Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 37236 times)

LMNO

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #105 on: June 05, 2018, 07:49:19 pm »
Would it be fair to say that "sleeping mind" might be too much of an active (and negatively connotated) verb?


Like, would "reliance on heuristics" work? People don't think beyond the heuristic, don't evaluate if that specific one applies in a certain situation, and essentially don't "think" about it.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #106 on: June 05, 2018, 08:38:11 pm »
Would it be fair to say that "sleeping mind" might be too much of an active (and negatively connotated) verb?


Like, would "reliance on heuristics" work? People don't think beyond the heuristic, don't evaluate if that specific one applies in a certain situation, and essentially don't "think" about it.

I think Sleeping is the right metaphor for the dream state / autopilot we exist in most of the time.

When I have my "ahah!" moments - when I finally see my own ignorance and laziness - when there is an electrical contact between my conscious and unconscious parts - I feel awake.

I've noticed, personally, that the experience of trying to "wake myself up" feels similar to an attempt to make a dream lucid. Like, look around right now---is this a dream? How can you tell? You have to be present, that's the only way to know. If the 'reality check' is mechanical, automatic, it doesn't work.

If the sleep metaphor doesn't play for you, think about it this way - being 'awake' is the opposite of mechanical action. In Illuminatus, Wilson and Shea describe the automatic processes as "the robot" and the self that can overcome the robot as "the human". Sometimes the human can even reprogram the robot, but the robot has to be defeated first.


"Reliance on Heuristics" speaks to a deficiency in the intellectual process. But doesn't describe other parts of the "sleeping" experience - like how I constantly filter out the data I'm receiving from my body (or emotions). It doesn't describe how when I'm emotional, my intellect is pulled into service of that emotion.




I'm reminded of that passage from the Principia Discordia - the Parable of the Bitter Tea.

In Chasing Eris, Brenton interviewed the writer of that passage ... that passage is about how your body / intuition is often way ahead of your mind. The character is brewing this tea, and he suspects that it's going to taste awful, but he's absorbed in the process and brews it anyway. And then he discovers what he already knew - it was a bitter tea. His mind is disconnected into different ribbons, they cannot communicate with each other while he's acting mechanically.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #107 on: June 05, 2018, 08:53:58 pm »
I'm okay with the negative connotations of calling it Sleep because it's the state I want to overcome. I rely on it too much, and that's what keeps me comfortable - and mediocre.

In some ways, the "sleep" I'm trying to escape is a Black Iron Prison - a place where you are not entirely free, boundried by your own choices and tastes. You can never fully escape, but by actively confronting your own internal obstacles and habits (including the ones you like), by resisting your urge to settle into the most comfortable position, you can attain a higher degree of freedom.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #108 on: June 06, 2018, 01:48:57 pm »
The Moment When Cramulus Finally Lost It

Getting you cats up to speed on my Reality Safari

For over a year now, I've been attending weekly meetings which include 5 "learners" and 2-3 "teachers". The terms in quotes have never been used - I'm just using them for ease of communication. The folks who lead the meetings don't present themselves as teachers or experts, just other people in the Gurdjieff work trying to figure things out. We understand this as a "preparatory group".



In In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky mentions that Gurdjieff charged people a sum of money (1000 Rubles) to study under him. Ouspensky prodded him about that, asking - if the work is so important, why charge for it? That's too much.

Gurdjieff indicated that it wasn't so much about the money as about making the group a commitment and a priority. “People do not value a thing if they do not pay for it.” A small sacrifice will encourage people to treat the Work with gravity and approach it sincerely.

And it's also indicated that Gurdjieff gave a lot of people a pass on the "dues". People who genuinely couldn't afford it could (secretly) attend for free. Gurdjieff could be shameless in asking for cash (especially of rich high-society people who wished to study under him), but also famously generous. (and he never bragged about that generosity - he said "one should cultivate generosity in secret") (Gurdjieff and Money)


So with that in mind, I've been waiting for the Gurdjieff Foundation to ask me for cash. In my mind, there's always that "IS THIS A PREDATORY CULT" question, and when the donation tray comes out, that's when we'll see the true colors. I keep Eris close by, and she reminds me that I can say "fuck it, these guys are spags" and flounce at any time. I like to keep this feeling in my front pocket, the awareness that I can choose to flip a mental switch and be repelled instead of attracted.


Last week, they told us that we'd be taking a break for the summer. And in September, when the Foundation opens again, that our group would be invited to become a "Foundation group". That means that we'd be welcome to attend any of the Gurdjieff Foundations events and activities, but we would also be responsible to pay dues. The money goes towards the rent and upkeep of the Gurdjieff Foundation building, which is an old firehouse in midtown Manhattan - a super expensive property to maintain, to be sure!



