Sunday, August 6, 2017

Information for next Meeting

Information for
Next Meeting
3 September 2017 at 9am

EXERCISE

READING

Disclaimer and Notes
EXERCISE FOR NEXT MONTH

Every time you go in or out of your front door, remember yourself.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Poise for Thought

Fifty percent of T remembered the EXERCISE, and fifty percent did not. She remembered that being in a negative state was a trigger, but the other trigger, of being in a positive state, she was completely unaware of. Information for
Next Meeting
6 August 2017 at 9am

EXERCISE

READING

Disclaimer and Notes
She remembered about ten times during the month. She was also aware of part of her stopping herself doing it if she was in company or in a public place. How very powerful the community mores were, not wanting to be seen to be odd. In contrast, just that morning she had seen a man in a cafe who had a hat on with a huge plume of feathers and high heels. Seeing that was wonderful.

L said that in order to do this exercise, in theory you had to be able to stand on one leg. It was about balance, not being too positive or too negative in the way that we react to things. He was not sure it had that much to do with Gurdjieff, but it was certainly connected to Ouspensky's ideas. Ouspensky used to talk about something he called formatory thinking. "Formatory" is a word he must have made up.
EXERCISE

When you find yourself in either a negative or positive state, pause, put yourself in a midpoint state of equanimity, and stand on one leg.

You can't use it in Scrabble, but the idea was not to react too much in one direction or the other. L had made some progress in standing on one leg. He thought he was fairly thick-skinned to impressions coming in, but he did find himself standing on one leg several times, and that was usually in response to negative things. When you stand on one leg, there is a tendency to fall over. Gurdjieff talks about the Law of Falling, and the Third Force was where two forces in equilibrium which were about to fall out of balance were kept going by applying the additional force. We could see people on the streets exhibiting fantastic balance - the boys on the bicycles riding without using their hands, or the skateboarders. Maybe they were exhibiting a bit of third force. It clearly brought them great joy.

The exercise had been very relevant to N this month due to the bereavement he had experienced two and a half weeks before. He had been in a state of terrible shock. He had been trying to be as present to the circumstances as he possibly could, to be conscious of his emotions, and to find an equanimity in the situation. It became easier as days went on, but was still difficult. There had been a lot of inner work he had had to do in the course of this last couple of weeks, to try and come to terms with what had taken place. When he had looked at the exercise, he had thought it could not have been more relevant this month. He would do the exercise again, he thought, next month, because he did think it was a good exercise.

C expressed his sincere condolences to N. He spoke of his experience of bereavement some years before. RM said that by being present, what happened in his life became not disengaged, but more distant. He thought now that if a disaster happened in his life, it would be as if it happened to a friend, not himself, not his real self, and this enabled him to help others better.

Responding to comments by L about not going too far one way or the other, RM said this fitted exactly with the golden mean of Daoism. They also talked about the true heart, where you just knew where the golden mean was. It was that still, small voice. L said that the state of equilibrium took work, because if you were riding a bicycle and stopped exerting control, even it was unconcsious control, you toppled over. RM said there was a difference between awareness and consciousness. If you were aware, you stayed in balance. If you became conscious, all your ideas about things would start getting in the way.

J said it was interesting how there was a bifurcation between thinking and emotional reaction, and what we were undertaking was not just an academic exercise, but one grounded in our lives. The balance that we would be getting from the exercise was something which flowed in to all the peripheral areas, assuming the brain to be the centre. So equilibrium was probably a very important thing.

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



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube

First of all, you should know about that ordinary cosmic something actualized for these same terrestrial types, which is in general always actualized of itself for every cosmic unit and which serves for beings with Objective Reason as what is called an ‘issuing source’ for pondering about the explanation of the sense and meaning of any given cosmic result.

This same something which serves as an issuing source for discovering the significance of these terrestrial contemporary types, is a wiseacring map named by them themselves—of course unconsciously—the ‘map inventory of the heavenly spaces.’

There is no need for us to draw any other logical conclusion from this issuing source specially actualized for them; it will be sufficient merely to say that the name itself of this map of theirs shows that the designations made on it cannot in any way be other than entirely relative, because with the possibilities at their disposal—though they break their esteemed heads over devising names and calculating various kinds of measurements—they can see from the surface of their planet only those suns and planets which to their good fortune do not very quickly change the course of their falling in relation to their own planet and thus give them the possibility during a long period of time - of course long as compared with the brevity of their own existence - to observe them and, as they bombastically express themselves, ‘mark down their positions.’ ...

