Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dancing with Thoughts

NEXT EXERCISE

NEXT READING

NEXT MEETING

N had found his response to the EXERCISE was usually an emotional one, rather than a solidly intellectual one, and occasionally a physical response. He found the intellectual element came later, when he was in the process of observing it. He would try and analyse the experience, or why it had the stimulus that created this particular response. He understood that the emotional centre worked very, very fast, faster than the other ones, so in a sense we were probably humanly based to experience things emotionally, and then rationalise them afterwards, or bring in the intellectual centre later, to try and understand the emotional response.

EXERCISE

To observe, once a day, in the moment, how we respond to a positive or negative stimulus, and whether the response is physical, mental or emotional.

Over the last two months, T had been sick more than she had been well. She had not really been able to locate the three centres. When she was sick, it was as if everything else disappeared, and she was left with a body out of equilibrium. She had been thinking about where these ideas come from, about the centres. Did they emanate from experience of the body? She felt the strongest emotion in the middle of the chest, which she believed was the solar plexus. She did not know how that equated with the centres in the Gurdjieff Work. She thought that the heart chakra was somewhere there in the Hindu system. When she was sick, everything else stopped, it was a non-thinking state. Days went by and nothing happened. It was like being in a state of suspended animation.

For L the response was sometimes emotional, sometimes physical. On one occasion he had received a rather aggressive message complaining about something he had written about the theory of music. Sometimes, with something like that, he felt it physically or emotionally. Some things did not seem to fit into the three categories, the three centres. If a musical tune came into his mind, he did not know if that was striking an emotional or an intellectual, or a physical sense. Maybe it was something different, or maybe he was just tuning in to something, and then he would write it down, and then respond, and that response was intellectual - where it fitted in terms of harmony and counterpoint, and it was emotional - how to bring out as much as possible the beauty, whatever there was there in the source, like a painter.

RG thought it was very difficult to be passive, to be still. She tended to react more emotionally. In the exercise, although it was really difficult not to react with emotion, she tried to balance it. What she did, that worked for her, was to sit down and try to look at herself, remember herself, and be quiet. She observed the way she reacted to a stimulus. She thought that she should not let the stimulus have so much influence on her. The difficult thing was to break the habit, and she asked how she could do that, so the stimulus would have less influence on her response?

Responding to RG, C said that we try and find the silence in the crowd. If you were in a pub or a restaurant where there was a lot of noise going on, you could detach yourself from it. That was a good experience, it was a good thing to be able to do, because the noise was so great around you, people all chattering. RG asked C how he did this. C said there were two responses. Either to join it and be one with it, or to move away from it, move above it, move outside of it. Most people sought solitude in distant places, apparently you were running away from yourself if you did that.
Source giphy.com
C responded also to what L had said about classical music. It was so much easier to listen to pop and stamp your feet, whereas if you allowed classical music into you, to become part of you, the whole person changed, and you didn't really want to listen to pop, pop was just a noise. He said there was an old saying from the East that if you chased butterflies, they would always elude you, but if you sat still, one would come and gently stay on your shoulder.

D said it was the thoughts about the thoughts that stop it. He thought the other day that he was not thinking, but he was! He was thinking about not thinking. GC said that once you found yourself dancing with a thought, there was no obligation to carry on dancing if you realised that you were dancing with that thought. You could change partners, or you could be with no partner, it was up to you, but you had to realise that you were dancing with a thought. It had crept up, it had asked you to dance, you didn't know anything about it.

RG wondered why Gurdjieff had asked de Hartmann, the musician, to translate his melodies into music, and she wanted to know which message he was trying to give us through that music. "R" said that Olga de Hartmann's book would lead towards answering that question. If it could be explained, we would not need to have the music.

The Meeting continued with the Reading from Beelzebub's Tales, Chapter 23.


With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube
I must tell you first of all that the species of terrestrial ape-beings now arising there under several different exterior forms, never existed at all before the second 'Transapalnian perturbation'; only afterwards did the genealogy of their species begin.

The causes of the arising of this ‘misconceived’ being as well as the cause of all the other events more or less serious in an objective sense, which occur on the surface of that ill-fated planet, ensue from two sources, totally independent of each other.

The first of them, as always, was the same lack of foresight on the part of certain Most High, Most Very Saintly Cosmic Individuals, and the second was, in the given case, also the same abnormal conditions of ordinary being-existence established by them themselves.

T said he was very negative about the human being, it was misconceived.

L wondered if Gurdjieff, when talking about various calamities - Transapalnian perturbations - in the history of the planet very early on, was relating that to what happens in the development of the human being, and the various terrors and crises in childhood, syndromes and affectations and behaviour which affect us throughout our lives further on. Maybe he was saying that some things begin in childhood, which we knew, from psychology, was true.

This sacred substance which arises in the presences of beings of every kind is almost everywhere called ‘Exioëhary’; but your favorites on the planet Earth call it ‘sperm.’

...in the presences of three-brained beings it arises also in order that it might be consciously transformed in their common presences for coating their highest being-bodies for their own Being.

Before the second Transapalnian perturbation there, ... a being impulse began to be formed in them which later became predominant.

This impulse is now called 'pleasure'; and in order to satisfy it they had already begun to exist in a way unbecoming to three-centered beings, namely, most of them gradually began to remove this same sacred being-substance from themselves only for the satisfaction of the said impulse.

... owing to the fact that most of them ceased to utilize this sacred substance consciously for coating their higher being-bodies, the result was ... invariably accompanied by what is called ‘mechanical suffering.’

C said this passage had condemned pleasure. N said Taoist thought includes a theory that retention of semen could be used for spiritual development. GC said he believed Gurdjieff did not hold his in check.

... the poor ‘women orphans’ of that time, being already then more cunning and inventive than the men there, began to seek out and accustom beings of other forms of the given place to be their ‘partners.’

Well then, it was after these ‘partnerships’ that those kinds of beings also began to appear in our Great Universe who in themselves are, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, ‘neither one thing nor the other.’

C said Gurdjieff was getting to the crux of the matter. He was talking about men or women, cohabiting with other creatures, and that this is how these different species evolved, because somehow or other we needed to mix with the animal kingdom. "R" said this could be understood in several different ways as well, for example to do with being more in one's animal nature. L thought we needed to take this as a shocking way of expressing a psychological idea about our being affected by mechanical influences.

... in certain surrounding conditions and with the participation of the third separately localized holy force of the sacred Triamazikamno, namely, the holy force called ‘Reconciling,’ the blending of these two Exioëharies arising in two distinct independent different beings just gives, owing to the process called ‘the process of the sacred Elmooarno’ which proceeds between those beings of opposite sex, the beginning for the arising of a new being.

D said this referred to the arising of modern man.

C asked what Triamazikamno meant. "R" said it was the Law of Three. C asked if this was the negative and positive force reconciling. "R" said it was. GC asked if there was also a Law of Three, The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost. "R" said that was another expression of something similar that belonged in its era. Many traditions had three forces.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Look Before You Leap!

EXERCISE

 If you receive a stimulus and feel the need to react immediately, pause and delay the reaction.
RG said we were prone to react to stimuli very quickly, and lose ourselves and our composure. This was very important, because once you stop, you calm down and react in a better way. It was also a way to remember yourself.

J said there were occasions during the month in which he did not react immediately to a stimulus, but thought about it. He thought that was a good watchword for how one should normally behave. For example, if you studied for an exam, you could study in your room or outside, and the different atmospheres in which your thought process was coming about, confirmed you in remembering, somehow changed your thinking so that you took account of factors that were not factors of the moment when you got yourself a shock or stimulus or idea. So it was as well to sleep on something before you acted. For anything but an obvious decision, it was as well to pause before taking it. He thought there was no need to unpack the different emotions that could come into the moment, the different reactions, that did not necessarily give you the sensible conclusion.

