Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 2751 times)

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2017, 04:46:31 am »
Oh also, this youtube series is really good, breaks the whole thing down into quick little lessons with practical exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyD07twyc6E&list=PLe6rk0a53V_zfZj3aq32sxvNbtHh0qLQY

I'm a bit over halfway through this. SO MANY SHIRTS!

I have just started and already  :lulz:



I want to do something like this format but horrible and Discordian AF. Like possibly involving ORANGES.
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The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2017, 04:48:07 am »
More sincerely Cramulus I think you and others might get a kick out of this vid about Samadhi. It's a little campy at first, but the folks know their subject for sure.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw9zSMsKcwk
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2017, 03:19:23 pm »
I've got the Invite. On Thursday, I'm going to a more intimate meeting with a smaller number of people.

On May 21st, I have tickets to see a live presentation of the Sacred Movements. That's really exciting; they haven't been presented in NYC since like 1962, and before that, 1923.


I found another Bill Murray video where he obliquely references the Fourth Way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4UgNDyS188&list=LLms0UnarvQV7mj_B7zT9MPw&index=1&t=4s


He talks about the secrets he was taught, about living, and how it transformed his life. Being relaxed, having fun doing whatever you're doing, living in the moment...


I like how Bill reminds himself... "This is it," he tells himself, "This your life, you only get one, this isn't a dress rehearsal."


I was on the subway the other day, just waiting for 20 minutes while we approached grand central. Bill's words rung in my ears - this isn't just a transition between point A and point B, THIS IS IT, this is living, make the most of it! 1 face smiles.

Every moment is the holy moment.

Vanadium Gryllz

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2017, 04:55:27 pm »
I've got the Invite. On Thursday, I'm going to a more intimate meeting with a smaller number of people.



How was it? Or do you mean next week
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2017, 05:56:21 pm »
It was alright. It was mostly a "getting to know you" session with ~10 people. We talked about why we were here, what we were looking to get out of it. It was kinda short.

I talked a little bit about how Discordianism is this soup of networked ideas, and I kept bumping into Gurdjieff through Wilson and other writers. But they didn't want to hear my reading list, they wanted to hear WHY these ideas interest me.

So I talked about my personal mind-fuck ego-death experience that I had ~6 years ago, how it profoundly shifted my understanding of myself and humans in general.


I was able to feel this vital life force animating the meat machine - and it's an ancient force.. It's been growing and exploring and reaching towards the sun since the first organisms.

And when I was outside of the ego, I was able to recognize the ancient vital force as ME. That's the real me, not the ego, not the everyday identity. I was able to see that my ego/identity is basically just an interference pattern generated from the interaction between two fields (accidents of birth and culture) and had very little "realness" to it.

And I think that when Gurdjieff talks about self-remembering - how a real moment of self-remembering transcends the ego - he's talking about the same thing I experienced. It profoundly changed me, and I want to get back there. If Gurdjieff has tools that will help me understand and explore that experience, then I'll take a ticket please.


They're setting up a "work group" - that's a small group of people that meet regularly and talk about their inner work. We'll read one chapter of "In Search of the Miraculous" every week, and then discuss. It'll last about 10 weeks. It's kind of a pain in the ass for me to get to it, but I think I want to do it.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2017, 03:31:04 pm »
Update:

I had to fight my way in, like Meatloaf standing on the front porch of Project Mayhem.

Originally, I gave a wishy washy answer about whether I could make a Monday meeting. It's a long drive for me, and it conflicts with another thing I have. So consequently, they never gave me the invite. I had to reschedule some stuff and then check back in... then I got the invite to the reading group. Went to one last week.

I'm about four chapters deep in In Search of the Miraculous. In this book, Ouspensky is sharing the tale of how he met Gurdjieff and what it was like being in his orbit. Because of its narrative style, this book reads much smoother than the other Gurdjieff books I've picked up. It also shows another side of G, one I've seen other people mention - the man definitely comes off as a charlatan at times. In the first two chapters, Gurdjieff spends a lot of time setting up the Hard Sell... basically saying, look, you can't figure this stuff out on your own. You need a teacher... here's why you need me:


                      BILLY MAYS HERE
                                  /


-You could study the way of the Fakir and it will take years of training before you have mastered your physical body and have a chance to build the "divine body",
-OR You could study the way of the Monk and spend months mastering your emotions, and then have a chance to create that divine body,
-OR You could study the way of the Yogi and, after really diligent training and mastery of the intellect, you can have meditative experiences in which you'll feel the stirrings of your divine body...
-OR you could study THE FOURTH WAY and work on all three centers at once - it's still a lot of work. But you don't have to quit all your shit and go study at a monastery... in the Fourth Way, you figure out how to escape the black iron prison, develop a soul, while immersed in everyday life.