G asked what the phrase brevity of their own existence meant. C said that it was in the context of studying something like the stars, which had been going for hundreds of thousands of years, within our very short lifetimes. L said that if we lived for a million years, the odds were that an asteroid would hit the ground next door, or destroy the planet in our lifetimes, but as we were only here for 70 to 100 years, he thought we could feel quite safe that no rocks would land next door. RM said this highlighted that grand meanings we attribute to things appear nonsense when passed though time.

Otherwise like most of the other freaks there who are occupied with, as they say there, ‘higher matters,’ they will busy themselves, out of boredom, ‘leading the struggle of five against one.’

And it is known to all that the beings who are occupied with these matters always radiate from themselves vibrations very harmful for beings around them similar to themselves.

Well enough! Leave these contemporary ‘titillators’ in peace and let us continue our interrupted definite theme.

... It is imperatively necessary to inform you of this because in the course of my further explanations concerning these three-brained beings of the planet Earth who have taken your fancy I shall in all probability have to refer more than once to that society of learned beings there.

RM thought this was referring to the beings of Atlantis, who were more concerned with objective reality which Gurdjieff often refers to. Instead of wiseacring about our opinions about things, there was an objective reality which you could study.

J asked for clarification about the paragraph talking about some beings radiating harmful vibrations. L said that the preceding sentence specifically talks about the struggle of five against one. C asked what that meant. L said that one writer thinks Gurdjieff is talking about tension between five main centres and the sex centre.

A Teleoghinoora is a materialized idea or thought which after its arising exists almost eternally in the atmosphere of that planet on which it arises.

Teleoghinooras can be formed from such a quality of being-contemplation as only those three-brained beings have and can actualize, who have coated their higher being bodies in their presences and who have brought the perfecting of the Reason of their higher being part up to the degree of the sacred ‘Martfotai.’






Poster from Mulder's office
in the X-Files TV series
RM described an experiment in which researchers had made up an imaginary person's life history, and were then able to make contact with him via a ouija board. GC said it had been proven by science that human beings could influence random number generators. L said that references were required for claims of this nature. As a rule such experiments could not be successfully repeated. RM said he had personally experienced walking across hot coals, bending of metals, and had seen a wizened old lady, probably in her eighties, with no strength, break a piece of hard wood by striking it with her hand, and he could swear blind that it clicked and broke before or just at the moment her hand was touching it. GC said he had personally seen evidence that homeopathy worked. C said people have been known to lift very heavy objects in emergencies. D wanted to know how to break the pieces of wood.



Purgatory

... this learned society Akhaldan which arose then on the continent Atlantis and which was composed of three-brained beings of the Earth, was formed 735 years before the second ‘Transapalnian perturbation’ there.

It was founded on the initiative of a being there named Belcultassi, who was then able to bring the perfecting of his higher being part to the Being of a Saint ‘Eternal Individual’; and this higher part of his now already dwells on the holy planet Purgatory.



Referring to the earlier mention in the text of vibrations which might be harmful, J thought that the fact Belcultassi ended up on Purgatory suggested he might have been subversive about his whole operation, and been wiseacring.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Antikythera

L had found this EXERCISE really helped him to read more of the paragraphs, and also because each time he started from the beginning and then added an extra paragraph, it meant he got to know the first paragraph particularly well, and the next few better and better also, and each day they would be recapped. He managed to do it virtually every day. Reading it this way, he found it made sense. He really understood and appreciated that Gurdjieff was talking about how things went downhill as astrologers became astronomers, and you could see the same thing in many areas of life. Things had gone downhill in music, because many composers abandoned the skills of harmony and counterpoint. They decided choosing notes randomly, in the case of some composers, might be a better approach. L could see it might be a much easier approach. You got out of something roughly what you put into it.
EXERCISE

Read the first paragraph of the reading for the next Meeting on the first day, the first two paragraphs on the second, the first three paragraphs on the third and so on, adding a paragraph each day until the Meeting.
In the case of harmony and counterpoint, you sometimes got out a bit more. He had found the exercise very useful, and might keep on using it in future months, and thought it would help during the reading section later in the Meeting.

