Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 15568 times)

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #90 on: January 16, 2018, 03:10:38 pm »
I'm not sure I follow the question..?

LuciferX

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #91 on: January 18, 2018, 03:16:18 am »
Me too. It was late. I suppose I was fishing for Gurdjieff's stance on the "question" of the immortal thingie. I don't really know his work at all; still I figured he'd be one that understood the value of the question to be above any teaching of its answer. Beyond the anxiety that riddles my monkey when having to parse such questions, I do find myself in fear of derailing the thread (a general condition of mine). I did like distinction offered between selves personal and essential, though I perdure in being unable to suffer the semantics of essence(s) over experience. This clarification is more considered than I thought it would be (not ever intending disrespect, just crazy stressed by various monkey business things that "essentially" only allow me to concentrate for a moment when I can excuse myself)
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #92 on: January 18, 2018, 04:24:47 pm »
 :lol: sorry I am still having trouble parsing what you're asking?


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #93 on: January 18, 2018, 10:57:07 pm »
I think I was looking for this:
>>"Immortality is one of the qualities we ascribe to people without having a sufficient understanding of their meaning,"
—Gurdijeff
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #94 on: February 15, 2018, 03:41:35 pm »
In our group, we've been talking about the Black Iron Prison. (They don't use the "black iron" part, but it's defintiely the same idea.)

Our automatism takes over our lives. We need habits and schemas and heuristics, but we get stuck in them like machines.

Through dilligent and continual self-observation, we can develop an internal "watcher" who can notice when we have slipped into our mechanical routines.

When you notice yourself acting mechanically, that in itself is a type of freedom (or a sign post pointing towards it). When you observe the Robot, the part of you making the observation is not the Robot. If only we could remember that part of ourselves all the time...


There are practical things you can do, physically, which help you develop this watcher. The body and mind and emotions are tightly linked. Your postures and habits always seem to lead you back to your normal automatic way of being. You might try to be different from how you are today, but then you fall into a habit (smoking a cigarette, answering the phone, whatever) and suddenly the Robot is driving again. So maybe there are postures and movements which the robot cannot do. If we experiment with them, perhaps we can find a new way of thinking, feeling, being.




I'm reading this James Moore biography of Gurdjieff. He keeps invoking this image of the Yazidi children who Gurdjieff played with when he was growing up. The Yazidi are thought of as devil worshippers. If you draw a circle of salt around a Yazidi, they won't be able to get out of it.

Gurdjieff's role as a teacher was to disturb the circle of salt that people draw around themselves.

For example, the Hartmanns came from an upper class background, approached Gurdjieff at the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Gurdjieff school was about to embark on a terrible and dangerous journey through the wilderness, ultimately passing through the front lines of the war five times before they found respite. A weak person would not survive. The Hartmanns wanted to join G, but he knew their status and propriety would be an enormous burden. So he began breaking them out of this circle of salt.

Gurdjieff, the sly man, lured the Hartmanns in by presenting himself as a wealthy prince, someone like them - but when they made the journey to meet him, he adopted the mannerisms of a pauper, made them stay in a hovel, and eat cheap food. (this, btw, was also an act)

When they were about to leave, Gurdjieff told Olga de Hartmann - "You won't be able to come with us. For money, we'll be getting jobs as rock breakers on the road. It's enormously hard work. At the end of the day, the women have to wash the men's feet, and Zaharoff's feet will be very smelly, so you won't be able to do it."

This puts Olga in the position of insisting that she can do it, this won't be an issue --  because this assertion comes from her, it is stronger and worth more than if somebody else told her she could do it. Gurdjieff had to shock her, tease out her strength, make her choose for herself to shed her status and ego. And then, she was ready to become.



that sly man
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 03:57:03 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #95 on: February 15, 2018, 10:45:12 pm »
At risk of being redundant, thank you again for this thread and for sharing your Gurdjieffian experiences with us!

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #96 on: February 19, 2018, 06:17:00 pm »
In our group, we've been talking about the Black Iron Prison. (They don't use the "black iron" part, but it's defintiely the same idea.)

Our automatism takes over our lives. We need habits and schemas and heuristics, but we get stuck in them like machines.

Through dilligent and continual self-observation, we can develop an internal "watcher" who can notice when we have slipped into our mechanical routines.

When you notice yourself acting mechanically, that in itself is a type of freedom (or a sign post pointing towards it). When you observe the Robot, the part of you making the observation is not the Robot. If only we could remember that part of ourselves all the time...


