Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Tower of Babel

In the process of doing the CHALLENGE, N noticed that he rushed things. He had gone on a meditation weekend, and realised there was lot of stress in his life, and just doing meditation slowed the whole system down.
Once a day, do some activity at half speed, with good, positive feeling.
In terms of consciously slowing things down, he found he could perceive part of the mind wanting to push ahead and do things faster, and it made him stop all that and observe the machine a lot more, in terms of being able to see where his mind was trying to interfere with his body movements as well.

Old Guitarist, by Picasso  
Source: Painting Planet
One of the things he noticed was, in playing the guitar, there were some benefits of slowing down. In terms of doing scales, if he slowed things down and then speeded them up, the result was better, because he was more accurate, and played with more tonality.

When T did the challenge, she was usually moving along at a pace to get somewhere, and slowing that down highlighted what she thought of as a different driver, and the driver before was the head, and the driver when slowing down was the "challenge" driver, a different driver but nevertheless a driver. Slowing down turns off the autopilot, and suddenly the plan that she was heading for would dissolve, the time supposed to be at the planned place with the people she was supposed to meet. The surroundings would suddenly become themselves, and the shapes of the buildings, the colours, become more intense. Her experience of body would change with the change of momentum, and seemed to be more of her senses returning into it and awareness returning of it. Her feet, legs, torso, arms, the senses of sight. It was like a slow motion experience. She would be going along, remember the challenge, and then slow down. Everything slowed. It was like experiencing herself as part of something bigger. She found that when she was intent on doing a practical task, it was difficult to maintain slowness, and she was often in that mode, where she was trying to get things done, to the cost of experiencing being there.

L had found this an active awareness rather than a passive mindless experience, and he had noticed that he tried to engineer situations which caused him to be late, and that made him walk faster, and that was maybe from trying to do too much. He had done the challenge a number of times. Sometimes it would be walking slowly, and that was quite interesting. If he walked slowly, then people who were walking behind tended to overtake him, and he could hear some interesting conversations. He heard a woman's voice explaining how she had been trying to give some tadpoles a high protein diet, but there had been a difficulty in finding worms. He noticed, also walking, an elderly man walking much slower than everybody else, and that made L more aware and he noticed blossom falling from the trees, and that was very nice. He experienced the steam slowly rising from his coffee. Generally it was an enhancement to experience. He had reflected on how nice it would be to experience things like a tree does, which means very slowly. Sometimes the wind would make it move slowly, but a tree might experience each wing beat of an insect going slow.

The other contributions were not about doing the monthly challenge. The responses to contributions, on this occasion, were likewise unrelated, as was discussion following paragraphs read from Beelzebub's Tales.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Big Foot

T felt that for most of the month she had failed miserably, but what came up was the question, what does waking up mean? She knew the English language, but to her, she couldn't grasp what it might mean apart from going from sleep to wake.
At the end of each day, ask yourself if you woke up during the day, and if so, how many times, and what woke you.

Source: Imgur
She thought, maybe, that she must sleep all the time in terms of any other waking up. On some occasions she remembered enough to write it down in the evening the points in the day when something jogged her or jarred her out of another way of being. Now she could not really understand her notes, but read some of them out.
The difficulty L had experienced with this CHALLENGE was the gap between the times when he noticed he was awake during the day, and reviewing them in the evening, to review them. Also there wasn't anything he was meant to do when he realised he was awake during the day, except to remember it later in the evening, and then if he did not remember it in the evening, that link was gone. What he had found useful was something additional K had mentioned, the idea that when he did wake up during the day, to try to extend that moment, to slow that moment of time down. It was like doing a stretch, and then stretching a little bit more. So when he became awake he would lean into it to let it last a little longer. He had found this had worked for him a few times making that moment of wakefulness a bit stronger.

N had done the CHALLENGE very often. He had tried to associate, in his mind, going to his bedroom at night with spending some time reviewing the day, and had found there were certain moments in his day which he could see were more conscious, more aware, than others. He also had experiences of seeing things in a different way. He had started a new job in a new area of London, and had realised he did not fully observe. Seeing a street he was on, he might not register certain buildings. So he went through a conscious process of recognising the buildings, and looking down the street and seeing things. As a result, if he reviewed his day, he had found that if he had spent some time in active seeing and active listening, then the day had been much more meaningful.