T had been aware of the exercise, and did eight paragraphs during the month. She had gained something from the reading. The first paragraph was the most complex, which was offputting. It was a relief that it was only one extra paragraph each day, a bite-sized chunk. Even though she had started to enjoy it, other distractions came along and she lapsed, so it was interesting in terms of how difficult it was to do something every day, consistently and methodically.


Watkins Bookshop
R had picked up the book from Watkins, Cecil Court. He had started at the beginning of the chapter, to get hold of what happened prior. He had tried Beelzebub before, and put it aside. But this time the light had come on. The understanding he got was that reading it in a literal sense, taking it per se, was going against the grain of the wood. The whole thing was to disabuse oneself of previous ideas and to open up an avenue, an inroad of higher consciousness or a higher centre.

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



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube

Inasmuch as the difference in significance and sense, in relation to surrounding beings, between those ... who at that time were such professionals, and those who have now, as it were, the same occupation, might show you, so to say, ‘the obviousness of the steady deterioration of the degree of crystallization’, ... I therefore find it necessary to explain to you and to help you to have an approximate understanding of this difference, which is also changing for the worse.

Antikythera mechanism
Modern recreation of design
from c.100 BC

... they had to draw up their ‘Oblekioonerish’ which is the same as what your favorites call ‘horoscope’; and later ... guide them and give corresponding indications on the basis of the said Oblekioonerish and also on the basis of the cosmic laws, constantly explained by them, flowing from the actions of the results of other large cosmic concentrations in general on the process of being-existence of beings on all planets.


D said that he could not understand the paragraphs just read and asked for an explanation. RM said Gurdjieff was talking about the difference between astronomers, who actually had the facts, as far as they could really see it, and the wiseacring astrologers who had pushed them aside. J said his understanding of it was that there was a corpus of knowledge which you obtained by dint of a huge amount of effort, and then thereafter it split into two ways. The knowledge itself became stale, repetition, the names that you understood, while at the same time there was an outshoot of fantasy where people wanted more interpretation that was in fact wiseacring and not really justified.

... they assigned to the beings at the seventh year of their existence, likewise on the basis of these Oblekioonerishes, corresponding mates of the opposite sex for the purpose of fulfilling one of the chief being-duties, that is, continuation of the race, or as your favorites would say, they assigned them ‘husbands’ and ‘wives.’

Justice must be done to your favorites of the period when these Astrologers existed among them; they then indeed very strictly carried out the indications of these Astrologers and made their conjugal unions exclusively only according to their indications.

Therefore, at that period, in regard to their conjugal unions, they always corresponded according to their type, just as such pairs correspond everywhere on planets on which Keschapmartnian beings also breed.


RM said he was being critical of the astrologers. Conjugal unions were made only to their indications. They started controlling everybody else. T said doing this at the seventh year was child abuse. L said he was also saying that the astronomers were fantasists. RM said it did not say anthing about astronomers being fantasists. T said that the astrologers at that time did not have telescopes. Astrologers used observations of the movements of the heavens. They were astute observers. RM said that astrologers were lying. It was just fantasy. L asked if anyone present ever looked at horoscopes. GC and RM said they sometimes looked, but just for fun. D said it was rubbish. L asked RM what his star sign was. RM said it was Aries. DM said he was also Aries. J said he was also an Aries. L asked what were the characteristics of an Aries. DM said pioneers. L suggested leaders. RM said, single-minded, dominating in their views. J said charming, good looking. T said it was still in the culture. L said it was in the language. We talked about saturnine and jovial. He asked if we had any reason to think astrology was not true. RM said that we did.

... Owing to all this, the pairs matched according to their indications almost always turned out to be corresponding, and not as it proceeds there at the present time; and that is to say they are now united in conjugal pairs who nearly always do not correspond in type; in consequence of which during the continuation of the entire existence of these couples there, about half of their, as they say, ‘inner life’ is spent only on what our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin expresses in one of his sayings by the following words:

‘What a good husband he is, or what a good wife she is, whose whole inner world is not busy with the constant “nagging of the other half.”’

... these Astrologers’ of theirs, as usually happens there, also at first began gradually to ‘shrink’ and then entirely, as is said, ‘vanished.’

