Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 3010 times)

PoFP

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #45 on: July 31, 2017, 11:02:48 pm »

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.

I think application of the Melioration Principle to humans is a bit complicated by higher-order thinking (things like Morality). Except for cases of personality disorders, it's the tendency towards non-rewarding behavior that defines disordered thinking. Keeping this in mind, I would argue that there is a balance to aim for that lies between the addictive mindset that the Melioration Principle implies we, as animals, spend most of our time in, and the Wild West of complete and unhindered Will. And it sounds like Gurdjieff's implication that these periods of Free Will and Self should be "brief moments" hits the nail on the head. In seeing this connection, I recommend looking at the Melioration Principle as a tendency toward extrinsic reward and Free Will as a tendency toward that which fulfills you, intrinsically.

As someone who is engrossed in the addictive mindset of the Melioration Principle, I definitely see the opposite end of the scale. As someone whose attention is immediately grabbed by camera position shifts in a movie on a tiny TV screen in a room containing people in deep discussion, I exemplify the reward-based mindset that you're seeking to overturn, even for short periods of time. I've found that the moments in which this mindset is completely overturned is in those moments that require my unhindered attention in order to fulfill that which protects those who depend on me. Most of the time, it's situations like these that I find the intrinsic reward to be overpowering. It's also in these situations that I sacrifice the most of myself, extrinsically. I think this compromise, this law of give and take, is important.

This fact made me look at something you'd said earlier about the Master-Apprentice communicative relationship, and the limitation of literary communication, a bit differently. I think it's impossible to transfer the Secret, "Spiritual" information without that intrinsic connection to other people. A common theme among these ideas you and Gurdjieff present involve deep connections with other people; a sense of community.

I noticed throughout my life that the most dangerous I ever was, to myself and others, was when I was isolated. I made decisions that were borderline sociopathic, and I would say this time was when I was the least myself. All of my decisions were based on extrinsic reward, and disregarded any sense of community or personal connection. I was unwilling to sacrifice anything for anyone. I would argue that it's this isolation, or romanticization of this isolation in today's society that keeps us from seeing our Selves as often as we should. I think it's what keeps us from realizing the strength and potential in the unexplained power of connection.

And finally, I think I now know what you meant earlier about internet culture taking us back to the tribal communication structure. We're suddenly able to form these tight-knit groups which propagate more complex ideas on specific topics that are able to be expressed by the group from the various perspectives within. One member specializes in one area, and another specializes elsewhere. And the combination gives a broader picture, and that broader picture is the basis of a successful community. Economies are more successful when the community has a singular goal or unified interest. In the late 50s and 60s, it was space exploration and survival of the Cold War, for example. But the big take-away is that one's tribal identity in this internet age is the basis of modern politics. It can be used negatively, even if it was originally used to propagate and pass on Secret information. It's currently being used as a way of waging war on other "Tribes" on the basis that they are immoral. I think we can reach a communal unification and massive shift in tendency toward Free Will (In the more important moments) if we can end the tribal warfare.

I guess the question is, how has tribal warfare ceased, and tribal peace taken over in the past?

I apologize if I got a little off-topic. I was having many epiphanies over the course of reading your explanations, and this is one of the connections I made. If need be, we can make a new thread for this as a separate discussion so as not to derail yours.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #46 on: August 01, 2017, 06:22:26 pm »

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.

I think application of the Melioration Principle to humans is a bit complicated by higher-order thinking (things like Morality). Except for cases of personality disorders, it's the tendency towards non-rewarding behavior that defines disordered thinking. Keeping this in mind, I would argue that there is a balance to aim for that lies between the addictive mindset that the Melioration Principle implies we, as animals, spend most of our time in, and the Wild West of complete and unhindered Will. And it sounds like Gurdjieff's implication that these periods of Free Will and Self should be "brief moments" hits the nail on the head. In seeing this connection, I recommend looking at the Melioration Principle as a tendency toward extrinsic reward and Free Will as a tendency toward that which fulfills you, intrinsically.

As someone who is engrossed in the addictive mindset of the Melioration Principle, I definitely see the opposite end of the scale. As someone whose attention is immediately grabbed by camera position shifts in a movie on a tiny TV screen in a room containing people in deep discussion, I exemplify the reward-based mindset that you're seeking to overturn, even for short periods of time. I've found that the moments in which this mindset is completely overturned is in those moments that require my unhindered attention in order to fulfill that which protects those who depend on me. Most of the time, it's situations like these that I find the intrinsic reward to be overpowering. It's also in these situations that I sacrifice the most of myself, extrinsically. I think this compromise, this law of give and take, is important.