L had suggested the exercise because he had it in his memory as an exercise from Gurdjieff. He could not remember where, so he had said he would check it out and look into it. He had discovered eventually it wasn't from Gurdjieff, it was from Osho. It was all over the Internet. It was Osho's story of what advice Gurdjieff's father gave to Gurdjieff, as Gurdjieff's father was dying, and it appeared to be completely made up, because in Meetings With Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff describes how when he met his father for the last time, his father was very well. Going back to the exercise, L thought it was a good one. It was a pause when you feel an itch, and you can then decide not to scratch. Or you receive a letter and you don't reply in the moment, or impetuously. It was a good exercise, even if it wasn't suggested by Gurdjieff.

Where T had been most aware of pausing was with emails and texts, and particularly over the last month there had been high emotion stuff going on, so it was an extraordinary exercise in that sense, because if she got an emotionally charged text or email, she felt the necessity to grab it and say her piece, so it was a learning curve to leave it for a day, especially a text. The contemporary stresses were often to do with feeling the need to react immediately to others - all the technology was asking you to do that, and it could be very exhausting to be in this continual conversation with somebody who was not in the immediate vicinity. That was her experience with that exercise. She felt it was tortuous to do it, but it was helpful because it gave that space to think, and the world didn't collapse if she didn't respond. It was also about whether you felt the person you were responding to had got the patience, and the tolerance, to wait for the response. And it was also about daring not to. It gave her some courage not to.

N had had a stimulus/response experience the previous week, which he thought was very important in terms of communication. He had received an aggressive letter at work demanding information be sent within a short time frame on a matter the sender had not corresponded about for two years. N looked at this letter and on consideration realised why it had been sent at this time. He spoke to a colleague, and instead of sending the information requested, wrote a letter back the following day, asking why, after two years, there was a rush now. If he had gone with his first stimulus, he would have acted differently, but by thinking about the strategy, a much cleverer response was found.

D said it was so difficult if the stimulus was unexpected, as you were in automatic mode and it was natural to respond right away. He had asked a friend not to text him for a while. She immediately texted him back. He tried to keep calm, but after a while responded. Gurdjieff work was about forgetting and then reminding yourself. He, in his turn, did not wait and replied to her text.

Following the contributions, RG said she wanted to work on how the stimulus affects our three centres, and how we can balance that. CG asked what were the three centres. RG said they were the intellectual, the emotional and the physical. D asked if she thought it was an emotional response or a thought response. RG said we had to find out and see which one to balance. It could also be a physical response, because you could punch someone.

Responding to L, D said it was not important whether Osho's statement about advice from Gurdjieff's father was true or false. The main thing was whether it worked. L replied that it was important, as these were Gurdjieff Meetings, not Osho Meetings. There had been another occasion, a year before, where the Meeting had discussed another widely quoted statement from Osho about Gurfjieff which was without corroboration, and might have been misleading people to believe Gurdjieff insisted his vegetarian students eat meat.

N said that according to an acupuncturist he knew in Greece, who was a very good healer, some people needed to eat meat. D said that human beings could not say what was right or wrong. It was a choice. S said she came from India, and was of the Brahman caste which is the caste of the priests. The majority of Hindus did not eat meat, and were purely vegetarian. She did not think there was anything lacking in their brain power. D asked if it was to do with the climate. S said she thought not. It was to do with the religion, Buddhists don't eat meat, they don't kill. D said that he did, and different Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, ate meat.

J said the point comes when reacting to a letter that appears to demand an instantaneous reaction, what you were doing wasn't so much centring yourself; you were giving a balanced response that was typically you, not a typification of the mood you were in just at the moment of anger. What you were actually trying to do was to think out a fresh response altogether, so you wouldn't be giving someone the typical view. You were trying to change the place you were at.

The Meeting continued reading from Chapter 23 of Beelzebub's Tales.

 
With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube
I very well remember that this ‘agitation of mind’ concerning the origin of these apes occurred there among them for the first time when, as they also like to express it, their ‘center of culture’ was Tikliamish.

This Menitkel ... out of boredom compiled a massive and erudite work in which he ‘spun out,’ concerning the origin of these apes, an elaborate theory with every kind of ‘logical proof,’ ... that these ‘fellow apes’ of theirs had descended neither more nor less than from what are called ‘people who became wild.’

... from that time on, this question ... became a subject of discussion and fantasying ...


N said there was this debate between Darwinian and Mendelian theories of evolution, and the name Menitkel was a little bit like Mendel. T asked if Mendel came after Darwin. N said he did, and that his theories were very much around in the 1920's and 1930's, when Gurdjieff would have been writing this.

But when what is called their ‘cultured existence’ was concentrated on the continent named Europe, and when the time of the maximum intense manifestation of the peculiar illness there named ‘to-wiseacre,’ had again come round ... then, to the grief of three-brained beings of the whole of the universe, that Ape question, namely, the question who is descended from whom, again arose...

The stimulus for the revival there of this Ape question was this time also a ‘learned’ being ... named Darwin.

And this ‘great’ learned being, basing his theory on that same logic of theirs, began to ‘prove’ exactly the opposite of what Menitkel had said, namely, that it was they themselves who were descended from these Mister Apes.


Jessica Lange in King Kong
T said it was suggesting that Darwin came after Mendel. Perhaps Gurdjieff was topsy-turvying that as well. L said that here the allusion might be to Lamarck. N said it might have been Lamarck, who was two centuries earlier. T said whichever way round it was, it means that there was the danger of people becoming apes, or that we came from apes, so there was no escape from the animal nature. N said that by putting the words great and prove in quotation marks, Gurdjieff was obviously being ironic about it. No science was proved definitely for all time. Different theories or hypotheses come along, and then subsequently another theory comes along which replaces them. J said that Gurdjieff was criticising the whole process by lumping it all together as a sort of wiseacring, and asked if we were saying that we went with Gurdjieff to that extent. There followed a prolonged discussion on wiseacring in science.

And as for the objective reality of the theories of both these ‘great’ terrestrial ‘learned beings,’ I am reminded of one of the wise sayings of our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin, namely:

‘They were both very successful, though of course not without luck, in finding the authentic godmother of the incomparable Scheherazade on an old dunghill.’

... this question of the genealogy of these apes there is indeed exceedingly abstruse ...

In fact, neither have they descended from apes nor have apes descended from them ...


 
J thought Gurdjieff had contributed here to the debate on evolution. it was the first time he had read the theory that humans were progenitors of apes. L said that the idea was, however, part of modern culture as it was the theme of Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Monkey Business

L had tried the exercise, one day, sitting in a restaurant. There was an elderly woman sitting there. She didn't look entirely happy, so he thought he would send some good feelings towards her to see what happened. She was still there when he left. Maybe she was looking slightly happier, he did not know. He would not say it was a successful use of the exercise. Maybe he felt a bit happier about it, but he didn't do the exercise much more, and it didn't do much for him.
EXERCISE

 Once a day, to send out good thoughts or feelings thinking of somebody, and observe if anything happens.

As a mother and a grandmother, "R" had her family, particularly her descendants, in mind every day. Over the Christmas period was a day when she visited relatives. A nephew was there who was severely disabled in a wheelchair. He was full of energy, and furious about the fact that he could not do huge amounts of things. What was there that might be emanated in his direction that would solve that? She realised that we were trying to solve these things all the time, and she had no way of knowing whether her presence was helpful, or even whether one should be trying to calm that anger down, or encouraging it, because in him it was a big factor in his life-force. It revealed how limited one's own sense was of what was appropriate and right, even when those rare moments existed when she was really in touch with her own conscience, and not just with considering what ought to happen, what one ought to do.