After the total abolition among them of the duties of these Astrologers, other professionals in the same sphere appeared in their place, ... but as the ordinary beings around these professionals soon noticed that their ‘observations’ and ‘studies’ consisted merely in inventing names for various remote suns and planets meaning nothing to them, existing in milliards in the Universe, and in measuring, as it were, by a method known to them alone, and which constituted their professional secret, the distance between the cosmic points seen from their planets through their ‘child’s toys’ called by them ‘telescopes,’ they began to call them, as I have already told you, Astronomers.

Now, my boy, that we have spoken also about these contemporary ‘ultra fantasists’
from among your favorites, we might as well, again imitating the form of mentation and the verbal exposition of our dear teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin, also ‘illuminatingly’ enlighten you about their significance, so esteemed by your favorites.


L said that here was an example where he described the astronomers as fantasists. RM said they became the fantasists later. T said that astronomers were looking out rather than trying to observe themselves. L said the passage seemed to be true. We were building ever better telescopes, but all that happened was that we discovered new planets, called them such and such, and noted their distances from us, but it did not really add to any state of knowledge. T imagined somebody millions of light years away on another planet who suddenly discovered Earth: they were looking at us, but why, when they had it all there, and didn't even understand themselves? It was a distraction. J said it was a respectable endeavour to get your facts before you worked out your theory. GC said the mind needed to give names to facts, that was how the mind understood them, but we were talking about understanding without the mind. True inspiration in music came from beyond the mind. L said that knowledge of music theory was not needed to listen to it and appreciate it. RM thought you had to keep the outer and the inner in balance. If you went too far one way or the other you got into fantasy.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Eyes Wide Shut

RM said he had been away but that he realised that he had been doing the EXERCISE. He equated it with Ramana Maharshi's teachings about choiceless awareness, and the point was you looked ahead of you but you made no choice. Information for
Next Meeting
4 June 2017 at 9am

EXERCISE

READING

Disclaimer and Notes
You just saw the overview, not anything specific. When he let go, just seeing the general shape of things, he became more aware of the circumstances around him. When he became more awake, he noticed the people around him were fast asleep.

L's experience was, that as he saw the person coming, it was like a cloud of thoughts approaching him. People's thoughts, and state of mind, were reflected in their gait. Either they would be walking fast, or dreamily, looking this way and that. It was like a dream walking towards him. As the person came closer he would stop being aware of the thoughts. He was aware just of the raw animal going past him, animated flesh. He also did it with dogs approaching - it was the same sensation for creatures.

EXERCISE

When you are walking along the road, and someone is coming towards you, look at them but not their face. When they come towards you, try to see what's in front of your eyes. When your mind starts judging, once you realise the thought has come, clear it and try to see the object that's coming towards you.
The exercise made T realise that she did not usually look at people as they were coming towards her, and that she usually averted her eyes, particularly from men, and that she looked at everything else, the hedges, the flowers. So looking at the people coming along was quite daunting, and it felt weird, not looking at their face, because often she thought she looked at the face and then quickly looked away, just to check who was around her. So that woke her up to the ordinary action of walking along a street, and it had made her aware of a habitual action that she did, which she had not been aware of before.

"R"'s efforts were to receive an impression, and she found that she connected with how a person was inside herself, and sensed their posture and their tempo before looking at details, because we were working to remember ourselves, and it was easy to get lost in what we see. And remembering herself was sensing her body, and the seat of the feelings.

R said there were two ways. Either you engaged with that person, by looking at them, and catching their eye, or you avoided it, and objectified them. They became the object, and you became the observer, and you saw them encased within a role. RM had said that people were asleep. Of course they were asleep, they were caught up in their role, and the role of walking was a full-time occupation - thinking, and walking, encapsulated within their role as a pedestrian, detached from the surroundings.

J had conducted the exercise, including thinking about what he would think about after he conducted it, beforehand, and he found there wasn't too much distinction, in other words, what happened was anticipated. That may be because, as a failed novelist, one of the things he did was look at people and try to imagine what their stories were, when they may be in a semi-somnambulant state.
Source: Rebecca Hendin at giphy.com
If he were to avert his eyes from their face, which was what the exercise asked, he found instead he was concentrating on either their clothes, or their gait, and trying to work out, in a not very detailed way, where that person, mentally, might be coming from. The other thing that happened, was that a hundred times a day, he saw people walking in the street, or in the tube. If you asked, after you had just got out of a tube ride, who you had seen, you probably couldn't remember, and the mere fact of concentrating just for an additional moment, on someone coming, not necessarily on their face, stamped them more clearly in one's recollection.

