Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 70962 times)

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #225 on: April 30, 2020, 02:22:16 pm »
Yeah, since lockdown we've been having virtual meetings. Every other week, 1 hour long.

It's not the same as an in-person meeting, that's for sure. We're experimenting with a new way of meeting, and so there are new challenges. We're trying to be available for each other, to be in each other's presence, even in its diluted form.

There's a lot of uncertainty. I think the Foundation was really caught flat-footed with this pandemic. Most of the Foundation members are pretty old and vulnerable, so the Foundation has closed for the rest of the "year". (which really means until June, with a wait-and-see attitude to see if we can re-open in August or September)

Because all of my group friends are in NYC, I get to hear about their challenges... like there's a couple who had a baby in December... now they have not been outside their apartment building since mid-March. Guy says that he knows its Spring because the only tree he can see from his window is starting to look green. Someone else lives right next to a major hospital, so she's been hearing ambulance sirens around the clock, there's no way to get away from it. Everybody is stressed.

As far as The Work goes, I feel like I've been a little out of it.. this situation is so tedious and grating, I don't want to be present and awake. I want to put on a movie or video game and then realize hours have passed.

But it's still important. Thanks to your question, I spent some time sitting and meditating this morning, and it helped me moderate my stress levels. Stress is an accretion, it's something that builds up in your muscles, and in your unconscious mind. Sometimes a flash of consciousness, a brief contact between the conscious and unconscious self, can be really useful. You see what it really is.


one of the group leaders has been musing
that if the work is supposed to make ourselves available,
to help each situation,
give it what it needs,
then maybe we could be doing more.

During German occupation of France, Gurdjieff ran a soup kitchen out of his house. Every night, a line of needy people would form at his back door, he'd let them in, feed them, talk to them, hug them...

The Gurdjieff Foundation is more cloistered. We don't do community outreach like, say, the Masons do. But maybe we should.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #226 on: April 30, 2020, 03:33:26 pm »
Quote
But maybe we should.

It's better than nothing?

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #227 on: April 30, 2020, 07:06:28 pm »
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But maybe we should.

It's better than nothing?

Agreed.

I’ve been missing my group recently. But then, I’ve been missing a lot of people.
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #228 on: June 08, 2020, 02:26:05 pm »
This morning's contemplations

⚫  I am only sometimes at the helm. Lately, I've been very much asleep at the wheel, just moving through the quarantine life one day at a time. Lately, I've been getting frustrated at myself because I can't seem to get beyond the first steps of any potential project or activity. I want to do something, and then I get distracted. More than usual, despite the lack of distractions. This is a good moment to feel my internal state, my psychic organizing principles.. and notice that they are easily distracted, perhaps too responsive to impulse. This is the human condition. It is very hard to accomplish anything, to become anything, because we are a million impulses only loosely lashed together, often fighting each other. Sometimes it feels like any motion is a war of inches.





⚫  Re-reading Robert Anton Wilson, recognizing the myriad ways his writing was influenced by Gurdjieff .. I think that one of the most valuable parts of RAW's writing is where he urges skepticism of one's own thoughts. He encourages us to always ask: How do we know what we know? How do we decide things? Is the inner eye trustworthy? There is an important shift: between observing something, and being aware of your observation process. Gurdjieff calls this 'self remembering', he thinks its our only clue about how to think objectively.

Regarding the people that you disagree with: it's really tempting -- and seductive -- to believe that our enemies are dumb, immoral, ignorant, and brainwashed. But the difference between you and some medieval peasant who thought that witches float and innocent women sink -- is narrower than you think. That person just started from a different set of assumptions, ones that they received due to the circumstances of their birth. Our personalities, too, are a function of geography and culture, things outside of our control, things whose influence is practically invisible to us--we're like fish that aren't aware of water. We think we swim because, given the options, it's the best choice. But we swim because we were born in water and know nothing else.



⚫ There are cultural forces that act as organizing principles. They are larger than us, and they influence us in powerful and subtle ways. There are phases of culture, observable in many points during history, when culture seems to want polarization. We move into two sides, and then go to war. This is an alchemical process, a dialectical process, it is part of how truth (in a cultural sense) is a created. Things that cannot coexist are held in opposition to each other, and each of us makes a personal choice. This is how the macrocosm and microcosm are brought together - the action in the Big World results in a change in the Personal World, which in turn affects the Big World. "As Above, So Below".