Responding to L, GC said it was a lot easier to realise you were asleep than to prolong the awake moment, because when you tend to realise, it tends to dissipate. That was the problem. It was like watching your breath, which you might think was easy, but what you were actually doing was regulating your breathing. To actually just watch your breath as it manifests itself throughout the day, is extremely difficult to do without changing your breath, and yet people just brushed over it.

The reading continued from Chapter 24 of Beelzebub's Tales.

With acknowledgements to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

The notice announced that the reporter had taken as the theme of his report the ‘Instability-of-Human-Reason.’

Thereupon, this terrestrial friend of mine first expatiated on the kind of structure which, in his opinion, the human ‘head-brain’ has, ... and how only after definite what is called ‘agreement’ between all the brains are the total results impressed on this head-brain.

He spoke calmly at first, but the longer he spoke, the more agitated he became, until his voice rose to a shout, and shouting he began to criticize the Reason in man.

And at the same time, he mercilessly criticized his own Reason.

Still continuing to shout, he very logically and convincingly demonstrated the instability and fickleness of man’s Reason, and showed, in detail, how easy it is to prove and convince this Reason of anything you like.

GC asked if somebody could explain in different words the fickleness of man’s Reason. N said that, as a lawyer, you can argue any case you want, anyway you want, to prove anything. If you want to find reasons, you can go and find authorities, you can go and find whatever you want to argue. So he would say to a client, let's look at the positive side of things, what are the arguments in your favour and what's against. So we could use reason and logic whatever way you want it, it had nothing to do with truth.

... Further he said:

‘To every man, and also of course to me, it’s quite easy to prove anything; all that is necessary to know is which shocks and which associations to arouse in the other human brains while one or other “truth” is being proved. It is very easily possible even to prove to man that our whole World and of course the people in it, are nothing but an illusion, and that the authenticity and reality of the World are only a “corn” and moreover the corn growing on the big toe of our left foot. Besides this corn, absolutely nothing exists in the World; everything only seems, and even then only to “psychopaths-squared.”’

Animation by Terry Gilliam  
Source: Pinterest
L said he very much liked the paragraph about the corn on the left foot. GC asked L what he had got from that. L said it says very powerfully, that everything is illusion. T added, except for the corn, and we considered that the corn was the lowest of the low, literally. GC asked why we considered the corn the lowest of the low. T said this was because it was at the bottom of the foot, nobody takes any notice, it grows and grows and grows until it gets really painful, and then you need an operation. GC said, and then you would take notice. T said, therefore, take notice of the lowest of the low, the only bit that is real. The reality of the world was only a corn, but if you left a corn unattended, then eventually you would be unable even to walk, and would need an operation. GC said it might get better by itself. T said, only if you attended to it. A corn was caused by pressure from an ill-fitting shoe, you would not get a corn if you were going barefoot. But the ill-fitting shoe, of fashion or convention, or protection against rocks, could cause corns. L said that T had made a very good point about the corn and reality. There was one part of our experience of the world which was real, and it was on the edge of people's perception, but the only people who noticed it were the psychopaths. T asked why a psychopath would notice a corn. L said that the mentally ill may be closer to reality, because they were living apart from the mores of society.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Knock! Knock!

On the mornings when N had done the CHALLENGE, it was often on waking from a dream which had propelled him into being more conscious, and sometimes it was quite an emotional dream. There was a part of him which had not wanted to wake up and be there, and then there was a tension, or conflict. As regards the second part, which was about accepting something he could not change, sometimes acceptance took time. The emotional centre took time, sometimes, to adjust to new situations. The mornings he did do it, he felt a greater alertness, attentiveness, generally during the day. It brought him into the world faster, earlier, quicker. He thought there was a part of him that quite liked to be in a dreamy state.
Every morning, at that moment when you wake up and are in between the world of the sleeping dream and the waking dream, ask Am I here? and then observe if it makes any difference during the day, or during the beginning of the day. Also, once during the day, when at the moment where you have woken up to the fact that you were asleep, ask Am I here? and then think of something you would rather not be the case but cannot change, and accept it, rather than have strong feelings about it.
He liked dreamy things, the music of Debussy, almost like being at that sensuous level, and living at that level. So there was a part of him that had to sometimes wake up and be more realistic, and less sentimental, maybe, about things. And then in the course of the day, when he had moments of more clarity, more wakefulness, he thought it was certainly better on those days on which he had had more of an experience in the morning. So as an early morning process he thought it had worked for him.