J said he would make a comment without having specifically once a day attempted this, because the experience of attempting to send out good vibration was something which we probably all attempted, and he posed two very different questions. One was the effect on oneself, and the other was the effect on the outside world, or other people. When it comes to the effect on oneself, there was a large body of opinion that in a trite example you could summarise by citing the salesman who is adjured to wear on his face, when he speaks on the telephone, a smile, because that somehow induces in him a feeling of well-being which, the presumption is, is transmitted in some form to his interlocutor. J thought having good feelings about the outside world was something that was good for oneself, and the moment you started to look at whether there was going to be an impact or reaction on your target person, you were in the realm of the same sort of unknowable as the afterlife. In other words it may have a direct effect, and people who did faith healing, for instance, certainly said that it does, but you could not be given, by its nature, proof of this, otherwise our whole beings would be directed towards extra-sensory perception. It was like good and ill - if you knew what you were going to do was going to benefit you, then the purpose of your doing it was diluted, so maybe it was the realm of the unknowable.



Sleepers Wake by J S Bach
2010 Prom concert
Responding to "R", J said that the logical, quasi-philosophical question was how far your belief that something was going to work actually affects the effect, and if the nephew did not know that this was being done, did that dilute it? Did we or did we not transmit our thoughts, our feelings, or were we "islands entire"? "R" said that it was great to ask that question, but at the same time we were trying to experience something, because whatever came up, unless it was put to the test, we could not really know whether we were going up a blind alley or not. L said that we did know that, through music, it was possible to have an effect on people tangibly, and a repeated effect, of course different in each individual, but most people who listened to a piece of Bach's spiritual music would be affected.

The Meeting moved to reading from Chapter 23 of Beelzebub's Tales.
 
With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube

Beelzebub continued thus:

I descended for the fourth time to that planet Earth owing to the request of my essence-friend Gornahoor Harharkh.

I have already told you that after my third personal descent to your planet, I occasionally for a rest ascended to the planet Saturn to this friend of mine.

... the idea once arose in me to invite him to descend on our ship Occasion to the planet Mars, in order there, on the spot, to help me personally with his knowledge in the details of arranging my observatory which was just then being completed.

J was not sure why Gurdjieff had changed the word for telescope, and found his choice of words interesting, for example why was the spaceship called Occasion?

...The problem was that our route from the planet Saturn to the planet Mars would cross such cosmic spheres as did not correspond to the presence of Gornahoor Harharkh, a being who had as yet the possibilities only for an ordinary planetary existence.

The result of our deliberations, then, was ... to arrange a special compartment in our ship Occasion itself, and to furnish it with every kind of adaptation and apparatus for elaborating those substances of which the atmosphere of the planet Saturn consists, and to which Gornahoor Harharkh was adapted by Nature for existence.

...And there, on the planet Mars, which had almost the same atmosphere as the planet Saturn, my essence-friend Gornahoor Harharkh very soon became acclimatized and began to exist almost freely.

It struck L that Gurdjieff talked about the difficulty of going from Saturn to Mars, because that would be crossing a point in the octave which ordinarily would be extremely difficult. "R" said that sometimes he speaks about flights, and sometimes he speaks about descents, as if he is reminding us of levels of consciousness as well. H thought the reference to planets was related to essence. Normally, maybe there wasn't all that much relation to essence. This was a step up from the norm. Normally, according to what he had read and believed, operation was through sensation, mostly, and false personality, not essence. If you started operating from essence, you were in a different world. J said that Gurdjieff was homing in on another element besides essence here. The main differentiation between Mars and Saturn, which you had to analyse, was wherein lay the difference in the atmospherics. He was putting at the centre exactly that which you did not normally spend your time in trying to analyse, but which actually, without your being conscious of it, permeated everything you were doing.
 
It was just during his stay on Mars that he devised that Teskooano, or, as your favorites call it, a ‘telescope,’ ...

The Teskooano he constructed is indeed a marvel of being-Reason ...

Thanks to this Teskooano I was sometimes fully able, while seated in my house on Mars, to observe almost everything that proceeded on those parts of the surface of other planets of this solar system ...

... a certain fact which we happened to notice was the cause of a very serious exchange of opinions between us concerning the three-centered beings of that peculiar planet of yours.

... I undertook to descend onto the surface of that planet and to bring back to the planet Saturn a certain number of the beings called there ‘apes,’ in order to carry out certain elucidating experiments with them concerning the fact we had noticed and which had then surprised us.

J said that Gurdjieff was operating under his own prejudices there, elevating being-reason, which you might argue was consciousness and the whole surround of human being, above the ape, and that was a humanocentric way of looking at life, to think that human beings, being-reason, were better receptors of atmosphere. He wondered why Gurdjieff was bringing apes into the narrative. L said the description suggests he was able to observe what happens on other planets to some extent, but not completely. Maybe that was like a partial change of consciousness. "R" said that one association about apes is that they copy. The verb "to ape" is to copy. Perhaps it meant that he wanted to study the things that had become automatic, that were not the result of reason.

... the three-centered beings of the planet Earth have again begun to revive what is called the ‘Ape question.’

... they wish at all costs to find out whether they have descended from these apes or whether these apes have descended from them.

... this question is this time agitating chiefly those biped beings who breed there on the continent called America.

Although this question always agitates them from time to time, yet every once in a while it becomes there for a long time, as they express it, ‘the burning question of the day.’

President-elect Donald Trump
J said this suggested Gurdjieff did not like America. "R" said that he loved America. In this book he was taking them to task. L thought it was topical, because Donald Trump had just been elected to the presidency, and many of the people who voted for him would believe that the planet was only 6000 years old, and that there had been no evolution between the ape and human species. "R" added that they might also believe in the right to carry guns. J wondered if L was equating the voting populace of America, after their election of Trump, with the ape family. L said this had not crossed his mind.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Suspension of Belief

L had borne in mind the exercise every morning, and he worked with octaves in music every day, but the exercise did not make sense for him except as a loose metaphor. Of course when we tried to do something and used will power we got to resistance, and then we either gave up - apathy might be stronger than will power - or we pushed through and got a bit further.
EXERCISE

 To explore the octave in our activities on a daily basis, and see if there is that discontinuity in the process that concords with the octave.



Ralph Nelson Elliott 1871-1948
Ralph Nelson Elliott had tried to do a similar thing with trading, called the Elliott wave, and he devised very complex diagrams to represent three steps forward and two steps back, and then the pattern carried on further and stepped back again. It was fractal, as there were smaller wave forms within the larger ones. There were many stock market traders who followed it, although Elliott himself thought of it in a spiritual way, as a law which applied to everything. L felt that the exercise did not ring true, and did some research into Gurdjieff's writings, in which he found octaves were not mentioned except in Chapters 40 and 41 of Beelzebub's Tales where the usage appeared metaphorical.

T had experienced computer crashes at work a few times over the month, wiping out a lot of work she had done. She swore at the computer, and there was tremendous resistance to continuing, which would entail redoing the work that had been lost. It was on those occasions that she recalled the octave idea, the need to apply extra energy to advance beyond resistance. It was like getting back on the horse again.