This fact made me look at something you'd said earlier about the Master-Apprentice communicative relationship, and the limitation of literary communication, a bit differently. I think it's impossible to transfer the Secret, "Spiritual" information without that intrinsic connection to other people. A common theme among these ideas you and Gurdjieff present involve deep connections with other people; a sense of community.

I noticed throughout my life that the most dangerous I ever was, to myself and others, was when I was isolated. I made decisions that were borderline sociopathic, and I would say this time was when I was the least myself. All of my decisions were based on extrinsic reward, and disregarded any sense of community or personal connection. I was unwilling to sacrifice anything for anyone. I would argue that it's this isolation, or romanticization of this isolation in today's society that keeps us from seeing our Selves as often as we should. I think it's what keeps us from realizing the strength and potential in the unexplained power of connection.

And finally, I think I now know what you meant earlier about internet culture taking us back to the tribal communication structure. We're suddenly able to form these tight-knit groups which propagate more complex ideas on specific topics that are able to be expressed by the group from the various perspectives within. One member specializes in one area, and another specializes elsewhere. And the combination gives a broader picture, and that broader picture is the basis of a successful community. Economies are more successful when the community has a singular goal or unified interest. In the late 50s and 60s, it was space exploration and survival of the Cold War, for example. But the big take-away is that one's tribal identity in this internet age is the basis of modern politics. It can be used negatively, even if it was originally used to propagate and pass on Secret information. It's currently being used as a way of waging war on other "Tribes" on the basis that they are immoral. I think we can reach a communal unification and massive shift in tendency toward Free Will (In the more important moments) if we can end the tribal warfare.

I guess the question is, how has tribal warfare ceased, and tribal peace taken over in the past?

I apologize if I got a little off-topic. I was having many epiphanies over the course of reading your explanations, and this is one of the connections I made. If need be, we can make a new thread for this as a separate discussion so as not to derail yours.

Thanks for reviving the thread PoFP!

On the Melioration Principle and being able to 'escape' it: I get that a lot of decisions aren't necessarily made 'consciously' and maybe through conscious labour etc. one can learn to make better/more informed decisions but ultimately your actions are always going to be dictated by external circumstances right? I can't even comprehend what internal freedom means in this context. Maybe this is my limitation. Maybe the limitation of literary communication.

Re: tribal warfare, I don't think it has ever ceased. Just the tribes we identify with have changed. I don't know if it can cease.
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PoFP

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #47 on: August 01, 2017, 07:32:59 pm »
Thanks for reviving the thread PoFP!

On the Melioration Principle and being able to 'escape' it: I get that a lot of decisions aren't necessarily made 'consciously' and maybe through conscious labour etc. one can learn to make better/more informed decisions but ultimately your actions are always going to be dictated by external circumstances right? I can't even comprehend what internal freedom means in this context. Maybe this is my limitation. Maybe the limitation of literary communication.

Re: tribal warfare, I don't think it has ever ceased. Just the tribes we identify with have changed. I don't know if it can cease.

On the Melioration Principle, I think you are completely correct. In-fact I would say that consistently acting based on things not related to your environment would likely be interpreted as crazy in most situations. The Melioration Principle, as far as I understood based on Cramulus's description as well as other descriptions online, implied simply that animals in general do things that they perceive to benefit them (In this context, these would be external benefits, or benefits based on the environment the animal is in). From a neurological standpoint (And this is the standpoint it appeared Cramulus took), that would mean that animals act based on the reward system in the brain, which includes habitual, and conscious behaviors that fit in line with prior positive reinforcement, or lack of negative reinforcement.

The idea behind escaping this trap is to act in a way that represents you, as a person, and that also ignores the reward system's push to act on a simple calculation. It's a form of dissent that promotes the self. Assuming I'm understanding Cramulus's premise correctly, I would say that these moments happen when our higher-order thinking is most at war with the environment. The most blunt example I can think of at the moment was when Roger was urged by his boss to fire someone for invalid reasons. He refused completely, even though his job was at risk for doing so. Every aspect of his environment at the time would likely push most people to self-preservation and the consistent rewarding nature of safety. But not him, not that time. This is a time where I would argue he expressed complete freedom.

I think Cramulus and Gurdjieff were getting at something even more complex than that, however. I suspect they were leading towards an expression of the self outside of just personal morality, one that we can tap into for moments at a time more often if we learn to spot the windows into the complexity of the self in the brief periods in which they manifest. Some of Gurdjieff's work seems to me to be an influence on Crowley, or perhaps they were both influenced by the same person(s)/thing. It reminds me of Crowley's description of one's True Will, in that it seems to be entirely intrinsic, and unaffected by the environment.