Responding to RM and R, D said he would like to state that he could not see how you could know what anybody else was thinking. You could not know if they were asleep or awake - full stop - because we did not even know what we were doing, half the time.

J said there was a presumption which was absolutely to be fought against - that you could not assume, from somebody's expression, or even their vacant expression, that they were either encapsulated in a role, or they were half asleep. People were thinking in their own worlds, but if you wanted to try and understand that, you could possibly penetrate to some mild degree, but to assume from that that you were awake and they were half-asleep - there was an unconscious superiority about this - and in this, he thought, was a slight danger.

GC said he had set the exercise, and the idea of the exercise was to possibly make people realise that we were dreaming, the observer was dreaming, and to look at the person - as the thoughts came, to realise the thoughts were there, and disregard the thoughts. But what seemed to be happening was that people were getting caught up in the dream because they were asleep, and the object of the exercise was to awake you, not to take you further back in to the mind. DM asked if it was a technique to wake yourself up? Were you judging that person? GC said that if you looked at somebody, your thoughts would arise about that person. Seeming is dreaming. You were dreaming, you were asleep. You were not observing them asleep. You were observing the fact that you, the observer, was actually asleep, and dreaming.

Responding to RM's contribution, RG asked how he knew that a person was asleep and did it make him, or us in general, by observing someone else, awake? Was it just the observation that made us awake if we noticed that somebody else was asleep? RM said that when you learn to be awake, you know when other people are asleep. RG asked him how he knew. RM said there was no question, you knew it.

L said that when he had stopped being swayed by his thoughts of what they might be thinking about, and why they were walking in that way, he also felt compassion towards this person he didn't know coming by him. Some people were happier than others. Some people were not happy. He also felt it towards animals. He liked the way Gurdjieff didn't talk about people and animals, rather he talked about bipeds and quadrupeds, beings of different kinds. For L, the exercise was more about compassion than about being awake or asleep, to which he thought compassion might be an extra dimension. He hoped we could become more awake, and perhaps a little bit more as well!

R said that looking at a person - whether they were asleep or awake - was that not a bit formatory? If you said, is he or isn't he?, you were putting yourself in a condition of sleep. The magic word sleep. Were we speaking about being hypnotised by one's own thoughts, by being drawn out of the environment into oneself? GC said this was the case, and the reasons for the exercise were to make you realise that you can't look at someone without going back to your agenda, and to be like the mirror, which sees everything, but doesn't take it in, but reflects it back.

J asked what were we now, were we conscious? How was what we were talking about now,


Captain Pickard considers the issue of illusion.
concentrating on one object that was common to us all, so different from the exercise we were conducting. When we were thinking about ourselves in this moment, were we doing what we were doing in the street, concentrating on an object, and the person there was also doing that, but not on the same object that we were communally discussing, it was his own object. Was there such a difference? In other words, were we asleep now?

GC said that the idea of the exercise was to realise that you could not watch a person without bringing your mind into a picture that you were watching. The mind is a good servant and a bad master. For him personally, the less mind there was for him, the better it was. RM asked where was the picture we were watching? adding, it could only be in the mind. GC said, if you looked at a white wall, you would see a white wall. Then you would start thinking, maybe you could put a picture there, another part needs touching up ... but it was just a white wall. You could imprint anything you like on to it, and the mind wants to imprint something on it all the time, and the object of the exercise was to make you realise that you can't look at the person without bringing yourself into the picture you were looking at, or the scene you were looking at, or the person you were looking at. DM asked if you would be able to tell if that person was asleep or awake. A asked why it was important to know if the other person was asleep. RM said it was not important to know that the other person was asleep, but it was important to you, for you to understand when you were asleep. "R" said that being more aware was bringing three centres together, including the physical sense of one's presence. GC said that this was an agenda she had had before this conversation, just as L's companssion had been an agenda he had had before this conversation. "R" said everybody had been starting their sentences with I think, or something to do with thoughts. GC said that thinking was the problem. He said that, for him, that was his agenda that encapsulated everything - we thought when we did not need to, and that was the problem.

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



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube

And all this will be quite in the order of things there.

Concerning the ‘scientific experiment’ itself, which they propose to carry out with the apes taken back from Africa, I can with certainty say beforehand, that at any rate the first part of it will without any doubt, succeed ‘wonderfully well.’