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016
At album launch event, 13 October 2016.
N said that he wrote songs, and had found the exercise of significance for him in tracking points of resistance to getting his songs done and "out there", even if it was only a metaphor. He had been inspired to do it during the previous month as Leonard Cohen had died and Bob Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. N had been writing these songs for twenty years but not actually progressing it. First of all he signed himself on to a songwriting course which took place over a weekend. Then went to a networking event at which hundreds of people attended, and exchanged business cards with lots of interesting people, but very soon the critical point was reached as to how much more energy could be put in, because he was busy with his normal work, so he was now at that bit of the octave where he needed to get over to the next stage.

Mikhaíl Bulgakov 1891-1940
RG had tried to accept the Law of Octaves in her routine in everyday life. What she had found herself was that she would start something with so much enthusiasm, and then stop. Then she asked AG what it was all about because she was lost. AG said that understanding the Law of Three and the Law of Octaves, was often difficult for us because we did not know how and where to look at them. He had mentioned already about the book Gödel, Escher, Bach because of its literal content regarding the two theorems of Gödel which were easily understood in that book. Observing Gurdjieff's teaching through the extraordinary logic of Gödel was an incredible emotion. To use a musical example, it was like opening a Schenkerian fifth on reality. To use a Zen expression it, was like being aware, to be observing through the Buddha's eyes. At least, as far as he was concerned, he found reading The Master and Margarita very useful, because in it, in his addition to the Russian classical literature of Stalin, in the intellectual suffering of Bulgakov, there was a much more profound reading key that went to implement the Laws of Three and Octaves. One could comprehend the two additional shocks that allow Margarita to die in order to be born again. In this rebirth, in this going through the moon, in this moon metaphor, finding that centre of feminine gravity that each one of us is aspiring to.

Homer Simpson encounters the octave.
Responding to L, N said that he had first learnt about the octave from reading Ouspensky. He did not know how much there was about it in Beelzebub's Tales. He thought these concepts might have come originally from Pythagoras, and that they might have been thought of as a growth concept. Things did not go along linearly, as we all knew. L said that we must beware of taking the octave metaphor too literally. The previous chapter of Beelzebub's Tales had talked of the danger of people following a set of rules too closely. It described monks abusing themselves, and their families too, by believing in something too strongly, and following a leader; and Gurdjieff could see people following him, and maybe Ouspensky who had already separated from him. L said he worked with octaves when writing music. It was a hard grind of work, to be receptive to inspiration and then to transform it using harmony and counterpoint into music with emotional content which moved the heart. This was a mysterious process but not a mystical one.


The Meeting continued with the Reading from Beelzebub's Tales, Chapter 22.

 
With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube
... If you please, if you please, your Right Reverence,” Ahoon interrupted Beelzebub, and rattled off the following:

Allow me to report to you, your Right Reverence, some information which I happened to pick up concerning just that growth of those same Tibetan mountains about which you have deigned to speak.
...

So, dear Ahoon,” commented Beelzebub, and he added, “Thank you for this information…. Glory be to our CREATOR… what you have just said will probably help to destroy in my presence the anxiety which arose in me when I first constated the abnormal growth of those said Tibetan mountains, namely, my anxiety for the complete disappearance from the Universe of the precious memory of our Endlessly Revered Wisest of the Wise, Mullah Nassr Eddin.”


Wallace Stevens 1879-1955
For T the final sentence referred to the possibility that Tibetan system of thought might obliterate that of Mullah Nassr Eddin, which she supposed to be Islamic. C asked why the Tibetan mountains should have abnormal growth. T thought that the mountains might be a metaphor for growing spiritually and believing in oneself to the extent of going to extremes. Gurdjieff symbolised that in the previous reading by the monks who queued up to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives. L said it seemed that Gurdjieff wrote simultaneously on three levels. First the superficial, in which mountains might grow higher. Second that of personal psychology and ego, in which mountains might symbolise the growth of beliefs. Third that of group psychology and superego, in which the connotation might be the growth of religions. D asked if it was possible to dismiss all these beliefs, or would that result in going mad? RM said it was possible to say I believe it, but I don't know it. This reminded L of the poet Wallace Steven's concept of the "supreme fiction".

... After returning to the planet Mars I soon became interested there in a work which the three-brained beings of the planet Mars were just then carrying out on the surface of their planet.

Clearly to understand in what work it was there that I became interested, you must know, first of all, that the planet Mars is for the system Ors, to which it belongs, what is called a ‘Mdnel-outian’ link in the transformation of cosmic substances, in consequence of which it has what is called a ‘Keskestasantnian-firm-surface,’ that is to say, one half of its surface consists of land-presence and the other of ‘Saliakooriapnian’ masses; or, as your favorites would say, one half of it is land or one continuous continent, and the other half is covered with water.

So, my boy, as the three-brained beings of the planet Mars use for their first being-food exclusively only ‘prosphora’—or as your favorites call it, ‘bread’—they, for the purpose of obtaining it, sow on the land of half of their planet what is called ‘wheat,’ and as this wheat derives the moisture it needs, for what is called evolving Djartklom, only from what is called ‘dew,’ the result is that a grain of wheat yields only a seventh part of the accomplished process of the sacred Heptaparaparshinokh, that is to say, what is called the ‘yield’ of the harvest is only a seventh.

 
Heptaparaparshinokh, Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen.
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L thought that Mars worked as a perfect metaphor for the concept of the difficulty getting beyond the fourth stage of the octave, for a rocket attempting to go beyond Mars would have to overcome the resistance of the asteroid belt before it could reach the next stage, Jupiter. "R" said that the term Heptaparaparshinokh referred to the octave.


L said it was possible that Gurdjieff knew from Thomas de Hartmann that the seventh chord in music is often used to facilitate changing key in a way which entails the fourth note of the new scale falling back to the third. C asked why Gurdjieff cites Mars as a specific link in transformation of cosmic substances. L said this might be a poetic metaphor associating the fourth planet with the function of the fourth note of a diatonic musical scale, pointing to where more will-power is needed to go further.

As this amount of wheat was insufficient for their needs, while to get more of it they would have to utilize the presence of the planetary Saliakooriap, the three-centered beings there from the very beginning of our arrival there were always talking of conducting that same Saliakooriap in the requisite quantity, from the opposite side of their planet to that side on which their being-existence proceeded.

... Only sometimes I flew to the planet Saturn to rest, to Gornahoor Harharkh, who, during this time, had already become my real essence-friend, and thanks to whom I had such a marvel as that big Teskooano of mine which, as I have already told you, brought remote visibilities 7,000,285 times nearer.”

J wondered at the number, 7,000,285, as it is mentioned with such precision. L said that when Mars is described as half land and half water, it might allude to part of us being conscious and part of us being unconscious, and about trying to elicit things from the unconscious part to the conscious, which felt a bit like the mechanism of inspiration. Was it possible that inspiration came only from the subconscious or influences in the world, or was there an external source from another world. J thought there might be an external source within the artist. L thought that internal and external might not mean anything in these terms. J said there were different types of internal and external and to assume there was just one was usually the problem with these things. There is another side of the artist that gives the inspiration to the side which is implementing it. L said he was thinking that the road to freedom might be a door between ego and superego. J asked why there had been such concern about the mountains, and his take on it harked back to the earlier discussion about the strength of beliefs. If you were trying to eradicate your beliefs, there was a presumption, because of the patterns, that the world on which you lived was going to be a perfect sphere, it was not going to have unexplained encrustations and peaks. So it seemed to him as a comment on the impossibility and stupidity of trying to eradicate fundamental beliefs that you did not have a basis for simply because you wanted an objective pattern that did not have any input into it beforehand of belief that was questionable.