It has an aura of salesmanship...

He also talks about "immortality", though he's never clear about what he means. A lot of people approach Gurdjieff because they want to learn occult secrets. He kinda teases them, or gives them a run-around. When he talks about immortality, he never resolves whether he's talking about creating some eternal essence that is preserved after death, or a more abstract kinda of immortality via having REALLY EXISTED in the world and leaving a legacy. it seems like he doesn't even want to talk about immortality except that people keep asking him about it.


Gurdjieff was a really intense character, people loved him, but he made a lot of people hate him too. That's a normal reaction to these super extreme people. In reading criticisms of Gurdjieff, you see a lot of that - that he could be absolutely terrible when he wanted to be. It seems like he's still in control of his emotions even when he's raging... people say that Gurdjieff could be screaming at one moment, and in the next breath, when it's no longer needed, turn it all off and go right back to a calm tea.


Burns recently linked me to this page discussing the meeting between Crowley and Gurdjieff: http://www.ptmistlberger.com/why-remarkable-men-rarely-meet.php ----------------


Quote
Crowley arrived for a whole weekend and spent the time like any other visitor to the Prieure; being shown the grounds and the activities in progress, listening to Gurdjieff’s music and his oracular conversation. Apart from some circumspection, Gurdjieff treated him like any other guest until the evening of his departure. After dinner on Sunday night, Gurdjieff led the way out of the dining room with Crowley, followed by the body of the pupils who had also been at the meal. Crowley made his way toward the door and turned to take his leave of Gurdjieff, who by this time was some way up the stairs to the second floor. “Mister, you go?” Gurdjieff inquired. Crowley assented. “You have been guest?”—a fact which the visitor could hardly deny. “Now you go, you are no longer guest?”

Crowley—no doubt wondering whether his host had lost his grip on reality and was wandering in a semantic wilderness – humored his mood by indicating that he was on his way back to Paris. But Gurdjieff, having made the point that he was not violating the canons of hospitality, changed on the instant into the embodiment of righteous anger. “You filthy,” he stormed, “you dirty inside! Never again you set foot in my house!” From his vantage point on the stairs, he worked himself into a rage which quite transfixed his watching pupils. Crowley was stigmatized as the sewer of creation was taken apart and trodden into the mire. Finally, he was banished in the style of East Lynne by a Gurdjieff in fine histrionic form. White faced and shaking, the Great Beast crept back to Paris with his tail between his legs.


by the way, there's another section of that doc which I found interesting - it unpacks the double edged sword that is the "guru" figure:

Quote
...my master is myself—lies at the heart of the ancient Eastern tradition of “guru-yoga,” something found in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The essential idea behind it is to see that the spiritual teacher is, in principle, a reflection of the awakened self within the seeker. To regard one’s teacher as the “buddha-mind” as they put in some Buddhist traditions, is a generally trustworthy way to accelerate one’s spiritual progress, because it gives a good opportunity to subdue the ego, which by nature does not trust in the higher values represented by the guru’s teaching and seeks to maintain separation and ego-identity at all costs. (This was also the rationale behind Osho’s “device” of creating lockets for his disciples containing a photo of himself).

Of course it is a given that such an approach carries a risk factor, because to regard one’s teacher as a reflection of one’s awakened self assumes that the teacher is a worthy representative of such. But a subtler point behind guru-yoga is that it has the power to override “imperfections” in the guru. Put simply it is possible to attain significant spiritual realization in the company of a flawed teacher. Likewise, it is also possible to experience considerable disillusionment and pain when associating with a teacher who turns out to have greater character flaws than one might have initially imagined.




I am still finding the Gurdjieff work really challenging. Sometimes I read something that actually really upsets me, like Gurdjieff bandying about some sincerely unscientific proposition  - stuff that was still a bit believable in 1910, that wouldn't hold up now. Then I sleep on it, and I can see that there is a layer of metaphor. And that's like a key... once I understand the metaphor, it "unlocks" that passage and I can get what he means. The trial, IMO, is to not fall into the trap of justifying everything he's saying, but remaining critical all the time. That's also Gurdjieff's intent... just like Robert Anton Wilson, he doesn't want you to just accept what he's saying. He wants you to question it, test it for yourself. Stay in the critical mind.



