did occur to me... So much of conventional spirituality seems to amount to cultivating lofty thoughts, keeping one's eye on the positive and harmonious, encouraging a loving attitude, and so on. On the other hand, your own writing has generally been marked by a "noir" sensibility, a tour through the dark recesses of the human mind and behavior. Has your engagement with the Gurdjieff work altered your attitude towards your own writing? Do you find any tension between a horror story stimulating fear in the reader and efforts to spiritually wake up?
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Fri 7 May 04 12:35
John, I heard from Jon Lebkowsky a few days ago about this discussion but didn't have the time until this morning to log on and haven't had the time to read everything but (naturally ;-) wanted to add my 2 cents before you leave. Somewhere in these postings someone wrote: "human beings don't have a soul that survives death unless they create one. We have spirit, that connects with the sort of ocean of consciousness that invests the universe, and that has its own phenomena, that may lead to some variant of reincarnation, but survival as a real individual, that's rarer, and requires work on oneself, the development of will" A few years ago my life was shattered by events that threw me outside "my life". Illness and personal loss and a pervasive mental confusion that lasted for years left me lost, alone in a fog while life moved on outside the limbo in which I existed. But, in that solitary "prison" the universe spoke to me and I knew I was not alone. And, I learned to see my connections to "all" material reality. One of the beliefs/understanding that I brought back from that experience is that each one of us is a flower of the living consciousness that is the universe and that each one of us blooms for a time and shares our beauty only to return to enrich the universal "Iam". I guess what I'm trying to lead up to is that I don't agree with the emphasis above on INDIVIDUAL survival beyond "death" and think that it seriously misleads those who are searching to understand and "wake up". Survival of the individual because of the strength of "WILL" is not enlightenment to me since I see the enlightened person as someone who understand his/her relationship to the universe and life and accepts what is and finds ways to contribute what he/she can to that roiling sea of consciousness of which we are all a part. I know I'm not explaining it very clearly, but I felt compelled to throw that thought out to the universe through the avenue of this forum. I hope it helps point a direction for someone to consider in their journey for understanding. Thank you so much for the thought-provoking ideas you have shared. Their effects will will ripple out and touch others for years to come.
John Shirley (john-shirley) Sat 8 May 04 23:50
First to bobbyL: I know just what you mean and I do think it's true that "each one of us is a flower of the living consciousness that is the universe". There is a kind of "survival" in that alone because that in us which is an expressionof that consciousness is deathless. It is a good path to simply accept that. But it's not the only path. "WILL" does not lead to individual consciousness, it's just a sort of tool for leading the attention to the process of creating a soul, in the Gurdjieff system. The process is a sort of all-directional growth of consciousness and a kind of 'feeding' of something within us that grows, sort of the way a mother feeds a fetus. (Not too literally...but sort of.) There are levels of survival, and my hypothesis is that those who help us from the higher realms...people call them angels, gods, saints, bodhissatvas...are capable of doing that because they have a fuller individuality than simply a kind of wave on a sea of consciousness that sinks back into the sea at the end of its materialization in a body. That is, it's not about creating something that survives as just another kind of vanity, it's actually a kind of sacrifice--it takes sacrifice to get there and it further development requires sacrifice. See--you're not wrong. I just think you only have part of the story. chrys - If you've read In Search of the Miraculous, I'd suggest you contact the Gurdjieff Foundation -- there is also, alternately, the Nyland groups, and in Oregon there's Two Rivers farm. It depends on where you are...You can send me an email via www.darkecho.com/johnshirley Jay - Perhaps one thing I like about the Gurdjieff work is that it accepts that we have a dark side. Gurdjieff said that this was an ancient saying in esoteric circles: "Only he will deserve the name of man and can count upon anything prepared for him from Above, who has already acquired corresponding data for being able to preserve intact both the wolf and the sheep confided to his care." Sort of like Jung and his anima. It doesn't mean you're harsh or brutal or something. But it means you can take a stand. And it's about self knowledge. Jung--I think it was he--once said that our understanding of ourselves is like a small patch of white on a large black sphere. We only understand the white patch...but there's all that dark area. Well, he meant parts of ourselves that we're normally not in touch with, not necessarily our dark sides, but it's in there--we don't see ourselves as we are until we see our dark sides. We have to *master* that side. But we don't pretend it's not there--and people who are always on about 'positive vibes' are silly, imo. ONly be positive--and you're a liar. And you're indecisive. If you use a knife to harvest food to feed a child, the knife was 'negativity'...