N said that Descartes had tried to question all his beliefs, and worked backwards till he came to a proposition which he couldn't doubt, which was I think therefore I am. L said it was good that N brought up Descartes because Gurdjieff asked further what does I am mean, and which I? RM got a sense from this passage that it was really about how inefficient we were. We grabbed an idea and held on to it, and it was only one-seventh of the whole picture. We did not expand our view and go further. L said that if we looked at this passage in terms of the metaphor of the individual and the group, he is talking about processes of moving ideas or intimations from one part of our mind to another, and in terms of the world cultural ideas from one part of another. RM said that inspiration may start with pattern recognition, but after that foundation the artist has to go a step beyond. Or after learning to cultivate wheat, there was a lot of scope for different kinds of food, C had been reading a new book by Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems, which says that within covariant quantum fields, which move about like waves, the reciprocal action on them creates time and space and everything in it, including us and the mountains.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

High Fidelity

N had initially found there were lots of I's, sometimes different ones would appear on different days. By doing this exercise he got to a more coherent I, and got to a more governing I which took charge over the series of I's. The exercise gave more stability, and together with having a "Work I", was a very beneficial way of taking away the peripheral I's which are often around and affect our lives, even though there was part of him which wondered whether there was such a thing as an identity.

EXERCISE

 On rising every morning, say "I am". When pronouncing the words "I am," imagine that a reverberation is proceeding in the solar plexus.

T's experience was often triggered by a state of pain. She would be reminded of the exercise and said "I am" to herself. The words came from language and the intellect, but it had a function which said that something else was in existence apart from the pain. On one occasion she was anxious because she was late, and put the "I am" into the rush. It was like another entity which was usually forgotten or not in mind. It added another ingredient and felt like a vital experiment to try.

The first thing RG realised upon trying the exercise was how forgotten she was. Then she realised as well how mechanical we are, because everything she had done so far and knew so far was without thinking What am I doing? Where am I?   where she was, who she was. She was now thinking of what she had been doing before, and hoped not to do it any more, as it had been so mechanical.

C thought the exercise had to include the reverberation to the solar plexus as Gurdjieff had stated. He found that not much happened the first few times, but after a month had gone by he felt he was more his real self than normally. He expressed interest in a second exercise which Gurdjieff had mentioned in the source text for this one, in his book Life Is Only Real Then, When I Am.

L did the exercise but focused on the part about reverberations in the solar plexus. That didn't happen for him, and that was a little demotivating. He had continued his practice of composing music every morning, which reinforced a sense of identity because he could say I am a composer, in the sense of every morning.

J thought I am was a dangerous phrase. The people who say I am, who think I am, are very often those who want to obtrude their ego on others. To repeat the words to oneself was a sort of brainwashing. What he wanted was to accentuate or obtrude those qualities he thought were worth obtruding, both to himself and to others - to put a gift wrapper around the I, that way danger lay.

The Meeting moved on to responses.

C said it was not a promotion of the ego as J was suggesting. It was about saying I am as you were, for instance, looking at the road. It was to uplift consciousness. J said he was not suggesting it was Gurdjieff's intention with this exercise to go in the direction of promoting the ego. It was an unseen rock beneath, a danger, to repeat a phrase to yourself, and in particular that phrase. There could be an unintended consequence. RM said that when he used to do the exercise with the Gurdjeiff Society, instead of saying I am, they used to say I, here, now. He thought this helped to do away with getting caught up in the ego issue. L said it became particularly dangerous when you have a group of people saying the same phrases together, and then you were in a cult situation.

Following the responses, the reading resumed the Reading from Chapter 22 of Beelzebub's Tales.

 
With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube
In the middle of this enormous walled enclosure stood a large structure, also strongly built, which constituted the main part of the monastery.

... Around the outside wall, on its inner side, stood a row of small, strongly built, closely adjoining compartments, like cells.

... These sentry-box structures were entirely walled in on all sides, except that near the bottom they had a small aperture through which, with great difficulty, a hand could be thrust.

These strong sentry-box structures were for the perpetual immurement of the already ‘deserving’ beings of that sect—and they were to occupy themselves with their famous manipulation of what they call their ‘emotions’ and ‘thoughts’—until the total destruction of their planetary existence.

And so, it was when the wives of these ‘self-tamer-sectarians’ learned of just this that they made the said great outcry.

... At that time when we came within the walls of that terrible monastery, all these monstrous cells were already occupied; and the care of the immured ... was carried out with great reverence by those sectarians who were candidates for that immurement ...

T thought this section illustrated the danger of going to extremes. N was reminded of an old Monty Python sketch where people compete to claim ever greater experience of hardship. L said it might reflect Gurdjieff's concerns about too much adulation from his followers.

When the companions of the immured learned of the cessation of the existence of any one of them ... the ranks of these unfortunate ‘fanatic monks’ were being filled up by other members of that peculiar sect, constantly coming from Pearl-land.

 ...Having rested and fed our biped and quadruped workers, we left that melancholy place of sacrifice ...

N said there were extremists in every group, including in the Gurdjieff work. C said they were all doing their best but pushed it to the extreme, though some groups like Quakers did not have these branches. D said it was also true for Quakers. T said it was sad that the travellers, having fed the biped and quadruped workers, were unable to help them further and had to leave them to their fate. L said he thought the answer was for individuals to pursue art, using inspiration, and this kind of activity did not impose on anybody else, there did not have to be an audience for an artist. But it was much easier to believe in an outside agency, start to worship it, join a group, than to go somewhere on your own and paint. RM thought it was because we needed somebody else to blame, be it the devil or god. C asked if culture and art were not a sublimation of our primitive instincts. D said that if people of different faiths were to meet, they would see no difference. N agreed that they would show tolerance to each other. L said that popular gurus can make aggressive remarks. N said that what he liked about the Gurdjieff Work was that emotions did not take over.

... For instance, the chief range of that elevated region through which we had then passed, namely, the range of elevations which the beings there call a ‘mountain-range,’ had in the interval projected so far from the planet that some of its peaks are now the loftiest among all the abnormal projections of that vainly-long-suffering-planet. And if you climbed them, you could possibly with the aid of a Teskooano ‘see clearly’ the center of the opposite side of that peculiar planet.

When I first constated that strange phenomenon occurring on that remarkably peculiar planet of yours, I at once thought that in all probability it contained the germ for the arising of some subsequent misfortune on a great common cosmic scale, and when I afterwards collected statistics concerning that abnormal phenomenon, this first apprehension of mine very soon more and more grew in me.


Illustration for the Little Prince by Saint-Exupery
From a mountain as high as this one ...
I shall be able to see the whole planet ..

D asked what it could possibly mean. T thought the mountains might be the lofty heights they felt they had reached through their spiritual practice. L said it might be a reference to lofty peaks reached by the techniques of the monks, but also dangers associated with getting there. T said that Gurdjieff talked of the planetary bodies of human beings, and that the described use of a tescooano might be a metaphor for seeing the other side of yourself. For L, the use of a tescooano (telescope) to see the other side of the planet reminded him of the illustration by Saint-Exupery from The Little Prince.

... Be that as it may, if this abnormal growth of the Tibetan mountains continues thus in the future, a great catastrophe on a general cosmic scale is sooner or later inevitable.

However, when the menace I see becomes already evident, no doubt the Most High, Most Sacred Cosmic Individuals will at the proper time take the proper precautions.

N recalled that when there was a tsunami in December 2004, humans didn't pick it up in advance, but the birds and the animals were tuned into the planet and most of them survived. L said that when he last took compost down to the recycling container, although the container was empty, there were slugs on the underside of the lid, as if they were aware food was about to arrive.



Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Wall against Reason


GC had heard it said that perception was not reality. Our perception of a flower differed from that of the bumble bee.