I have more to say, but that was a long post already.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2017, 03:43:36 pm »
Just to touch base again with why this might be interesting to some of you --- Gurdjieff literally wrote about the Black Iron Prison and the Jailbreak a full century before we did. He and his followers spent their lives figuring out how to describe and escape from this "inner slavery".

He described two "walls" in our cell:

-We are slaves to what Gurdjieff calls "considering", which is being concerned with what other people think of us. This is an ego-drive and it keeps us anchored in the smaller, immediate, local parts of the self.

-And we're victims of "identification", which is basically becoming what you experience. When you feel something, it takes over. Most of the time, you have no objectivity about it, and no point of view outside of it.


A lot of the Gurdjieff work involves practical exercises in which you can begin to free yourself of these traps.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2017, 04:43:42 pm »
Just a quick note to say thanks again for this, Cram!

Vanadium Gryllz

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2017, 08:03:07 pm »
Just a quick note to say thanks again for this, Cram!

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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2017, 03:03:11 pm »
Just want to chase some thoughts I've been having about the Gurdjieff work...

The Medium is the Message
Marshall McLuhan wrote a lot about the 'modal shift' between "tribal" culture and "literary" culture. Electric media, like TV and Radio nd the Internet, represent a return to tribal organizations. In pre-gutenberg times, before the printing press, knowledge was shared through these special tribes. Groups would have a shared, collective understanding of something, and would impart knowledge to newcomers piecemeal. Learning was personal, nonlinear. There are types of knowledge that can be transmitted through this medium, and not as well through the newer linear-literary medium. The study of the spirit is one of these types of knowledge... in the shift towards literary culture, we lost the best methods for transmitting some of these truths.


The Carpet Dance
Gurdjieff invokes the image of these old-world villages where carpets were made. Carpet making, he explains, is an ancient art. There used to be a lot of symbolism and ceremony in how a carpet was manufactured. In some places, an entire village would come together and make a carpet in one day. The village would be divided into different groups ,each group had a job.. and as they did these jobs, they'd be singing special carpet-making songs and doing special dances. Each motion in the dance had a meaning built up over centuries. All these dances came together to make a carpet. The music and symbolism and dance steps brought everybody's consciousness together, rolled it into a big ball. It was like the village became one entity, united through this task.

That's part of what Gurdjieff means when he's talking about Self Remembering... there is a mind, a self, that is bigger than the ego. We all share it, in some small way. We forget this, because we're distracted by the ego, we think the ego is the whole self.  (The Sacred Dances are a way of remembering this)


The Loss of Secret Knowledge
There was a lot of knowledge lost when we moved from tribal to linear / literary culture. There's a myth of progress, that we just keep advancing over time, and anything going on now is probably more advanced than anything happening in the past. And that's true in a lot of ways, but there are also types of knowledge that can't be encoded well into a linear, textual medium. They were lost. The modern mind thinks "eh, if it was lost, it probably wasn't valuable" - and "scientism" feeds into this as well - the idea that Truth is best captured through our modern empirical framework and cannot come from anywhere else.

But let's look at an example... One topic I keep thinking about is Automatons. These super cool robots were built in the 18th century by these guilds of craftsman.. The knowledge of how to build these things was secret, just passed between master and apprentice when the apprentice was ready. And because this knowledge was hidden behind a veil of initiation, it was never encoded so that somebody could just read a book about it. When the guild structure collapsed, their secrets vanished. But they were cool secrets! Without computers, these guilds were able to produce these insanely complicated clockwork machines. We still don't know how they did it - and nobody alive today can make one.

So it is with matters of the spirit. People spent their entire lives studying the internal world. There was a rich network of symbolism and techniques which were used to pass on this information. A lot of this was lost. Or the modern version of it is reduced to a silhouette.

Tarot, for example, is basically just for fortune telling today. But it used to be part of a larger spiritual system... the goal of which is to transform the Fool into the World.

Alchemy... people think of alchemy as proto-chemistry.. those are the only parts of alchemy we care about today. But all that material stuff it dealt with (turning lead into gold, etc) was just a metaphor for its ultimate aim, which is to study SPIRITUAL transformation. How DOES a shitty person become a better person? Through these processes like calcination, fermentation, there is something (almost like a chemical process) which happens to the spirit. If you want to turn iron into steel, or you want to focus your life and will into a harder substance, it's a similar process ... you heat it up, you burn out the slag and impurities, you pour it into a form...

ahh I'm on a tangent...

