Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Think for Yourself, Schmuck! => Topic started by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:25:05 pm

Title: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:25:05 pm
Introduction


As some of you know, I've been on an academic binge through 1900-1920s esotericism. There were a lot of these weird guru figures that emerged during this period. Crowley, Gardner, Meher Baba, Mme Blavatski, G.I.Gurdjieff, many others. Most of them attracted - let's face it - wealthy socialites from London, Paris, and New York. Their students would come study in some remote location (Russia, India, etc), then return home to show off these weird oriental ideas to their wealthy socialite friends.

If there are two scales, "wiseman" and "charlatan", most of these gurus registered somewhere on both scales. Crowley, for example, was high on both. Meher Baba, in contrast - probably not a charlatan. Blavatsky? 100% charlatan. (and by the time people discovered that her 'letters from the other side' were a hoax, she had already collected a bunch of "true believers" -- so, inexplicably, there are still theosophists today.)

This "spiritual awakening" from 1900-1920 planted the seeds that would later become the new age movement. So maybe what I'm doing is just the turbo-hipster version of alt-spirituality.

I'll state my goal in sincere terms: I have an aesthetic attraction to 1920s esotericism. I am also interested in exploring this stuff from the inside. I don't just want to read about it, I want to read the texts, discover the secrets, test things for myself. And I don't want to get into occult stuff, let's see what else is out there.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:25:42 pm

A "Bill Murray" Introduction to G. I. Gurdjieff


Here was my intro to Gurdjieff... I actually found him in an odd place: Bill Murray. You know how Bill Murray has this reputation for being this wandering trickster? His hobby seems to be surprising people, doing absurd in-the-moment things.. not as an expression of fame or ego, but because he wants to have fun, he wants to have real experiences. Well it turns out Murray is a huge G.I.Gurdjieff enthusiast, and it's likely Gurdjieff's philosophy informs Bill's lifestyle.

Check out this video:

Bill Murray gives a surprising and meaningful answer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9TvFkiLLMo)


Here, Murray talks about how his goal in life is to be "really here", to be conscious, to be present, to not be distracted by habitual thoughts or the little games we play throughout our day.

This is one of those 'grounding' videos that I will watch during a turbulent day and it calms me right down. I really recommend it.

Another video, The Philosophy of Bill Murray, gets into the intersection of Murray and Gurdjieff in more depth. I've queued it up to the right spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3_j0BlbUy8&t=4m13s

Check those out.

For a more in-depth intro to the Gurdjieff work, check out the thread You're Not Conscious (https://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php/topic,38091.0.html).


For the Black Iron Prison Cabal - Gurdjieff also used the metaphor of a personal prison that we jail ourselves in. This will seem oddly familiar to you: http://fourthwayschool.org/prison4.html


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:26:04 pm
Revisiting the Reality Safari


A quick aside about the 'reality safari' - back in, I dunno, 2010 (?), I embarked on a crazy series of adventures where I tried to find the weirdest people I could, then hang out with them and blend in... then ask them who they thought were too weird, then go hang out with THEM. And so forth. Roger gave the Safari the slogan "Ad Fundum!" - latin for TO THE BOTTOM.

Well, it took me three stops to hit the bottom. I went from Trekkies to UFO people, to paranormal researchers who believed time traveling celts built a bunch of root cellars in Putnam County (https://kelticenergy.wordpress.com/author/keprichambers/). On this adventure, I met some pathologically crazy people - dysfunctional, disconnected from reality... And this is where I called Safeword. I felt like I was a tourist in these spaces, and I started to feel like I was gawking at crazy people, consuming their weirdness as a form of personal entertainment. I got sketched out, I felt guilty, and then I quit the safari.

But Gurdjieff gatherings - these people aren't insane, they're just tuned into something very old and strange. This isn't about the crazy people, it's about the oddball thoughts from a place I've never explored.

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:26:23 pm
Grab Your Safari Fez


It's April 2017. I've been reading about Gurdjieff for six months now. Fighting my way through his horrible book "Beezlebub's Tales to His Grandson". (this is harder to read than Godel Escher Bach... the book's impenetrability is probably one of the reasons the New Age movement never picked up Gurdjieff)

Much like when I discovered Discordianism in the late 90s, I asked myself "Are there really people out there doing this stuff? Or is this some dead joke I've found encased in amber?" Well the answer is yes, of course, it's 2017, people follow all sorts of shit. There are still theosophists for christsakes.

So WHO are the people still following this 1920s spiritual movement?  It turns out that there is a G.I.Gurdjieff foundation in NYC and it has like 300 or 400 members. I wanted to meet some.

So I reserved a seat for this event:

(http://www.gurdjieff-foundation-newyork.org/eventImages/GurdjieffFlyerApr2017.jpg)

Maybe this will turn out to be a cult? I don’t know. Let’s find out.

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 11, 2017, 02:26:41 pm
The Event


(http://i.imgur.com/LGFJYLQ.jpg)

I showed up at this esoteric bookshop in midtown manhattan, linked to the Theosophical Society of NYC. There is a little “lecture hall” next to the bookshop, which felt like a yoga room. The meeting was in there.

I’d say there were about 30 of us. The crowd ranged from age 30 to 60. The leaders of the meeting were ancient, definitely over 70 years old. There seemed to be a lot of Russians in the crowd.. which makes sense because Gurdjieff was Russian-Armenian, so they’d be more aware of him than NYC locals.

The gathering started with a live performance of some of the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music, which is very beautiful. Here’s what it sounds like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOTRK4aus4Y

Then, one of the three leaders read a passage from a Gurdjieff book.

Then we had some Q&A.



The leaders of the meeting were not professional teachers, they’re just enthusiasts, so their answers were a bit meandering. Like I said, the gathering had a tranquil feeling kind of like a yoga class… when you asked a question, the person would think for 20 seconds and then answer.

Some of these questions were kind of frustrating - mainly because spirituality and consciousness is really tricky to discuss, so the questions (including my own) and answers were meandering and slightly unfocused.


The three old timers wanted us to know this:

-The Gurdjieff work points to a form of consciousness that is an “altered state of being”. They say that once you experience this state (and you can only experience it for short periods, nobody can stay in it for long), it transforms you and your perceptions. I think Gurdjieff hints at this with the title of his book “Life is only real, then, when ‘I Am’”.

-Becoming conscious is important, not just for us as individuals, but for all of us. The universe wants to become conscious. It can only do that through us. And we are collectively served, (by “We” I mean the whole human race is served) by having more consciousness within it. They tell us there is a purpose to life, something beyond even humanity… and that consciousness helps it along.

(I want to pause here and underscore how Modern that sounds… this is a pre-WWII system, so they are focused on these big unifying ideas like the ‘direction of history’.. I would be very curious to read if Gurdjieff had a reaction to postmodern philosophers like Camus and Sartre, who rejected ideas like universal meaning and purpose)



After the Q&A, we did some group movements.


I can imagine a slightly alternate universe in which people do this stuff instead of Yoga.


To explain the tip of the iceberg - Gurdjieff Movements are a form of group meditation. Gurdjieff studied Sufi and Tibetan temple dances and the way they affected consciousness. He distilled what he thought were the useful parts and wrapped them up in de Hartmann’s music.

The Gurdjieff Movements are a practical exercise in raising consciousness. They are supposed to make you aware of your body, aware of your thoughts, but also aware of the group movement, the group energy, the group experience, the group identity. I think the idea is to lose yourself in the movements and get a direct experience of a collective identity.

(quick aside - this is basically what Schopenhauer wrote about - the transcendent properties of art and dance)

I’m fascinated by the Gurdjieff movements. They’re dances, but they’re supposed to be private; they’re not performances. Luckily, it’s 2017, and everything is on youtube. Here’s a video that absolutely blows my mind, I love it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=740PhEOdx1M

We are told that there is a presentation coming up.. apparently the Movements will be ‘performed for the public’ for the first time since 1961. Before that, they hadn’t been performed since 1923. So the fact that there’s a presentation next month is a big deal. As soon as they post tickets for the event, they sell out in a flash - I’m staying tuned to the event page so I can get some when they’re posted.

So anyway, we did this ‘group work’, which was more or less doing a bunch of synchronized movements to this strange music.


Then there was some more Q&A, another reading, and we broke for refreshments.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on April 12, 2017, 04:27:21 am
Check out the Vorticists. 

Filippo Marinetti and Wyndham Lewis.

They're like dadaists that accidentally Nazi'd. 

Marinetti:  "You have never understood your machines!  You have never known the ivresse of traveling at a kilometer a minute.  Have you ever traveled a a kilometer a minute?"

Lewis:  "Never.  I loathe anything that goes too quickly.  If it goes to quickly is is not there."
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Ziegejunge on April 12, 2017, 06:24:41 pm
Thanks so much for this, Cram.

I finally decided to read some Gurdjieff last year in September, and made the mistake of starting with Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. Got about 160 pages into it before it was due back at the library, and I haven't found it in me to check it back out again since.

That said, I am curious about the dude and his legacy, and was actually thinking this week about trying to read more Beelzebub or, alternatively, crossing over to Meetings With Remarkable Men and giving that a shot. Then, as synchronicity would have it, you start this thread.

Once I'm home from work, I'll be checking out those vids. Thanks again.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 12, 2017, 06:54:17 pm
yeah I wish I could say "you should read beelzebub's tales". I don't know. I've got a love/hate relationship with it. Every so often I find something that really strikes me, but a lot of the time I just want to hurl it into a fire.

For those of you who haven't heard of it - it's kind of like a "Fourth Way Bible".. Gurdjieff put everything into that book.

Gurdjieff studied various forms of thought (mainly mysticism) and attempted to synthesize them into something new. He blends Buddhism, Sufism, a little Zoroastrianism, early Christian esotericism, and a bunch of others. Kinda like Carl Jung, he is attempting to synthesize what he considers the "real" part of various religions. Beezlebub's Tales is what came out of that meat grinder.

And it's impenetrably hard to read. The first sentence of the book is like a page and a half long. The sentences are lengthy and difficult, twisting, filled with subclauses and parenthetical explanations... you basically cannot skim it. Your habitual mind will not be able to get a toehold. You can only absorb the information through concentration. And even then, it's abstract, metaphorical. So you have to crunch through it again afterwards before the meaning shines through. Gurdjieff meant the book as training wheels, teaching you how to focus and persevere. He said the book is like a yard with bones buried in it. You're the dog who wants the bones, but you have to search and dig.