They said the dues would be $85 per month, which works out to about $1000 a year. (I was hoping they'd ask for 1000 Rubles, because that's only like $16) They also said that they money is not intended to be an obstacle - if you can't pay it, you can name an amount that you can pay. The important thing is that you make a firm commitment and then stick to it. You shouldn't say "Oh I can pay $75 this month" and then the next month, only $40. Someone in our group will have to volunteer as treasurer, collect the dues from the others, and then give it to the foundation on our behalf.

I'm encouraged... actual predatory cults don't tend to say "Pay what you can" - they have no problem draining you dry.

As a dues-paying member of the Gurdjieff Foundation, we would have the freedom to attend events at the Foundation building. There is a weekly reading from Beezlebub's Tales, and also "work days" and various activities. Most interesting to me is the class on the "Movements".

The Sacred Movements fascinate me, and I've always wanted to learn them. My first brush with the Gurdjieff work was watching some of the Movements performed on youtube (which is NOT the proper way to experience them, but god bless the 21st century) - something about them captivated me, calmed me, inspired me. The dancers are completely there. I want to be a part of that. They also speak to my aesthetic attraction to mysticism and esoteric knowledge - the dance is like a prayer you do with your whole being - not just your mind, but your emotions and body. They are like a language, with a deeply encoded symbolism which is invisible to us on the outside.

The movements classes won't begin until October - and they take place at 9 at night. This is a significant challenge for me, as I live outside of NYC and would have to take a train in the evening. They said that if you intend to learn the dances, to commit a year to it. So, I have until October to waffle about it and figure out how to organize my life so that I can do this. In the end, I am sacrificing comfort, which is maybe a good thing to sacrifice in the name of my aim.


Last night, I attended a presentation of Gurdjieff music at the Foundation. It was touching and beautiful music, soulful and evocative. At age 36, I was the youngest person in the room by at least 10 years.  :p I wonder what it will be like to study alongside these people. I wonder if I will come to the well and drink my fill, and then wander away. Or if I will drink and then dwell there.

Maybe it's the sunk cost fallacy, maybe it's my thirst for knowledge, but I'm ready to learn more. At this moment, looking at myself in the mirror and comparing it to myself when I started this Reality Safari ... I've changed, in a good way. I've gotten a lot more practice observing myself in very fine ways. The Gurdjieff work has illuminated an inner chamber which I've glimpsed through our talks about The Art of Memetics and the Black Iron Prison. I've gotten better at controlling - or at least, recognizing - the impulses and internal forces that fill my sails.

I can also sense when others have been initiated. Two weeks ago, I was at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, and I was struck to a standstill by some of the art there. When someone has had the experience, all of their art reflects it. Sometimes I would look at a piece and instantly recognize that this person has been through the same gates I have, they have felt the unity of Thou Art That and the disjointed inner cacophony that stuffs itself into a trench coat and presents itself as the ego.

I can see how the works of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary are an Outer School, they are another manifestation of the fourth way into the temple. What I've been learning is in many ways the same thing that's at the kernel of My Discordianism, albeit less silly and more traditional. It reconciles the religion of my youth with the freedom of my adolesence and the critical edge of my adulthood.

We have a lopsided pineal gland, you know.


« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 02:11:30 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #109 on: June 06, 2018, 02:12:49 pm »
This might be outside your knowledge base, but what makes Gudjieff music 'different' than other music?

I'm wondering if it's a different approach to music theory/composition, or if it's an ineffable "feeling" about it.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #110 on: June 06, 2018, 02:42:44 pm »
That's a good question! A little outside my ken. I know that Gurdjieff intended the music in part as reconciliation between eastern and western forms. He worked closely with the composer Thomas de Hartmann on each piece, and supposedly encoding within it some of his teachings. Some of the music - like the sayyids - seems like it's designed to take on the emotional qualities of the performer.

heh, side story --- At the musical performance last night, there was this one old guy... we're all sitting and waiting for the presentation to begin. This guy gets up and adjusts the LED above the piano. Then says, rather harshly (albeit with a trace of humor) "Is that better, DOTTIE? Is the light PERFECT now? Is it not in your eyes??"