K said that recently he had been walking with a friend, who did not know anything about Gurdjieff, and he found himself doing the challenge. He stopped walking for a bit, being immersed in it, and she asked What's going on? He said that these Gurdjieff Meetings which he went to, had a challenge to do last week, and funnily enough when he had suggested the challenge at the Meeting in that moment, he found himself in what Gurdjieff described as being-astonishment, which was a complete lack of humility and that was a real kick-starter for him, during the meeting about humility.

Dream Door 1
Jeremy Kemeni 2014
When L woke up in the morning from a dream, he had not always had the presence of mind to remember - Ah, this is the Gurdjieff CHALLENGE - I'm going to try and stay in the place between the sleeping dream and the waking dream - but he had had the presence of mind several times, and on those occasions it had felt like a period of greater wakefulness before he was overwhelmed by his adapted personality to the world he lived in. He thought that was helpful, and thanked K for his suggestion. He had also recalled having read of a similar idea. Just when going to sleep but before the onset of dreaming, there was an opportunity to go to another place, a kind of doorway. He did not know who had written about that, but there was a similar situation, when going from the waking dream to the sleeping dream - a point of inflection in between. He had tried to latch hold of that once or twice, too. During the day, his trigger was more when he noticed himself worrying about things, rather than when he became awake. He would then ask Am I here? - this was RM's idea - and then he would accept that he could respond to things, but not change people, and nor should he want to. He could only try to change himself.

Ever since he had come across this idea as an exercise, RM had been doing it every morning. As soon as he could he asked himself, Am I here? He no longer needed to ask Am I here? because he would get to the point where he would say, I wasn't here, was I? It was a strange thing. It was having effect throughout his life now. There was a sense of presence about things. He had a sense that this was where the real work was done. There was a depth of understanding growing all the time.

When T remembered to say Am I here?, she could not locate what the word I related to. There was one moment which was quite soon after the last Meeting, so the challenge was fresh in her mind. She had gone to the cafe before work and was quite anxious because of stuff going on at work, and she asked herself that question, Am I here?, in this strange situation, and she just felt terror, thinking about the whole environment and herself. She felt as if she had no control over her situation, and she was there and then quickly gathered herself not to be there, and to carry on in the modus operandi of who she thought she was during the working day. She had found it a disturbing challenge, but deep and necessary.

Responding to T, D said the "I" had been aware of all she described, it was watching everything that was going on. Who was watching? That was the authentic I, the one that was observing her efforts to locate it, this terror, thinking about work. He did not think it was the situation itself, it was how you thought about the situation, how you reacted to the situation. The situation was neutral. T said that when she had awareness of 'the observer', which was actually quite a nice state, she did not want to be detached, but this state was absent in those moments that she had described; in those moments she was in the situation, totally immersed.

The reading continued from Chapter 24 of Beelzebub's Tales.

With acknowledgements to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

The learned beings ... used often to meet together and of course to discuss ... questions which were either immeasurably beyond their comprehension, or about which they could never elucidate anything useful whatsoever, either for themselves or for ordinary beings there.

The question which chanced to become the-burning-question-of-the-day so vitally touched the whole being of every one of them, that they even ‘climbed down’ from their what are called ‘pedestals’ and began discussing it not only with the learned like themselves, but also here, there and everywhere with anyone they chanced to come across.

The consequence was that an interest in this question gradually spread among all the ordinary three-brained beings then existing in Babylon, and by about the time we reached this city it had become the question-of-the-day for all the beings there.

K said that in order for something to be real, it had to be validated by consensus. That burning question spread because a consensus to discuss it had been arrived at. What J had found interesting, was that there was the initial, crucial, daily assumption of the Persian King, like for instance Alexander the Great, who was taught by Aristotle. The learning process was wonderful, learning all about humanity, and then he went off, and built his Empire, destroying beings like himself. So was Gurdjieff saying there that what starts off as a very constructive, thinking process has a tendency to get perverted in time? RM said that the most useful thing was the question itself. It became un-useful when you had the answer. While you had a quest, which was an open question, that was a very healthy coming together. The minute somebody said I know the answer, and everybody had to follow them, then it actually got completely skewed. Answers were not very helpful. It was questions which were. "R" said that questions bring energy. RM said that answers block things.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The "I" of the Storm

T had had a real stumbling block about faith, because faith seemed so muddy, and muddled and blurry in terms of the meaning, and connecting with it. So her struggle, in a way, was thinking about what would mean something to her, and instead of faith, she was thinking about truth.