I agree, there will likely always be tribal warfare, as there always was during every early civilization. But there were definitely periods of unusual levels of peace and cooperation, regardless of how short-lived. I suspect that study of native tribes and their war/peace timelines, and the relationships between the tribes at the time can tell us more about how this recurring communication structure might affect our politics and relationships, and the outcomes of current conflicts.
Listen carefully. I don't have much time, and I only have 462 characters left. I'm a scientist from Area 52 (Area 51 was used to draw attention from Area 52, where the aliens were ACTUALLY stored) who was working on neural interfacing with networked devices. In an experiment gone wrong, I accidentally uploaded my mind to the internet. In the 2 seconds I had before my mind scrambled itself with the world's network traffic, I was able to store this snippet in this random internet signature. If you're reading this, let the world know tha

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #48 on: August 15, 2017, 03:22:04 pm »
I really appreciate the thoughtful reply, PoFP.

This fact made me look at something you'd said earlier about the Master-Apprentice communicative relationship, and the limitation of literary communication, a bit differently. I think it's impossible to transfer the Secret, "Spiritual" information without that intrinsic connection to other people. A common theme among these ideas you and Gurdjieff present involve deep connections with other people; a sense of community.

I noticed throughout my life that the most dangerous I ever was, to myself and others, was when I was isolated. I made decisions that were borderline sociopathic, and I would say this time was when I was the least myself. All of my decisions were based on extrinsic reward, and disregarded any sense of community or personal connection. I was unwilling to sacrifice anythinAbg for anyone. I would argue that it's this isolation, or romanticization of this isolation in today's society that keeps us from seeing our Selves as often as we should. I think it's what keeps us from realizing the strength and potential in the unexplained power of connection.

Yes, absolutely - this is why it's said that Gurdjieff work can only be done in groups. Group work creates empathetic bonds between people, and these bonds are channels through which we can actually communicate. When I read your post, I am trying to hear it in your voice, to resonate with the place you're coming from. I'm trying to get a little of your essence into mine. This empathy helps both of us - it helps me understand you, and through it, it gives me another channel to understand myself and how I'm coming off. Consciousness can be increased through group work. (and conversely - a bad group can decrease it - like a predatory cult or religion)

Through this web of relationships, you can start to feel another aspect of the self emerge, the self that is shared between you and me. That's part of what the Sacred Movements are for - by doing these elaborate movements in a group, it develops a sensitivity to each other at a very fine physical and emotional and intellectual and temporal level. If you develop this webwork while in a psychological space where all three 'brains' (body, emotions, intellect) are processing the self and the other at the same time--you start to experience a group spirit.

And that group spirit is an aspect of an even larger human spirit.
And that human spirit is an aspect of an even larger absolute cosmic spirit.

as individuals, we are zoomed in
as a group, we have the capacity to zoom out into the larger scales of Being.


A Hierarchy of Laws
As a tangent (sorry), Gurdjieff posits that all the different levels of magnification of the universe (from the absolute down to the microscopic) have their own laws, and these laws are imposed on the smaller forms of the universe. The more we zoom in, the more laws are in play.

I'm at work, following the rules and regulations of everyday life, but I'm also subject to the laws of the earth itself--weather, tectonics, etc.

There are collective human laws, like the ecosystem of organizations - the life cycle of religions, corporations, etc. (the Art of Memetics talks about this at length)

Zoom out further, there are laws of the solar system - solar flares, the orbits of planets, that sort of thing - we are subject to all of these, though their influence is more indirect

Zoom into the microcosmos, into me, treat the self as a cosmos... there are laws inside of it, like the laws of individual psychology. Zoom in, we're talking about biochemistry, neurology, etc.

Zoom in further, we're talking about the laws governing molecules, atoms, and even smaller things....


Gurdjieff says that there is a way to escape (maybe only briefly) from some of these laws -- I am getting ahead of myself, but I think that as you start to experience the higher levels of the spirit, as your growing experience of consciousness breaks down the distinction between the ego and the self---you can find yourself in a place where the melioration principle and the immediate external circumstances are no longer dictating your behavior. You're not the little you sitting in your chair reading this. You're the human. You're the cosmic self. It's not about what's for dinner. It's about how we're all being nourished.

William James writes about the varieties of mystical experience - in his broad work on spirituality, he identifies this 'unity' experience as the essential feature of all mystical experiences. When you read about the devout christian ecstatic experience and the apogee of zen-meditation, there is something shared - the micro-ego perceives the macro-ego and is shattered by awe.




Quote
I guess the question is, how has tribal warfare ceased, and tribal peace taken over in the past?