Right at the beginning of the boo, Big G challenges you, "You're about to embark on something really difficult, and you won't know if it's worth it until you're done, so why even bother?"

This is a stretch, but it reminds me of this website Searchlores.org - searchlores was about cultivating this certain relationship with the internet, thinking about it like an ecosystem, learning how to find any information with a single query... The webpage itself was set up to look like it came from 1993.

And this "web of yesteryear" aesthetic was intentional - anybody who had just showed up for a quick bite of info, who wanted knowledge handed to them in a flashy, bite sized, easy to digest package, would immediately be turned off. The searchlores crowd didn't care to attract anybody that couldn't look beneath the surface.

In a similar way, Gurdjieff is saying "Hey, I'm not your teacher. I'll show you the process I used to wake up, but I'm not going to make it 'easy'. You have to do the work yourself or none of this will have any meaning."

That's a big thing to him - anything you acquire without effort will have no value to you.



the modern mind reels



anyway,

I would NOT recommend starting with Beezlebub's Tales. It's too obnoxious.

The Fourth Way, by Ouspensky, is a much better intro (though I can't say that definitively as I haven't finished it): https://selfdefinition.org/gurdjieff/Ouspensky-The_Fourth_Way.pdf

I've heard good things about Gurdjieff Unveiled, but I have only got like 20 pages deep: https://www.theosophical.org/files/resources/books/Gurdjieff/GUNVEILEDFINALWHOLEBOOK1_3_05d.pdf


EDIT TO ADD:
I now think the best starting point is In Search of the Miraculous, by PD Ouspensky:
http://www.gurdjieff.am/in-search/index.pdf
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 12, 2017, 06:55:06 pm
I was surprised to find there is an intersection of Gurdjieff thought and Rave culture - this is a good essay http://www.duversity.org/archives/rave.html
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 12, 2017, 07:03:31 pm
The writer Henry Miller on Gurdjieff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycrVil9mrCc

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 13, 2017, 12:28:43 am
Oh also, this youtube series is really good, breaks the whole thing down into quick little lessons with practical exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyD07twyc6E&list=PLe6rk0a53V_zfZj3aq32sxvNbtHh0qLQY
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: rong on April 13, 2017, 09:27:59 pm
Thanks for sharing.

I'm curious - do you actually believe in Gurdjieff (or his ideas) - or do you simply find them interesting?
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 13, 2017, 09:48:52 pm
There is no Faith in the fourth way. The Gurdjieff Work places a high emphasis on verifying things yourself.

There is a gnostic vibe to it; you can get info from teachers, but your knowledge must come from direct experience--anything else is a castle built on sand.

I will say that I'm in the process of verification. Still exploring. I don't have enough info to believe or disbelieve.



A few parts of it are rock solid to me though. There are a lot of Gurdjieff topics that resonate strongly with my own experiences. I've had my own gnostic-mystical-holy shit-experiences where some things came into focus. The less said about this, the better. But when you've been there, you can recognize when other people are talking about the same thing.

When Gurdjieff talks about as the self as something larger than the ego, when he talks about the universe as an organism and the correspondence between macro and micro - that stuff is exactly what I spent years exploring in my Fractal Cult project. His talk about us having "Many Selves" with their own agendas matches perfectly with the model of self presented in the Art of Memetics, which I do buy into. So a lot of the Gurdjieff work is like different language for stuff I already had inside of me.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 13, 2017, 10:37:38 pm
Oh also, this youtube series is really good, breaks the whole thing down into quick little lessons with practical exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyD07twyc6E&list=PLe6rk0a53V_zfZj3aq32sxvNbtHh0qLQY

I'm a bit over halfway through this. SO MANY SHIRTS!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz on April 14, 2017, 12:38:04 pm
Oh also, this youtube series is really good, breaks the whole thing down into quick little lessons with practical exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyD07twyc6E&list=PLe6rk0a53V_zfZj3aq32sxvNbtHh0qLQY

I'm a bit over halfway through this. SO MANY SHIRTS!

I have just started and already  :lulz:

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 15, 2017, 04:46:31 am
Oh also, this youtube series is really good, breaks the whole thing down into quick little lessons with practical exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyD07twyc6E&list=PLe6rk0a53V_zfZj3aq32sxvNbtHh0qLQY

I'm a bit over halfway through this. SO MANY SHIRTS!

I have just started and already  :lulz:



I want to do something like this format but horrible and Discordian AF. Like possibly involving ORANGES.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 15, 2017, 04:48:07 am
More sincerely Cramulus I think you and others might get a kick out of this vid about Samadhi. It's a little campy at first, but the folks know their subject for sure.

 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw9zSMsKcwk (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw9zSMsKcwk)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 19, 2017, 03:19:23 pm
I've got the Invite. On Thursday, I'm going to a more intimate meeting with a smaller number of people.

On May 21st, I have tickets to see a live presentation of the Sacred Movements. That's really exciting; they haven't been presented in NYC since like 1962, and before that, 1923.


I found another Bill Murray video where he obliquely references the Fourth Way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4UgNDyS188&list=LLms0UnarvQV7mj_B7zT9MPw&index=1&t=4s


He talks about the secrets he was taught, about living, and how it transformed his life. Being relaxed, having fun doing whatever you're doing, living in the moment...


I like how Bill reminds himself... "This is it," he tells himself, "This your life, you only get one, this isn't a dress rehearsal."


I was on the subway the other day, just waiting for 20 minutes while we approached grand central. Bill's words rung in my ears - this isn't just a transition between point A and point B, THIS IS IT, this is living, make the most of it! 1 face smiles.

Every moment is the holy moment. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_41rSSl9Qc)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz on April 21, 2017, 04:55:27 pm
I've got the Invite. On Thursday, I'm going to a more intimate meeting with a smaller number of people.



How was it? Or do you mean next week
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on April 21, 2017, 05:56:21 pm
It was alright. It was mostly a "getting to know you" session with ~10 people. We talked about why we were here, what we were looking to get out of it. It was kinda short.

I talked a little bit about how Discordianism is this soup of networked ideas, and I kept bumping into Gurdjieff through Wilson and other writers. But they didn't want to hear my reading list, they wanted to hear WHY these ideas interest me.

So I talked about my personal mind-fuck ego-death experience that I had ~6 years ago, how it profoundly shifted my understanding of myself and humans in general.


I was able to feel this vital life force animating the meat machine - and it's an ancient force.. It's been growing and exploring and reaching towards the sun since the first organisms.

And when I was outside of the ego, I was able to recognize the ancient vital force as ME. That's the real me, not the ego, not the everyday identity. I was able to see that my ego/identity is basically just an interference pattern generated from the interaction between two fields (accidents of birth and culture) and had very little "realness" to it.

And I think that when Gurdjieff talks about self-remembering - how a real moment of self-remembering transcends the ego - he's talking about the same thing I experienced. It profoundly changed me, and I want to get back there. If Gurdjieff has tools that will help me understand and explore that experience, then I'll take a ticket please.


They're setting up a "work group" - that's a small group of people that meet regularly and talk about their inner work. We'll read one chapter of "In Search of the Miraculous" every week, and then discuss. It'll last about 10 weeks. It's kind of a pain in the ass for me to get to it, but I think I want to do it.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 15, 2017, 03:31:04 pm
Update:

I had to fight my way in, like Meatloaf standing on the front porch of Project Mayhem.

Originally, I gave a wishy washy answer about whether I could make a Monday meeting. It's a long drive for me, and it conflicts with another thing I have. So consequently, they never gave me the invite. I had to reschedule some stuff and then check back in... then I got the invite to the reading group. Went to one last week.

I'm about four chapters deep in In Search of the Miraculous. In this book, Ouspensky is sharing the tale of how he met Gurdjieff and what it was like being in his orbit. Because of its narrative style, this book reads much smoother than the other Gurdjieff books I've picked up. It also shows another side of G, one I've seen other people mention - the man definitely comes off as a charlatan at times. In the first two chapters, Gurdjieff spends a lot of time setting up the Hard Sell... basically saying, look, you can't figure this stuff out on your own. You need a teacher... here's why you need me:


                      BILLY MAYS HERE
                                  /
(https://www.gurdjieff.org/G43.jpg)

-You could study the way of the Fakir and it will take years of training before you have mastered your physical body and have a chance to build the "divine body",
-OR You could study the way of the Monk and spend months mastering your emotions, and then have a chance to create that divine body,
-OR You could study the way of the Yogi and, after really diligent training and mastery of the intellect, you can have meditative experiences in which you'll feel the stirrings of your divine body...
-OR you could study THE FOURTH WAY and work on all three centers at once - it's still a lot of work. But you don't have to quit all your shit and go study at a monastery... in the Fourth Way, you figure out how to escape the black iron prison, develop a soul, while immersed in everyday life.

It has an aura of salesmanship...

He also talks about "immortality", though he's never clear about what he means. A lot of people approach Gurdjieff because they want to learn occult secrets. He kinda teases them, or gives them a run-around. When he talks about immortality, he never resolves whether he's talking about creating some eternal essence that is preserved after death, or a more abstract kinda of immortality via having REALLY EXISTED in the world and leaving a legacy. it seems like he doesn't even want to talk about immortality except that people keep asking him about it.


Gurdjieff was a really intense character, people loved him, but he made a lot of people hate him too. That's a normal reaction to these super extreme people. In reading criticisms of Gurdjieff, you see a lot of that - that he could be absolutely terrible when he wanted to be. It seems like he's still in control of his emotions even when he's raging... people say that Gurdjieff could be screaming at one moment, and in the next breath, when it's no longer needed, turn it all off and go right back to a calm tea.


