Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 2768 times)

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2017, 01:24:21 am »
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.

This is my general impression.  I'm not an expert on the subject, though.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2017, 02:35:05 am »
I'm no expert on batman either. Layman's view.
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2017, 05:03:48 pm »
I wrote a reply to QGP yesterday and then the Internets ated it.  :cry:

Okay, good question...

So, I keep throwing around the phrase "the cult I joined", etc - part of it is tongue in cheek, part of it is the oldschool definition of cult:

  • a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious
  • a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal.

I am really sensitive to the traps that actual cults use to suck people in and convert them. Here's why I think I'm safe here:

  • They don't ask for money or labor, it seems like the old people running the show just really love to talk about this stuff and don't ask anything in return
  • They encourage us to stay critical, challenge Gurdjieff.. and they are aware he talked out of his ass a a lot.
  • They don't use group language (like using a "we" to speak for everybody), and there there aren't any group norms being set ("we don't do XYZ", or "Gurdjieff enthusiasts love to...")

I mean really, this feels more like joining a yoga group than a religion.

As for how I'm protecting myself - I braced myself from day 1 that I'll hit the ejector button as soon as I start feeling somebody's will overshadowing mine. It would be really easy to walk away.

I think everybody recognizes that G does come off as a bit of a charlatan at times. That keeps my guard up.

I have also alerted my friends to my strange spiritual experiment. When I discovered Taoism at age 15 and Discordianism a few years later, I was intolerable. I became a preachy, insufferable spag. I've asked my friends to let me know if this starts to happen again.


Q. G. Pennyworth

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2017, 05:10:34 pm »
That all sounds really solid. I'll admit my interest in how you're keeping your metaphorical helmet on isn't strictly altruistic. I am sometimes bad about falling into holes (although not this particular one) and I have a lot of interest in how people protect themselves while engaging in crazy shit.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2017, 03:59:18 am »
Bill Murray helps a bit


ETA: Also discordianism itself has precautions in place.  I'd be more concerned about someone who didn't hold the values of TFYS and the prohibition of believing everything one reads.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 04:02:37 am by Bu☆ns »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #35 on: May 20, 2017, 04:24:35 am »
Cram--not sure if you checked out any of that blogger's other articles but they're quite interesting.  He often compares krishnamurdi, osho, and gurdijieff and their methods. I'm glad i checked in to this thread because it reminds me to follow up on that.

Quote
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.


When i read this thread I'm constantly reminded of how these different things you describe resemble other spiritual practices.  Mantra, for example is basically a self-remembering technique. Repeat a a phrase and combine it with beads. Then feed all the experiences from the above two points waaaaaaay up inside the mantra.

A lot of it seems to separate out the pieces for better organization especially if one's habits and routines resemble the  automaton.

I'm curious if any of Shiva's 112 Meditation Techniques resemble any of the techniques you read about. I can only find this in reference to Osho, but it seems legit enough.  Plus I think Osho ripped off Gurdjieff all to hell--especially with movement and plain old physical activity. So at any rate, I'm curious as to how they compare.



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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #36 on: May 22, 2017, 07:10:11 pm »
Last night, I went to the Gurdjieff foundation's presentation of the Sacred Dances.

As I mentioned, this is the first time in over 50 years that the Gurdjieff foundation has presented the dances in public. Before that, it was another 50 years.

I wasn't allowed to take any video or pictures, but I did manage to sneak in a few:






It's kind of hard to describe - if you look up the gurdjieff sacred movements on youtube, it'll give you a sense of what it looks like.

These were really incredible. It was like watching a living machine. A conscious machine! Like a human engine that is not automatic, but deciding to move in perfect sync.

The dances aren't shown to the public because they're really not a performance. They're more like a form of meditation, or prayer. Each movement references some aspect or law of the universe. As the dancer moves their body, they are meditating on its meaning. If you're in the dance, there is a group energy, a group mind which can be felt.

Through this dance, one can momentarily shed ones subjectivity. This is not the silence and stillness of zen, or the frenzy of the ecstatic... it's something else... they say the dances are a study of the transformation of energy.


Watching them in person, I was really blown away. Haven't had my mind blown like that in a long time! It looks like an incredible amount of work, to learn to move in a group like that, in perfect sync, with that degree of precision and specificity.


« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 10:28:13 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #37 on: May 22, 2017, 10:17:36 pm »
When i read this thread I'm constantly reminded of how these different things you describe resemble other spiritual practices.  Mantra, for example is basically a self-remembering technique. Repeat a a phrase and combine it with beads. Then feed all the experiences from the above two points waaaaaaay up inside the mantra.

A lot of it seems to separate out the pieces for better organization especially if one's habits and routines resemble the  automaton.