She felt more connected with that word, because it connected with her general experience of what she would like life to be like, and what it was actually like, and there were lots of struggles at work at the moment - the usual group dynamics which spring out of nowhere - and it was just people being people and struggling with their own difficuties of being in a work situation. She had had another real problem with hope. It felt like a delusion into the future which she could no longer relate to.

RM had found that faith was a very meaningful thing for him. He had realised he was a product of his faith. He had faith in all sorts of things, most of it nonsense, but he had been given ideas about things, and he had believed in them, and then he had faith in them.
In moments of presence, try to be aware of feelings of faith, hope and love. See whether they all appear together, or if you have to work on one more than the others.
It had tripped him up throughout his life, and he realised what a huge illusion it was. He saw the faith that other people had, and he discussed it with them, and when people in black suits came to his door, and asked him if he believed in Jesus, he would ask them, Do you? Faith was starting to be much more shaky for him. Hope was usually for things he desired, and the opposite side of desire was fear, so whenever he desired something, he was afraid he might not get it, and the stronger the desire, the stronger the fear. In some ways he needed to let go of hope, if anything, and just be present.

In respect of hope, RG thought we could hope for anything we wanted, everybody wanted the best for themselves. She hoped she would be rich tomorrow, and young forever. She had come to realise that at the end of the day, as much as we thought we were honest about our destiny, we were not. Love was actually the only thing we needed.

L was not sure how useful these three things were. In Stock Market trading, faith in a system, and hope that a trade will work, were not good approaches. Faith, for him as a composer, was faith in inspiration, he took that very seriously, though he would say it was more confidence than faith. He said the word confidence is built on the Latin root fides which is associated with faith. He had also discovered that in the Russian Orthodox Church, the associated saints, Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope) and Liubov' (Love), shared the same name-day, September 17.

For N, faith was not a faith in a religious sense, it was almost a faith, or belief, that the world will continue in the same way, the sun will come up every day, assumptions about the world that we all make at some level. So faith, he found, was not something he worked with a lot, he would almost accept it as a prerequisite, but sometimes one's faith was shaken by certain events. Hope was sometimes present in his thinking, in terms of wanting a positive outcome to certain situations that may be around. So he did observe it, but did not necessarily place a lot of belief in it. When he was in the right sort of presence, he did feel love, when he did not have any expectation about any situation, and then, because of the acceptance, there was just a feeling of good will which came out, which had a joyfulness attached to it as well.

LD had taken the challenge as it was, starting first of all with in moments of presence, so the first condition was being present, and trying to be aware of feelings, so no thoughts of faith, love and hope. So the first fact for her was to try to be present and feel, and after that feeling faith, love and hope. She started from faith, and found that these three were inseparable. After the first attempt, she tried to separate them, to prove they weren't inseparable, and she could not separate them. So when, in the moments of presence that she felt faith, or love, or hope, she felt she could not have one feeling without the other two, they all came together.

Source: Quantamagazine
Responding to T's remarks about life as it actually is, GC did not think that was possible without her. There was no life as it actually is, unless there was someone there to perceive it, and the illusion that anyone was perceiving life as it actually is, he thought, was wrong. What anyone was actually doing was creating the life that they were perceiving.

K said there were instances - he did not know if this thing happened to everybody - sometimes when he woke, first thing in the morning, he didn't know who he was. His mind then went out on a chase, with a real hunger for information - who am I? - who am I? - and then it rushed in. What rushed in? And then he had to question what that thing was. Whether the consciousness is the pure, unformed state when he first woke and he really didn't know who he was, when he had no identity, when he couldn't remember his name. It didn't happen often, but it did happen, and he equated that with the information that came in. How valid is that information? It is valid for a particular route that he takes and goes along, but only for that, because obviously there was a wealth of information out there, that he probably can't pick up. So he had faith in that collection, that package of information that comes to him, and within that there was a kind of faith in concepts.