There are practical things you can do, physically, which help you develop this watcher. The body and mind and emotions are tightly linked. Your postures and habits always seem to lead you back to your normal automatic way of being. You might try to be different from how you are today, but then you fall into a habit (smoking a cigarette, answering the phone, whatever) and suddenly the Robot is driving again. So maybe there are postures and movements which the robot cannot do. If we experiment with them, perhaps we can find a new way of thinking, feeling, being.

This got me thinking about the behavioral tendencies of those who always seem to counter the status quo and the natural order of things, and how they connect to the brain.

I'm sure we all remember that kid from grade-school that wouldn't keep still. He/she's always rocking back and forth in their chair, tapping their feet, tapping their pencil on the desk, tilting the desk back and forth, etc. They were often clumsy, and would occasionally tilt their chair back too far and eat shit in front of the whole class. And on the other end of the spectrum, we all remember that person who was almost pathologically consistent and precise with their movements. They didn't move unless they had to, and when they did, they tried to make sure it was quiet and unnoticeable. Each action was often completely calculated.

These behavioral tendencies represent the opposing sides of the awareness/consciousness scale from a neurological standpoint.

The kid who can't stop moving is often described as the kid with ADHD. More complex disorder symptom presentations exist, of course, but for the sake of simplicity and concision, this will suffice.

The kid who calculates all of their decisions and movements could potentially have some sort of OCD or anxiety disorder.

Each of these disorders is involved with the relationship between the Basal Ganglia, which is an important set of brain structures that are essential for the Reward Center of the brain, and the Prefrontal Cortex, which is responsible for establishment of memory, as well as conscious awareness and lucidity. It's theorized that focus and attention manifest as a result of a reverberating feedback loop between these two brain structures, and that dysfunction of this circuit results in disorders like those described above.

When the Basal Ganglia is active, but requires higher-order processing for executive function, it triggers activation of the Prefrontal Cortex. Here, information is processed and stored for later retrieval in the form of consequence cognition, and other information required for conscious decision-making. When the prefrontal cortex is finished, it sends a "cool, message received and handled, now fuck off" message back to the Basal Ganglia, reducing its overall activity to prepare it for the firing it will need to re-activate the prefrontal cortex in the future. For the kid with ADHD, this relationship is weak. The Basal Ganglia's signals aren't strong enough to trigger or maintain activation of the prefrontal cortex effectively, reducing the amount of information that is stored for executive functioning and memory, and reducing the person's overall awareness. The brain, which requires this relationship's success to function properly, craves dopaminergic release in the Basal Ganglia to strengthen the bond between the two structures, since they mainly communicate with Dopaminergic circuits. This is achieved with self-medication using stimulants, or with the excess physical activity we've been observing, since motor control in the brain is also regulated largely with Dopamine. This habitual, excessive physical activity acts as an anchor for consciousness and awareness, and demonstrates precisely what you were describing above. Without it, the ADHDer remains a slave to habitual monotony.

The person with calculated decisions has the exact opposite problem. Their Basal Ganglia is suppressed by excessive activation of the prefrontal cortex, and that "fuck off" message that gets sent as a response. They lack the ability to form the habits that allow them to go on autopilot, placing them in a state of constant awareness. Minor details, like their movements and physical actions, get hyper-analyzed and the person loses the ability to naturally focus on the important details in their current situation. The mind's reaction to this is the ability to multitask constantly, which overloads and exhausts the person, leaving them unwilling to go out of their comfort zone.

Most people who don't have pathologies are somewhere in between these two points on the awareness scale in terms of behavior and cognition. Developing a method for intentional, and productive (As opposed to habitual) awareness should likely be based on the neurological circuit behavior of the person who intends to change. For the person who is often too aware, the solution may be scheduling a simple set of actions to take regularly (Either every day, or every couple hours) that require little effort and attention, to allow for the prefrontal cortex to take a break from processing menial tasks once the scheduled task has become habitual. Otherwise, it may be applicable to take a GABA-A receptor agonist, like Valerian Root in order to calm the prefrontal cortex and allow for productive awareness when it's intended, and not at all times.

For the person who is often less aware, the solution could require stimulants to fix the imbalance, or similar actions to the ones you've described previously regarding leaving yourself triggers for momentary consciousness. It could also be assisted with the ADHDer's natural supplement: Excessive physical activity. Make it a point to tap your fingers or feet on something to anchor yourself to your surroundings and environment and trigger awareness. But be sure to avoid consistent timing and activity patterns, so as to prevent it from becoming a habit. As you mentioned before, the moment you perform something habitual, you put yourself at risk of losing your awareness.