That's one of the cool things about the Gurdjieff work. He was initiated into a LOT of different spiritual traditions. A lot of the stuff he presents can be found elsewhere, but described from a different angle. It kinda feels like Gurdjieff tried to touch the proverbial elephant in lots of different places.  :fap:


Zen teachers say: you think too much, you talk too much, your reasoning apparatus doesn't know how to take a break, you forget  the "primal" self... (the same 'primal' we're talking about when we say 'primal chaos', the world unfiltered by the mind)



MY UNDERSTANDING (which may be wrong) is that in Mantra meditation, you are basically going deep into the mechanical part of the self. You repeat the mantra over and over again, until it's automatic, until it becomes you, until the person who is saying the mantra is gone and only the mantra is left.

One of the reasons that a lot of mantras are nonsense words (OM MANI PADME HUM) is that you don't want the intellectual part of the self to get stuck in the 'meaning', where it will start free associating and taking you down these little side-paths. During mantra meditation, you want to stay in the mechanical, automatic mind while there is no self.

The goal of this practice is to develop a "solid core", to gain mastery over the random impulses and stray thoughts and daydreams that pull our mental arrows off target.


Gurdjieff thinks, by the way, that this is an "unbalanced" way of training. The zen student has to learn to stop the thoughts that create the world. THEN, they basically have to re-learn to think and feel. Zen says - the intellect and emotions get in the way... if you silence them, what's left? Let's stay there for a little while, that's where the real self lives. If you hang out there long enough, you might meet him!


Gurdjieff, on the other hand, is presenting a way of working on all the "centers" at once. That is, you are not trying to quiet your intellect and emotions. You are trying to observe them, and eventually understand them, and eventually, control them. Zen starts at the other end: trying to control the mind and the emotions, and then discovering the self. Gurdjieff understands the self as fractured, as having no unity. We can't discover the self unless we can take in the whole mosaic at once.



And as a point of order - Gurdjieff doesn't think his work is better than zen, or that zen students are training wrong. It's just a different approach!


Quote
I'm curious if any of Shiva's 112 Meditation Techniques resemble any of the techniques you read about. I can only find this in reference to Osho, but it seems legit enough.  Plus I think Osho ripped off Gurdjieff all to hell--especially with movement and plain old physical activity. So at any rate, I'm curious as to how they compare.


yeah, reading over this, it feels like there's some shared area

I'd need to study it more, though, before I can say anything interesting about it


and even then, what I say will be boring
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 10:28:41 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2017, 03:14:44 pm »
On God's Omnipotence....

I liked this passage. The Absolute Will (ie whatever causal factor started the cascade of the big bang, the suns, the planets, life on the planets, you, me, this sentence you're reading right now) isn't involved in the day to day affairs of the universe. The universe functions according to laws and principles which can be understood.


Quote from: In Search of the Miraculous, by PD Ouspensky
We had many talks about the idea of miracles, and about the fact that the Absolute cannot manifest its will in our world and that this will manifests itself only in the form of mechanical laws and cannot manifest itself by violating these laws....

"Give me an example of something that the Lord cannot do," said the bishop.

"It won't take long to do that, your Eminence," answered the seminarist. "Everyone knows that even the Lord himself cannot beat the ace of trumps with the ordinary deuce."


"There was more sense in this silly story than in a thousand theological treatises. The laws of a game make the essence of the game. A violation of these laws would destroy the entire game. The Absolute can as little interfere in our life and substitute other results in the place of the natural results of causes created by us, or created accidentally, as he can beat the ace of trumps with the deuce. Turgenev wrote somewhere that all ordinary prayers can be reduced to one: "Lord, make it so that twice two be not four." This is the same thing as the ace of trumps of the seminarist."





Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2017, 07:39:52 pm »
I just wanted to touch briefly on a topic that's all over Gurdjieff. It's called the Ray of Creation.

     

The story goes like this:

In the beginning, there's the raw uncut universe, called the Absolute. The primal singularity. The original Causal Factor. All that exists, undivided. Everything at once.

Whatever that is - produced all the suns in the universe, including ours.

And the laws which govern stuff at that size led to the formation of planets, including ours.

When you get down to planet-size, there are different laws. From these factors, life on earth emerged.

Emerging from the laws which govern life on earth, some of it eventually developed consciousness, analytical thought, became capable of examining itself and its environment... As sagan puts it:



I think it's beautiful.

There is a spark inside of me, animating me. This spark was forged in the big bang, it's a direct product of this primordial cosmic process. As it descends into increasingly fine levels of the universe, it becomes subject to different laws. Layer by layer, it eventually becomes a human life. So the big bang didn't just create stars and stuff like that, it also created you and me. The Big Bang created consciousness. The big bang created you reading these words on a monitor.


And then what? What follows consciousness, in the ray of creation? What will consciousness eventually produce? To what end does the universe want to know itself?

Nobody knows, of course.

Gurdjieff says that organic life on earth is like an "energy collector". Organic life is building up this "potential". When the potential reaches a certain threshold, the next thing will emerge.


Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #40 on: June 16, 2017, 02:34:43 pm »
An idea that's been spinning in my head like a gif from angelfire, by way of Jacob Needleman (podcast)


The scientific atheism of our time is a necessary purgative - it strips us down to a place where we might understand God in a completely different way.