K recalled that RG had said that when we were born, we had no identity, we didn't know who we were, even our name had been given to us. So there were two kinds of thing: things that had been given to us from the environment or from our parents, and things that we see ourselves. The way RG sees it is not the way that K perceives it. K's world was completely different from RG's but when we were born we were like a blank piece of paper, no identity, no name, no religion. L quoted a definition of faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something. So in terms of what RG said, maybe it was complete faith that RG was RG. RG said she was not really sure, if it was really her, if she believed what she was. RM said that if she had complete faith in it, she would believe in it, completely. She would be sure, but she would be wrong. RG said that maybe we were not what we believed we were. RM said faith was to be sure of something that may not be true. LD said it was true for us. RM asked, but was it true? K said that in the moment when he did not know who he was, there was a kind of panic. It was just a function of the mind that craved this information, this identity, but it was not really needed. Obviously, if he did not know who he was, he still had the senses working, he could still feel pain, he could still be moved by things. K then wondered whether, in that moment, he could just surrender, and not really want to know who he was, and forget about that. MO said that the thing that might surrender, was the same as what was coming in, in his experience.

The reading continued from Chapter 24 of Beelzebub's Tales.

With acknowledgements to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

Clearly to represent and to substantiate in yourself the understanding just why such a peculiar craze arose in the individuality of that Persian king and became proper only to him, you must know that ... Harnahoom ... invented that any old metal you like, abundant on the surface of that planet, could easily be turned into the rare metal ‘gold’ and all it was necessary to know for this was just one very small ‘secret’.

RM found this described something that he was doing all the time. The king had this idea he could have something magical. Though he did not know what it was, he thought somebody would. So he was chasing for something that may or may not exist and he was willing to destroy everything in order to find it. He was totally self centred in his search for some great pleasure that he hadn't yet achieved.

... His serious thinking first led his Reason to the understanding that, without any doubt, one or other of the learned beings of his community was aware of this ‘secret’ also, but since among beings of that clan, this strict keeping of a ‘professional’ mystery was very strongly developed, nobody, of course, was willing to reveal it.

GC said that this was nonsense. This was just religion. It was always just out of your grasp. Gurdjieff himself was just trying to turn a profit, and trying to propagate the idea that he had got the secret. GC recommended the last chapter of Meetings With Remarkable Men (The Material Question), in which Gurdjieff gave examples of how he had acted in a comparable way. T said it was extremely difficult to get people to think for themselves. The king wanted the secret, he wanted to be told what was the truth. That was the default position, usually, because then people did not have to do their own thinking.

... Hassein interrupted Beelzebub with the following words:

"Dear Grandfather, I do not understand why the issuing of the required vibrations for the purpose of the actualization of this most great cosmic process should depend on a definite region of the surface of the planet.”

To this question of his grandson, Beelzebub replied as follows:

As before long I intend to make the special question of those terrifying processes of reciprocal destruction which they call ‘wars’ the theme of my tales concerning the three-brained beings of the planet Earth, it is better to defer this question of yours also until this special tale, because then, I think, you will understand it well.

... When the peculiar Persian king I mentioned began, thanks to the hordes in subjection to him, to conquer beings of other communities and to seize by force the learned among them, he assigned as a place for their congregation and existence the said city of Babylon, to which they were taken in order that this lord of half the then continent of Asia could thereafter freely examine them in the hope that one of them might perhaps happen to know the secret of turning cheap metal into the metal gold.

An Alchemist
Jacob Toorenvliet 1679
MO said that he found that when Gurdjieff spoke about the base metals, it was quite interesting, because what were the base metals? Was it our anger, sadness, the human experience? And could that be transformed into good will, love, which you could say was gold? Was it possible, if you were so focused on thinking, to transform feelings, and allow the emotional intelligence? Was it possible, if we were so focused on finding another idea? Because we had found many ideas over hundreds of years. Had it stopped the wars? So how did you transform the base metal into gold? That was the question.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Three Daughters of Sophia

L had tried this CHALLENGE many times, and observed where he was feeling anxiety, which was quite often around the stomach. Some people might get a headache, some people might feel it in the guts. After he had been doing this challenge for a while, the physical feeling became less marked, as did the anxiety. It was a helpful challenge in that it reduced anxiety from what it might otherwise have been.