I'm reading this James Moore biography of Gurdjieff. He keeps invoking this image of the Yazidi children who Gurdjieff played with when he was growing up. The Yazidi are thought of as devil worshippers. If you draw a circle of salt around a Yazidi, they won't be able to get out of it.

Gurdjieff's role as a teacher was to disturb the circle of salt that people draw around themselves.

For example, the Hartmanns came from an upper class background, approached Gurdjieff at the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Gurdjieff school was about to embark on a terrible and dangerous journey through the wilderness, ultimately passing through the front lines of the war five times before they found respite. A weak person would not survive. The Hartmanns wanted to join G, but he knew their status and propriety would be an enormous burden. So he began breaking them out of this circle of salt.

Gurdjieff, the sly man, lured the Hartmanns in by presenting himself as a wealthy prince, someone like them - but when they made the journey to meet him, he adopted the mannerisms of a pauper, made them stay in a hovel, and eat cheap food. (this, btw, was also an act)

When they were about to leave, Gurdjieff told Olga de Hartmann - "You won't be able to come with us. For money, we'll be getting jobs as rock breakers on the road. It's enormously hard work. At the end of the day, the women have to wash the men's feet, and Zaharoff's feet will be very smelly, so you won't be able to do it."

This puts Olga in the position of insisting that she can do it, this won't be an issue --  because this assertion comes from her, it is stronger and worth more than if somebody else told her she could do it. Gurdjieff had to shock her, tease out her strength, make her choose for herself to shed her status and ego. And then, she was ready to become.



that sly man

Very clever indeed. I'm building quite a bit of respect for Gurdjieff, even through indirect, interpreted understanding.
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #97 on: March 14, 2018, 01:27:40 pm »
Our small group finished reading In Search of the Miraculous. Would definitely reccommend it. Though take it with a grain of salt--Ouspensky's relationship to Gurdjieff is complicated, and he gets hung up on certain things that are immaterial. As an intellectual, he also lets the specifics occlude the metaphor.

I'm also just wrapping up James Moore's biography of Gurdjieff, which was also a fantastic read. Even if you don't get into the actual Fourth Way stuff, Gurdjieff himself was a fascinating character--just reading about his life is a crazy ride.


Just wanted to share a few fragments which have struck me.


Every week, they have us try a different practical exercise in self observation. One of them takes a little time and patience, it's about 10 minutes of focusing on different body sensations, on inhabiting your limbs and feeling how your attention changes your experience of them. Someone in our group noted that the first few days were easy, but on day 3+ he had a lot of trouble focusing. He was given a good piece of advice - losing focus doesn't mean you're failing. Observing how you lose focus is part of the exercise.

We lose our focus constantly! What's happening in that exact moment? feel it out... become acquainted with it.



I was invited to another talk at the Gurdjieff foundation in Manhattan. This talk was about listening. It's interesting -- at first, I found the talk a little dry, and repetitive. But over the next few days, my thoughts kept returning to it. There was a lot said which I didn't understand, and the meaning gradually unfolded. It was almost like it was being digested by my slower emotional center, rather than the quick intellectual center. Maybe that's why everybody talks so slowly and deliberately at these things... every word counts. "Every note is a full octave on another plane"

Listening to your partner is has a lot to do with being present. This is something I struggle with; I'm often in my head, analyzing and going on tangents, and my attention strays from the conversation. I zone out. I forget what they are talking about and then I pick it up from context. But when I'm talking to someone with a presence, someone who is really there, in the here and now, they are listening to every word I'm saying, giving it full attention and consideration.

That's why one of the exercises Gurdjieff reccommends is to mentally put yourself in your conversation partner's shoes. What would it feel like to be them, right now? Imagining this takes all three of your brains.

It also helps develop the egolessness that is behind the veil. Because there is something that is alive in this universe, and that is shared. It's not individualized. Our personalities and our bodies make us think of ourselves as separate, but the spark animating the meat is collective, ancient---it was born in the first cellular life and we will pass it on like torchlight, a continuous unbroken light from the beginning of humanity until its final breath.