Then he faced another part of the crowd. The LED was glaring in our faces. He asked "How is it for you guys? Is it hurting your eyes? does it make you uncomfortable?" a few people nodded yes. The guy looked right at them. paused. nodded as if to say "good", and then sat down.  :lol:

Later, he would play a few pieces on the piano. The way he played was harsh, abrasive, hammering the low notes in a way that was startling and serious, like thunder. It was like I could feel his confrontational edge. And in this meditative space, I could feel the emotions that this confrontation provoked in me, though at a distance. Like I was watching myself from a third person perspective, like I was a character in a play, performing my lines and reactions as scripted.



I only know a little bit about the origins of the music... Gurdjieff sent Thomas de Hartmann and his wife on a sabbatical to Armenia to taste the culture there.

Here's a passage from James Moore's biography of Gurdjieff, on p 130

Quote
Thomas de hartmann was now set a new task. As candidate pianist for the Sacred Dances, he urgently needed to master the distinctive idiom of oriental music; Gurdjieff therefore instigated and fanned in him a passion for Komitas Vardapet the ill-fated Armenian ethno-musicologist and national genius. 'I wish to speak', said Thomas, tightly gripping his lectern in Tbilisi, 'of Komitas Vardapet who is now in Constantinople, whose mental health is seriously injured and who is kept without money, without moral support, without the warmth of family and without friendship, having lost everything decrying the bloody massacres of the Armenians.' Three months earlier, Thomas had not heard of Komitas but under Gurdjieff's influence he could, for the moment, scarecy think of anyone else.

At the beginning of July 1919, when [Thomas's wife] Olga had gamely brought to concert pitch a repertoire of Armenian songs, Gurdjieff despatched the de Hartmanns to Armenia on a flying cultural visit. They arrived in Erivan debating whether the greatest achievement of the Komitas were actually his deciphering of the ancient neumes or his harmonic and polyphonic extrapolation of the Armenian folk melody. At night they sprinkled round the bed a 'magic circle of kerosene' to ward away lice and vermin; by day, walking to their concerts, they regretted the harrowing and distracting evidence of inefficent flour distribution: 'people sitting like corpses, homeless and starving, awaiting death.' On their final evening, the de Hartmanns were received by his beatitude Archishop Sarpazan Horen in his house high above the Zanga river:

Quote
When night fell, a full moon shone through the warm southern air and mount Ararat was wrapped in a shroud of mist: an unforgettable sight. To accompany this vision there was real Eastern music... different kinds of 'bayati' with 'gap'.

Just as Gurdjieff had intended, Thomas returned to Tbilisi attuned to the beauty, savagery, and immemorial melancholy of his teacher's Armenian heritage, and burning to translate it all into music.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #111 on: June 06, 2018, 02:54:40 pm »
Thanks!

Looks like traditional Armenian music uses a different musical theory structure, which would naturally generate "non-Western" melodies and chords.  That's a good starting point, for me.


::wanders down the Wikipedia trail, looking into Armenian Jazz groups::

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #112 on: June 28, 2018, 01:29:12 pm »
We had a break all month, and then we won't meet again until mid September.

The exercise they've been having us do is a variation on the one I described where you move your awareness systematically through your body, and then spread it out to encompass your whole body. This time around, they asked us to do three cycles. In each cycle- get the physical input coming from each limb, then the whole body, and then ask yourself

What do I REALLY value?

This exercise has been very challenging for me. Mainly because that question shakes me up.  As you're doing the meditation, you're not just experiencing the sensations from each body part, you're also trying to become aware of the myriad ways you get distracted, the subconscious forces pulling your thoughts. It's said that we're knitting together the conscious and unconscious parts.

And so, for me, early in the exercise, the answer to that VALUES question was mainly ideals. I value high minded humanistic things.

Late in the exercise, as I'm expanding my awareness of this "inner circle" from whence my actions originate - the high minded humanistic things fall apart. What do I REALLY value? Well fuck, look at what I do. My inner circle is dominated by pleasure and aversion. "Beavis and butthead like things that are cool and hate things that suck."

There is a discordance between the high-minded ideals I tell myself that I value and day to day operations of my actual control center. And that means that my "values" are just a story, really. As I join my awareness with the rim of the inner circle, I can see that behind that "pleasure and aversion" there is another layer... the force behind "approach and avoid" is just wanting to settle into the most comfortable position. This inner laziness is at odds with every high-minded ideal I have.

Ugh, it's painful to even think about... the futility of idealism and the enormity of the work. It really reflected myself back at me and I became disgusted. I know that this is part of the work - that ego death is not a "fun" experience. I know that I need to lean into that discomfort and exist there, because that's where the possibility exists -- to develop something solid.