⚫ But we must still be careful. Because, as Terrence McKenna puts it, "Culture is not your friend." Culture wants things, and this does not have to line up with your personal needs or truths. The alchemical process of separation also manifests as political polarization. During this operation, all things are subsumed by the principle of separation. It is a kind of madness--a disconnect between the big world and the individual world. If your opinions differ from those of the pack, you will be cast out of that pack. During Separation, grey areas are seen as helping the enemy.

As an example, I made a remark to a friend, expressing skepticism about some health precaution which didn't seem supported by data. His side of the conversation shifted to convince me that the skepticism was dangerous, if we are not being 1000% safe at all times, we are killing everybody's grandma. Everything that reduces risk is compulsory.

And I can totally understand why (especially over here in NY) we need to talk about the quarantine almost fantatically. We are the epicenter of it, we have to take it more seriously than any other region in the country because we may have the most at stake.

And yet, we all break these rules at times. Given the tension between mental wellbeing and quarantine, I don't know anyone who hasn't chosen mental wellbeing at times. I de-mask when walking in the woods, but even that is a point of controversy. And as soon as you start an argument about this, people mentally assign you to the category of Grandma Murderer. So you have to be careful, social pressure is more powerful than ever right now. For good reason! A reason that protects us! Gurdjieff encourages us to respect these outer forms and rules while trying to maintain an inner freedom.




It is extremely hard work. My doubt has consumed an enormous amount of energy. But this is critical to the alchemical process which creates truth and meaning. In alchemy, once Separation is performed, the next step is Purification. This happens on a cultural level and also a personal level--we must get rid of the waste, the toxicity, the sickness and disease within us. Without self-doubt, it is invisible, we cannot hone in on it.



On really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.
          -Speed Levitch

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #229 on: June 08, 2020, 04:54:00 pm »
W/R/T Covid safety, it's become fairly obvious to me of what some Bayesians call "not updating your priors".

They came to a decision on the threat of contagion, and simply haven't bothered to change their minds in light of new information.  You can see this on all sides, from the people who keep insisting the risk is low even as the infection and death tolls mount, to the people like your friend, who are convinced they can die from a piece of mail that hasn't been touched for three days.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #230 on: June 08, 2020, 05:04:50 pm »
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Regarding the people that you disagree with: it's really tempting -- and seductive -- to believe that our enemies are dumb, immoral, ignorant, and brainwashed. But the difference between you and some medieval peasant who thought that witches float and innocent women sink -- is narrower than you think. That person just started from a different set of assumptions, ones that they received due to the circumstances of their birth. Our personalities, too, are a function of geography and culture, things outside of our control, things whose influence is practically invisible to us--we're like fish that aren't aware of water. We think we swim because, given the options, it's the best choice. But we swim because we were born in water and know nothing else.

I reject this entirely, top to bottom.  If this were the case, people would not be able to change inside the environment in which they exist.  For example, Ben Franklin started out financially involved in the slave trade, and in a 9 month period, became an abolitionist (it is worth noting that his environment didn't change in the meantime).  Likewise, people can be born into one society and reject the bad (or good) parts of that society without contact from outside that society.

Also, this is an excuse to be an asshole.  "I can't help it, I watch Fox News/was born into the faith/am a redneck by birth and training."

Stupidity is the condition in which someone chooses to not think.  This is different than someone who has a lower than normal capacity to learn.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #231 on: June 08, 2020, 05:54:07 pm »
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Regarding the people that you disagree with: it's really tempting -- and seductive -- to believe that our enemies are dumb, immoral, ignorant, and brainwashed. But the difference between you and some medieval peasant who thought that witches float and innocent women sink -- is narrower than you think. That person just started from a different set of assumptions, ones that they received due to the circumstances of their birth. Our personalities, too, are a function of geography and culture, things outside of our control, things whose influence is practically invisible to us--we're like fish that aren't aware of water. We think we swim because, given the options, it's the best choice. But we swim because we were born in water and know nothing else.

