Author Topic: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff  (Read 18681 times)

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #165 on: November 15, 2018, 03:35:02 pm »
I've hit a wall of some sort... In the work, we call it an "Interval". This refers a point where things might continue forward as planned, or veer off in another direction. The key is to approach the interval consciously, because if you let yourself be steered by circumstance alone, you will end up betraying your original aim. Or maybe you need to drop the original aim, that's the proper way to proceed - you have to make that decision yourself.

The wall is this Movements class. I've been going on Wednesday nights. And I'm finding myself frustrated, it's chewing up my energy and spitting it out undigested. The frustration stems from a few things:

1. The commute. The class is from 9 til 10 PM. At that hour, the trains are only running intermittently, so I've gotta choose.. If I leave my house at 7:45, I can get to the class at about 9:05 PM, missing the first 5 minutes. If I leave the house at 7:00, I get there about 40 minutes early and just have to bum around manhattan in the cold.

And if the class breaks on time, then I can get home by 11:15. Last night, it went like 3 minutes over, resulting in a missed train, resulting in me not getting home until midnight. Now don't get me wrong, I know how to enjoy myself on a commute, got a lot of reading done. But it's really draining my energy to spend basically 2-4 hours (and $25) in commute every week for a 1 hour class.

2. I'm having a lot of trouble following the movements. The instructor will give us a series of motions, and then we do them as a group. Sometimes I can't see or hear the instructions, or didn't get it on the first try. Then, for the next 10 minutes, I'm tripping over myself trying to stay in sync with everybody. The movements are additive, we learn a few, then we add another layer onto them, then we add another layer onto them, until it's this very complex and precise series of motions and rhythms. And if I didn't get the first steps, I just stumble through the rest - it's like a house being built on a weak foundation.

I feel like I'm just not good at it, I'm uncoordinated and have trouble following/remembering each step. Instead of feeling harmonious, in sync with the others both physically and mentally, I'm never getting over the top of the hill to where it feels comfortable. By the end of the class, I don't know if this is how I'm supposed to feel, but I'm drained, exhausted. Not exhausted like "wow, I really worked up a sweat today, got some work done", but exhausted like "that was a lot of effort and I don't think I got anything out of it."

A friend that practices ecstatic dance says that these things aren't about being in sync with the outside world, they're about building a space inside of yourself. I have not been able to build that space.

3. I'm craving an explanation. I mentioned how it seems like they want us to discover / infer / build the meaning ourselves, they are not really telling us a lot about the movements or what they accomplish. And I understand this. Knowledge given to you is not as solid as knowledge you build yourself. But after about 6 classes, I haven't built much. I don't know what these motions accomplish. And I don't think they're going to tell us. How is this "self work"? How does this help consciousness emerge? How is Esoteric Simon Says better than me sitting in a room for an hour doing the limb sensing exercise, or staying present during a conversation?

The weekly meetings, where we talk in a group about our experiments in awareness -- I've found them really helpful, productive, stimulating. I can sense that I am more awake now than I was a year ago. I'm better able to sense the difference between awake and asleep, and have some tools to make myself present.

The sacred movements, on the other hand, have not affected by day to day life. Are they supposed to? Will they, one day? I really don't know. And without some undestanding of what the goal is, I cannot commit to a full year of these classes.

So I'm done. I'm dropping the movement class. It pains me, because it's part of what interested me in the Gurdjieff work to begin with. When I watch the movements, I'm in awe of them. The dancers seem so present, in a higher state of awareness. But I have not had that experience.



As an aside, I'm thinking about some of the stuff I was being careful about in the beginning, like the potential that the Fourth Way is a predatory cult. I haven't talked to my instructor yet about dropping the classes. I do not expect to meet any resistance - last time I mentioned to her that getting to the classes has been a real sacrifice for me, she suggested that maybe it isn't the right year to start.

Hail Eris. I'm focusing on those words right now--they give me power. I told you guys months ago, if I get in too far, Eris will save me.

Eris will allow me to quit, to change gears, to banish with laughter. Eris is the gate to not taking all that shit so seriously, letting it bog me down, letting my identity get twisted around something that isn't nourishing me. Because maybe it's all bullshit, maybe it's just a silly hat I'm trying on as part of a Reality Safari.