And it will succeed wonderfully well, because the apes themselves, as beings of what is called a ‘Terbelnian result,’ are already, owing to their nature, extremely fond of occupying themselves with ‘titillation’ and before the day is out, will no doubt participate in and greatly assist your favorites in this ‘scientific experiment’ of theirs.

As for those beings there who are going to carry out this ‘scientific experiment,’ and as for any benefit from it for the other three-brained beings there, it can all be pictured to oneself if one remembers the profoundly wise saying of our same honorable Mullah Nassr Eddin, in which he says: ‘Happy is that father whose son is even busy with murder and robbery, for he himself will then have no time to get accustomed to occupy himself with “titillation.”’


T said it was shocking that murder and robbery should be put above sexuality. She asked if it was taking to the extreme that it was better to be doing something in the world than not. R said the Mullah was saying that it was best to be active without fantasy. He cited the book Eros and Civilisation, which partly follows on Freud's thoughts on the tension between superego and instinct.

... Well then, my boy, when I left that system, I presented my famous observatory to him with everything in it, and in gratitude for this he promised to report every month, according to the time-calculation of the planet Mars, all the more important events occurring on the planets of that system.

... However, my boy, owing to this etherogram, I have wandered a long way from my original tale.

Let us go back to our former theme.

Well, then, upon this the fourth flight of mine to the planet Earth, our ship Occasion descended onto the sea called the ‘Red Sea.’


RM asked what he meant by etherogram.

T said it was like an email, or a text. "R" said it was like a news bulletin.
Source NASA
L said it was an interplanetary email system, which had not yet been developed, but they were working on it. The plan was to have one satellite going round Mars, and another going round the sun.

T liked the way Gurdjieff referred to distraction, when he said the etherogram had caused him to wander from his original tale.

Construction begins on the world's first super telescope. Source phys.org
... the beings of the Earth of that locality had devised a new system for observing other cosmic concentrations from their planet, and that they were then constructing what was required in order to carry it into effect; and also, as everybody there said, that the convenience and possibilities of this new system were excellent and until then unparalleled on the Earth.

... Although the observatory which interested me was not yet quite finished, nevertheless observations of the exterior visibility of cosmic concentrations could be made from it, and the results issuing from them and the reciprocal action of these results could be studied.

Those beings who were occupied with such observations and studies were called, at that period on the Earth, ‘Astrologers.’

But when afterwards that psychic disease of theirs called wiseacring became finally fixed there, owing to which these specialists of theirs also ‘shrivelled and shrank’ and became specialists only in giving names to remote cosmic concentrations, they came to be called ‘Astronomers’.


C said that astrologers were, from what Gurdjieff was saying, more important than astronomers, and that we were going off on the wrong track. IO said that astrologers have wisdom, and astronomers have knowledge. RM said that you could not understand the sea by labeling every wave.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Candle in the Wind

L had found this EXERCISE difficult in that the original idea was just to let the thought go, and the additional requirement to focus on the body changed its nature. Information for
Next Meeting
4 June 2017 at 9am

EXERCISE

READING

Disclaimer and Notes
However he attempted it, and it reminded him of his one-minute meditations in which attention moves variously between what is seen, what is heard, and what is physically felt. As for the benefits of the exercise, we were all prone to thoughts straying, and it did seem to be quite an effective way of bringing us back to earth, and maybe we were not conscious enough of the body; we did not talk about the body very much in these Meetings. He had also discovered, which he thought was of interest, was that the concept of the Gurdjieff Group didn't start with Gurdjieff, it was an idea of Ouspensky.

EXERCISE

Once a day, after a thinking process has finished, put the mind away as you would a tool, and put your attention on your body for a minute.
What N found difficult was that he was not aware all the time when he was involved in a thinking process, so it was tricky to know when it started and ended. There were certain days when he had more clarity on that issue, especially if he had been working on a professional problem, or writing a document, there was a more definitive process, and he could do that. Going around his everyday life, he liked the idea of thinking, or the thinking process, as a tool which you might put away after you had done it, and then be more aware of your body in daily life, so he thought it was a nice concept to work with and it was an interesting thing. We kept on thinking even when we didn't need to think. One day he went on the tube, and there was a quite an interesting quote on display in the station which he wrote down that day: Feelings are like waves. We can't stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf. He thought it was quite a playful one, you didn't have to go with every emotion that came in, but when you became aware of what emotions were going through your body, you could then enjoy them at some level.