Burns recently linked me to this page discussing the meeting between Crowley and Gurdjieff: http://www.ptmistlberger.com/why-remarkable-men-rarely-meet.php ----------------


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.


by the way, there's another section of that doc which I found interesting - it unpacks the double edged sword that is the "guru" figure:

Quote
...my master is myself—lies at the heart of the ancient Eastern tradition of “guru-yoga,” something found in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The essential idea behind it is to see that the spiritual teacher is, in principle, a reflection of the awakened self within the seeker. To regard one’s teacher as the “buddha-mind” as they put in some Buddhist traditions, is a generally trustworthy way to accelerate one’s spiritual progress, because it gives a good opportunity to subdue the ego, which by nature does not trust in the higher values represented by the guru’s teaching and seeks to maintain separation and ego-identity at all costs. (This was also the rationale behind Osho’s “device” of creating lockets for his disciples containing a photo of himself).

Of course it is a given that such an approach carries a risk factor, because to regard one’s teacher as a reflection of one’s awakened self assumes that the teacher is a worthy representative of such. But a subtler point behind guru-yoga is that it has the power to override “imperfections” in the guru. Put simply it is possible to attain significant spiritual realization in the company of a flawed teacher. Likewise, it is also possible to experience considerable disillusionment and pain when associating with a teacher who turns out to have greater character flaws than one might have initially imagined.




I am still finding the Gurdjieff work really challenging. Sometimes I read something that actually really upsets me, like Gurdjieff bandying about some sincerely unscientific proposition  - stuff that was still a bit believable in 1910, that wouldn't hold up now. Then I sleep on it, and I can see that there is a layer of metaphor. And that's like a key... once I understand the metaphor, it "unlocks" that passage and I can get what he means. The trial, IMO, is to not fall into the trap of justifying everything he's saying, but remaining critical all the time. That's also Gurdjieff's intent... just like Robert Anton Wilson, he doesn't want you to just accept what he's saying. He wants you to question it, test it for yourself. Stay in the critical mind.



I have more to say, but that was a long post already.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 15, 2017, 03:43:36 pm
Just to touch base again with why this might be interesting to some of you --- Gurdjieff literally wrote about the Black Iron Prison and the Jailbreak a full century before we did. He and his followers spent their lives figuring out how to describe and escape from this "inner slavery".

He described two "walls" in our cell:

-We are slaves to what Gurdjieff calls "considering", which is being concerned with what other people think of us. This is an ego-drive and it keeps us anchored in the smaller, immediate, local parts of the self.

-And we're victims of "identification", which is basically becoming what you experience. When you feel something, it takes over. Most of the time, you have no objectivity about it, and no point of view outside of it.


A lot of the Gurdjieff work involves practical exercises in which you can begin to free yourself of these traps.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Ziegejunge on May 15, 2017, 04:43:42 pm
Just a quick note to say thanks again for this, Cram!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz on May 15, 2017, 08:03:07 pm
Just a quick note to say thanks again for this, Cram!

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 16, 2017, 03:03:11 pm
Just want to chase some thoughts I've been having about the Gurdjieff work...

The Medium is the Message
Marshall McLuhan wrote a lot about the 'modal shift' between "tribal" culture and "literary" culture. Electric media, like TV and Radio nd the Internet, represent a return to tribal organizations. In pre-gutenberg times, before the printing press, knowledge was shared through these special tribes. Groups would have a shared, collective understanding of something, and would impart knowledge to newcomers piecemeal. Learning was personal, nonlinear. There are types of knowledge that can be transmitted through this medium, and not as well through the newer linear-literary medium. The study of the spirit is one of these types of knowledge... in the shift towards literary culture, we lost the best methods for transmitting some of these truths.


The Carpet Dance
Gurdjieff invokes the image of these old-world villages where carpets were made. Carpet making, he explains, is an ancient art. There used to be a lot of symbolism and ceremony in how a carpet was manufactured. In some places, an entire village would come together and make a carpet in one day. The village would be divided into different groups ,each group had a job.. and as they did these jobs, they'd be singing special carpet-making songs and doing special dances. Each motion in the dance had a meaning built up over centuries. All these dances came together to make a carpet. The music and symbolism and dance steps brought everybody's consciousness together, rolled it into a big ball. It was like the village became one entity, united through this task.

That's part of what Gurdjieff means when he's talking about Self Remembering... there is a mind, a self, that is bigger than the ego. We all share it, in some small way. We forget this, because we're distracted by the ego, we think the ego is the whole self.  (The Sacred Dances are a way of remembering this)


The Loss of Secret Knowledge
There was a lot of knowledge lost when we moved from tribal to linear / literary culture. There's a myth of progress, that we just keep advancing over time, and anything going on now is probably more advanced than anything happening in the past. And that's true in a lot of ways, but there are also types of knowledge that can't be encoded well into a linear, textual medium. They were lost. The modern mind thinks "eh, if it was lost, it probably wasn't valuable" - and "scientism" feeds into this as well - the idea that Truth is best captured through our modern empirical framework and cannot come from anywhere else.

But let's look at an example... One topic I keep thinking about is Automatons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY_wfKVjuJM). These super cool robots were built in the 18th century by these guilds of craftsman.. The knowledge of how to build these things was secret, just passed between master and apprentice when the apprentice was ready. And because this knowledge was hidden behind a veil of initiation, it was never encoded so that somebody could just read a book about it. When the guild structure collapsed, their secrets vanished. But they were cool secrets! Without computers, these guilds were able to produce these insanely complicated clockwork machines. We still don't know how they did it - and nobody alive today can make one.

So it is with matters of the spirit. People spent their entire lives studying the internal world. There was a rich network of symbolism and techniques which were used to pass on this information. A lot of this was lost. Or the modern version of it is reduced to a silhouette.

Tarot, for example, is basically just for fortune telling today. But it used to be part of a larger spiritual system... the goal of which is to transform the Fool into the World.

Alchemy... people think of alchemy as proto-chemistry.. those are the only parts of alchemy we care about today. But all that material stuff it dealt with (turning lead into gold, etc) was just a metaphor for its ultimate aim, which is to study SPIRITUAL transformation. How DOES a shitty person become a better person? Through these processes like calcination, fermentation, there is something (almost like a chemical process) which happens to the spirit. If you want to turn iron into steel, or you want to focus your life and will into a harder substance, it's a similar process ... you heat it up, you burn out the slag and impurities, you pour it into a form...

ahh I'm on a tangent...

What I'm getting at is --

The Incompleteness Theorem of the Self
There are lots of ways to understand the self. No single way can reach every truth. Gurdjieff was missing out on modern science. But science is an incomplete picture too. If we insist on understanding the world using empiricism alone, we abandon the network of symbolism and meaning that humanity developed over thousands of years. You know what I mean here? There are truths you can reach through, say, Buddhism, that can't be expressed in terms of empirical findings which could be laid out in a textbook; they're too subjective, personal, internal, symbolic...

I share this only because it's a demon I had to defeat in myself - scientism and the dominance of literary culture. My reactive mind, armed with an experimental psych degree, rejected or dismissed anything that didn't fit into its linear/literary "mode".

That's part of why I'm on this Reality Safari - to explore what else is out there.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 17, 2017, 03:20:08 am
At the meeting tonight (Week 3 of 6), I asked about the bad science.

Because like, Gurdjieff tosses around a lot of stuff which is plausible if it's 1910.

In one case, he hits the nail on the head - he thinks the moon was formed when a comet hit the still-molten earth. Nobody in 1910 believed that. We would figure out that this is probably true in the 1990s.

But a lot of it is just ... weird. Like he talks about how the moon might one day have life on it, but it's too young now.. it's still gathering energy to grow up and be a real planet. Stuff like that. I wanted to know - how do the older people feel about that stuff? Do you just ignore it, because Gurdjieff wasn't actually a scientist and is just kinda speculating? Do you say "Ah but this is is actually just a metaphor", and then try to extract some esoteric truth from it?

I asked about the moon, and the dated non-science. This old timer at the meeting tonight gave me a good answer, "The cosmology which Gurdjieff sets up... all the stuff about how the planets are formed and the energies that pass between them... If you ask a lot of people why they like this stuff, very few people mention his cosmology. It's just part of the way he talks about the world. But it's definitely not literally true, and it's not even the most interesting thing about Gurdjieff's ideas.  If you get frustrated by the science, don't sweat it - move on to something else."

well that's cool, I'm glad they're not going crazy trying to rationalize some of the bizarre ideas that Gurdjieff drops. Like how the moon feeds on organic matter, and if humanity was collectively enlightened the moon would starve.  :lol:

It made me feel better that there isn't this huge serious grayface effort to rationalize all that. When I read something absurd from the book we're reading, the old timers laughed too.

The guy said to us - All of Gurdjieff's propositions, you have to verify them for yourself. Don't just take it on him that it's true. If he says that human life is food for the moon, you can't really observe that yourself, so don't worry about it. But stuff he says is happening inside of you - like how most of the time, we are asleep, or we are stuck in a prison and one of the things confining us is our obsession with what others think of us.... you can look at yourself and verify if that's true or not. That's where you have to start.

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LMNO on May 17, 2017, 05:11:03 pm
Oh man.  L Ron definitely ripped some of this off for the Scientology pastiche.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on May 18, 2017, 02:39:25 am
Oh man.  L Ron definitely ripped some of this off for the Scientology pastiche.

The whole Scientology thing apparently started off as a gag that got out of control, so I don't doubt that a bit.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on May 18, 2017, 05:37:12 pm
So, speaking of Scientology....

Part of why I haven't been enthusiastically participating in this discussion is that I get hella triggered when people start lolling about joining cults. I spent a long time dealing with people who had escaped an abusive one, and people who were never members but ended up at war with them one way or another. Prior to that, I've had friends who had Really Bad Experiences with smaller, low key cults. I'm not an expert, but I've got a good background in the subject and a lot of weird history to draw from. Lots of shrapnel, I believe is the correct term.

Right now everything seems fine and dandy, and that's great. But I never once talked to someone who left a cult saying "it always sounded like horseshit." They always make a lot of sense at first. They always require a lot of buy in before they get to the weird stuff (at least the successful ones do). And I'm not saying that to try to ruin your fun, I know you gotta cut the rational part of your brain loose a little bit and see where it goes with these things.

The question is what are you doing to keep yourself safe? Do you have hard lines you won't accept with these guys? Do you have people outside you're keeping in the loop, who you trust enough to call you out if you start to fade into this thing?
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Junkenstein on May 18, 2017, 11:23:53 pm
To the last part, typical cult behavior is grabbing those with no or very poor support systems. It's one of the things that helps people get attached to gurus and other untouchable authority figures. No attachments in your old life but now you belong.