Gurdjieff is a little pessimistic here -- he thinks that warfare and destruction are part of a natural cycle. War just happens. He thinks it has to do with this build-up of collective energy which demands to be released. He describes it - I think metaphorically - almost like a tidal force. There are forces acting through our collective psychology. He describes them as 'planetary forces', though I'm not sure I like that, I think it's more of a 'cultural alchemy'... culture as a 'chemistry lab' where different chemicals meet and react to each other, some of it is going to be destructive.

So Gurdjieff sees war as a natural and unconscious process. If people were conscious, they could do something else - but we can't. We get threatened, we rally, we organize to hit back. It happens automatically, it's determined by a set of laws not unlike an ecosystem.





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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #49 on: August 15, 2017, 03:42:35 pm »
On the Melioration Principle and being able to 'escape' it: I get that a lot of decisions aren't necessarily made 'consciously' and maybe through conscious labour etc. one can learn to make better/more informed decisions but ultimately your actions are always going to be dictated by external circumstances right? I can't even comprehend what internal freedom means in this context. Maybe this is my limitation. Maybe the limitation of literary communication.

Re: tribal warfare, I don't think it has ever ceased. Just the tribes we identify with have changed. I don't know if it can cease.

The Black Iron Prison is a discordian concept which describes the little cell we build for ourselves. The walls and bars of this cell are made of our tastes and preferences, our desire to approach things we like and avoid things we don't like. By respecting these walls, we find ourselves boxed in and limited by our own comforts and fears.

There is a Discordian Pilgrimage called the Jailbreak. In order to escape your cell, you have to stand up to the voice in your head which keeps you anchored oYn your tastes and preferences. You have to explore the unknown. You have to kill your idols. You have to taste new experiences, even uncomfortable ones. You have to sympathize with your enemy. You have to stop letting the small ego call all the shots.

And the jailbreak can only be temporary. We can escape from our cell, but we quickly find ourselves in a new cell. We can never attain absolute freedom (and you probably wouldn't want that anyway), but we can experience periods of it. This is very similar to Gurdjieff's thinking about consciousness - consciousness of the self - what he calls self remembering - allows us to recognize the petty little laws we've made for ourselves and make decisions about them. We can't stay in that space forever, we will always get distracted and let ourselves fall back into the micro-world of tastes and human drama.



If you want a quick tip on Self Remembering---

the trick is not just to observe the thoughts and experiences you're having, the internal world
but also to observe the self which is having those thoughts and experiences, the box which contains those boxes.

For example, if I try to self remember right now---first, I try to become aware of what's going on with my three brains - my body, my emotions, my intellect... I direct my awareness through those centers, acknowledging that I'm a little bit hungry, my wrist hurts a little. I'm and a little bit frustrated trying to express myself verbally, and also intellectually engaged with doing so.

And then I zoom out and try to see myself objectively. It's not "me". There's this guy who uses the handle Cramulus, he's sitting at his computer typing. He's at work, killing time while waiting for some e-mail to arrive. When the e-mail arrives he's going to forget what he's typing and focus on that for a few minutes, and then probably wander back here. He works for a publishing company for some reason. All his clothes are dirty and he needs to do laundry, but he's putting that off right now. He's trying to explain himself to some strangers on the Internet, and explain what's so fascinating about the Gurdjieff work, but not come off as preachy or shitty. Et cetera.

As I think about myself in this way, I keep getting reminded of things that I wasn't aware of when I was "inside" one of my three brains (the gurdjieff word for this is 'identification'). This experience doesn't feel like a discovery, but a remembering of stuff I always knew but had temporarily forgotten because I am always identified with the foreground.

This remembering, this impression of the self, is a kind of food. It feeds an internal process. It's fuel that propels some processes which are otherwise stalled. As we make that self-remembering broader and larger, the food becomes more rich and nourishing.


To put it in more simple terms - you stand before a scary cave. Your body trembles, you are filled with fear, your mind invents reasons not to step into the darkness. But if you take a moment and acknowledge your fear and resistance, you gain a sort of power over it. You can choose to make the scary step. While you're identified with your fear, it's all you have, you cannot move forward. If you self-remember, you can gain a perspective where you tell yourself "I'm afraid but I'm going to do it anyway."

That's how the self remembering can beat the melioration principle and escape the cell of tastes and preferences.


The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek
               - Joseph Campbell


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2017, 04:33:25 pm »
Man there's so much to unpack here and definitely a lot of things you refer to that I don't quite have the right handle on to conceptualize properly. I think I grok the BIP part of things and mostly get jailbreaking but then self-remembering starts to give me that feeling of trying to think about something slippery.