T said that she remembered the exercise because it was she who had set it. As usual for her it was uppermost in the first week or two. Then it went away from her awareness and came back intermittently. It changed her awareness momentarily. It was a trigger to come back into her body - she was usually very observant of everything around her rather than feeling and being in her body.

EXERCISE

 When walking along, be aware of your stomach and pull it in. Be aware of what that does to other organs, particularly the lungs. Be aware of the change in the breathing.

RM said he was becoming more aware of the difference between consciousness and awareness. When he was absolutely present in a state of awareness, synchronicities happened as if nature was completely connected with him. This was a state of awareness not a state of consciousness.


Identifying location of pain
"R" had been trying to find moments when she was reminded to say inwardly "I am", and that reinforced the impression of presence, and, for her, having some more whole attention for her. She had some back pain and one day in particular she tried to notice what was hurting and where, and she found that during the day there were at different times, completely different places that were hurting. The only remedy to avoid feeling the pain was to be obsessed with something. There were plenty of things to be obsessed with, appointments and so on, but also to find in the middle of that, "I am", a sense of presence in her head, her spine, and the feelings, and how often she had completely forgotten.

C also used the "I am" technique. as described by Gurdjieff. Along with that he also tried to be present with every footfall as he was walking. He had a strange experience while doing something very menial. While speaking to his cats after feeding them, he had the strong feeling that he was not really there, and being aware that he was not there. It was as if he was not taking part in reality and was in a world of his own.

N had used standing up as the trigger. As with T, the first week was good. Then life took over and he forgot the exercise more. Like RM, he thought he noticed synchronicities more as he became more conscious.

L had done the exercise, especially when walking, and remembered it a few times a day. It made him feel differently, including a little bit taller, which was all to the good. On other things, the previous day he had had a concert performance, and although it went very, very well, he was amazed that there was still resistance to his music from the conductor who found it old-fashioned, and he realised that the resistance to his music was very important to him as a composer, because if you keep overcoming resistance it was a pointer where to go. People liked what they were familiar with. There had been coincidences too. Recently he had taken a map of Gurdjieff's travels. The framer looked at it and said he used to be very interested in Gurdjieff. Also at the concert there had been a piece of music about the refugees coming into the country, and their plight. After the concert, a refugee arrived at the venue and appealed for help. Generally these synchronicities were the sort of thing that happened in dreams.

RG said it was very easy to forget, because we were always distracted by other things. This was a good reminder always to switch and think who we were.

AG had a concept of himself from what his senses reported to him. What he felt was in reality only an electric impulse that connected with the brain. His question was, was what he really felt and perceived what other people also could see?

D responded to RM's contribution, that he had experienced the feeling of being present, but for him it did not last and became replaced with boredom. He thought boredom might be a very spiritual state, but found it very difficult, feeling the need to fill it with some activity. C said it was important to keep trying when the feeling of being present waned. L said that what D had described sounded more like the French concept of ennui, and read out a dictionary definition: A feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. "R" said that the practical things to struggle with when bored were impatience and laziness.

The Meeting continued with the Reading from Beelzebub's Tales, Chapter 22.

 
With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube
... We traveled under these conditions more than a month of their time, and finally we came upon a small settlement of the three-brained beings who, as it appeared later, had only recently migrated there from Pearl-land.

As we afterwards learned, this settlement was called ’Sincratorza’; and when this region was subsequently populated and this same place became the principal center for all the beings of that region, the whole country also came to be called by the same name.

The name of this place was afterwards changed several times and now it is called ‘Tibet.’

T wondered if the word Sincratorza had significance. GC said he had heard that synchronicity is the external form of intuition. He said it happened more to him in India, and when he was not "present". L said the place would be added to the map.

The particular strangeness of this peculiarity of theirs consists in this, that those who belong to any such sect never call themselves ‘sectarians,’ the name being considered offensive; they are named ‘sectarians’ only by those beings who do not belong to their sect.

... These sectarians who called themselves the Self-tamers arose owing to that distorted understanding of the Buddhist religion which, as I have already told you, they called ‘suffering-in-solitude.’

D queried what the suffering-in-solitude was. T said it might mean monks in cells. GC thought this a stupid approach. "R" said the suffering was taken on intentionally, and that this approach was not the "fourth way", but one of the earlier three, the way of the monk. T said that the fact humans were born with the inevitability of death was suffering in itself. GC said that this universe had been in existence for fourteen billion years. We were here for three score years and ten. It was ridiculous to worry about dying.

... At first, while they were settling down in this new place, they more or less agreed among themselves; but when they began carrying out in practice the special form of ‘suffering’ they had invented, their families and especially their wives, having learned what this special form of suffering consisted in, rebelled, and made a great outcry about it, with the result that a schism occurred.

RG asked why we should have to go to the extreme of such suffering. GC said it was a choice. RG said we could choose something else. L agreed that there was no need to suffer.

... But when, as I have already said, they, having settled down, set about carrying out in practice the special form of ‘suffering’ which they had invented, and their wives, having learned its true nature, rebelled, then many of them, having fallen under the influence of their wives, declined to carry out the obligations they had undertaken while still in Pearl-land—and as a result, they then divided into two independent parties.

From this time on, these sectarians, formerly called the Self-tamers, now began to be called by various names; those of the Self-tamers who remained faithful to the obligations they had taken upon themselves were called ‘Orthodoxhydooraki,’ while the rest, who had renounced the several obligations they had undertaken in their native country, were called ‘Katoshkihydooraki.’

The current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I.
D asked what Katoshkihydooraki was. RM said it sounded like a dance to him. T said there was ki in it which sounded like 'key' or 'chi', and there was door in it, so she did not know if that had any relevance. "R" thought the second part of each word, hydooraki, had the word hierarchy in it. D noted orthodox was part of the earlier word Orthodoxhydooraki. L said that Gurdjieff, as a young man, came across Greek Orthodox priests. Otherwise why would he use the word orthodox? L thought the Katoshkihydooraki were those who rebelled against orthodoxy. "R" thought the words might relate to Russian roots. N said that this happened even within the Gurdjieff schools, where some consider themselves as the progenitors of the original Gurdjieff work and that others had not really got the message. L said the Gurdjieff organisations had fragmented into many branches, branches within branches. "R" said there were sects using the name that had never had anything to do with it. L said Gurdjieff might be describing what had happened to him as well.

... At that time of the day we usually made a halt to feed our quadruped workers, and so we asked the monks to allow us to make our necessary halt in the shelter of their monastery.

... The monastery of the Orthodoxhydooraki sect of the Buddhist religion occupied a large square with a strongly built wall around it, which protected everything within, both from beings similar to themselves and from wild beings.

L had noticed that Gurdjieff was not distinguishing here between human beings and animals, but was just talking about workers, be they biped or quadruped. C said the sentence about the wall might describe the way something from the outside is preventing us from knowing what we are on the inside. We were building a strong wall around ourselves, which could be various personalities, and it impedes the teaching from penetrating. L said the part of the words describing the sectarians - hydooraki - might be a reference to the monster Hydra. It might be a monstrous wall, or to protect from something monstrous. Also there may be the connotation of hiding. "R" said the wall was partly to keep the wives and families out. C said this seemed wrong. It was an odd way of going about finding out who you were, by subjecting other people to unnecessary pain.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Much Ado About Muffin


HW said there was an implicit assumption in the exercise that you were awake, and he was pretty sure he was not. While it was easy to distinguish being awake in contrast to night-time sleep, the waking sleep state pertained to not being present, to being absorbed in everything, which was the normal so-called waking state. One up from that was being present relative to certain sensations, particularly the physical ones, like the feet being on the floor, which gave a type of separation. So he did not know what the exercise meant. He had tried it, but that was all he could get out of it. He recalled Ouspensky's account of a Gurdjieff lecture describing the waking sleep state in In Search of the Miraculous, Chapter 8.