RM had noticed that as soon as he thought about desires and fears, 'I'm afraid of this, I want to go there', a tension started to rise in him and he was miles away. His thinking seemed to be incredibly active, but the minute he asked 'Am I here?' all those thoughts seemed to disappear and his anxieties disappeared too, because the anxieties were always attached to thoughts.

When you experience anxiety or fear, be aware of it with the intellectual, emotional, and moving centres.
J said that anxiety and fear visit him but rarely. Unlike L, he isolated the emotional reaction, not to the stomach, but just beneath the chest, and it was quite distinct from the intellectual, which is whatever it was that caused the anxiety. Rarely did anxiety emerge without some cause that he could ascribe to it after he experienced it, but he could hold both, quite separately, in his head; the intellectual concern that he thought had caused the anxiety and the pain that was a result of the anxiety. Unlike L, by thinking about them, he didn't find that the anxiety went away. What actually happened was the anxiety went away when he considered the question of what he thought had caused it and come up with a solution. It was then that the pain, which he would call more of an ache, dissipated. If he didn't consider the intellectual aspect of it, the pain, the ache didn't subside.

D said that thoughts exacerbate the intuitional or emotional response to anything, they make it worse. Thoughts are so powerful they can destroy a person. Be careful what you think!

RG had an additional shock this month because of a sudden bereavement and she had to run to family abroad. She experienced anxiety and fear, but then she stopped, and she started to think that fear, anxiety, tension were all external influences. Now the trick was how to respond to that. When she did meditation she first observed her thoughts which then calmed her down and then enabled relaxation. If she had anxiety and fear, she observed it but didn't let it go inside of herself. The last month had been a lesson for her. She sat down and said to herself, 'I need to calm down. It's happened, we are here' and she just let it go.

The Angel of the North
Sculpture by Anthony Gormley 1998
For "R" there had been all sorts of pressures; preparing a big Christmas dinner for a family of twenty four, working out the seating arrangements, trying to find ideas for gifts for people. All of that built up pressure. She would say that it was not thoughts, it was associations which made her anxious and troubled. She had revisited something which she learned many years ago, which was, when she sat, she did not sit for one minute, she sat for at least twenty minutes, because in one minute she did not even begin to get to a point of letting go, but if she sat with her arms out 'like this' ("R" demonstrated by holding her arms out wide to each side, sustaining this position as she spoke) and at the same time she counted to two hundred, that all of this occupied her attention, and occupied her sense of her body. The emotions were going on during this time but they were not in the forefront, and it became possible to let go of some of the tensions and anxieties. In her case she had a bad back, and things which physically troubled her, so she was never without some sense of her body, but to make an aim of holding her attention, counting with her arms held out wide, she was able, to a certain extent, to overrule the anxiety. However, she also got used to this process and when she became accustomed to it, it didn't work so much.

T had a challenge the last few weeks because of a month of being seriously ill, after finishing work for the holidays. The illness had forced her into her body, experiencing the body in awful ways, her breathing was compromised and breathing is the ultimate link with life. So she wouldn't say it was an intellectual exercise for her, because she was just forced into this connection. Although it was horrible, as she was coming out of it over the weeks, it felt very positive because of that connection with the body, and the contrast with how she usually went about in life, floating around in her mind most of the time and not connected. She had also started doing exercises, stepping, only for several minutes at a time, hearing the orchestration of the lungs, with all the phlegm in them. She felt the aerobic exercise infused the body for those several minutes. So she realised how she had neglected her body over the years. So in that sense she wasn't doing the exercise consciously, she was just sucked into it.

Y asked L how the anxiety reduced. L said it was a phenomenon which he thought worked two ways. If he associated a feeling with part of the body, before he did the association the anxiety might be accentuated, but if he associated it with a location, that cut it down to size a little. By naming something he could reduce its power. It also worked the other way, for example, with a headache there is a technique of three questions: 'What colour is it? What shape is it? Where is it?' then after attempting to answer this to ask the same questions again about 'colour, shape, location'. Often the answers changed, the shape changed, the size reduced, and the colour lightened. D said he had used this technique, and it had worked half the time. The technique was meant to diminish intensity - if colour was black it might go brown etc. He experienced that it could be effective at certain times.