In terms of "the interval", maybe this Discordian energy (in particular: curiosity, freedom, self discovery) is what I should embody as I approach the gap.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #166 on: November 15, 2018, 04:03:59 pm »
I told you guys months ago, if I get in too far, Eris will save me.

I am trying to find one smidgen of text in ANY work about Eris, ancient or contemporary, that would back that statement up.  :lulz:
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Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #167 on: November 15, 2018, 04:12:48 pm »
Chao Te Ching Verse 51:

Quote
If you want to be serious,
don't take yourself seriously.
Be open to change,
and bold enough to be the butt of the joke.

When you walk with total certainty,
your head high
like a cosmic schmuck,
you are vulnerable to the old banana peel shtick.

When a schmuck slips,
their face becomes red with embarrassment.
Eris showed them what they did not perceive.
And, be honest, it was funny.

My Discordia's about not taking myself so seriously, being able to turn on a dime, flip the table, laugh at myself, become the next Me.

The self is the messy bedroom. It gets cleaned now and then, but the mess returns. Instead of trying to end the mess forever, Discordia celebrates its return. The precondition for knowledge is ignorance. The jailbreak never ends.


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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #168 on: November 15, 2018, 06:07:22 pm »
What you are describing sounds similar to the complaints I've heard from ex-Scientologists about the OTIII lessons onward. It feels like there should be A Payoff, and you're treading water to get there, trying your best to keep yourself receptive to what you've been promised, to do the work inside yourself to make it happen.

That doesn't mean there's nothing there, but you should know that this is usually the point people who stick around for years look back on and go "I really should have known then."
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #169 on: November 15, 2018, 06:11:14 pm »
I've been all in on your Gurdjieffian journey this entire time, and for what it's worth I believe you are doing the right thing. I do hope you'll consider returning to the Sacred Movements if and when you feel guided that way, but for now I tend to agree with your sentiments, and this one in particular:

"How is Esoteric Simon Says better than me sitting in a room for an hour doing the limb sensing exercise, or staying present during a conversation?"
[emphasis mine]

Maybe it is better; maybe it isn't. Maybe "better" is s subjective ingredient that is obfuscating something objectively important -- but maybe not! Maybe the "better" element is something you will discover someday, or maybe part of your discovery is that exercises like limb sensing and staying present are what you need to progress, making them indeed "better" in some subjective, possibly transient, sense.

Every individual's journey is unique, no matter how flexible and/or all-encompassing a belief system seems to be. I'm glad to see you applying Discordian elements in your approach to the Gurdjieffian path. I personally presume you're better off for it, and that it will ultimately aid your continued personal growth, development, and exploration.

But what do I know?!

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #170 on: November 15, 2018, 06:41:04 pm »
Quote
But it's really draining my energy to spend basically 2-4 hours (and $25) in commute every week for a 1 hour class.


I think this is a really sensible thing to say.  I think the movements might open up a way of thinking/seeing, but it looks to me like the potential is getting swamped by "IRL stuff". 

You can take up the movements at a time that is more agreeable to your life.  Forcing it like this is bound to lead to frustration and abandonment.

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #171 on: November 15, 2018, 06:48:17 pm »
Quote
But it's really draining my energy to spend basically 2-4 hours (and $25) in commute every week for a 1 hour class.


I think this is a really sensible thing to say.  I think the movements might open up a way of thinking/seeing, but it looks to me like the potential is getting swamped by "IRL stuff". 

You can take up the movements at a time that is more agreeable to your life.  Forcing it like this is bound to lead to frustration and abandonment.

Agreed.
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #172 on: November 15, 2018, 06:55:26 pm »
Chao Te Ching Verse 51:

Quote
If you want to be serious,
don't take yourself seriously.
Be open to change,
and bold enough to be the butt of the joke.

When you walk with total certainty,
your head high
like a cosmic schmuck,
you are vulnerable to the old banana peel shtick.

When a schmuck slips,
their face becomes red with embarrassment.
Eris showed them what they did not perceive.
And, be honest, it was funny.