EXERCISE

 Every day to note one thing that you do to go to waking sleep.

C said that Ouspensky said the way you could possibly tell if you were awake was, for example, if you were looking at the street, to actually say "I am looking at the street", or to say "I am" repeatedly, and allow that to come into your mentation, into your mind, and then allow the reverberation of that to continue down into your solar plexus. But the fact was that when we woke up, we were still fast asleep. Perhaps the only way to get out of it was to join a school, which was why he had come to the Meeting, to see what was being offered. And hopefully being constantly aware of yourself, walking down the street, eating, constantly bringing a presence to it, rather than just doing. He had read various writers on this subject, including Jean Vayss, who had written Toward Awakening: An Approach to the Teaching Left by Gurdjieff.

Tiflis (Tbilisi)
L said that when we thought we were awake we were in the greatest danger, because we were probably still fast asleep. He thought that the Meetings had no answers, but we could nudge each other awake if we noticed another sleeping. That was the help of being in a group, though we did not consider ourselves to be a group - that would be elevating it too high, because we did not do Gurdjieff Movements, thus we called it a Meeting. Gurdjieff talked about the idea of alarm clocks. There was the story of Karapet of Tiflis, who annoyed the inhabitants of the whole town by sounding a bell early every morning to awaken the railway workers.

As for his personal experience with this exercise, one of the things he liked doing was playing internet chess, which was much easier than doing something actively engaged with life, and that put him to sleep very well, even if he played some good chess moves.

              A live Internet chess game

In society on a wider level, he thought it was the obsession with property, and then buying a second and third property, that kept people asleep very effectively, because as prices were always going up, they had to work longer and longer hours, so putting off independent, creative thought until later in life, should they be lucky enough to get there. So he did think that on the macro level, that was an example of something people did to be asleep.

N came to this exercise very late because he had been away and could not get internet access. Normally he wrote down the exercise of the month and put it into his wallet, and this month he hadn't done it. This was a measure of his level of sleepness. He thought it sometimes indicated a resistance to the Work. He told himself, he had been away, he looked at the website, he wasn't sure which exercise it was, then eventually found it. Sometimes it was very easy just going along in our habitual mode, without finding the time to sit and think what puts you to sleep. Sometimes you were so asleep that you were not at that level of consciousness whereby you could be aware of the exercise to do it.

RM had joined Insight Timer some time ago, and would set the timer for 15 minutes with 5 minute intervals, and occasionally used it while he was walking around, and it was quite a shock to realise that most of the time his mind had drifted somewhere else. So when he meditated he focused especially on his physical feelings, because they were definitely there.

"R" had been away for a while, most recently on holiday with family in a place which had a pool. Her body was not in terrific shape, and to swim was an ideal opportunity to sense presence. She had not had the exercise with her, but what interested her was experience which was to do with the senses, sensing the body. In a way having a back which ached all the time was a reminder, but it did not always remind, and in order to go on the walks that they went on, she had to make herself wish to be where they were going in order not to sense the discomfort. But the only factor for her that was real about being awake was when she had sensation in her body - her framework, not just on her skin - and it was hard because it was possible to go through days without ever returning to that question in oneself. It was an energy, not an idea. Swimming with five children all under nine was quite an experience as well. They jolly well woke you up. Small children were full of sensation and life, even if they spoke different languages.

"creative ideas can come
... even eating one's croissant"
J said that one's feelings were certainly here and now, but if one's thoughts were elsewhere, there was the presumption surely that one's feelings were following one's thoughts. The distinction between brain and feeling was slightly problematic here. He said that the creative part and the sleeping part were probably more coextensive than we were suspecting. One's creative ideas can come when one is not absolutely in the present, but when one is facing practical questions, even when eating one's croissant, one was in the present there rather more than when one was elsewhere in one's creative mind. He would rather be present in a creative world that was erecting something interesting for him, and which took his feelings along with it, than the mindful present and watching and being aware that he was sitting on a hard bench.

As C, "R" and J had said about feeling sensations, D said this intellectual stuff was all very well and exciting, but as C had said about feeling the vibrations going down into the body, and "R" about it being the energy that was important, and J about sitting on a hard bench - these were the things we had to concentrate on. It was the life force, not the intellectual so much. The most powerful way he had found to stop these thoughts was to feel the energy between the hands. He said this stopped 80% of the thoughts. However he had spoken to someone about this who couldn't feel this energy, which D had found interesting. He said also that chaos and boredom were important to him. They were both not negative as they seemed to be, but were important aspects of emotional consciousness.

T had been aware of the exercise for the first week, and she was aware of it a few days before the Meeting. She did not know what happened in the middle. In terms of connecting with the exercise, what she had noticed during those periods, the thing she did to go to waking sleep was to turn the radio on. If she had had a fraught day at work, which was with a lot of interaction with other people, she did not want to be awake, as she was stimulated already. Putting on the radio was interesting because it was stopping her own thoughts and hearing other people's, to whom she didn't have to react. She could turn the radio off at any time. She realised that the radio was just as variable, as ad hoc as her thoughts; although there was a semblance of some sort of organisation in the programme, it was random ideas and subjects which had come up for no reason. It was like dampening her own scattered thoughts with other people's in order to enforce a waking sleep.

Following the contributions the Meeting moved to responses.

C said there was one sentence in Jean Vaysse's book, in the foreword by John Pentland, which says that one way to keep awake was to constantly tell yourself I am here now in this immediate space. In contact with a life-force which supports, enlightens and unifies my presence. He tried every morning when he woke up to tell himself I am here, and through the day when he woke up, and this could happen to you as a habit.

HW had been impressed by what a lot of people had said, particularly what T had said, about running away from her normal state, which sounded like negative emotion, and instead of working the way that was suggested in dealing with a negative emotion, she was putting on a radio to get away from her normal negative emotional state. When "R" had said about sensing the body - he didn't hear anything about going further from a state of some kind of self-remembering to self-observation, to observing what was going on in the mind, which he thought would be a movement away from just sensing you were here. He thought there was a point in all this, that you could get away and become more awake, but it was more awake, not being awake in some absolute sense, and he thought Gurdjieff had implied this was possible, perhaps first by awakening the mental centre initially, and then the emotional centre, and being awake in the emotional centre would be being in a different state, and that could be semi-permanent.

L said that for him there was a degree of intentionality which develops during the Gurdjieff Work, pushing things through, having a concept in the imagination and making it real, and there was tremendous resistance to making things real. An example was having this Meeting. The usual venue was inaccessible during a protracted refurbishment. An arrangement was made with an alternative cafe, but they would not open the door, so yet another had to be found. Generally resistance tended to be balanced. People tried to do something until they met enough resistance, and then it stopped and there was a state of permanent balance, action and reaction being equal. That was Newton's Third Law, and he did not think Newton was talking purely about physics. In the Gurdjieff Work, if there is a strong centre, and intention, extra force can be applied to make a break through, and things can be achieved. He also wanted to respond to what J had said. It was great being in the present and handling complex things, and one can feel awake, but one can also create situations which require a lot of activities to manage and focus on, and which can take a long time to carry through. So in a way that is creating a distraction from other things, even if you have to be very awake to make that distraction fulfill itself successively. He did think the creative side of life was the most important - it may not be the most remunerative, quite the reverse. Gurdjieff talks about three types of transformation. Oxygen through the blood, food by the body, and impressions though the senses. L thought there might be a fourth category, inspiration being transformed by artists into artworks. Who knows, further along the spectrum there might be other categories.