I reject this entirely, top to bottom.  If this were the case, people would not be able to change inside the environment in which they exist.  For example, Ben Franklin started out financially involved in the slave trade, and in a 9 month period, became an abolitionist (it is worth noting that his environment didn't change in the meantime).  Likewise, people can be born into one society and reject the bad (or good) parts of that society without contact from outside that society.

It sounds like you're disagreeing with a point I did not make: that people are 100% controlled by their culture and incapable of reflection or change, and therefore have no responsibility for anything.

If it were not the case that one's upbringing affects their personality, then you wouldn't see different cultures in different regions.  Everybody would come to their own conclusions freely and independently, so you wouldn't have red states and blue states.


You're saying that if you grew up during the witch trials, you wouldn't believe that witches float and innocent women sink. Why not?




Do you really think that your upbringing had no impact on what you are like as an adult? Do you think you explicitly chose every single thing that constitutes your personality? (And if so, where exactly did you get the framework to make those choices?)



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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #232 on: June 08, 2020, 05:59:05 pm »
I’m deleting my post. I had the same misreading Howl did and I’m in the middle of a spike of FURY like I get sometimes. Sorry.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #233 on: June 08, 2020, 06:17:06 pm »

It sounds like you're disagreeing with a point I did not make: that people are 100% controlled by their culture and incapable of reflection or change, and therefore have no responsibility for anything.

Fair enough, I read you wrong.


Quote
Do you really think that your upbringing had no impact on what you are like as an adult? Do you think you explicitly chose every single thing that constitutes your personality? (And if so, where exactly did you get the framework to make those choices?)

Naw.  But when I was in my 30s I tried to change myself deliberately, and to some extent succeeded for about 15 years.  I say "to some extent" because when it turned out to be a failed strategy, I snapped back to what I was when I was 34 with no effort whatsoever.  So I changed my behavior and my decisions, but not my actual self.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #234 on: June 08, 2020, 06:34:01 pm »
Naw.  But when I was in my 30s I tried to change myself deliberately, and to some extent succeeded for about 15 years.  I say "to some extent" because when it turned out to be a failed strategy, I snapped back to what I was when I was 34 with no effort whatsoever.  So I changed my behavior and my decisions, but not my actual self.

it's so interesting how there are layers of self

and the bottom layers, the really foundational ones, are hidden from view




It's part of what Gurdjieff means when he talks about how the subconscious should be regarded as the real consciousness.

What we perceive as consciousness - our thoughts, opinions, feelings, moods, reactions - is the part of the iceberg sticking up above the water's surface. There's a lot going on that we aren't necessarily aware of. Unconscious bias, associations, vestigial selves... the work of (some but not all) meditation is to bring this subconscious material into contact with the waking consciousness.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #235 on: June 09, 2020, 12:12:59 am »
Naw.  But when I was in my 30s I tried to change myself deliberately, and to some extent succeeded for about 15 years.  I say "to some extent" because when it turned out to be a failed strategy, I snapped back to what I was when I was 34 with no effort whatsoever.  So I changed my behavior and my decisions, but not my actual self.

it's so interesting how there are layers of self

and the bottom layers, the really foundational ones, are hidden from view




It's part of what Gurdjieff means when he talks about how the subconscious should be regarded as the real consciousness.

What we perceive as consciousness - our thoughts, opinions, feelings, moods, reactions - is the part of the iceberg sticking up above the water's surface. There's a lot going on that we aren't necessarily aware of. Unconscious bias, associations, vestigial selves... the work of (some but not all) meditation is to bring this subconscious material into contact with the waking consciousness.

Not sure if I'd go that far.  I am what I choose to be.  My subconscious *is* part of what informs that choice, but so are a ton of other things.

Example:  My feelings toward race were formed by a combination of two things.

1.  I grew up in an environment where I didn't see anything other than white people until the age of 8.

2.  When I met a Black person, I later asked my dad why her skin was dark.  He said, "Her people come from a very hot area near the equator.  Dark skin helps you survive there, so that's what developed in that area."