Friendless orphans with money are basically a typical cults bread and butter. Yes, this does mean Bruce Wayne is probably a secret hare Krishna.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on May 19, 2017, 01:24:21 am
To the last part, typical cult behavior is grabbing those with no or very poor support systems. It's one of the things that helps people get attached to gurus and other untouchable authority figures. No attachments in your old life but now you belong.

Friendless orphans with money are basically a typical cults bread and butter. Yes, this does mean Bruce Wayne is probably a secret hare Krishna.

This is my general impression.  I'm not an expert on the subject, though.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Junkenstein on May 19, 2017, 02:35:05 am
I'm no expert on batman either. Layman's view.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 19, 2017, 05:03:48 pm
I wrote a reply to QGP yesterday and then the Internets ated it.  :cry:

Okay, good question...

So, I keep throwing around the phrase "the cult I joined", etc - part of it is tongue in cheek, part of it is the oldschool definition of cult:


I am really sensitive to the traps that actual cults use to suck people in and convert them. Here's why I think I'm safe here:


I mean really, this feels more like joining a yoga group than a religion.

As for how I'm protecting myself - I braced myself from day 1 that I'll hit the ejector button as soon as I start feeling somebody's will overshadowing mine. It would be really easy to walk away.

I think everybody recognizes that G does come off as a bit of a charlatan at times. That keeps my guard up.

I have also alerted my friends to my strange spiritual experiment. When I discovered Taoism at age 15 and Discordianism a few years later, I was intolerable. I became a preachy, insufferable spag. I've asked my friends to let me know if this starts to happen again.

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on May 19, 2017, 05:10:34 pm
That all sounds really solid. I'll admit my interest in how you're keeping your metaphorical helmet on isn't strictly altruistic. I am sometimes bad about falling into holes (although not this particular one) and I have a lot of interest in how people protect themselves while engaging in crazy shit.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Bu☆ns on May 20, 2017, 03:59:18 am
Bill Murray helps a bit


ETA: Also discordianism itself has precautions in place.  I'd be more concerned about someone who didn't hold the values of TFYS and the prohibition of believing everything one reads.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Bu☆ns on May 20, 2017, 04:24:35 am
Cram--not sure if you checked out any of that blogger's other articles but they're quite interesting.  He often compares krishnamurdi, osho, and gurdijieff and their methods. I'm glad i checked in to this thread because it reminds me to follow up on that.

Quote
He described two "walls" in our cell:

-We are slaves to what Gurdjieff calls "considering", which is being concerned with what other people think of us. This is an ego-drive and it keeps us anchored in the smaller, immediate, local parts of the self.

-And we're victims of "identification", which is basically becoming what you experience. When you feel something, it takes over. Most of the time, you have no objectivity about it, and no point of view outside of it.

A lot of the Gurdjieff work involves practical exercises in which you can begin to free yourself of these traps.


When i read this thread I'm constantly reminded of how these different things you describe resemble other spiritual practices.  Mantra, for example is basically a self-remembering technique. Repeat a a phrase and combine it with beads. Then feed all the experiences from the above two points waaaaaaay up inside the mantra.

A lot of it seems to separate out the pieces for better organization especially if one's habits and routines resemble the  automaton.

I'm curious if any of Shiva's 112 Meditation Techniques (https://o-meditation.com/2010/12/02/shivas-112-meditation-techniques/) resemble any of the techniques you read about. I can only find this in reference to Osho, but it seems legit enough.  Plus I think Osho ripped off Gurdjieff all to hell--especially with movement and plain old physical activity. So at any rate, I'm curious as to how they compare.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 22, 2017, 07:10:11 pm
Last night, I went to the Gurdjieff foundation's presentation of the Sacred Dances.

As I mentioned, this is the first time in over 50 years that the Gurdjieff foundation has presented the dances in public. Before that, it was another 50 years.

I wasn't allowed to take any video or pictures, but I did manage to sneak in a few:

(https://i.imgur.com/cRkQLmj.jpg)


(https://i.imgur.com/LKPdK7d.jpg)

It's kind of hard to describe - if you look up the gurdjieff sacred movements on youtube, it'll give you a sense of what it looks like.

These were really incredible. It was like watching a living machine. A conscious machine! Like a human engine that is not automatic, but deciding to move in perfect sync.

The dances aren't shown to the public because they're really not a performance. They're more like a form of meditation, or prayer. Each movement references some aspect or law of the universe. As the dancer moves their body, they are meditating on its meaning. If you're in the dance, there is a group energy, a group mind which can be felt.

Through this dance, one can momentarily shed ones subjectivity. This is not the silence and stillness of zen, or the frenzy of the ecstatic... it's something else... they say the dances are a study of the transformation of energy.


Watching them in person, I was really blown away. Haven't had my mind blown like that in a long time! It looks like an incredible amount of work, to learn to move in a group like that, in perfect sync, with that degree of precision and specificity.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on May 22, 2017, 10:17:36 pm
When i read this thread I'm constantly reminded of how these different things you describe resemble other spiritual practices.  Mantra, for example is basically a self-remembering technique. Repeat a a phrase and combine it with beads. Then feed all the experiences from the above two points waaaaaaay up inside the mantra.

A lot of it seems to separate out the pieces for better organization especially if one's habits and routines resemble the  automaton.

That's one of the cool things about the Gurdjieff work. He was initiated into a LOT of different spiritual traditions. A lot of the stuff he presents can be found elsewhere, but described from a different angle. It kinda feels like Gurdjieff tried to touch the proverbial elephant in lots of different places.  :fap:


Zen teachers say: you think too much, you talk too much, your reasoning apparatus doesn't know how to take a break, you forget  the "primal" self... (the same 'primal' we're talking about when we say 'primal chaos', the world unfiltered by the mind)



MY UNDERSTANDING (which may be wrong) is that in Mantra meditation, you are basically going deep into the mechanical part of the self. You repeat the mantra over and over again, until it's automatic, until it becomes you, until the person who is saying the mantra is gone and only the mantra is left.

One of the reasons that a lot of mantras are nonsense words (OM MANI PADME HUM) is that you don't want the intellectual part of the self to get stuck in the 'meaning', where it will start free associating and taking you down these little side-paths. During mantra meditation, you want to stay in the mechanical, automatic mind while there is no self.

The goal of this practice is to develop a "solid core", to gain mastery over the random impulses and stray thoughts and daydreams that pull our mental arrows off target.


Gurdjieff thinks, by the way, that this is an "unbalanced" way of training. The zen student has to learn to stop the thoughts that create the world. THEN, they basically have to re-learn to think and feel. Zen says - the intellect and emotions get in the way... if you silence them, what's left? Let's stay there for a little while, that's where the real self lives. If you hang out there long enough, you might meet him!


Gurdjieff, on the other hand, is presenting a way of working on all the "centers" at once. That is, you are not trying to quiet your intellect and emotions. You are trying to observe them, and eventually understand them, and eventually, control them. Zen starts at the other end: trying to control the mind and the emotions, and then discovering the self. Gurdjieff understands the self as fractured, as having no unity. We can't discover the self unless we can take in the whole mosaic at once.



And as a point of order - Gurdjieff doesn't think his work is better than zen, or that zen students are training wrong. It's just a different approach!


Quote
I'm curious if any of Shiva's 112 Meditation Techniques (https://o-meditation.com/2010/12/02/shivas-112-meditation-techniques/) resemble any of the techniques you read about. I can only find this in reference to Osho, but it seems legit enough.  Plus I think Osho ripped off Gurdjieff all to hell--especially with movement and plain old physical activity. So at any rate, I'm curious as to how they compare.


yeah, reading over this, it feels like there's some shared area

I'd need to study it more, though, before I can say anything interesting about it


and even then, what I say will be boring
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 01, 2017, 03:14:44 pm
On God's Omnipotence....

I liked this passage. The Absolute Will (ie whatever causal factor started the cascade of the big bang, the suns, the planets, life on the planets, you, me, this sentence you're reading right now) isn't involved in the day to day affairs of the universe. The universe functions according to laws and principles which can be understood.


Quote from: In Search of the Miraculous, by PD Ouspensky
We had many talks about the idea of miracles, and about the fact that the Absolute cannot manifest its will in our world and that this will manifests itself only in the form of mechanical laws and cannot manifest itself by violating these laws....

"Give me an example of something that the Lord cannot do," said the bishop.

"It won't take long to do that, your Eminence," answered the seminarist. "Everyone knows that even the Lord himself cannot beat the ace of trumps with the ordinary deuce."


"There was more sense in this silly story than in a thousand theological treatises. The laws of a game make the essence of the game. A violation of these laws would destroy the entire game. The Absolute can as little interfere in our life and substitute other results in the place of the natural results of causes created by us, or created accidentally, as he can beat the ace of trumps with the deuce. Turgenev wrote somewhere that all ordinary prayers can be reduced to one: "Lord, make it so that twice two be not four." This is the same thing as the ace of trumps of the seminarist."




Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 01, 2017, 07:39:52 pm
I just wanted to touch briefly on a topic that's all over Gurdjieff. It's called the Ray of Creation.

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d7/Ray_of_creation.jpg/220px-Ray_of_creation.jpg)     (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-E2Y6HFFdxZU/USS6WmI_iOI/AAAAAAAAAdA/JoAHPunXuNs/s1600/ray+of+creation+by+Orage.jpg)

The story goes like this:

In the beginning, there's the raw uncut universe, called the Absolute. The primal singularity. The original Causal Factor. All that exists, undivided. Everything at once.

Whatever that is - produced all the suns in the universe, including ours.

And the laws which govern stuff at that size led to the formation of planets, including ours.

When you get down to planet-size, there are different laws. From these factors, life on earth emerged.

Emerging from the laws which govern life on earth, some of it eventually developed consciousness, analytical thought, became capable of examining itself and its environment... As sagan puts it:

(http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-we-are-the-universe-experiencing-itself-carl-sagan-86-34-15.jpg)

I think it's beautiful.