But I decided to lean away harder, and explore the "Holy Denying" principle. (Also called Antithesis)


I'm at a crossroads right now. This Autumn, my Gurdjieff "preperatory group" will graduate into being a "foundation group", and that means paying dues and potentially going to a lot more of these meetings. And learning the Sacred Movements. But it also means filling my "inner circle" with more Gurdjieff, letting that old huckster deeper into myself. And I want to take a minute to pause on this and really think about it.

I joke all the time about how I'm in a cult. And I've really tried to stay eyes-open about this, aware of the subtle pressures that exist in the group and how they draw you in. I have not seen any of the red flags of a predatory cult. But still, they're asking for money now, and this is a real 'moment of truth'. Not just because of the money, but because paying money for something causes you to value it more. I may be exactly the type of person who is really vulnerable to their approach. So is this a good idea? You can be straight with me here, fam. Let me have it.


I did a deep dive to explore the writings of people who rejected Gurdjieff. I read a lot of cult recovery forums. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the people who drank from the fountain have capitalized on it and become spiritual predators. I just watched this documentary Wild Wild Country, which is about the Osho cult in Oregon... I could honestly see myself becoming one of those poor sannyasins that became soldiers in the army of a cult of personality.

I could feel myself obsessing. I have been reading a lot of Gurdjieff, thinking about his work a lot, it is such a big part of my mental landscape -- to the point that it started to become uncomfortable. It reminds me of this young version of myself that first discovered the Tao Te Ching or the Principia Discordia, and then couldn't keep my fuckin mouth shut about it, I was always trying to jam it into conversations and signal my knowledge about it... what a wanker

Thank the Goddess for my Discordian grounding. Eris always whispers to me "....others say he is a shithead". There is so much power and freedom in that statement.


And honestly, asking myself about my values three times a day... was so uncomfortable. Unsettling.


So I took a few weeks to NOT think about Gurdjieff at all. Walk away from it, let it sit.

And yesterday... I got overwhelmed with the news, and I realized I needed it again - I'm getting blown around like a leaf in the wind, and when I'm at rest, I am just trying to settle into the most comfortable position. I'm trying to do the Exercises again and I'm rusty, distracted, challenged.


I feel "between two stools" right now

there's a saying in the work



blessed is he that has a soul
blessed is he that has none
but woe and grief to he who has it in embryo


« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 02:39:10 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #113 on: June 28, 2018, 02:19:49 pm »
The Inner Circle

Here's how I'd describe it today...

Inside of you, there's this sphere. It is the control panel to the human machine.

The different parts of you (thoughts, emotions, daydreams, ideals, vices, physical hunger etc etc) attempt to reach into that sphere to control it. This is a zero-sum game, these parts are in competition. If one part gets control, then it feels like you are that part -- until another part gets control. You cou(ld call these parts "selves".


((as an aside -- this is closer to how the Romans and Greeks thought of the Gods. When you are angry, "anger is with you". Like, there is a god of anger, and he rules you in that moment -- when you act in anger, the god of anger is acting through you. Who you are is inseparable from Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, etc.. we are all Mount Olympus))



The sphere (for the old timers on this forum, maybe think of it as the "golden sphere of possibility"  :lol:) is only partially visible to us. When we view it, we're usually viewing it from above; the bottom half of it is occluded. That's the subconcious.

Sometimes hunger dominates the sphere, but I don't see that because there are other selves on top of it. The conversation I'm having with my girlfriend blocks me from seeing the hunger. But because the hunger is the chief of the sphere in this moment, it acts through the other selves. I get cranky or short, dismissive, and I think I'm being rational. But really, I'm just hungry. The hungry self is trying to get what it wants, and this conversation is in the way of that. I'm not even consciously aware that I'm hungry.


When you are really present, you can see the sphere. Resisting a habit is like lighting a match, a flicker of light reveals a network, a branching fractal like tree roots.

With some work and discipline, you can see the bottom half of the sphere.

This awareness is also a self, it is also reaching into the sphere to control it. But it's weak, equally weighted against the other selves. We have to champion it, we have to teach ourselves to be present, we have to crown that self and make it strong.




The Sixth Circuit - the metaprogramming circuit

In the show Westworld, sometimes there's a moment where the robots get to look at their own settings. All the different parts of their personality - aggression, compassion, lust, etc -- are sliders that are set by the writers. When the robot is handed the tablet with the control panel, they can see these things about themsleves - and have the freedom to set the sliders themselves.

But can they really adjust those sliders "freely"? The position of the sliders dictates what they want, how they think they should be.So what changes could they possibly make? If the aggression slider is high, why would you want to turn it down if that's what it seems like you are? does the aggressive part of you want to be less aggressive? no.