I do want to thank you though Cramulus for all the effort you are putting into exploring and translating these ideas. I'm gonna give this and a few related threads another read-or-two and see if I can come back with something a bit more tangible.

Sometimes reading the stuff you write gives me one of those flashes of understanding eg:

When I read your post, I am trying to hear it in your voice, to resonate with the place you're coming from. I'm trying to get a little of your essence into mine. This empathy helps both of us - it helps me understand you, and through it, it gives me another channel to understand myself and how I'm coming off. Consciousness can be increased through group work. (and conversely - a bad group can decrease it - like a predatory cult or religion)




that I try and grasp onto but more often than not the profundity becomes lost again with time and loss of context - maybe a parallel to escaping one cell to find oneself in another?
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2017, 06:00:10 pm »
Some of Gurdjieff's work seems to me to be an influence on Crowley, or perhaps they were both influenced by the same person(s)/thing. It reminds me of Crowley's description of one's True Will, in that it seems to be entirely intrinsic, and unaffected by the environment.

There are probably some ancient sources they both read.

There's an essay about the single meeting between Gurdjieff and Crowley: Why Remarkable Men Rarely Meet.

From what I can tell, Crowley had a lot of respect and admiration for Gurdjieff -- Crowley even sought out G. to be healed of his heroin addiction.

Gurdjieff, however, did not like Crowley:

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. (9)   



this was recorded by one of Gurdjieff's disciples, so it should be taken with a grain of salt


As I said upthread, I evaluate these 1920s-guru figures along two axis - (1) how much genuine wisdom were they capable of transmitting, and (2) how much of a profit-oriented ego-driven charlatan were they?

I rank Gurdjieff high on 1 and medium on 2
I rank Crowley medium on 1 and high on 2

and I think Gurdjieff could smell that - he could plainly see the parts of Crowley's shtick that were just an act.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #53 on: August 16, 2017, 04:28:32 pm »
On Universal Zoom Level, Empathy, and Group Work:

This makes me think of the fact that as individuals, we tend to specialize in certain aspects of our work, study, and thought. And it's when we work as a team that we build on the highest layers of abstraction in our communication, which allows us to conceptualize the ways in which our specializations tie into the overall ability of our society, and our collective tendencies towards specific big-picture decisions.

I think this points to a very important concept: That specialization in one field is not necessary to understand a concept or principle in that field. With the power of empathy, humans have the innate ability to shift perspectives from one person to another. As long as the communication is solid and collectively understood, one need only request a specialist's perspective in order to gain insight into their mindset. Almost as if you are borrowing a person's tendency toward certain types of pattern recognition, you are capable of looking at a problem as if you are the specialist.

I believe it's this ability to alternate between frames of reference that defines the difference between the worst leaders in history and the best leaders in history. A leader must retain the ability to think like one of the parts of the system in order to properly address issues within that area of the system. I believe the reason why the greatest leaders throughout history are often very spiritual is due to the fact that they understand that you have to connect with people in order to borrow their frame of reference, and spirituality is based on the idea of some untouchable bond between humans, some bridge for often unspoken, almost mystical communication. The transfer of one perspective to another either through the Sacred Movements or some similar activity, or through embedded perspective clues in every day communication. It seems that mastery of these types of signal transmission and reception is what defines the Holy Man™.

On Warfare:

I suspect that your interpretation is much more accurate than warfare and destruction simply being reduced to a cycle. While I think there is a little truth in the cyclical nature perspective of warfare, I think it can only extend as far as its fuel. Every cycle in the universe requires a food source, or something to fuel the cycle in at least one of the stages, even if the rest of the stages are self-modulating (Or simply fueled by the product of the previous stage). I guess I kind of see why Buddhism is such a popular lens to use when observing warfare, and other cyclical concepts. I've heard Buddha described as the end of all cycles. The universe worked in cycles and repeated itself indefinitely until Buddha. After Buddha (Or in this case, the elimination of cyclical catalysts/fuel), the universe and its systems become linear. I suspect that warfare may end similarly. The problem is, we haven't yet isolated the catalyst, or fuel.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #54 on: August 25, 2017, 02:21:18 pm »
Reading and Exchange

Last night I went to a "Reading and Exchange" - it was a room of ~25 people. Two of them were from the group I had attended earlier this summer. The group leaders were three people I'd never met before.

The readings were about "coming into being". One of them discussed the relationship between the "physical body" and the "psychic body". The physical body basically only knows a few things - hunger, fatigue, sex...  That's all it can 'think' of, it has nothing else. When our psychic bodies desire something, we have to harness our force of will to find it. The physical body steals some of this energy. We get distracted--our bodies want to know what's for dinner. Part of the Work is to tame the body, make it obey the mind.