And being a good listener is part of it. When you listen, and you can feel the words affecting you, you're not just processing them with your intellect but also feeling the emotions behind them, how the subtle postures and body movements are all expressions are intertwined with it.... when you're really listening .... there is something in the universe that listens to other parts of the universe, and it's not just egos.



« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 01:50:46 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #98 on: March 20, 2018, 02:54:16 pm »
So i've started reading Beelzebub's Tales..

I am about 1/3rd of the way through at the moment. At first it was hard due to all the made up words and then I was like 'oh hey this is just a weird scifi book'.

Now I am kind of getting into it and there are bits that seem to make sense and other bits that are super far out.

Maybe I should have read something of Ouspensky's first. I can definitely see the benefits of reading this kind of thing in a group - some passages and chapters seem to have a lot to unpack that's clearly going over my head.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #99 on: March 20, 2018, 04:40:52 pm »
So i've started reading Beelzebub's Tales..

I am about 1/3rd of the way through at the moment. At first it was hard due to all the made up words and then I was like 'oh hey this is just a weird scifi book'.

Now I am kind of getting into it and there are bits that seem to make sense and other bits that are super far out.

I also made it about 1/3rd of the way through, then I figured I should start with something more clear.

One of the cool things about Beezlebub's Tales is that it takes a little while for it to unfold itself in your brain. You may read it and have no effect, but a week later, something will click.

It's interesting how the language is intentionally exhaustive. It's trying to tax your intellect so that it gets bored and lazy. You have to stay present while reading it - I said elsewhere, it's a bit like training wheels.

[/quote]Maybe I should have read something of Ouspensky's first. I can definitely see the benefits of reading this kind of thing in a group - some passages and chapters seem to have a lot to unpack that's clearly going over my head.
[/quote]

Yeah I reccommend In Search of the Miraculous as a primer.

Right now I'm reading Unknowable Gurdjieff by Margaret Anderson -- (after picking it up in a used book store) it's tight, accessible, and short -- intended for the newcomer. If you want something even shorter than In Search Of, then it might be a good place to start.

Glimpses of Truth (also published under the title "Views from the Real World") is a transcript of several elemental Gurdjieff lectures - it's also a nice way to drink 'from the source' in short form.


Any Gurdjieff seeker will also tell you - some parts of the work are only accessible by groups. Reading about it on your own can only take you so far. Parts of the Work are better transmitted through the oral tradition than through the written word. That's not to say that your time reading about it is wasted! Not at all. But if you live near a big city, try to track down Fourth Way groups that may meet there - it's worth it. It's one thing to read about it. It's another thing to experience it personally.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #100 on: March 22, 2018, 04:56:25 am »
In Search Of The Miraculous and Meetings With Remarkable Men are my two favorites, I think.
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #101 on: May 03, 2018, 02:28:10 pm »
Been a while since I posted an update. I'm still doing the work.

They've been having us do this daily exercise. I mentioned it a few posts ago, but I'll talk about it again.

A form of meditation. In it, you direct your awareness into each part of your body, in sequence. Inhabit the left shoulder. Then the left upper-arm. Then the elbow. Then the forewarm. Then the wrist, top of hand, palm, fingers... then you spread your awareness out to inhabit your entire arm. You move through each limb this way in sequence. When you've done all four limbs--waking them up and making them more alive--you focus your awareness into your head, then your shoulders, down your torso through your core... and finally, a global awareness of your entire body. You go through this process twice per "exercise".

Gurdjieff once reprimanded the American contingent: "You don't do self-observation. You just do mind-observation." During this exercise, you're getting distracted constantly, by thoughts, by emotions. Instead of going with them, you try to see what they are. Observe the parts of you that steal your focus, that initiate a chain of habit.

I find that the first time I run through this cycle, it's like rebooting my body. There are signals that are coming into my consciousness all the time but I'm not listening to them. This exercise feels like I'm making sure all these wires are plugged in firmly, there's no noise on the line, the whole organism is, briefly, united.

I found this exercise very difficult at first. Your intellect is bored already, it wants to be doing something else. It wants to be processing something, revisiting something, doing something. And usually, my intellect grabs the reins and yells GIDDYUP to the horse. But it doesn't know where it's going! There is a type of awareness that emerges when the intellect sits down alongside the body and emotions.

Even the process leading up to this exercise is part of the exercise. Your intellect thinks it already has what it's going to get out of it. You make excuses for why you don't want to do it. You busy yourself, put it off... but the ability to come in, to overcome these interal obstacles, to not get sucked into a process-driven train of thought ... I feel like that's part of it too.



a haiku I wrote a few years ago...