"R" responded to Justin's use of the word feeling when she would have used sensing. In English it was not very clear. We use the verb to feel even when we mean physically feeling, sensing and experiencing, which is not the same as when we say I feel good, which was all going on "up here" (in the mind), all associations.

Annie Lou Staveley 1906-1996
Source: gurdjieff.org/staveley
Before the Reading, L drew attention to Mrs Staveley's Grace. which "R" had brought. This Grace was used by a student of Gurdjieff, and includes the line We bless the lives that have died to give us food. L said that during the next portion of Beelzebub's Tales, from about page 250, as in many other parts of the book, Gurdjieff or his characters were talking quite passionately about their views on animals, whether in reaction to customs of sacrificing them or of eating them. But also Gurdjieff, and many of his followers, ate meat, so there was an issue about reconciling this. L said that we all had different views, maybe most of us ate meat, some of us did not, but questioned whether Mrs Staveley had considered dying herself to be food for others. "R" said she was sure that Mrs Staveley had.  "R" then said that anybody who wanted direct experience could sample a muffin from her plate. D asked why she wasn't finishing the muffins. "R" said she was sharing them because she liked them.

The Reading then continued from Beelzebub's Tales, Chapter 21.

Thus it was that a half of the word Kundabuffer survived and, being transmitted from generation to generation, finally reached your contemporary favorites also, accompanied, of course, by a thousand and one different explanations.

With acknowledgments to Harold Good
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... And as regards the way in which the contemporary terrestrial learned beings of what are called the exact sciences define the significance of this part of the spinal marrow, that, my dear boy, is a profound secret.

And it became a secret because several centuries ago, this 'explanation' suddenly for no reason whatever entered the favorite mole of the famous 'Scheherazade,' which that incomparable Arabian fantasist chanced to have on the right side of her adorable navel.

...When I was quite convinced that I had succeeded so easily in the destruction, perhaps for a long time, of that terrible practice among the beings of that group there in Pearl-land, I decided to stay there no longer but to return to the Sea of Beneficence to our ship Occasion.

... I decided to return through the locality which was later called 'Tibet.'


Scheherazade
Sophie Anderson 1823-1903
Referring to the plate of muffins "R" had earlier offered, which still contained some, GC asked who had not liked them. "R" said she hadn't said she didn't like them. She wanted to share them, to share in the enjoyment, and asked GC if he wanted another bit. GC said he had thought they were very good, but somebody had not liked them as there were still some on the plate and this was analagous to the reading! D said he had been concerned "R" had not liked them, as he had initially selected which ones to buy. T said this was a new resistance to the Reading. GC said it was a prime example of how people can get the wrong impressions. RM said the passage includes a description of how some great mystical person misunderstands something and it becomes a belief for centuries, another form of sleep or illusion. N said that Gurdjieff had emphasised illusion and sleep by the association with Scheherezade and the stories of the Thousand and One Nights, which he thought was an entertaining way of describing it. L thought it very poetic of Gurdjieff to have an "explanation" vanishing into the favourite mole of Scheherazade. HW said this section described exactly what Gurdjieff in his own life had been doing - breaking up old ideas and putting new ideas against them. L agreed but also thought that Gurdjieff might have despaired that the same would happen with his own ideas, that they would be taken literally and turned into new dogmas. GC said that Sufis talk about shedding the accretions, but it was very hard to realise that we have our own accretions, and it was our own that we had to shed.


DM was still interested in the misunderstanding over the muffins. He had feared he had done the wrong thing. "R" had liked them and wanted to share them. "R" said it was to do with physical experience and with inner considering and outer considering. J said it might also be to do with intonation, which words are emphasised in a question, which might affect its interpretation. RM asked if this conversation was to do with this chapter? DM said its about how we relate to other people and GC replied that any conversation we had was to do with this chapter.


CHAPTER 22 Beelzebub for the First Time in Tibet

As the route proposed this time was most uncommon for the terrestrial three-brained beings of those days and accordingly we could not count on the possibility of joining any ‘caravan’ of theirs, I had, then, to organize my own caravan, and I began the same day preparing and procuring everything necessary for this purpose.

I then procured some score of the quadruped beings called ‘horses,’ ‘mules,’ ‘asses,’ and ‘Chami-anian’ goats and so on, and hired a number of your biped favorites to look after the said beings and to do the semiconscious work required on the way for this mode of travel.

... The said ‘wild’ beings there, were at that period particularly ‘dangerous’ both for the three-brained beings there, and for those forms of quadruped beings which your favorites, with the ‘cunning’ proper to them, had already been able to make their slaves, compelling them to work exclusively for the satisfaction of their egoistic needs.

... So, my boy, because of this it was possible for your favorites of those times to pass through these places only by day. At night, great vigilance and the use of various artificial shelters was required as a defense against these wild beings, both for themselves and for their ‘goods.’

During the period of the aforesaid Krentonalnian position of the planet Earth, these wild beings there are wide awake and take their first being-food; and since, by that time, they had already become accustomed to use for this purpose almost exclusively the planetary bodies of weaker beings of other forms arising on their planet, they were always trying, during that period, to get hold of such a being in order to use his planetary body for the satisfaction of that need of theirs.




HW said that this was all mental. "R" said it comes into the rest of the chapter. HW asked why "R" had interrupted him. He said that we all interrupted each other.  There was such a thing as practice. It began with some impulse, some memory, and then there was a decision to do a certain, particular practice, but to carry it out to the end, for example not to express negative emotion in relation to circumstances. That was a decision you had to make very strongly, and that was practice and to carry it out to the end. T said that the practice at the end of the Meeting was to read this book. HW said he was pointing out that there was such a thing as mental and there was such a thing as practice. We don't take practice seriously and did not do the practice because we did not take a decision to do it, and we perhaps preferred to do the mental. The process of the Reading was all mental. "R" thanked HW for reminding her that she had butted in. HW asked "R" if she had been observing herself when she had butted in? "R" said that was the point of her not remembering. GC said that we butt in when someone's ideas are not the same as our own. T said she had the image of a lot of butting goats. N said while we tended to repeat our own mentations at these Meetings, we also learnt from each other. He personally had learnt from something GC had recently said.

... we, and especially our workmen for the semiconscious work, had to be extremely watchful and alert at night in order to guard ourselves, our quadruped beings, and our supplies.

A whole ‘gathering’ of these wild beings would form round our camp at night, having come there to provide themselves with something suitable for their first food, a meeting rather like an ‘assembly’ of your favorites during what is called the ‘quotation of stock prices’ or during their ‘election’ of representatives to some society or other, the nominal purpose of which is the joint pursuit of a means to the happy existence of all beings like themselves without distinction of their notorious castes.

The Nightmare
Henry Fuseli 1741-1825
T thought the mention of procurement of quadrupeds interesting, that they were carrying all the things. The wild things were also quadrupeds, and were a danger to human beings passing through that environment. T wondered if it was an analogy for mental states. RM thought it was an allusion to people who were asleep. T said they came out at night. J said that if two-brained beings could speak, they would refer to the three-brained beings as wild, as they ate the two-brained beings.

L said that to him this image of wild animals coming at night was like dreams, which might come at night and take over our thoughts. We even had the word nightmare. N thought the reference to stock prices might make us look for metaphors of other contexts, like the City of London. T said that as soon as you had a good idea there was someone out there to steal it. RM said all it took to send you back to sleep was for someone to come and talk to you about something interesting.

Following the Reading, a suggestion by T was adopted as the exercise for the coming month: When walking along, be aware of your stomach and pull it in. Be aware of what that does to other organs, particularly the lungs. Be aware of the change in the breathing.