This is of course a simplification spoken to an 8 year old in 1976, but it made - and still makes - so much sense that I never really thought much about race after that...Until I moved to the states and watched people be victimized just for their race.  My conclusion at age 11 in 1979 was that people are generally bastards unless they make a distinct effort to not be bastards.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #236 on: August 07, 2020, 02:20:10 pm »
I wanted to drop this here --

http://www.doremishock.com/beelzebub/TheCosmologyofBeelzebub.html

it's an essay on Beezlebub's Tales to His Grandson. Briefly, it describes the nature and role of the Cosmology presented in this book.

As an aside, because this is a Discordian forum, I want to mention the Discordian cosmology -- that the Principia Discordia (and to some extent, the Illuminatus! trilogy) gives us this story for what's going on in the universe. There was chaos, then there was stuff, it accretes into bureaucracy, then collapses into aftermath. In this world of human drama, we've got the curse of greyface, these scattered theophanies of Eris, individual papacy, the correspondence between Hermes and St. Gulik... stuff like that. It doesn't matter whether it's literally true or not, it's describing an arrangement of ideas. To be a Discordian (to some extent) is to interpret and internalize these ideas in a way that affects your inner being. In this context, we can see Cosmology as a tool for alignment, a way of organizing a contact between the big outer world and the subtle inner being.

The Cosmology presented in Beezlebub's Tales describes an incomplete universe, one in need of maintenance and repair. It also describes the human psyche as incomplete, in need of maintenance and repair. These things are broken and incomplete in symmetrical ways.

That is to say -- all these things happening at a global level --  It's also happening within us on a personal level. Our task is to join the two.

Here in the year 2020, I am reflecting on how I can unseat the Donald Trump in my heart. For I, too, am governed by a materialistic narcissist, a petty tyrant and strongman dictator, a dominator and coward, who often overrides my better nature. Trump's power doesn't come from him, it comes from similar energies present within all of us.

Quote
How, then, can we approach this idea of cosmology, of meaning, harmony, and order, and incorporate it into a personal meaning that has daily relevance? Simply adopting a form and creating a set of rituals that acknowledge our position — which is what religion does, offering significant solaces but no truly practical solutions— isn’t enough. There needs to be a physical, emotional, and intellectual component to cosmology.

Our cosmology, in other words, must become not just an abstraction or a philosophical exercise, but a cosmology of the psyche....

This challenge asks us to transpose ideas of the cosmos at large onto the template of our own being. As “cosmoses in miniature,” as Gurdjieff called us, we contain within ourselves and our being the same origins, catastrophic collision events, and disharmonizations present in the cosmos-at-large, as well as the obligations for repair that devolve upon the angelic hierarchies in Beelzebub’s Tales. This is, in our own case, a do-it-yourself universe; just as God cannot interfere with the cosmos in Beelzebub (even if He could, it’s entirely uncertain He would know what to do), He cannot directly interfere with our own lives. It’s up to us to undertake the necessary work for cosmic maintenance and repair: hence, theurgy, or inner work on behalf of God.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2020, 02:21:48 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #237 on: August 07, 2020, 02:47:07 pm »
I have a copy of Tales in my bookshelf.  I tried reading it.  I hurt my brain.

Now it sits there, bookmarked 20 pages in, mocking me.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #238 on: August 07, 2020, 03:02:41 pm »
No blame for dropping it. It's a difficult, demanding book. And the intro really intends to dissuade and throw off the casual reader. I've been reading it for almost 3 years and I'm only 2/3rds of the way through.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #239 on: August 09, 2020, 12:58:48 am »
I think that's okay too---maybe that's how it's supposed to work. All Finnegan's Wakey 'n shit

Here in the year 2020, I am reflecting on how I can unseat the Donald Trump in my heart. For I, too, am governed by a materialistic narcissist, a petty tyrant and strongman dictator, a dominator and coward, who often overrides my better nature. Trump's power doesn't come from him, it comes from similar energies present within all of us.

recently i heard Dr. Cornel West describing empathy as having "to be able to open your ego enough in order to get out of your narcissistic predicament and connect with somebody else"

That phrase "narcissistic predicament" really stuck with me...then i saw this lol.