My Discordia's about not taking myself so seriously, being able to turn on a dime, flip the table, laugh at myself, become the next Me.

The self is the messy bedroom. It gets cleaned now and then, but the mess returns. Instead of trying to end the mess forever, Discordia celebrates its return. The precondition for knowledge is ignorance. The jailbreak never ends.


My Discordia is the whistling noise in my head while I poke the damn penguin, mess with bigfoot, and tell the board the plain facts.  I am not present, I have in fact called in sick for the year so I can watch stupid humans do stupid human things.  My profession is full of horror; if you try to make sense of it, you get brain bubbles.  I just bounce along in the river of chaos.  How could this be anything less than heaven, and mine the work of angels?

Buddhists have that "no mind" thing, which I can appreciate, but I have "no brain."
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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #173 on: November 24, 2018, 02:20:56 pm »
Eris will allow me to quit, to change gears, to banish with laughter. Eris is the gate to not taking all that shit so seriously, letting it bog me down, letting my identity get twisted around something that isn't nourishing me. Because maybe it's all bullshit, maybe it's just a silly hat I'm trying on as part of a Reality Safari.
I'm gonna take the person I've been till now
Find the strength to throw it all away
Strip down to nothing at all
Become like a rose petal, blowing free
You will cooperate with the state, for the good of the state and your own survival. You will confess to the crimes of which you have been accused. You will be released and returned to society a productive citizen if you cooperate. Resistance will be punished. Cooperation will be rewarded.   --"Intersections in Real Time"

Cramulus

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #174 on: January 10, 2019, 01:26:53 pm »


January 13th is Gurdjieff's "Life Day" -- his birthday, but it's the day we celebrate his life. There's going to be a big ceremony at St. Martin's church, in Manhattan. This is a time of year when the Gurdjieff foundation changes gears and all its normal functions are put on hold while we prep for the big day.

I have been swamped, and haven't attended any "work days", but I did manage to squeeze in a few hours of festival prep work. The Gurdjieff foundation is crazy right now. All its normal spaces are full of projects--Murals, decorations, and other preparation for the event.

I was told that I could basically just pick a space, pick an activity, and jump in. But was steered a bit towards making the "cards". There will be a big meal, and at the end, guests will be given a little dessert box, with a card on the top - one that could later be used as a bookmark. The cards are all hand decorated. I sat at a table with a few other people, decorating cards in whatever way I wanted. But it had to be mindful, focused, intentional.

I was able to really lose myself (or find myself?) in this work. It was beautiful to me, that we would put so much effort into a tiny little detail that people might not even notice. I spent maybe 10-15 minutes per card, and it was definitely on the "quick" side. Many cards took 20+ minutes, and the goal was to make 300 of them.

Some of the other people making cards were artists and designers, and put mine to SHAME. Here are mine, which I must emphasize, look like garbage compared to some of the intricate and beautifully colored cards that were made by others:



This was my first time doing "work" side by side with other Gurdjieff people. I gotta say, it was actually really fun. It was like 2 hours of coloring while listening to piano music.



In Other News,
Next week, when they re-start, I'm going to try the Movement classes again. The long commute to get there was making it very difficult to be in the right mental space for them and I wasn't able to get anything out of them. So this time, I'm going to try driving into Manhattan, which fucking terrifies me. But it'll be 8 PM, so maybe it won't be a high stress clusterfuck of crisis-merging and bumper to mosh pit. If I can handle it, I'll be able to get to/from the class in 40 minutes, which cuts the commute time in half or less. We'll see. I'm open to it. But if this isn't the year to do the movements, that's okay too... I have a LOT on my plate this year, and if I get Wednesday night off, I would make good use of it.

This is the New Years Resolution time of year. During the holidays, our habits and patterns are suspended and it gives us a moment to reflect on the big picture. At our meeting, we were asked to take some time to reflect on our original reasons for approaching the Gurdjieff work. This is dangerous, because we may realize that "as the octave progressed, it turned from its original course". But it can also be a time of renewal and rededication.