Responding to RG and "R", D said that even if he did not react to external things, his mind and thoughts were still linked to all these things. L said that some thoughts have an independent existence and rather than ignore them as distraction, they can be welcomed as inspirations. He related the experience of the poet Ruth Stone who would do her utmost to grasp such thoughts as they came by her.

T said that, 'Intellectual' was such an intellectual word, 'Emotion' was such an intellectual word; for her these were not really connected with the body and what she felt was that 'Body, Brain and Heart' meant a lot more to her than these different centres, because these were three organs that were actually located in her body, and they did different things, and did they connect or were they all disconnected? Obviously they were not disconnected in the body, but the brain was trying to understand what was going on. All she had with others was language to try and communicate with each other across the void, but language was not very close to the mark.

The reading continued from Chapter 24 of Beelzebub's Tales.

With acknowledgements to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

And so, during these observations of mine from the planet Mars through my Teskooano, it once flashed upon me that the length of their existence was, century by century and even year by year, becoming shorter and shorter at a very definite and equally uniform rate, and this served as the beginning of my further quite serious study of the psyche of these three-brained beings who have taken your fancy.

Of course when I first noticed this, I at once took into account not only the chief particularity of their psyche, that is their periodic reciprocal destruction, but also the innumerable what are called ‘illnesses’ which exist exclusively only on that planet, the majority of which, by the way, arose and continue to arise owing to the same abnormal external conditions of the ordinary being-existence established by them, which help to make it impossible for them to exist normally up to the sacred Rascooarno.

When I first noticed this and began to recall my previous impression about it, each of the separate independent spiritualized parts of my whole presence became filled with the conviction, and my essence perceived the mentioned ‘flash,’ that in truth these three-brained beings of your planet had in the beginning existed according to their time calculation for about twelve centuries, and some of them, even, for about fifteen centuries.

Looking at the text, J said there was something somewhat controversial in two of those assumptions that he was making. One, that people were living less long. That was certainly not what was happening now, existence seemed to be becoming longer and longer. The text goes on to say that illnesses exist exclusively only on that planet. J said perhaps that was so, we didn't know what goes on on all sorts of other planets, but the statement which follows says that these illnesses arise owing to abnormal external conditions established by humans. Did we establish the germs that give us illness? Was he trying to say it was our fault that there were germs?

The Holy Martyresses
Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope) and Liubov' (Love)
At the time of my first arrival there in this Center-of-Culture of theirs, they were just preparing that which was afterwards the principal cause of the acceleration of the rate of the degeneration of their ‘psychic-organization,’ especially in the sense of the atrophy in them of the instinctive functioning of those three fundamental factors which ought to exist in the presence of every three-brained being—namely, those factors which give rise to the being-impulses existing under the names of ‘Faith,’ ‘Hope,’ and ‘Love.’

D said that Faith, Hope and Love ought to exist in the presence of every three-brained being, but asked if they did in fact do so.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Three Apes In A Boat

N had mixed experiences with this CHALLENGE, which was about trying to be present in a time of creativity, and whether or not that would interfere with the creativity, or contribute to it. This month he had been doing quite a bit of song writing, and he was not sure if concentration on everything coming together like that was helpful for staying in the zone, if he were trying to concentrate. For example he had a song he had got involved with about two years ago, and he could never get the rest of the verses but one day he said Right, I am going to write this song, because he knew he was going to perform it for the following day at a songwriters meet-up. So he sat down, and for about two hours solid he just worked on it, and had found that was a more of an intellectual and partly emotional thing. It wasn't so much a physical body thing, other than just sitting there. Somehow, in doing what he was doing, he had got into the right kind of mental framework, and at the end of that two hours had something he was quite happy with, and which he could perform. He did not know whether that was what we called being in the zone or outside of the zone, or what was contributing. It was just a question of concentrating, giving that slot of time to it, and not letting yourself get distracted.

Do something creative with mind, body and soul (intellectual, moving and emotional centres), and observe if it helps or gets in the way.
J said that if you were trying to be conscious of your powers of creativity, you were actually impeding those very powers, adulterating the clear screen. Normally in those situations we are quite protean, we can think of what we are saying and be aware of outside stimuli coming in and there were several different levels going on, for all of us, all the time. The particular problem of creativity was that when you have this inspiration, some idea that comes from where one knows not, it is like a river that branches out into tributaries after the processes of creativity in everyday consciousness, but the initial impetus, the creativity, which is the guiding light, is actually something which is not susceptible so much to having this degree of differentiation into other thought processes. It needs itself and nothing else.