That's why Gurdjieff recommends picking a habit or behavioral pattern - something small - and working against it. Deny yourself your daily fudge sundae. Observe how the body responds, how it pulls harder on your energy, how it becomes more distracting. How easy it is to fall back into this habit!

The body can even outsource its desires to your intellectual and emotional centers. There is an emotional need to smoke that cigarette. Your mind will rationalize why it's okay this one time.

Also notice---these impulses and decisions aren't actually choices you're making, they're just happening. Your intellect and emotions have the same kind of autopilot as the body.

As you struggle against physical habits and temptations, you will slowly develop (like a weak muscle growing in strength through exercise) a watcher, a third force which observes the desire, and the will, and is capable of moderating both.

This "third force" is conscious energy. It only appears for a flicker of a moment. It's like a gift.

I'm reminded of having arguments with a loved one, and then going for a long walk to cool down... I'm repeating my arguments in my head, I'm fantasizing about how I'll come back and win the fight, I'm dwelling on how wrong the other person is. Eventually, this antagonistic energy gets exhausted. And in this moment of quiet, maybe I'm able to recognize how I was wrong, and how we can compromise. That's the third force.

Part of the Work is teaching yourself to be prepared for this moment. It's hard to force it, it seems like it just falls into your lap when you're ready. And if you're not sensitive to it, you can miss it entirely. You have to be ready to receive that gift.

On fighting against habits -- they emphasized that it's important to actually do these exercises - it's not enough to read about it. Reading a million books about this stuff doesn't make you an expert. Talking about it a lot doesn't make you any more conscious. Only continuous effort, over a long period of time, gives you the possibility of developing this conscious body.



Reconciling the Incongruities-- or not

Someone at the group asked -- "Here, you talked about a physical body and a psychic body -- how do we reconcile that with the other models of the self you've given us? three centers, five centers, seven centers... today you only talk about two parts. How does it fit together?"  -- that's one of the things I keep noticing about the Gurdjieff work. It's full of contradictions. Sometimes he talks about three centers, sometimes five. Sometimes he talks about sexual energy as a part of the body, sometimes he puts it somewhere else...

One of the group leaders responded -- "I wonder what part of you wants to make it all fit together?"

Throughout In Search of the Miraculous, Gurdjieff's disciple Ouspensky tries to pin down the "science" of awakening, he wants to reconcile the contradictions and draw up a complete model. What I learned last night at the meeting was that this isn't important. It might be that the incongruity is actually built into it to keep it from becoming a "known quantity". Once you "understand" it, you don't give it any more thought. ("a conclusion is just where you stopped thinking")

But it's the seeking part of us, the part that wants to understand things, that needs to be recognized and nourished. That part of us can help us create the "third force" in ourselves. The incongruity keeps the mind working. (I'm reminded of the Crowley essay, "The Soldier and the Hunchback")




I had a really tough day yesterday, my mind was a firestorm. But I calmed down and made myself sensitive to the third force. And eventually, it came, and showed me the path between scylla and charibdis.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #55 on: August 25, 2017, 02:37:15 pm »
In zen-buddhist texts, sometimes you hear these descriptions of the masters, how they have this way about them... you can recognize that they really know something. You can see it in their movements, in everything they say. (As an aside, I think Bob Ross is like that. In his motions and gestures, his words and tone of voice, you can see his self-mastery)

I want to mention my impression of one of the group leaders, an older woman. She had this presence .. it's hard to describe.  She heard everyone's questions, could sense the root curiosity or confusion that informed that question.. and was able to speak to what you were really asking. When she talked, she really connected with you. Her voice was clear. Her ideas were focused. When she moved her hands, it emphasized exactly the right things. She grabbed your attention and held it tight. I connected with everything she said.


This woman -- there was just something about the way she talked, the way she moved her hands... I could tell she was conscious, she was on, she was here right now. Completely focused, completely awake. Every time she spoke, she spoke perfectly.


They are careful, in these groups, not to present the Work as a path to a bunch of super powers and enlightenment. They emphasize that doing all these exercises won't make you permanently awake, but it might give you the possibility of awakening. It's about climbing the tree, not eating the fruit.

But seeing this woman talk -- it showed me that for some people, there is a remarkable payoff. When somebody has a higher level of "being" like that, you can feel it. It made me realize how distracted I am all the time, how sometimes when you're talking to me, my mind is elsewhere. I'm running a million programs at once. They're all taking a little bit of energy, and so in any given moment, each of my processes is in a low energy state. It's hard to describe.. but just interacting with this woman made me understand Being a little bit better. She's here and now. I could be too.