The goal for us humans is to see the positions of the sliders. By doing this, we create a perspective that is outside of them. We are able to see how we have been acting and make objective decisions about it. That's the self that has freedom, the one that sees the programming and can make a decision about it from outside of it.

In the Gurdjieff work, that's the ideal - to be. To develop the self that isn't just programming code, the writer who can edit the program.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #114 on: June 28, 2018, 02:28:30 pm »
This is really cool, Cram.  Thanks for doing the work and reporting in.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #115 on: June 28, 2018, 03:46:52 pm »
Thank you - I appreciate that people are following! Sometimes people pull on my sleeve and tell me "I like your Gurdjieff thread, I just have nothing to add" - which is cool, and I understand that a lot of my posts are a big wall of text, but feel free to jump and give your reactions too :P

The old timers in the group tell me that sometimes these "preparatory groups" have a code of secrecy. Not because our discussions are actually secret, but because stuff said in the group has a certain quality and reality - a face to face connection, a physical presence -- which is not present if you were to listen to a recording of it, or read my typed-up notes. The Gurdjieff Work is part of the oral tradition, and all I can really share with you guys is a 1-step degraded account of it.


I remembered another little note from the meeting the other day which I wanted to share -- when talking about this question "What Do I REALLY Value?"



Anyone remember Crowley's talk about the Hunchback and the Soldier?

ie ? and !

The Question Mark is called the Hunchback. This gnarly little character pops up when you want to know something.
The Exclamation Point is called the Soldier. It's the answer to the question. Every time the hunchback pops up, we call on the soldier to beat him back down.

The Questioning part of your mind is creative, thoughtful, analytical, awake.
The Answering part of your mind is like a stop sign. Once a question is answered, the question vanishes and we rest.


Maybe the hunchback is the better part of us.
Maybe we should check the soldier before he beats down the hunchback.

Try letting the gnarly hunchback stand--he can explore the landscape in a way the soldier can not.



What do I REALLY value? is a hunchback

instead of racing to answer the question, maybe let it stand there, let it explore the landscape

Instead of searching the past and present for your values, maybe the answer is in the future - maybe there are new values that can be discovered in this moment. Maybe you can be surprised by yourself.



Quote from: That old liar, Castaneda
You see, we only have two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real, or we don't. If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with the world. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves.

      When nothing is for sure we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 03:49:58 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #116 on: June 29, 2018, 02:00:24 pm »
Cram I think that given your fiscally responsible habits you mentioned in your "jailbreaks" thread that it may well be worth your while to bust your wallet open and pay what you can to proceed down this path. We're talking about less money than some folks spend on their Steam accounts per year. On the quest to understand "What do I REALLY value?" observing what you spend for and how much could be a good point of reference.

They don't sound predatory. Given that they are not taking advantage of you it would seem that they are sincerely trying to pass on knowledge that can only be approached in stages and that is possible to abuse in the wrong hands. The "cult" is as much a filter as it is a means to interact. When you reach a higher level they may ask for more money or hand you some magical worldview as a next step. At that point you will have to decide whether to proceed at your own discretion, but for now it would seem to me that making the financial commitment alone could be a sort of jailbreak moment all on its own.
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:

"You program the controller to do the thing, only it doesn't do the thing.  It does something else entirely, or nothing at all.  It's like voting."
- Billy, Aug 21st, 2019

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #117 on: June 29, 2018, 02:15:19 pm »
[unsolicited advice]

You might also want to decide ahead of time what your max budget is.  Like, instead of "let's see how it goes", you set a definitive price, and monitor that.  Let's say you stake out three times the cost of annual dues.  Now you can observe and gauge what they're asking for in relation to the decision you made before you went down this new path, rather than in the heat of the moment.

[/unsolicited advice]

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #118 on: July 03, 2018, 02:23:31 pm »
Good advice, cats! Just wanted to share one more line I remembered from the previous meeting.

When you're PRESENT, the outside world leaves a stronger impression on your nervous system. Your memories of that moment are clearer. You can then think more clearly because you have better data. When the outside world and inside world are well connected, you're more alive.

Gurdjieff once said the point of the whole work was


"Everything more vivid."



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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #119 on: July 03, 2018, 04:45:09 pm »
It seems to me that you are a cautious, critical thinker, Cram, and on top of that I feel that you have a pretty good safety net when it comes to the community here. That said, I would encourage you to continue your Gurdjieff studies and pay the dues. The caveat being, of course, that I hope you'll elect to hit the eject button as soon as said studies stop seeming beneficial and start seeming rote, obligated, and/or suffocating.