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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2017, 02:43:51 pm »
Oh man, I completely missed this thread until now... looks like I have some weekend reading to do.
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2017, 03:14:56 pm »
I have so much to say and I don't have a clue where to start. Guess I'll start with the material facts... This isn't a polished essay, I'm going to ramble, so forgive me in advance and bear with me.

I made it through 7 weeks of the In Search Of the Miraculous book club. It was an interesting and challenging experience. I struggled for a while with the "science" behind what Gurdjieff was saying. Ultimately, I made a mental breakthrough when I spotted the parts where Ouspensky warns us not to take it too literally. We're in deep metaphor country. And through that lens, all the stuff I struggled with became so beautiful and personally meaningful.

For example, I wrote about the Ray of Creation. Ouspensky describes the Ray as this emanation from the creation of the universe which cascades down into smaller tiers of existence. Something created all the galaxies, the stars, our star, the planets, our planets, life on our planet... and that same creative force is present in us. Ouspensky wrote about how the edge of the ray of creation is the moon, and that one day once it has been fed with the energies and collective processing power of humanity*, it will be green... but I think the moon is better understood there as a metaphor for whatever it is that humanity is creating.


*this idea of humanity as a collective processor... it kinda reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Adams presents the earth as a giant computer. Every living being on earth is contributing to the grand calculation of the meaning of life.

That's very in line with Gurdjieff's thinking. It's kinda like - the birth of modern democracy required centuries of "processing" feudalism. Years of painful serfhood and subjectivity (as in 'being a subject') created this collective need for something better. And when that fire grew hot enough to destroy feudalism, we lit our torches and headed for the castles. Our suffering served some (at the time) invisible future purpose.

And in this similar way, humanity is creating something else, beyond what exists now. We're all involved in it, as we live our lives and pay taxes and argue with people online. This isn't just humanity, it's the whole universe pushing its way into consciousness through us, creating the universe through us.

At larger scales, "creation" looks like suns and planets being formed, huge masses of plasma spinning through space. At smaller scales of creation, this same process looks like you and me.


anyway

That's an example of me coming through the eye of the needle and expanding my narrow literal understanding.

Seven weeks of the meetings... the group dwindled from a dozen down to about 5 (plus the three leaders). In that smaller group, the real discussions started. I felt like I was really able to engage and ask my questions.

And like many good mystery cults, it ended with mystery, something else behind another veil. The speakers would not tell me more about the sacred movements, or about the stuff you do later in the work. They give a coy smile and say we've just scratched the surface. One of them explained that this group is partly about us seeing if we really like these Gurdjieff ideas. And it's also about the Gurdjieff Foundation seeing if they really like us, if we're ready to learn more.

They told us to keep reading, and that they'd be in contact. After the summer, there are going to be more meetings. But I think we'll only find out about them if we're invited.

One of the cool things about the Gurdjieff work that's unlike esoteric mystery cults... other groups ask you do to the "work" before they teach you the "secrets". Gurdjieff arranged it backwards. He tells you the secrets right up front, and then slowly reveals the Work which will help you fully understand them.

I want to wear the robes and do the dances and share consciousness.  So I'm going to hang on.


I think they like me because I'm a skeptic. I'm very critical of everything we're being told. I often challenge the "elders" in this group... I said a few weeks ago - one of the things I've struggled with for 15 years now is the idea of free will.

There's a "law" in behavioral psychology called the Melioration Principle. It says that an organism will engage in a behavior until a competing behavior offers a better reward. You can see this every day, in everything you do. When you make a choice, what you're doing is really just a quantitative weighing of rewards. And doesn't that sound mechanical? Does that seem like free will? It seems like free will is just solving this calculus equation.

Gurdjieff says there's a way out of this. That there are moments when you can escape this inner slavery. Moments when your actions aren't mechanically dictated by external circumstances. With work, with awareness of the internal world, with "conscious labor and intentional suffering", we can achieve brief moments of internal freedom.

And I say: I will believe it when I see it.

But I'm not dismissing it until I have walked down the path myself. If this kind of freedom is possible, I want to taste it.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #43 on: June 18, 2017, 03:45:33 pm »
Hey Cram, thanks for keeping up with this. I see you what you mean by not knowing where to start. Just reading your posts alone, my brain keeps wanting to branch out and correlate the different associations that arise.

Do keep up, it's kind of cool having one of our own explore this relatively obscure practice

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #44 on: July 31, 2017, 09:09:56 pm »
I'm not sure why I'm only just now seeing this thread, but I second what Burns said.

Your writing and critical thinking styles make it very easy to understand the concepts you're tossing around in your head. The analogies are clear and concise, and you tell it all in an adventurous and optimistic manner, while still making the past and present tense criticisms known.

I think we all appreciate the attention to detail and the overall dedication to clarity. I just wanted to make that clear, as I know that sometimes, lack of feedback on material that's based on something people aren't normally interested in can cause the author to feel personal disinterest in writing about it.
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