For RG meditation was more like observing herself and having this quiet time when she thought of her body, what it was doing, and her breathing. She thought it was impossible to stop the thoughts, but she normally let them pass by, without putting too much emphasis on the thoughts, and all the time trying to reconnect with herself, within herself. The emotions were also part of the influences that we absorbed. Why were we happy? Why were we sad? Were these really inside her or were they because of something else. It was difficult to remember yourself every day because we were so much engaged with everything else, and we had to do everything in a rush, and we forgot. But when she remembered herself and looked inside herself, she breathed better, was more grounded, and also felt more stable.

T had found the meaning of the exercise very difficult to absorb. The awareness she had was how thoughts were there all the time, in varying degrees of decibels. She thought she was permanently distracted when she walked down the street. The main thing she experienced was how divorced the thinking was from the body, which was awful. That was judgemental, but that was how it was. The thoughts were buzzing around, and the body was doing its thing, very obediently.

Responding to what RG had said about feelings and emotions we have, L wondered if the practice of art was related to this. If you were painting a portrait of somebody in a passionate or emotional state, you would not be passionate or emotional. You would be trying to mix the right colour and shade for the skin of that part of the profile. L was writing a piece of music at the moment, and was in a section which was very emotional, and full of passion, but he was quite rationally trying to work out harmonies. So what was this emotion and what was this passion? And what was this state of standing back? It must be the same for a novelist who was writing about people engaged in a drama and the turmoil they were in, but was the writer in that turmoil? No, he wasn't, he was thinking about out how long that chapter should be, at what proportion in the novel to put the climax, when was the turning point. T asked if L was saying that the author, or the painter, or the composer was the witness. L said yes, the state of being an artist was like the state of being a witness. Engaging in the practice of art of any kind, if you were doing it well you had to become a witness. The emotional process and passion could get in the way. C said that the writer only really knew the emotion he was writing about if he had experienced something similar himself. N said that Wordsworth talked about art and poetry being emotion recollected in tranquillity. In a sense we were talking about being artists of our own life, we were witnessing without becoming identified. C said that these emotions attached themselves to us. They were not real in themselves. We were placid really, deep down inside, the essence was just watching these things. L quoted Erich Fromm: Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies. L said that maybe these emotions we could stand back from and observe were the shell that had formed through which we were going to break.

Following on from N's contribution, J said you could probably choose what thoughts you wanted to accentuate or emphasise, just as you could choose which emotions you could surf in on. The problem he saw was wanting to be an observer of yourself all the time, as opposed to the times when you were recollecting emotion in tranquillity. What were we designed for? We weren't, aeons ago, put on this Earth to sit and contemplate lotus flowers. We were put on this Earth to accomplish things. We were purposive beings. If you had a purpose, whether it was a composition, or a work of art, or thinking about yourself, or accentuating your thoughts or feelings, you had to realise that the biological programming, the hard-wiring, is going to get in the way of the sort of exercise we were talking about. So if you assume the mind needs a purpose, then, you give it a bluff purpose, perhaps. If you are on a train, you see around you movement. Then the mind thinks it is accomplishing something, and that is what will enable you to focus on the emotion or the thinking about yourself. The other problem about thinking too much about yourself, at all times, as opposed to when that is the exercise, is that it gets in the way of what it is one is trying to accomplish. If you were trying to write a poem, part of that could be thinking about how many lines, how many words, quavers. Thinking about that was part of the process, but if you were thinking about thinking about it, you were reducing your hundred percent concentration on that object. So there was a time and a place for all these things, and the time and the place was not all the time, everywhere. The thoughts and the body are two different things, but they well out like a candle flame out of the wax. There was a connection, but it was not coextensive. D said he thought thinking about thinking meant you were observing, and more efficient. If you were lost in something, you could not see the rest of it. You had to step back from it to see the clarity of it, to choose what you want to put in. L said that in the case of autobiographical work, the writer is observing his own thinking, but in writing about other people, it might, in a sense, be truer, as the writer is able to step back.

RG said that when we write a piece of music or something where we have to put a structure, at that moment it is the intellectual centre that is working. How is the emotion in that moment? Am I aware of my body? What is my body doing? She thought that Gurdjieff said that when we did something, we had to be aware of all three at the same time, and that was the difficulty, because normally if you started to write, for example, a poem, it seemed to her to need just the intellectual side.