I am very thankful for finding the work. Before, I understood my own automatism intellectually, but I don't think I had really felt it. The Gurdjieff work is helping me become more emotionally sensitive, and more in touch with my self. The practice of Self Remembering is so grounding, makes it easier to keep in touch with Who I Am and What I Should Be Doing.

It's also incredibly daunting and frustrating sometimes - not the work itself, but the recognition of how small the conscious part of me actually is. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was asleep, no doubt about it--just grinding away and leaping from one problem to the next and never really arriving anywhere. During the holidays, I had a few precious minutes of awakened self. I used this gift to bond with my family, my beautiful girlfriend, and talk about the future.

When I do the nameless sensing exercise in the morning--properly, not rushing through it--it changes my whole day. It gives the day the potential to be something else. I can feel my body differently, having "rebooted" those connections, and that makes me process all information differently. I've been doing zen meditation very intermittently since I was a teenager, but only rarely approached meditation in a truly disciplined way. I would use it as a de-stress technique, or just to ground myself, and sometimes I'd have a nice quiet internal experience that left me feeling refreshed. But this stuff is different. It's like warming up the car for a drive. It's like turning on a light, to read better. This is concrete, the benefits I've experienced are tangible.


Here's to the New Year, the New Me, and the New You. I am wishing everybody a year of self discovery and consciousness. This year, I hope you're able to see yourself, see the big picture, and find the avenue which connects the two.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 01:29:10 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #175 on: February 06, 2019, 04:35:59 pm »
I attended a Talk at the Gurdjieff foundation last night. It resonated strongly with me and gave me lots of new material to process. The topic is the Subconscious. It's inspired by a sentence fragment from Beezlebub's Tales:

...I shall expound my thoughts intentionally in such a sequence and with such logical confrontation that the essence of certain real ideas may pass automatically from this “waking consciousness,” which most people in their ignorance mistake for the real consciousness, but which I affirm and experimentally prove is the fictitious one, into what you call the “subconscious”— which in my opinion ought to be the real human consciousness...

Gurdjieff did not think that the thoughts and "mentations" which we experience in our waking life are the real deal, he thinks they are just the stuff that rises "above the surface", and the real decisions and processes are made under the surface.

Think about it: you encounter some new idea, and have an immediate reaction. Your reasoning is slow to catch up and build a justification. We construct a scaffolding of logic around our opinions and decisions, but that scaffold gets built after the fact. This is what Robert Anton Wilson refers to when he writes "Whatever the thinker thinks, the prover proves."

The Subconscious

What is it that made the initial decision? There's a part of me that I cannot access directly, and it makes all my decisions and directs my whole life. The truer self. Gurdjieff calls it the Subconscious.

Gurdjieff says that this subconcious is composed of two things: hereditary stuff, and "that which we have internalized as a result of confrontation". That is, information that you struggled to obtain, or opinions that changed based on reflection, and the rare conclusions that you reached as a result of serious consideration. These things are available to the subconscious.

(We talked earlier in this thread about the difference between knowledge and understanding, this is the same distinction... the subconscious has your understanding, but not your knowledge... understanding is produced when an idea is confronted, when you've felt its contours and weaknesses, when you've made conscious decisions about it)

And this idea, that the subconscious only has access to this data you've obtained in a deeper way, giving it life and context within you -- it gives us something to aim at. We can process things better if we have data gained from reflection and serious consideration. In discovering the self, in becoming the truer self, we must confront the data which is most difficult to process. Gurdjieff suggests dwelling on moments like times we have disappointed our parents, no matter how uncomfortable that may be to think about - these painful thoughts can crystalize into something solid within us that better guides our future actions. We flinch away from these thoughts, and that fear is part of what keeps us frozen in place.

The part of the mind above the subconscious -- Gurdjieff would call this part the "functional mind". The word Function here should be taken in the sense of an Algebraic function, or a function within computer programming: you put something in, a process is performed on it, and something comes out. Most of our reasoning works this way--we apply a series of heuristics to a thought/problem/idea, and something comes out the other side. It's automatic, procedural.

Essence and Instinct

There is a symmetry in these ideas to Gurdjieff's distinction betweeen essence and personality. Gurdjieff would say that the personality is the stuff you've acquired (through the circumstances of your life and the law of accident), and the essence is the stuff that "really belongs to you". Think about how a baby, before it's learned anything, still has a character and disposition. That's the essence. We carry it with us our entire lives. Stuff we acquire during our upbringing is built on top of that.