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #56 on: December 08, 2017, 02:56:36 pm »
Hi everybody! I'm still doing the Gurdjieff work. I wanted to share a few of my recent thoughts.


Katha Upanishads Part 2, verse XII

"The wise, who by means of the highest meditation on the Self knows the Ancient One, difficult to perceive, seated in the innermost recess, hidden in the cave of the heart, dwelling in the depth of inner being, (he who knows that One) as God, is liberated from the fetters of joy and sorrow."

I only recently learned what Atman meant. The immortal self. Not the "soul", but your essence. That is, the part of the self that existed before you had any personality, the part of you which is not acquired from the outside world.

Gurdjieff cuts the self like this - personality is separate from essence. Personality is acquired. It's determined by context and accidents of upbringing. It's your reactions to the outside world, your tastes, your experiences, all this stuff is "given to you". The only thing thats innately yours is Essence.

When you are in a new situation, you don't know anybody, you don't have any masks to wear -- you are closer to your essence. When you experience a tragedy and start asking yourself the hard questions, the real questions about your life -- you are closer to your essence. The essence is "what your face looked like before your parents were born" (1)

Essence is old. It's a torch passed to you as an infant. It's been passed from human to human since before we were humans. It's the life force, the part of you that wants to LIVE, and FLOURISH, and OVERCOME. Where most parts of you are automatic, mechanical, responsive, essence is proactive, alive, it has agency.

Part of the Work is about becoming sensitive to this essence, about learning to recognize where personality ends and essence begins, and moving deeper into it.





And as an aside, I think many ancient religions (Hindu, Persian, and a variety of Eastern ones) were pointed at this discovery of essence. Modern religions, having iterated on that idea over and over again, have kinda lost touch with it. In some ways, modern religion is a decayed form of ancient religion. Through the continual interplay of politics and power, that part of religion has been obscured and hidden.

For example - I keep reading about Christianity in like 100 AD, and it is wildly different from modern Christianity. In the old thinking, the world is the macrocosm and the self is the microcosm, but they are connected. Jesus as the personal savior represents something happening inside of you. It's not an external figure you pray to. Its your own internal reconciliation between Thesis and Antithesis.


Here's a line that stuck with me from a Gurdjieff meeting on Tuesday---

the Work is not about self-improvement (in the ordinary sense),
it's about becoming a better vehicle
for consciousness
for Atman




the Discordians in the crowd will notice that Atman and Primal Chaos are notes in the same chord.



Two Becoming Three

There is a spiritual progression. 2,3,4,5,6

Most of the people in the world are not on the progression, they're living entirely in the material world, locked in orbit around ego and pleasure.

Critical thought takes you to 2. Two represents duality, inner conflict. One part of you asserts something, the other denies it. It's the left brain + the right brain. Thesis, antithesis.

"Two becomes three" -- this is the introduction of the third force ---- Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis.

In your day to day life, you have flashes of consciousness, brief moments where you can see yourself and make choices. Usually, we're just on autopilot, but sometimes we get to make a decision. Often, we let the autopilot make the choice, but if you're paying attention, you can hold onto that moment.

That's the third force, that's two becoming three


what I call --- Personal Christmas

becuase Christmas represents the Two (God + Holy Spirit) becoming Three (christ arriving in the world)

Three is the reconciling force,
the part of you that can recognize that you've been a dumbass
the part of you that overcome your automatic, mechanical, reactive mind
the part of you that can change consciously, intentionally

it's your only hope, your holy guardian angel, your personal savior



Religion is a set of symbols, which if understood properly, fuels consciousness and reconciliation. See, when you think about God this way, the question of whether or not God exists doesn't make any fuckin sense at all.

That's what I mean when I say that modern religion is a decayed form of something more real. If you think of God as some beardy jew in the clouds, some alpha male who is watching you like Santa Claus... you are not actually in a setting where you can receive this understanding. Modern religion distracts from spirituality, it's a sleight of hand that keeps most people anchored in the material world of status and power.



Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #57 on: December 08, 2017, 03:10:10 pm »
In my Gurdjieff group, every week, they reccommend we try something different - an exercise to try to be more conscious, to remember to be in the right place.

A lot of these are "split attention" exercises - you try to remain fully present in the world, while also being conscious of what's happening inside of you.