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



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
Watch on YouTube

“Concerning this cosmic law just mentioned, it is now absolutely necessary to tell you that it arose and began to exist in the Universe after the fundamental sacred law of Triamazikamno was changed by OUR CREATOR for the purpose of rendering the Heropass harmless, and after its previously totally independent holy parts had begun to be dependent upon forces coming from outside.

...“Meanwhile know, concerning this question, that in general everywhere on normally existing planets of our Great Universe the Exioëhary formed in the presence of a three-brained being who has perceptive and transformative organs for localizing the holy affirming part of the sacred Triamazikamno, that is to say, a Keschapmartnian being of the male sex, can, owing to the just-mentioned cosmic law, never be blended with the Exioëhary formed in the presence of a Keschapmartnian two-brained being of the opposite sex.

“At the same time, the Exioëhary formed in the three-brained Keschapmartnian being of the female sex can sometimes—in those cases when a special combination of the blending of cosmic forces is obtained and the mentioned law comes into effect—be completely blended under certain surrounding conditions with the Exioëhary formed in two-brained Keschapmartnian beings of the male sex, but only as the active factor in such an actualizing process of the fundamental sacred Triamazikamno.


C said that Gurdjieff is saying that there is only one way to recreate a new human being, and we shouldn't use our sperm for discredited means. GC said that Gurdjieff did, was he now telling us not to? T said that the males were separated from the females, so the males did pederasty and the females did bestiality. J asked if he had missed something when he had not attended last time. T said it could be too that women were considered over these generations and millennia, the second sex, somehow lower than the male, and this section was saying that both were required and equal.
 
L said he was talking about where life in general came from. What made the universe animate? Was it everywhere? We did not know yet, but were trying to find traces of it on Mars.

“In short, during the said terrible years on this planet of yours, a result very rare in the Universe was obtained, that is to say, there was obtained the blending of the Exioëharies of two Keschapmartnian beings of different brain systems of opposite sexes; and as a result, there arose the ancestors of these terrestrial ‘misconceived’ beings now called apes, who give your favourites no peace and who from time to time agitate their strange Reason.

T wondered if he was talking about other human beings who were animalistic, violent or excessively emotional. J said he seemed to be implying that in the beginning there was something like homo sapiens, and the animal kingdom came thereafter, which was quite an interesting way round. L said he thought he was talking about the personal development of human beings. C asked if we understood apes as bipeds or quadrupeds. T said they used their hands when walking. C said he did not think he was taking evolution into account. He had heard in a programme that there were up to 270 primates. Elephants had similar sized brains to us, and so had other creatures, but they did not have the same capacity as us, and scientists were trying to find out why.
 
The programme said that diet was a more important factor than sociability, and going from eating leaves and branches to fruit made a tremendous difference. L said that elephants eat both leaves and fruit. C said that sometimes fruit is very difficult to get at, for example pineapples. Would any creature other than us look at a pineapple and eat it? GC said that if you gave a monkey a pineapple, who had never seen one before, he would know what to do with it.

“... but on the other hand that what are called the ‘psychic features’ of all the separate species of these apes there are absolutely identical, even down to details, with those of the psyche of the three-brained beings there of the ‘female sex.’”

At this point of his tales, Beelzebub made a long pause and looking at his favourite Hassein with a smile which very clearly expressed a double meaning ...


D asked why he brought the word psychic in here. L said he was relating this to human women, and asked why men were not included to. T said he was separating out the sexes, and whether it was complimentary or derogatory was unsure. N repeated Gurdjieff's description of Beelzebub smiling expressing a double meaning; so it was very hard to know what Gurdjieff was really saying about all this.

“In the text of the etherogram which I have just received, it is further said that in order this time finally to settle who has descended from whom — whether they from the apes or the apes from them — these freaks, your favourites, have even decided to carry out ‘scientific experiments,’ and furthermore that several of them have already left for the continent of Africa where many of these apes breed, with the object of bringing back from there the number required for these ‘scientific investigations’ of theirs.

C said Gurdjieff was leaving it open we came from the apes or the apes from us. L said he was also saying that our free thinking, our individuality, evolves from a state of automatic behaviour.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dancing with Thoughts

Information for
Next Meeting
7 May 2017 at 9am

EXERCISE

READING

Disclaimer & Notes

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.