Both Essence and Personality are factors in our decision making and the way we relate to the outside world. It's not like Essence is Real and Personality is Fake--nothing like that. We need them both. But one is really ours, and the other is determined by the outside world.


At the talk last night, they put forward an idea that the "Instinctive Self" is beneath the surface. The part of the self that wants to live, mate, be vital... we are not really well in touch with it. I mean, sometimes I go all day without eating, completely by mistake. I ignore my intuition all the time. The instinct is a different kind of intelligence, but it gets covered up and drowned out by the everyday mind.

At the talk, they suggested that Instinct is closer to the "source" of self. And so if you become more aware of your instincts, you are building more 'true self' into your life. Properly organized, your thoughts blend with and support your instincts.

This, by the way, is the meaning of the Parable of the Bitter Tea.  It's about how your body already knows what's up, before your mind does. There's something in us that already knows that the tea will be bitter. We don't listen to it!



What would life be like, if our subconscious was our primary consciousness?

At various times in your life, you've experienced a moment of connecting with something deeper in yourself. It might be in overcoming some resistance, or arriving at a decision you feel good about. It might be reaching into an inner reserve, or remembering an original aim. It's a moment where you understand (or remember) who you really are. If we were better connected to our subconscious, we'd experience more of this.

It would probably not be comfortable or pleasant to live like this. Think about things which bring you back to the self: suffering, doubt, confusion... we would need to be in a state that keeps us on our toes. Living like that is exhausting. For us ordinary people, we can settle for moments of it. But it only takes a drop...


« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 05:05:58 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« Reply #176 on: February 06, 2019, 04:56:46 pm »
Last night, as I came home from the talk, I had a personal moment of gnosis and synchronicity which I want to record here.

I was thinking about the dichotomy between True Self and Waking Self, between the surface and that which is below... about how the stuff on the surface is made of material, impulses, desires, and the stuff beneath the surface is hidden by it, but is more true...

It perfectly aligns with the Gnostic myth - that we live in a world of material, but there is another more-true reality hidden behind it. That the god named in the bible is really the demiurge, the insane material god who thinks he is the true god. But actually he is sick, and has forgotten his own father, the spiritual source of all things. This is the human condition. This is everday life. These gods are both personal and cosmic. The demiurge is a personal force that rules the material conditions of your life, but it's a distraction, an illusion, and something else is more real.


All the talk about the Subconscious had made me remember The Hymn of The Pearl, my favorite gnostic poem. It's a poem about a prince that goes out to recover a pearl and become heir to his kingdom, but it's also a story about each of us, and how we forget. It's about everyday life.

I decided to go back and re-read it, and it inspired me again. The Pearl of the World is hidden in the world of illusion, and when you seek it, you will get lost in that illusion. But you cannot arise from slumber, defeat the serpent, and claim the pearl until you've remembered the true self, the aim of your mother and father. 

And I finished reading the poem, and I cracked open Beezlebub's Tales to his Grandson for the first time in like six months. The page I had bookmarked, where I had stopped reading a long time ago, was about Beezlebub's journey to "Pearl Land" (also called India). It begins with a description of pearls and how our lust for them caused all this overfishing and destruction. And how these travelers went in search of new pearls, and ended up in the place we now call India.

I was intrigued by how the Pearl is the motif of the night... my mind spiraling around the question about what the pearl is to me. What is my pearl?

and as I walked back from the train station at night, through a seedy neighborhood, I came up to a spot where three big dudes were having a highly animated conversation and filling up the whole sidewalk. I experienced a moment of fear, because I knew I'd have to walk right through the middle of their conversation. And as I did it, one of the dudes was wrapping up some anecdote, saying "And he didn't go to pearl river. And she didn't go to pearl river. And this guy--" he said, point at me as I passed, "is not going to Pearl River either!" and all of them burst into crazy laughter.

I was struck dead in the chest by the coincidence. My subconscious crested up above the surface, and I remembered.

It was a miracle.