There is a spark inside of me, animating me. This spark was forged in the big bang, it's a direct product of this primordial cosmic process. As it descends into increasingly fine levels of the universe, it becomes subject to different laws. Layer by layer, it eventually becomes a human life. So the big bang didn't just create stars and stuff like that, it also created you and me. The Big Bang created consciousness. The big bang created you reading these words on a monitor.


And then what? What follows consciousness, in the ray of creation? What will consciousness eventually produce? To what end does the universe want to know itself?

Nobody knows, of course.

Gurdjieff says that organic life on earth is like an "energy collector". Organic life is building up this "potential". When the potential reaches a certain threshold, the next thing will emerge.

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 16, 2017, 02:34:43 pm
An idea that's been spinning in my head like a gif from angelfire, by way of Jacob Needleman (http://www.gurdjieff-internet.com/article_details.php?ID=358&W=72) (podcast (https://soundcloud.com/tnscommonweal/161121-jacob-needleman-gurdjieff-a-life-in-the-work))


The scientific atheism of our time is a necessary purgative - it strips us down to a place where we might understand God in a completely different way.





Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Hoopla on June 16, 2017, 02:43:51 pm
Oh man, I completely missed this thread until now... looks like I have some weekend reading to do.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 16, 2017, 03:14:56 pm
I have so much to say and I don't have a clue where to start. Guess I'll start with the material facts... This isn't a polished essay, I'm going to ramble, so forgive me in advance and bear with me.

I made it through 7 weeks of the In Search Of the Miraculous book club. It was an interesting and challenging experience. I struggled for a while with the "science" behind what Gurdjieff was saying. Ultimately, I made a mental breakthrough when I spotted the parts where Ouspensky warns us not to take it too literally. We're in deep metaphor country. And through that lens, all the stuff I struggled with became so beautiful and personally meaningful.

For example, I wrote about the Ray of Creation. Ouspensky describes the Ray as this emanation from the creation of the universe which cascades down into smaller tiers of existence. Something created all the galaxies, the stars, our star, the planets, our planets, life on our planet... and that same creative force is present in us. Ouspensky wrote about how the edge of the ray of creation is the moon, and that one day once it has been fed with the energies and collective processing power of humanity*, it will be green... but I think the moon is better understood there as a metaphor for whatever it is that humanity is creating.


*this idea of humanity as a collective processor... it kinda reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Adams presents the earth as a giant computer. Every living being on earth is contributing to the grand calculation of the meaning of life.

That's very in line with Gurdjieff's thinking. It's kinda like - the birth of modern democracy required centuries of "processing" feudalism. Years of painful serfhood and subjectivity (as in 'being a subject') created this collective need for something better. And when that fire grew hot enough to destroy feudalism, we lit our torches and headed for the castles. Our suffering served some (at the time) invisible future purpose.

And in this similar way, humanity is creating something else, beyond what exists now. We're all involved in it, as we live our lives and pay taxes and argue with people online. This isn't just humanity, it's the whole universe pushing its way into consciousness through us, creating the universe through us.

At larger scales, "creation" looks like suns and planets being formed, huge masses of plasma spinning through space. At smaller scales of creation, this same process looks like you and me.


anyway

That's an example of me coming through the eye of the needle and expanding my narrow literal understanding.

Seven weeks of the meetings... the group dwindled from a dozen down to about 5 (plus the three leaders). In that smaller group, the real discussions started. I felt like I was really able to engage and ask my questions.

And like many good mystery cults, it ended with mystery, something else behind another veil. The speakers would not tell me more about the sacred movements, or about the stuff you do later in the work. They give a coy smile and say we've just scratched the surface. One of them explained that this group is partly about us seeing if we really like these Gurdjieff ideas. And it's also about the Gurdjieff Foundation seeing if they really like us, if we're ready to learn more.

They told us to keep reading, and that they'd be in contact. After the summer, there are going to be more meetings. But I think we'll only find out about them if we're invited.

One of the cool things about the Gurdjieff work that's unlike esoteric mystery cults... other groups ask you do to the "work" before they teach you the "secrets". Gurdjieff arranged it backwards. He tells you the secrets right up front, and then slowly reveals the Work which will help you fully understand them.

I want to wear the robes and do the dances and share consciousness.  So I'm going to hang on.


I think they like me because I'm a skeptic. I'm very critical of everything we're being told. I often challenge the "elders" in this group... I said a few weeks ago - one of the things I've struggled with for 15 years now is the idea of free will.

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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Bu☆ns on June 18, 2017, 03:45:33 pm
Hey Cram, thanks for keeping up with this. I see you what you mean by not knowing where to start. Just reading your posts alone, my brain keeps wanting to branch out and correlate the different associations that arise.

Do keep up, it's kind of cool having one of our own explore this relatively obscure practice
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: PoFP on July 31, 2017, 09:09:56 pm
I'm not sure why I'm only just now seeing this thread, but I second what Burns said.

Your writing and critical thinking styles make it very easy to understand the concepts you're tossing around in your head. The analogies are clear and concise, and you tell it all in an adventurous and optimistic manner, while still making the past and present tense criticisms known.

I think we all appreciate the attention to detail and the overall dedication to clarity. I just wanted to make that clear, as I know that sometimes, lack of feedback on material that's based on something people aren't normally interested in can cause the author to feel personal disinterest in writing about it.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: PoFP 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: PoFP 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.




Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz 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?
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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 (http://www.ptmistlberger.com/why-remarkable-men-rarely-meet.php).

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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Bu☆ns on August 15, 2017, 10:28:06 pm
Or as alan watts said: "When two zen masters meet each other on the road they need to introduction. When thieves meet they recognize each other instantly." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHR2KNZg8q0#t=19m30s)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: PoFP 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_face))

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.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz 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.  :)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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


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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Hoopla on December 12, 2017, 08:58:16 pm
I adore reading about your progress through this system, Cram.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on December 13, 2017, 02:38:07 pm
(https://imgur.com/VaQ0nC3.jpg)

Last night, instead of meeting, we were invited to a special presentation at the Gurdjieff Foundation.

This was really exciting for me. Way back when I started thinking about this stuff, I was intrigued by the mystery... they were holding cards they weren't showing us. Now, 8 months later, the five of us are invited to the actual Foundation building for the first time. We didn't know what to expect. We just knew we'd be listening to some music and readings.

The Gurdjieff Foundation building used to be a firehouse. Before we went in, our host asked us to keep silent while we were inside. It's fancy in there! We hung up our coats in the basement and then sat down in a temple-looking room.

The place I was in had a certain feeling to it - an aura of contemplation and peace. Nobody really spoke while I was there. I'd say there were about 100 people in the audience. Our group of five -- most of us are in our mid 30s -- were definitely the youngest people there by some 15 years.

The ceiling of the temple was tiered, like a ziggurat. I recognized the shape from a diagram in a Gurdjieff book - the idea is a temple with four court yards, each inside the other. Each court yard is gated, you are not allowed access to it until you have been properly intiated into the mysteries. The innermost courtyard is sacred ground, only for those who have made it to the center of the work.

During this presentation, the audience was seated in the "outer courtyard" area, and the performance was in the inner courtyard area.

Here's a picture I managed to sneak after the performance:

(https://imgur.com/tfEsEQb.jpg)


The presentation lasted about an hour. It consisted of three readings, interspersed with about 7 songs, played by different people on a grand piano.

The connecting theme was the "sayyids". Sayyid is an arabic word meaning "Master". Muslims that can trace their bloodline back to the Prophet are considered holy people -- sayyids. Gurdjieff and the composer Thomas de Hartmann joined forces to create a body of amazing music. Several of their pieces were called the Sayyids.  (also spelled "Seïd")

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4_QKJmKm0Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMKc6PgARXc


There is a character to this music... I almost felt like I understood what it was saying before it was "explained". A speaker did touch on their nature - the Sayyids have two 'voices' - the lower voice consists of two notes alternating over and over, like a vibration that runs through the whole piece, a lawful order of everyday life. The second voice is played independently, it floats through the higher octaves.

The readings were from Gurdjieff's book "Meetings with Remarkable Men". It described a time when he wanted to visit Kafiristan, a place inhabited by nomadic tribes. These people do not welcome outsiders, and the whole country was considered inacessible by Europeans.

Gurdjieff and his friend Doctor Skridlov decided to explore Kafiristan while disguised as holy men. Here's one of the readings:

Quote
At supper that evening, after the religious ceremony of the
christening, there sat next to me an old Turkoman nomad, a friend of the
host and owner of a large flock of caracul sheep. In the course of my
conversation with him about the life of nomads in general and about the
different tribes of Central Asia, we began talking about the various
independent tribes inhabiting the region of Kafiristan.

Continuing our conversation after supper, during which of course
Russian vodka had not been economized, the old man, by the way and
as though to himself, expressed an opinion which Professor Skridlov
and I took as advice; and in accordance with it we drew up a definite
plan for carrying out our intention.

He said that, notwithstanding the almost organic distaste of the
inhabitants of this region for having anything to do with people not
belonging to their own tribes, there was nevertheless developed in
nearly every one of them, to whatever tribe he belonged, a certain
something which naturally arouses in him a feeling of
respect and even love towards all persons, whatever their race, who
devote themselves to the service of God.

After this thought had been expressed by a nomad whom we had met
by chance, and who had spoken perhaps thanks only to Russian vodka,
all our deliberations, that night and the next day, were based on the idea
that we might get into this country, not as ordinary mortals, but by
assuming the appearance of persons who are shown special respect there
and who have the possibility of going freely everywhere without
arousing suspicion.

....we categorically decided that Professor Skridlov should
disguise himself as a venerable Persian dervish and I should pass for a
direct descendant of Mohammed, that is to say, for a Seïd.