John Shirley (john-shirley) Sun 9 May 04 00:00
It's late, I'm tired, I've forgotten the term--I don't think anima was it...psychoanalytical term for the dark side...but you know what i mean... Anyway: One needs fire, said Gurdjieff in the Library of Congress transcription. Without fire, there will never be anything. This fire is suffering, voluntary suffering, without which it is impossible to create anything. One must prepare, must know what will make one suffer and when it is there, make use of it the fire cooks, cements, crystallizes, does.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Mon 10 May 04 10:49
John, don't know if you will ever drop back and see this note BUT I felt compelled to add these comments based on your response to me.....You wrote; "WILL" does not lead to individual consciousness, it's just a sort of tool for leading the attention to the process of creating a soul, in the Gurdjieff system. The process is a sort of all-directional growth of consciousness and a kind of 'feeding' of something within us that grows, sort of the way a mother feeds a fetus. (Not too literally...but sort of.) There are levels of survival, and my hypothesis is that those who help us from the higher realms...people call them angels, gods, saints, bodhissatvas...are capable of doing that because they have a fuller individuality than simply a kind of wave on a sea of consciousness that sinks back into the sea at the end of its materialization in a body. That is, it's not about creating something that survives as just another kind of vanity, it's actually a kind of sacrifice--it takes sacrifice to get there and it further development requires sacrifice. See--you're not wrong. I just think you only have part of the story." Or, maybe since I've never been involved in any groups, it's more that I just don't have the language others might be using to describe the same things ;-). The understanding I gained during my difficult years included the concept of a universal consciousness becoming aware of itself over time and that the "work" of each of us (individual components) was to make conscious our "individual" understanding, refine it, strengthen it, share it and allow it to link us with "the all". Not sure what you meant by "will" but if you are talking about a "conscious focus on/attention to" then what you are saying makes sense to me. Again, I wouldn't use the word "survival" because it points in the direction of "ego" survival and that can be terribly misleading seekers and set them off on unproductive directions, I fear. And, I must say, I don't particularly care for the idea of needing to CREATE "soul" either since I the lessons I learned made me believe we all have "soul" (all material existence is infused with it) but if you are talking about REFINING the energy of that individual spark, then again it feels like we are on the same track. Your statement that "There are levels of survival, and my hypothesis is that those who help us from the higher realms...people call them angels, gods, saints, bodhissatvas...are capable of doing that because they have a fuller individuality than simply a kind of wave on a sea of consciousness that sinks back into the sea at the end of its materialization in a body." is misleading (at least from my perspective) if you are talking about discrete "individuals that exist in higher realms". I have more of an understanding that "they" are extensions of "me" and as such just one more aspect of the universal "IAM" - not separate "unique" individuals who were once material and now are not----that's too much of a simplification of the energy processes at work. I see the universal consciousness that I call "IAM" as energy coalescing over time but unevenly developed and that uneven development creates consciousness foci that interact at times with this plane and can make one "think" such foci are actually unique individuals but which are in reality something(s) that is/are really much more collective than that. Unfortunately, when it comes to this subject, language often gets in the way of clarity and I know the vision/understanding I sense/feel can never be completely transmited to an other just by using words. But they do let me point to a direction for individual investigation that might lead someone else to a similar "knowing"..and so I thank you for your "words" and know that they will aid my quest to clarify what at some levels I already "understand". Regards, Bobby Lilly
John Shirley (john-shirley) Mon 10 May 04 12:03
In many respects we probably are talking about the same thing. The way I describe what we already have, is spirit. I think of soul as something that must be created--but you could argue that's just refining spirit. People often react against the idea that soul must be created to continue individuality after death (the ego is not a useless appendage, imo, but a sort of tool which unfortunately tends to take us over--we can command our ego rather than become identified with it) as it's a scary sort of concept, hence the idea is perhaps "the esoteric of the esoteric". It's not palatable--and it's our egos it's not palatable to, really. CS Lewis talked about a state wherein we're both completely at one with the divine, and at the same time individual within it. That seems paradoxical but so is the higher reality from the human point of view. So maybe that's what you have in mind. We can be transparent to the overall "I AM" and still have distinctiveness--but we are always, Gurdjieff said, in a condition of relatedness to that higher thing, we're always under its influence, as we ascend. We're like waves on a sea--but waves that can move, if we choose, in directions other than those blown by the wind. Still we're a part of the sea. Here's Jeanne de Salzmann, talking about the Gurdjieff sacred dances, the Movements, but also by extension talking about something more: "You must constantly divide your attention between something which is higher than yourself and your movement. You always lose yourself in one or the other. As soon as you stop making this effort, you become identified with the movement."