And like, sometimes these exercises work, sometimes they don't

but I guess the point isn't so much to discover the concrete techniques that increase your consciousness --- the point is to be the person that is trying something

the technique and its efficacy are almost arbitrary



there's an internal struggle  ---
that's what Two means, the self is divided into two forces in opposition

to move into Three, you have to remember your third mind, the watcher who is outside of it


that's what our Split Attention Exercises are about, too --- being present in the world, without losing focus on what's going on inside of you

and then having a third mind which is not just being determined by one or the other. One that watches the others and makes good decisions about them.


the watcher who observes both the internal and external but is not being determined and controlled by either

Not the lizard brain, not the monkey brain, but the human brain



The flash of consciousness is 2 becoming 3, it's Personal Christmas.

because Christmas is the day the third divine force enters the cosmos, jesus descends into the material
the trinity is born


The trinity idea is also tied into what Gurdjieff calls the three universal forces
-holy affirming
-holy denying
-holy reconciling

The Hegelian Dialectic
Thesis / Antithesis / Synthesis


Synthesis, the ability to reconcile inner conflict - that's where the magic happens inside of us


And from what I can tell, it never comes fluidly, you always have to prepare yourself to receive it. That's why we try different techniques every week, it's so we are actively trying to be in a space where we can receive that consciousness and embody it. You can't figure it out and then rest on your laurels. If there was a technique which really worked, you would do it all the time, and eventually it would start to become mechanical and lose its power. So you have to keep trying different things -- it's not about what things, it's about trying.


anyway, that's my meditation for the day


I'll say this - the Gurdjieff Work is hard. It's not full of a-hah moments and epiphany -- sometimes it is -- but most of the time, it's boring and frustrating. Observing yourself. Trying to stay conscious but failing. Trying to remember yourself and failing. Becoming aware of how helpless and mechanical you are. Recognizing that 99% of your mental activity and behavior is basically autopilot. It's depressing sometimes. This is not a feel-good path, and usually you don't feel like you're making any progress at all.

But now, a year after starting to read about Gurdjieff...  I can usually distinguish between awake and asleep (in myself).

and that puts me far ahead of where I was at this time last year.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #58 on: December 10, 2017, 12:33:01 pm »
Has the number of people attending each week dwindled? It sounds like hard work.

Could you give some examples of the exercises?

Thanks for the detailed updates, very interesting stuff.  :)
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #59 on: December 10, 2017, 02:50:52 pm »
We now have a core group of 5 students.

Some of the exercises.... each of these was done for 1-2 weeks

  • When you touch a doorknob, pause for a second and try to be awake
  • Pick one of the following - posture, facial expression, tone of voice. Several times each day, take note of what you're doing with it. Notice how it's connected to your intentions, how it expresses something internal, but also how it influences your experiences and impressions.
  • Every day, when talking to someone, try to really connect to them. Pay attention to how they're feeling, understand why they're saying what they're saying.
  • Take 100 steps intentionally. Count each step. While counting, focus on the sensation of your foot touching the ground. Don't let your awareness drift with your thoughts, remain aware of everything happening around you.
  • Late in the day, recall all the moments of consciousness you had that day. (it's okay if you didn't have any)
  • In the morning, meditate on your body sensations. Focus on each part of your body in sequence, just bringing your awareness to it, making it more alive

Some of these have to do with self awareness, being conscious of what's going on in your three processing centers and re-connecting them

Some of them have to do with giving you "shocks", little moments during the day that unexpectedly jar you awake

Some of them have to do with split attention -- running an internal process, while running an external process... maybe you remember to observe the third camera too.


My favorite one was a variation on the 100 steps exercise. The idea is that you take 100 steps, maintaining your internal focus, maintaining your external focus... So with one foot, you're counting to 50 -- 1, 2, 3, 4... but with the other foot, you're counting down - 99, 98, 97, 96....   so as you're walking, you're counting 1, 99, 2, 98, 3, 97, 4, 96...

And while doing this, maintain awareness of your foot hitting the ground!


This was challenging - actually learned a lot from this. For one, I couldn't do it while stoned. Secondly, it took a lot of attention to do it the first time. I had to focus really hard on the numbers to get them right, and the physical world sorta vanished while that was happening. But I found counting upwards could be done more or less automatically, and then counting down took some attention. And the more practice I got, I could feel the automatic mind taking over the counting down process. Eventually, I could do all 100 steps while maintaining presence in the physical world.

and then you turn up the difficulty! Count by 2s!  :p



Kinda like Robert Anton Wilson's Quarter Experiment in Prometheus Rising, it's one thing to read about these, it's another thing to actually do it. You may have read the words, but you don't know anything until you've done it yourself. Everything has to be verified personally, you can't just take other people's words about consciousness as real.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 04:13:16 pm by Cramulus »