The steel train leaves the station

the floor is sticky

the daytime mind





There's a part of Beezlebub's Tales to his Grandson where he introduces something like this. In this section, the grandfather is talking to his adolescent grandson.

Quote
"At your age, you are not yet obliged to pay for your existence.

"This present period of your life is not given you for paying your existence, but for preparing yourself for the future--for the obligations becoming to a responsible three-brained being.

"So in the meantime, exist as you exist. Only do not forget one thing: at your age, it is indepensable that every day, when the sun rises, while watching the reflection of its splendor, you bring about a contact between your consciousnessa nd the various unconscious parts of your common presence. Trying to make this state last, think and convince the unconscious parts--as if they were conscious--that if they hinder your general functioning in the process of ordinary existence, then in the period of your responsible age they will not only be unable to enjoy the good tha tis proper to them, but also your whole presence, of which they are a part, will not be capable of becoming a good servant of our Common Endless Creator, and will thus be unable to pay honorably for your arising and existence."


Recently, I've been finding this exercise very valuable.

Office life is not good for the body. Over the years I've learned to ignore all these signals from my body, like an ascetic. And there is some value to that - it's one of the "three ways". But to take the fourth way, I've gotta unlearn it now. Gotta stop being sedentary and passive, I've gotta flex my volition and remember - the self that chooses which steel train I'll take today.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #102 on: May 03, 2018, 03:20:53 pm »
So it's like what some people call body scan meditation?

Can you expand on:

Quote
Gurdjieff once reprimanded the American contingent: "You don't do self-observation. You just do mind-observation." During this exercise, you're getting distracted constantly, by thoughts, by emotions. Instead of going with them, you try to see what they are. Observe the parts of you that steal your focus, that initiate a chain of habit.

Is he saying that they pay too much attention to their thoughts and not enough to emotions and body?

Thanks as always for your continued updates! Still interesting hearing about what you're up to.
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #103 on: May 03, 2018, 04:23:57 pm »
Yeah, I think that's the gist of it - they were trying to examine the mind. The intellect often thinks it's the whole of the mind. The body, the emotions - they're part of it too, and the mind often forgets this.

Just looked up body-scan meditation -- yes, seems very similar! Except that in this Gurdjieff exercise, you aren't just relaxing the body in sequence, but also taking note of the ways you get pulled off course. There are two things I've noticed in my own work:

-When I'm focusing on inhabiting a body part, sometimes the mind wanders, gets distracted. In zen meditation, when you notice this, you're supposed to let go of it, put it to rest. In this Gurdjieff exercise, before you do that, you should take note of what it is. Like maybe I remembered something, and it touched off a series of emotions and mental rehearsals... when you notice this is happening, take note of what it is and why you started thinking about it.

-The imagination is dangerous. It has the potential to hijack the work and make us think we're doing the work.  Like, when I inhabit my left thigh, I can feel a certain sensation, a certain presence... but sometimes, I'm just imagining this sensation.


for the people following the more esoteric line - this is an example of the law of octaves, the law of seven -- how something can get pulled off course and turned against itself. At the "interval" moment, the course will veer naturally, the line departs into a side branch. You have to use a "shock" to pull the octave back into a straight line. The mind's awareness of itself (called 'self remembering') can act like a shock, filling the gap with awareness and keeping it on target.



The way that the imagination disguises itself as the work and hijacks it -- more broadly, the way that the wrong work disguises itself as the correct work -- was a topic at the meeting this week. We read a section from Views from the Real World ("Liberation leads to liberation" is the title of the talk) which spoke about Mr. Self-Love and Mrs. Vanity - two guardians of the self which must be mastered (not defeated).

These things have a dual nature, it's not so simple to say that they're good or bad. If you say that I'm a shithead, the words pass through my vanity and self-love before they enter my inner world and affect my "common presence". Maybe you're just an idiot -- in which case my self-love will block the words from affecting me. After all, if an idiot calls me an idiot, does it matter? But maybe I am a shithead - in which case, my self-love may resist anyway, preventing me from understanding you. The proper self-love accepts the criticism in the interest of becoming a better self.

In the zen tradition, they point you at egolessness - try to avoid vanity and self-love alltogether. That's why the first "three ways" are difficult - they work in the monastery, they work on the meditation mat, but it's very difficult to live like that all the time. The Fourth Way is about liberation, but during everyday life.