Quote
To prepare ourselves for this masquerade, a long time was necessary,
as well as a quiet, isolated spot. And that is why we decided to settle
down in the ruins of Old Merv, which met these requirements and
where, moreover, we could at times, for a rest, make some excavations.
Our preparation consisted in learning a great many sacred Persian
chants and instructive sayings of former times, as well as in letting our
hair grow long enough for us to look like the people for whom we
intended to pass; make-up in this case was quite out of the question.
After we had lived in this way for about a year and were finally
satisfied both with our appearance and our knowledge of religious
verses and psalms, one day, very early in the morning, we left the ruins
of Old Merv, which had come to be like home for us, and going on foot
as far as the station of Baïram Ali on the Central Asiatic Railway, we
took a train to Chardzhou, and from there set off by boat up the river
Amu Darya.


some art on the walls:
(https://imgur.com/n3L330f.jpg)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on December 13, 2017, 03:51:40 pm
Cram this thread and your journey are amazing and, other than that I consider many folks here friends, are a primary reason I come back to PD when I have Internet access. Thanks for doing it! I suspect that your journey is just beginning and that you will discover wonders beyond what you ever thought possible.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Bu☆ns on December 13, 2017, 10:29:40 pm
Quote
the Sayyids have two 'voices' - the lower voice consists of two notes alternating over and over, like a vibration that runs through the whole piece, a lawful order of everyday life. The second voice is played independently, it floats through the higher octaves.

Like Personal Christmas music!

Thanks for keeping up with this, Cram, it's very engaging.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on December 14, 2017, 12:39:35 am
I have respect and admiration in many ways towards Gurdjieff and love reading his books (such as Beelzebub's tales and Meetings with remarkable men) and his music too!

The essence of his teachings I agree with very much but then I also believe the opposite too (aka Terrence McKenna) though they pose a duality with how we interact with the world around us and how we dictate our own mind, in a sense.

I love mysticism and the occult and there are a lot of things to be taken from it but as RAW famously said "don't believe anybody else's B.S."
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on December 14, 2017, 02:27:31 pm
Interesting, how would you say Terrence McKenna is the opposite?


It's funny - I was into the occult, then I wasn't, then I'm interested in it again - but not for the Madghckique or anything like that.
I've come to the understanding that religions and occult practices are all just a bunch of symbols with relationships to each other. And that a lot of those symbols and their relationships are isomorphic to stuff going on inside of us. And through that lens, I am discovering a new appreciation for Mr. Jesus and his bible friends, etc.

And my definition of God has shifted over the last two years or so. When people say God, I think of the entire material universe at once, the whole fuckin thing, raw and uncut by judgments and perceptions. And through that lens, the question of whether or not God exists doesn't make any sense. It also doesn't make sense to pray, in the style of petitioning for things. But petition is only one form of prayer. I think that meditation is another. If you can become conscious, the universe is slightly more conscious, and it wants that. It's part of why we're here, why consciousness exists.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on December 14, 2017, 05:08:37 pm
There's also praise and or gratitude prayer. I find it good medicine to be thankful for the little things even as The Struggle continues unabated. It's a form of mindfulness that feeds the spirit and is the whole point of prayer before a meal IMO.

Being more conscious of the wonders in the universe naturally leads to this kind of feedback cycle that makes endurance and even prosperity more accessible in one's life.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on December 14, 2017, 10:41:00 pm
Interesting, how would you say Terrence McKenna is the opposite?

In the way that they approach the world and enlightenment.

Gurdjieff being someone that believes in full participation with the world around us, combined with certain Zen views of not resting value or morality on earthly things.

McKenna being someone that believes we can attain a great knowledge from participating in consumption of psychedelic drugs (which are still stigmatized) to advance our understanding about both ourselves and the world around us. There is some Timothy Leary in there too.
He does however share certain Zen sentiments with Gurdjieff.


I think they are both right answers but there are still other answers still.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on December 14, 2017, 10:45:30 pm
I share a Blavatsky/Crowley perception of religion, that if there's truth in any of them then it can be found in parts of all of them but that not any single belief system can be entirely trusted, so then that connects back to RAW, Leary and reality tunnels  :wink:
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on December 15, 2017, 02:23:48 pm
Gurdjieff doesn't lean away from using certain substances to explore consciousness. He personally drank a lot of alchohol and coffee. He mentioned Hemp, Hops, Poppy, and Coffee as plants that can teach us things. He never used the word psychedelic, but suggested that these substance-related experiences can act kind of like a meditation shortcut. If drugs help you awaken, then you'll feel what being awake is like. And it'll be easier for you to find it again.

From the point of view of the Gurdjieff work, a sin is anything that makes you less conscious. Use of drugs in a way that numbs you, turns you off to the world, could be "sinful". It suggests that if you use drugs, you should approach them as a way of waking yourself up, rather than keeping yourself asleep and comfortable. And if they do help you wake up, think of it as a roadmap - you should explore that state and figure out how to get there without their aid.

I share a Blavatsky/Crowley perception of religion, that if there's truth in any of them then it can be found in parts of all of them but that not any single belief system can be entirely trusted, so then that connects back to RAW, Leary and reality tunnels  :wink:

It's interesting, Gurdjieff uses the word "objective" in a specialized way. Objective knowledge, in his system, is knowledge of the nature of consciousness and its role in the universe. The universe is a big interconnected organism, and our individual consciousness is part of its efforts to wake up. Gurdjieff thinks this truth is one of the real roots of ancient religion. And the real goal of most religions is to use symbols to plant this understanding in our being. Each religion is just one "hand on the elephant", of this truth. No one religion will capture the truth perfectly, the objective truth is somewhere in between them.


The Universe that can be described is not the real Universe;
The name that can be given is not an accurate name.
Nameless, it is the source of Order and Disorder;
Named... Well, we pretty much covered that, yeah?




And as a tangent

While the truth is distributed, it's not evenly distributed.
In the Gurdjieff system, religions or spiritual systems which don't originate from this "esoteric center", that is, the fundamental unity of the universe, are false.

They can be 'useful' in ordinary ways, but they are disconnected from what's really going on and are likely little more than energy traps. A "real religion" can impart the understanding that your essence is the same stuff as God, the same stuff as everything -- Thou Art That (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_Tvam_Asi).
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on December 16, 2017, 02:15:37 am
I agree on all of that. Very good post Cramulus!



p.s. with the the Gurdjieff/McKenna thing, I mean more specifically the distinction and importance they put on the other ends of both the subconcious (drugs, dreams) and physical reality.
Of course, they both where enlightened thinkers and were definitely not reliant on the material world  :)
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on December 30, 2017, 12:04:53 am
I read your thread Mr. C.  Welcome to kindergarten.  I love G's harmonium improvisations & some of the private Paris talks.  Jean deSalzmann has a post-humoursly published book called "the Reality of Being" that I like.  Some of what Gurdjieff wrote is utter bullshit. Sometimes I think it was intentional.  Maybe he wanted you to make effort and find out for yourself what is shit and what is not.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LuciferX on December 31, 2017, 01:04:16 am
Posting breadcrumbs for later retrieval. Got stuck on third sentence of OP:
"There were a lot of these weird guru figures that emerged during this period. Crowley, *Gardner*, Meher Baba, Mme Blavatski, G.I.Gurdjieff.
Gardner rolled right out of his grave when he heard the company you had him keep.
--LuX, defender of reputations.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on January 02, 2018, 02:28:09 pm
I read your thread Mr. C.  Welcome to kindergarten.  I love G's harmonium improvisations & some of the private Paris talks.  Jean deSalzmann has a post-humoursly published book called "the Reality of Being" that I like.  Some of what Gurdjieff wrote is utter bullshit. Sometimes I think it was intentional.  Maybe he wanted you to make effort and find out for yourself what is shit and what is not.

I agree that a bunch of his writings were BS - but I have a hard time figuring out how much of it is a put-on (like how Robert Anton Wilson leaves a few traps in his books for readers that drink too deeply and uncritically of his kool-aid), and how much of it is stretched allegory.

Like, during his life, Gurdjieff got a lot of shit for his claim that when we die, our souls travel up through some kind of astral umbilical cord and arrive at the moon, where they serve as food. It's a pretty bizarre claim.

But it's likely he wasn't talking literally--the moon is a very hard-to-untangle symbol in his work.

At first, when I was reading through this stuff, I was doing this mental sorting exercise--putting some of his claims in "yes, that checks out" and others in "nah that sounds like turn of the century fuzz". On my second reading of In Search of the Miraculous a lot of the ideas in the second pile had to be moved to the first pile, and some to a third -- "I actually don't understand what he's talking about yet".

Like, there's a whole chapter about the alchemical processes going on inside of us, how consciousness requires a certain kind of food, and this food is created by processing other types of food, such as impressions. And I don't think any of it is true in a material sense. First time I read it, I tossed it. He claims that self-remembering builds up a definite kind of energy inside of you, and this energy fuels certain processes that are otherwise frozen. He explains it all in extremely material terms. And I thought - yeah, all of this could be easily disproven. But you know... talking about presence and awareness as something like a muscle that you develop... Talking about how you need new impressions to have new thoughts, how your being can be hungry, how impressions become behaviors through this quasi-metabolic process... there's some meat there, if understood abstractly.

It comes back to something I've been saying recently - that religions are maybe not best understood as a literal explanation for how the universe works... They should be approached as a network of symbols which correlate to how things in the world (the external and the internal) are arranged. By understanding that there's a relationship between the big macro universe and the personal microcosm, the next step is to embark on a quest (like the quest to find the holy grail) to find patterns which exist in both.



Am curious to hear what parts of the 4th way stuff you think are whack! I'm trying to collect criticisms of the Gurdjieff work too... of which there are many!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on January 02, 2018, 09:18:46 pm
I assume you know Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson? One huge allegory inside another allegory to get at some big aspects of real-life.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 05:07:00 am


Like, there's a whole chapter about the alchemical processes going on inside of us, how consciousness requires a certain kind of food, and this food is created by processing other types of food, such as impressions. And I don't think any of it is true in a material sense. First time I read it, I tossed it. He claims that self-remembering builds up a definite kind of energy inside of you, and this energy fuels certain processes that are otherwise frozen. He explains it all in extremely material terms. And I thought - yeah, all of this could be easily disproven. But you know... talking about presence and awareness as something like a muscle that you develop... Talking about how you need new impressions to have new thoughts, how your being can be hungry, how impressions become behaviors through this quasi-metabolic process... there's some meat there, if understood abstractly.