John Shirley (john-shirley) Mon 10 May 04 12:11
"Symbols, transposed into words of our language, and handed down in those words, harden into a filament, they tarnish and may give rise to fatal errors in people who do not understand the symbols or understand them literally. Truth gets encased in a shell of error, and to enable the approacher to get near to it a great effort is required on his part." --GI Gurdjieff, lecturing at the Chateau du Prieure
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 10 May 04 13:05
Whew, Bobby, I believe I intuit what you are describing, but it sure does push the envelope of language. What you speak of reminds me of Ibn Arabi's teachings (such as in the Fusus al-Hikam). Especially: "the concept of a universal consciousness becoming aware of itself over time and that the 'work' of each of us (individual components) was to make conscious our 'individual' understanding, refine it, strengthen it, share it and allow it to link us with 'the all'." Ibn Arabi speaks of each of us as an unique extension of the Divine created, in part, so that we can mirror back God to Himself. (That's a vulgar simplification of how Ibn Arabi would state it, but I'll let it go.) Of course this can get a little solipsistic, but that's Monism for you.
Of course this can get a little solipsistic (pjm) Mon 10 May 04 13:52
John Shirley (john-shirley) Mon 10 May 04 15:39
He was a danger. A real threat. A threat for ones self-calming, a threat for the little regard one had of oneself, a threat for the comfortable repertoire where we generally live. But at the moment when this threat appeared, like a ditch to cross, a threshold to step over, one was helped to cross it by his presence itself. --Michel de Salzmann on Gurdjieff
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Mon 10 May 04 21:43
John, is there much unpublished Gurdjieff material in the Library of Congress?
John Shirley (john-shirley) Tue 11 May 04 14:57
There's a fair amount, there, yes, I'm told. I had it second hand from someone else and haven't been there. Here follows a 'mystery quote' attributed by some to GI Gurdjieff, others say they think it was Ouspensky or Maurice Nicoll or Rodney Collins paraphrasing Gurdjieff. It is, anyway, something he said in other places. It's quite powerful: "A normal being wishes to live forever. A normal man is one who not only has actualized his inherited potentialities, but has freed himself from his subjectivity. We are made in the image of God, and God's attribute is immortality. If God wishes to live he has shared that wish with all of us. He also provided the means by which that wish to live may exist forever. This wish to live constitutes a being. Once being alive there is no choice, we must live forever. The representative of God in any individual is that which tells him how or what God would do in any situation. Your powers are to actualize, to be aware of your presence. This is your money in the bank, your cash, your earning ability. 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. We live our experiences successively, this is the first dimension of Time. To be able to live experiences simultaneously is adding another or second dimension to Time, or the third dimension of Time. When we have identified ourselves with Time it will be as Revelation says...AND THERE SHALL BE TIME NO LONGER ... I beg you, before starting on this journey to question yourself. You are plunging into the dark: here is a little lamp: I show you how to rub it; make sure you know how to rub it. Suffering is the price of endlessness. Conscious labor consists of having an objective in life, as a LIFE aim, an Aim which can be pursued the whole of your life. It does not depend on the vicissitudes of life. It is the aim for which you took the trouble to be born. You are an immortal being if you keep this aim. If you keep this aim through this life you will have an aim strong enough to persist after this life, an aim big enough to persist through an immortal experience."
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