Quote
“LIBERATION LEADS TO LIBERATION. These are the first words of truth — not truth in quotation marks but truth in the real meaning of the word; truth which is not merely theoretical, not simply a word, but truth that can be realized in practice. The meaning behind these words may be explained as follows: By liberation is meant the liberation which is the aim of all schools, all religions, at all times. This liberation can indeed be very great. All men desire it and strive after it. But it cannot be attained without the first liberation, a lesser liberation. The great liberation is liberation from influences outside us. The lesser liberation is liberation from influences within us.”

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #104 on: June 05, 2018, 07:11:52 pm »
On the difference between Knowledge and Understanding ----

Knowledge is an accumulation of facts. We acquire knowledge really fluidly. It's stored inside of us in various places, and isn't always accessible. You might forget it - or some knowledge you have might contradict other knowledge, and you might not be aware of that. Sometimes you act in ignorance of knoweldge you actually do possess - that's because it's disconnected, only plugged into your consciousness through association.

Understanding is when the knowledge is integrated into our being. It's now part of the gestalt human and is reflected in everything we do.

To turn knoweldge into understanding, it has to be fired in the crucible of the awake mind. You have to think about it critically, use it, feel it. Gurdjieff says that Understanding isn't just ruled by the intellect, but the emotions too. And the body, to a degree. To understand something, you have to feel what you think, and think what you feel.

Essentially, you take the data from the intellectual processor and feed it into your emotional processor.
And take the data from your emotional processes and examine them using your reason and intellect.

for example -- I was planning a trip, and laying out the sequence of actions I needed to take to be ready. It made a lot of sense! Only on meditation after the fact did I realize how much I was asking of my girlfriend in order to make this schedule work. And she did it without hesitation, to make things easier for me! There is a tenderness and sweetness in her willingness to go along with it. I could shift the plan a bit, take on a little more work, and require less of her. This emotional awareness was not present when I building my plan--to taste the emotional quality of the schedule, I had to reprocess it using my emotions.



I vividly recall a moment when I was writing my college thesis... late at night, as I poured through the data, all the papers I had read suddenly crystalized and I experienced a flash of insight. Disconnected, they were just knowledge. Connected, they were understanding.


We make a lot of mistakes in our lives because we are not used to thinking about what we feel -- and feeling about what we think.

Sometimes I'm in an argument and I am so certain that I'm right... but the reason and emotions are different processors, usually disconnected from each other. For me, my intellect is dominant over my emotions. That means there are often flaws in my reasoning, an emotional callousness or insensitivity that I am blind to. If I could connect these two ribbons, I would live better.


My finding is that it's very hard to connect your reason and emotion in the moment. Easier to do during reflection.



On Small Aims------

I've mentioned these little tasks before. "Being awake" is too big of a goal. You might be able to awaken for a few moments, but then somebody asks what's for dinner and all of the sudden you're in that thought and that thought alone. And when you're in a train of thought, how do you zoom out and lose the myopic focus on it?

It seems to me that the "habitual mind" is asleep. Often when we are thinking about things, making decisions, etc, we are really applying a heuristic somewhat mechanically. We learned a rule about how to behave, or how things work, and so we apply that rule whenever we can. If I miss a train, I already know how it's going to affect my trip home, and what actions I should take to account for it - I don't really need to think about it, it's something I memorized the first time I missed that train. But the mind that first made the decision - it was awake, actively solving problems, processing data.

The Gurdjieff work is not about destroying your habits. We need our habits - without them, you would be paralyzed. You would take forever to get things done. But we all rely on habits too much. We even resist things that steer us away from our habitual responses, because it's more comfortable. The habits become a set of bars in the black iron prison. So we try to disrupt our habits, to inject a little bit of consciousness into them.

The Gurdjieff group gives us "small aims" every week. These are little informal practices that tend to be about disrupting a habit. For example, try holding a fork with your opposite hand. Does that affect your awareness of the meal? Do you eat differently? Do you taste the food more? Try it for a week and see.

We call it a "shock"--something that jars you out of your routine. A gap through which consciousness might shine. Try different things, you'll experience consciousness in different ways. Gurdjieff was all about disturbing people. They say - if a man was a vegetarian, Gurdjieff would make him eat meat. If he ate a lot of meat, Gurdjieff would put him on a veggie diet. The idea is to create a struggle within the self, to experience hardship consciously. To suffer voluntarily. That friction can produce something -- can develop consciousness.