It comes back to something I've been saying recently - that religions are maybe not best understood as a literal explanation for how the universe works... They should be approached as a network of symbols which correlate to how things in the world (the external and the internal) are arranged. By understanding that there's a relationship between the big macro universe and the personal microcosm, the next step is to embark on a quest (like the quest to find the holy grail) to find patterns which exist
                                                                                                     I too feel there is some real alchemical meat there to be digested. It's only abstract when we talk about it .  It's nitty-gritty when you feel and see it happening.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 06:05:49 am
Like you, I entered a work group through attending a public reading. It was a chapter from a short Ouspensky book.  Afterwards the speaker said that the most important idea to him was though "We have none presently, we do have the possibility  of creating a soul which can be immortal within the confines of the Solar System" I threw up in my mouth hearing that.  At that point in my still young life, my years of lucid-dreaming had turned into full-blown out-of-body experiences. And if a moron like me was directly experiencing his non-physical body, then EVERYONE had to have one. In other words, it's an innate thing for every single person. Not something that needs to be created. Nothing unique. Nothing mystical. It just is. Folks might not be consciously experiencing it, but it is there as a core part of every single human being. ( 'fore I go on. I am nobody special. I am a statistic. A strange statistic yeah, but still an idiot. Like you)  I have since found out, that at least in the S.F. Gurdjieff Foundation, that fucked-up idea that you need to "form a soul", a non-physical body, is dogma. Well cupcake, if you believe you can't consciously leave your physical body and explore non-physical reality, you will never do it consciously. Because if you don't think it's possible, you will never pay attention to it. You are already doing it every fucking night anyway. Unconsciously. You just need to remember that you are actually doing it. In the present moment that you are actually doing it. It's not that hard to become aware of. Takes some practice. And you do need to be able to pay attention. But still. C'mon! You're not a little baby anymore! Am I right? You can do it! ( I'm ranting 'cuz I'm pissed) Fuck you Gurdjieff fuck-heads for saying it's only advanced holy beings that have immortal vehicles. I'm living proof of that. If I'm an example of an advanced being, then honey we are all fucked. Granted, your soul might be at  the level of a petulant 5 year old, but you are still an immortal being that will never truly die. You might need to grow the fuck up, but fellow immortal, I salute you!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 06:28:52 am
Another Gurdjiffian notion I find to be (mostly) bullshit is the necessity of making "super efforts" to effect change. It's true, there are circumstances that arise where you do need to amp up things as high as they can go, to really force the juice along. Yet in my life what's been way more important is consistent on-going effort. The "pay attention and stay awake" game requires a deeply relaxed  yet focused attention.  Instead of using a sledge hammer to vanish a rock "Hulk go Smash!"  I favor the wind & water way. Steady relaxed focused attention. Wind & water over time will smooth down that stone  into nothing. You have to be patient and not expect immediate results. But steady relaxed effort bears fruit.  Super-efforts mostly create tension which can cramp attention. Yet there are times to amp it way up. Nothing is written in stone.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on January 03, 2018, 06:30:22 am
In Search Of The Miraculous is a great book, gotta crack it open. It's been a while since I read that, I finished my tenth read of Beelzebub.... about two months ago 
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 06:39:49 am
Tell me something you've got from Beelzebub. If you have a mind to.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on January 03, 2018, 08:19:58 am
Tell me something you've got from Beelzebub. If you have a mind to.

Me personally?

Well, there are a lot of things but the epic size of it and density between the message, the allegory, the real life aspects (expanded on in later books) and so forth, make it a book that takes so long to make sense of but I don't claim to have or haven't.

The opening soliloquy "Arousing of thought", to me gets at the essence of the experience of life as an individual, and the daily distractions we face.

The massive scifi story backdrop is fun, which is another aspect that draws me back.

The last few hundred pages tend to really break the guise a little, which intrigues me a lot. As it becomes moreso Gurdjieff himself talking to the reader then Beelzebub.

From my perspective, the first chapter instills the essence of Gurdjieff's philosophy, the book as a whole being more of a primer into the rest of his work + The Fourth Way. But the thing that has made me come back so many times, is that it is simply a really unique experience to read and feels like a different story each time (in some sense  :wink: ) - (I would add that I have never read the entire thing back to back [god forbid] and it always takes me a while to get through it) Would it be not to wrong to say it is his most challenging book, reading-wise?  :horrormirth:

As I (think) I've said before, I'm not a Gurdjieffian but I love reading his books (and music)

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 08:28:59 am
Shit Man... You told me nothing.  For reading it ten times?  That's all y'all got?
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on January 03, 2018, 08:43:17 am
If you have a mind to.

Precisely my point, I don't choose to. My mind is in other places at the moment, I'm just snooping around this thread in the meantime. Don't mind me pal  :lulz:
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 03, 2018, 09:00:55 am
Uh...O.K. I was just hoping that after having read Beelzebub ten times you might could offer some insight into it. You know...reveal a hidden gem you uncovered. Maybe after the eleventh time you read it? Only if you're not too tired and care to share of course.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on January 03, 2018, 02:39:57 pm
Like you, I entered a work group through attending a public reading. It was a chapter from a short Ouspensky book.  Afterwards the speaker said that the most important idea to him was though "We have none presently, we do have the possibility  of creating a soul which can be immortal within the confines of the Solar System" I threw up in my mouth hearing that.  At that point in my still young life, my years of lucid-dreaming had turned into full-blown out-of-body experiences. And if a moron like me was directly experiencing his non-physical body, then EVERYONE had to have one. In other words, it's an innate thing for every single person. Not something that needs to be created. Nothing unique. Nothing mystical. It just is. Folks might not be consciously experiencing it, but it is there as a core part of every single human being. ( 'fore I go on. I am nobody special. I am a statistic. A strange statistic yeah, but still an idiot. Like you)  I have since found out, that at least in the S.F. Gurdjieff Foundation, that fucked-up idea that you need to "form a soul", a non-physical body, is dogma. Well cupcake, if you believe you can't consciously leave your physical body and explore non-physical reality, you will never do it consciously. Because if you don't think it's possible, you will never pay attention to it. You are already doing it every fucking night anyway. Unconsciously. You just need to remember that you are actually doing it. In the present moment that you are actually doing it. It's not that hard to become aware of. Takes some practice. And you do need to be able to pay attention. But still. C'mon! You're not a little baby anymore! Am I right? You can do it! ( I'm ranting 'cuz I'm pissed) Fuck you Gurdjieff fuck-heads for saying it's only advanced holy beings that have immortal vehicles. I'm living proof of that. If I'm an example of an advanced being, then honey we are all fucked. Granted, your soul might be at  the level of a petulant 5 year old, but you are still an immortal being that will never truly die. You might need to grow the fuck up, but fellow immortal, I salute you!


Thanks for the reply, a great discussion point.

My Gurdjieff work group always emphasizes that you shouldn't blindly believe stuff that you haven't verified yourself. I'll frequently bring up some far-out star-eyed claim in some book, and they'll be like "Okay, that stuff is really hard to talk about." Several times, I've brought up something like the vagueness of the word Energy, the unfalsifiability of claims relating to immortality, stuff like that --- and frankly, most of my objections are about their claims about objectivity, objective consciousness, objective meaning. I've spent decades of my life in a postmodern absurdist reality tunnel, and this work predates those ideas, so some of them just don't have a house in my existant mental landscape. Generally, the Gurdjieff people will tell me:

"Don't sweat it too hard. Those of us that have been talking about this stuff for decades, we rarely talk about the "big cosmic stuff", it's a little harder to relate to. Most of us are drawn to certain parts of the work because they resonate with us. Gurdjieff wrote a lot of stuff, not all of it is going to be right for you. When he had a big idea, he tried to build a lot of different roads to it."

And I'm down with that, to a degree -- I'm not here for immortality, I'm here to wake up, to escape the mediocrity of my life. In the 1900s, there was a lot of talk about seances and the "other side", and Gurdjieff kind of needed to put a paw down into that topical world--but it's really not the focus of his work, nor my goal personally.

So -- all that is saying, I haven't gotten tooooo deep into that part of the pool.


On the topic of the immortal soul, I'll say this ---

1. The Gurdjieff work regards a part of us as immortal already. This is atman, in the Upanishads. It's Emerson's Over-Soul (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Over-Soul). It is fundamentally distinct from ego and personality.

2. I dig the part in in search of the miraculous where someone asks about immortality and Gurdjieff tells them, look, you change every frickin day. There is nothing constant about you other than your environment. If something big happened in your life, you'd become a different person. If something as big as death happened, whatever part of you remains is also going to be dramatically changed by it. If You (Today) met You (Dead), you might not even recognize each other.

3. If you're talking about immortality in the sense of your ego, your personality surviving death ... that's probably not gonna work out.

4. When Gurdjieff writes about immortality, I think it's best read it non-literally. Every passage I've read about immortality can scan as talking about something pretty ordinary and terrestrial. He basically says that if you were a really strong presence in the world, you might continue to affect it even after you're gone. In my reading of the text, I think he's talking about how, today, we are still influenced by Ghandi and Elvis and Gurdjieff even though they have been dead for a long time. When they were alive, they affected the world so much that parts of them remain and essentially continue to function. That kind of immortality, for sure, is earned--not everybody gets one. And there's nothing mystical about it.


And I'll be honest, I'm skeptical of astral projection. I don't doubt that you've had experiences, I just am not clear on what they are or what they tell us about the world. Do you think the astral body you project is the same thing as Gurdjieff refers to as the immortal (kesdjan) body? Does astral projection give you knowledge of those that have already died physical deaths, an understanding of that world? How do you know that you're not just in a trance of heightened imagination? How confident are you that your astral-body is will still be around after physical death? and not just yours, but everybody's? In what sense are they still part of the world, given that it doesn't seem like they do anything that we can notice?



thank you for the thoughtful post!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on January 03, 2018, 02:59:00 pm
Another Gurdjiffian notion I find to be (mostly) bullshit is the necessity of making "super efforts" to effect change. It's true, there are circumstances that arise where you do need to amp up things as high as they can go, to really force the juice along. Yet in my life what's been way more important is consistent on-going effort. The "pay attention and stay awake" game requires a deeply relaxed  yet focused attention.  Instead of using a sledge hammer to vanish a rock "Hulk go Smash!"  I favor the wind & water way. Steady relaxed focused attention. Wind & water over time will smooth down that stone  into nothing. You have to be patient and not expect immediate results. But steady relaxed effort bears fruit.  Super-efforts mostly create tension which can cramp attention. Yet there are times to amp it way up. Nothing is written in stone.