What I'm getting at is --

The Incompleteness Theorem of the Self
There are lots of ways to understand the self. No single way can reach every truth. Gurdjieff was missing out on modern science. But science is an incomplete picture too. If we insist on understanding the world using empiricism alone, we abandon the network of symbolism and meaning that humanity developed over thousands of years. You know what I mean here? There are truths you can reach through, say, Buddhism, that can't be expressed in terms of empirical findings which could be laid out in a textbook; they're too subjective, personal, internal, symbolic...

I share this only because it's a demon I had to defeat in myself - scientism and the dominance of literary culture. My reactive mind, armed with an experimental psych degree, rejected or dismissed anything that didn't fit into its linear/literary "mode".

That's part of why I'm on this Reality Safari - to explore what else is out there.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 04:56:10 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2017, 03:20:08 am »
At the meeting tonight (Week 3 of 6), I asked about the bad science.

Because like, Gurdjieff tosses around a lot of stuff which is plausible if it's 1910.

In one case, he hits the nail on the head - he thinks the moon was formed when a comet hit the still-molten earth. Nobody in 1910 believed that. We would figure out that this is probably true in the 1990s.

But a lot of it is just ... weird. Like he talks about how the moon might one day have life on it, but it's too young now.. it's still gathering energy to grow up and be a real planet. Stuff like that. I wanted to know - how do the older people feel about that stuff? Do you just ignore it, because Gurdjieff wasn't actually a scientist and is just kinda speculating? Do you say "Ah but this is is actually just a metaphor", and then try to extract some esoteric truth from it?

I asked about the moon, and the dated non-science. This old timer at the meeting tonight gave me a good answer, "The cosmology which Gurdjieff sets up... all the stuff about how the planets are formed and the energies that pass between them... If you ask a lot of people why they like this stuff, very few people mention his cosmology. It's just part of the way he talks about the world. But it's definitely not literally true, and it's not even the most interesting thing about Gurdjieff's ideas.  If you get frustrated by the science, don't sweat it - move on to something else."

well that's cool, I'm glad they're not going crazy trying to rationalize some of the bizarre ideas that Gurdjieff drops. Like how the moon feeds on organic matter, and if humanity was collectively enlightened the moon would starve.  :lol:

It made me feel better that there isn't this huge serious grayface effort to rationalize all that. When I read something absurd from the book we're reading, the old timers laughed too.

The guy said to us - All of Gurdjieff's propositions, you have to verify them for yourself. Don't just take it on him that it's true. If he says that human life is food for the moon, you can't really observe that yourself, so don't worry about it. But stuff he says is happening inside of you - like how most of the time, we are asleep, or we are stuck in a prison and one of the things confining us is our obsession with what others think of us.... you can look at yourself and verify if that's true or not. That's where you have to start.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2017, 05:11:03 pm »
Oh man.  L Ron definitely ripped some of this off for the Scientology pastiche.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2017, 02:39:25 am »
Oh man.  L Ron definitely ripped some of this off for the Scientology pastiche.

The whole Scientology thing apparently started off as a gag that got out of control, so I don't doubt that a bit.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2017, 05:37:12 pm »
So, speaking of Scientology....

Part of why I haven't been enthusiastically participating in this discussion is that I get hella triggered when people start lolling about joining cults. I spent a long time dealing with people who had escaped an abusive one, and people who were never members but ended up at war with them one way or another. Prior to that, I've had friends who had Really Bad Experiences with smaller, low key cults. I'm not an expert, but I've got a good background in the subject and a lot of weird history to draw from. Lots of shrapnel, I believe is the correct term.

Right now everything seems fine and dandy, and that's great. But I never once talked to someone who left a cult saying "it always sounded like horseshit." They always make a lot of sense at first. They always require a lot of buy in before they get to the weird stuff (at least the successful ones do). And I'm not saying that to try to ruin your fun, I know you gotta cut the rational part of your brain loose a little bit and see where it goes with these things.

The question is what are you doing to keep yourself safe? Do you have hard lines you won't accept with these guys? Do you have people outside you're keeping in the loop, who you trust enough to call you out if you start to fade into this thing?
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2017, 11:23:53 pm »
To the last part, typical cult behavior is grabbing those with no or very poor support systems. It's one of the things that helps people get attached to gurus and other untouchable authority figures. No attachments in your old life but now you belong.

Friendless orphans with money are basically a typical cults bread and butter. Yes, this does mean Bruce Wayne is probably a secret hare Krishna.
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