I've really only read one or two chapters that talk about super efforts, so I'm not real savvy. And I'm grounded in wu-wei, so I get what you mean. Go with the flow, and yo often get there without wasting your breath.

Here's how I read it though -- there are a lot of things that you cannot accomplish through ordinary efforts. I think about some of the major life changes I've made, some of the moments when I really stopped and took an assessment of who I was and what I wanted to be and corrected my course --- in those moments, I was really awake. And none of those moments happened under ordinary circumstances, they happened because I was facing an enormous pressure and needed an enormous response.

The Wu-Wei thinking from Taoism is that you should be able to approach these "super-efforts" head on. Ideally, you should make life changes as effortlessly as you order a pizza. In the Chao Te Ching, we said "Universe isn't sweaty, why should you be?" Sometimes, you do have to go into the crucible. You just want to walk out okay, not all wounded and burned, self sabotagued by doubt and insecurity.


I think about how the work groups which Gurdjieff led would engage in fasting, or the Stop exercise, or demand other hardships from their members. On some level it's a literal exercise--you face a hardship on purpose in order to develop "muscles". If you have no practice using your will, fasting is hard. Your body keeps throwing "go get some food" instructions into the processor. Without will, you just follow those instructions mechanically.


tl;dr:
Mastering the self, controlling your impulses, escaping your prison cell... you get better at it with practice. And you get more practice by climbing a difficult mountain than from a lifetime of climbing easy hills.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 04, 2018, 01:31:01 am



And I'll be honest, I'm skeptical of astral projection. I don't doubt that you've had experiences, I just am not clear on what they are or what they tell us about the world. Do you think the astral body you project is the same thing as Gurdjieff refers to as the immortal (kesdjan) body? Does astral projection give you knowledge of those that have already died physical deaths, an understanding of that world? How do you know that you're not just in a trance of heightened imagination? How confident are you that your astral-body is will still be around after physical death? and not just yours, but everybody's? In what sense are they still part of the world, given that it doesn't seem like they do anything that we can notice?



thank you for the thoughtful post!
                                                                                                     You should be skeptical. (,can't stand the phrase "astral projection"  though. Too occulty for me)  Nobody should believe what I've written in that post.  You'd have too see for yourself, repeatedly verify it within your own experience  to think I'm not delusional. Me, I didn't go looking for it at first  It happened on it's own. I began to try to voluntary initiate it happening. Basically by remaining alert and watchful as my body fell asleep. When my body was so relaxed I couldn't even feel it any more I would try initiating movement.  If I succeeded at that, the game became to see how much attention I could pay, to amp up my presence. You ask very good questions, like how do I know it's not a trance state. Basically,  my own conscious awareness is equal to or greater than my own everyday physical awareness ( as little or as much as that may be) I was as awake just as I am in daily life, the same sense of self, the same ordinary me. Except I'm in a different environment  (usually) and... I can fly.  It's different from lucid dreaming . With that there's still the feeling of "dream". With this other thing, there is no feeling of dream. You are as awake as much as you are in ordinary life (however much that is for you)  It's hard to explain. After decades of this, I became a member of a small group where we would verify the experience. An example: I took a nap. Went to a group members house ( in another state ) Saw and heard her talking to someone she called Suzie. When I got up from my nap, I emailed her and described what I heard and saw. She said her daugher-in-law was visiting her. Suzie. I had no knowledge of her name or that she existed. We all did these kind of verifications. Eventually you go "fuck it, this is boring verifying shit.  Let's explore!"  So basically my answer is: if that non-physical reality is an illusion, then ( for me)  so is this physical reality. Because the sense of realness is equal for me.  I'll answer yer other questions later, frustrating though my answers might be.  Gotta do some things.  Don't believe any of this. I wouldn't respect you if you did.  And hey! Maybe I'm completely  bullshitting you! You have no way to tell. It's text on a screen.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 04, 2018, 05:17:49 am
Do I feel that I'm exploring the afterlife? Yes. (Or as I choose to call it: more life )  Want a little map? Makes a weird story.  The afterlife is a whole lotta real estate. Immediately out, there are the Belief System Territories.  Any specific belief has it's own piece of non-physical real estate. No matter how beautiful the belief,  each  belief territory is a trap, a static stuck place. That can only be escaped from once a crack in your belief in that place occurs.  These places are to be avoided. Believe in a specific heaven? Great! You'll go there. And be stuck. Maybe for a very very very long time. My interests lie outside of the Belief Systems. That's where I hang. There's higher realms past  where I can access, but I am quite dense as I am now. Too much load. Gotta lighten up quite a bit more. Too heavy as I am . Damn, this sounds fricking nutso, donut? The most important spot for all of us is...here. Physical reality. Having the Human Experience. There is stuff available here that exists nowhere else. That has incredible value, here and elsewhere. Yes, some things you can take with you. Like a sense of humour, a sense of having fun. You have no idea how valuable those things are in the "after-life".  Incredibly valuable. So why bother accessing "more life" if we are already in the most important place we can be, the Human Place? Well....you lose the fear of death for one thing. That really takes a certain edge off of things. Not that I don't fear the potential process. Pain & suffering etc. But not the outcome... I completely understand if y'all think I'm insane. I'm fine with that. I rarely talk about this shit.  And will not mention it again. Frankly, it's kinda boring for me to talk about. Oh, but back to Gurdjieff terminology. Does your personality survive death? No. Your essential self does. 
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Fin on January 11, 2018, 06:14:10 am
For  short time, before I moved to the West Coast, I was in a group on the other coast. The teacher had a sense of humour, was spontaneous...unlike many I've met. (Damn, lot of stiff folk in any belief-system!)  I loved his presence.  Kind & full of laughter and enjoyment. His teacher was still alive and had been a student of the Dude Himself. I worked in a group on the West Coast until that teacher died.  All in All, maybe.. 8, 9 years total in the formal "Work". I was a short-timer. For a decade I was an associate of someone who the Foundation dislikes. He published a hoax Gurdjieffian book called "Secret Talks with Mr. G.", including hilarious  photos of my friend dressed up as Gurdjieff. He and I are intertwined in a way that's difficult to explain.  He did use the notions in a practical way and had recieved teachings from several of G's core students.  But I see my friend more as an artist and a showman than a spiritual teacher. Which is how I can identify with him and remain close....I'm not a "Gurdjiffian", just like I'm not a "Buddhist" or a "Discordian".  There is a category  I might apply to myself and reveal if I was under torture but that's private and Ain't Nobody's Fucking Business but Mine. (As the song goes)  'scuse for mucking up your thread. You probably know more about Fourth Way stuff than I do at this point. I was in it for the gritty juice, not the ideas so much. G'luck!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LuciferX on January 16, 2018, 11:52:56 am
Hailing from the western lands, I (still lacking full comprehension of the subject) was drawn to question this:
>> So -- all that is saying, I haven't gotten tooooo deep into that part of the pool.

>>On the topic of the immortal soul, I'll say this ---

>>1. The Gurdjieff work regards a part of us as immortal already. This is atman, in the Upanishads. It's Emerson's Over-Soul. It is fundamentally distinct from ego and personality.

The "part" that is immortal, do you think that if it could, somehow, it would default to /not/ introducing itself? 
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on January 16, 2018, 03:10:38 pm
I'm not sure I follow the question..?
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LuciferX 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)
[*Lu, having difficulty UN-depressing the irony button, starts bashing it with huge bags of empty fucks*]
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on January 18, 2018, 04:24:47 pm
 :lol: sorry I am still having trouble parsing what you're asking?

Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LuciferX 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
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rasho1zv-co) 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
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Ziegejunge 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!
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: PoFP 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rasho1zv-co) 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.



Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Space Adventures Of Christ on March 22, 2018, 04:56:25 am
In Search Of The Miraculous and Meetings With Remarkable Men are my two favorites, I think.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz 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.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.”
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus 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.

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


Like, would "reliance on heuristics" work? People don't think beyond the heuristic, don't evaluate if that specific one applies in a certain situation, and essentially don't "think" about it.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 05, 2018, 08:38:11 pm
Would it be fair to say that "sleeping mind" might be too much of an active (and negatively connotated) verb?


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

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

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

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

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


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




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

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

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

In some ways, the "sleep" I'm trying to escape is a Black Iron Prison - a place where you are not entirely free, boundried by your own choices and tastes. You can never fully escape, but by actively confronting your own internal obstacles and habits (including the ones you like), by resisting your urge to settle into the most comfortable position, you can attain a higher degree of freedom.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 06, 2018, 01:48:57 pm
The Moment When Cramulus Finally Lost It

Getting you cats up to speed on my Reality Safari

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



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

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

And it's also indicated that Gurdjieff gave a lot of people a pass on the "dues". People who genuinely couldn't afford it could (secretly) attend for free. Gurdjieff could be shameless in asking for cash (especially of rich high-society people who wished to study under him), but also famously generous. (and he never bragged about that generosity - he said "one should cultivate generosity in secret") (Gurdjieff and Money (https://www.gurdjieff.org/material12.htm))


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


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

(https://i.imgur.com/XVNxRpz.jpg)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We have a lopsided pineal gland, you know.


Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LMNO on June 06, 2018, 02:12:49 pm
This might be outside your knowledge base, but what makes Gudjieff music 'different' than other music?

I'm wondering if it's a different approach to music theory/composition, or if it's an ineffable "feeling" about it.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: Cramulus on June 06, 2018, 02:42:44 pm
That's a good question! A little outside my ken. I know that Gurdjieff intended the music in part as reconciliation between eastern and western forms. He worked closely with the composer Thomas de Hartmann on each piece, and supposedly encoding within it some of his teachings. Some of the music - like the sayyids - seems like it's designed to take on the emotional qualities of the performer.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Just as Gurdjieff had intended, Thomas returned to Tbilisi attuned to the beauty, savagery, and immemorial melancholy of his teacher's Armenian heritage, and burning to translate it all into music.
Title: Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
Post by: LMNO on June 06, 2018, 02:54:40 pm
Thanks!

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


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