RG believed we were all born with some kind of creativity, but that the creativity may somehow have been stopped. A child might draw something, and a parent say don't do that. Once we discovered we were in some way creative, was the time we could get the centres working at the same time, and the more creativity we built, the more chance we had of doing that.

L had tried this challenge, but did find that having to focus on these three centres while composing did seem to get in the way of some of the finer aspects of the creative spirit, butt did remind him very much of the techniques he was using in meditation, which revolved around three kinds of perception - looking at something, being attentive to what he was feeling physically, and listening to whatever was around - and maybe those related to the centres; it did split the consciousness three ways. However it hadn't helped very much with composing. For example he had awoken at night with music in his mind, which he had made a note of. That wasn't because he was concentrating on the three centres, it was because he had let consciousness go completely and gone to sleep. He had been reading Prokofiev's diaries, and an entry from 4 November 1913, in connection with learning piano music by heart, seemed relevant: ... all three sorts of memory are combined: musical, visual and digital, each of them having first been exercised separately and only later integrated.

Sergey Prokofiev 1891-1953

The closest T had got to experiencing what she thought was the challenge was during her weekly life drawing. Thinking of the challenge had helped her to understand a little bit more about how, when she was drawing, it was a complete takeover of everything of her, in order to be in the living present with what she was observing, and trying to interpret through this weird point and line to plane. It was like a glimpse of something, connecting with this meeting and the challenge. It was a few seconds probably, of not even observing but just an awareness of something behind, or different from, this very vital experience, and it made her realise that that was what art meant to her - the live experience of observing and interpreting through this weird mechanism that we called drawing.

Responding to N, RM said that when working on something like music, it was the intellectual or creative centre that was operating. If we tried to use the moving centre, in normal mindfulness, you were looking at touch and taste and the physicality of things, and if you tried to be in touch with that, during the creative process, you would actually lose the creativity, you would be in the wrong space. You needed to be that space where the creation was happening, and letting nothing else interfere. N said we also needed to distinguish between those bits which are like initial inspiration, and what comes after, which is often the hard work. He thought a lot of creativity was sometimes only one percent of inspiration, and about 99 percent of perspiration. That was the difficult thing - to keep going after you had the initial idea. For T the conscious and the unconscious came to mind. The theory that there is a conscious and and an unconscious. It seemed very, very simplistic, actually. When you put yourself into the position of starting to write your story, or draw what you see, it is a conscious effort, but is it unconscious stuff that's coming through? People talked about the stream of consciousness type of writing, but was it a stream of unconsciousness?

Going back to something N had said, about what happens when you work on ideas, and whether it is any good, L cited another extract from Prokofiev's Diaries. It was one of the best bits L had found in this book, and he thought it was relevant.

If a nugget is detected in the sand he quarries away hoping to find an ingot, but all too often the result is that the nugget crumbles away leaving nothing but more sand. The scrap of idea that started it all off turns out to be worthless. But if, on the other hand, it can be crystallized into an original idea meriting some attention, whether it be a theme or a harmonic idea or simply an interesting musical turn of phrase, then the objective has been achieved and the gold bar has been found. It may consist of just a few notes, a sequence of two chords, or even a long idea lasting several bars. Now it can be written down, perhaps to be put aside for a day, or even a month. The precious ingot has been found and carefully salted away; now it is time to look for others, and when several have been unearthed the task of linking them together to make a chain can be undertaken.

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

With acknowledgements to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

Well then, my boy, at the period of this fourth sojourn of mine in person on the surface of your planet, I first arrived in the country now called Egypt, and after having stayed there a few days ... with the help of the local three-brained beings, caught the necessary number of ape-beings.

Having accomplished this, I telepathically signalled our ship Occasion which descended to us, it must be said on the first, very dark night; and when we had loaded these ape-beings into that special section of the ship Occasion which had been constructed for Gornahoor Harharkh under his directions, we at once reascended to the planet Mars; and three Martian days later, on the same ship and together with these apes, I ascended to the planet Saturn.

Though we had previously decided to carry out the experiments with these apes only on the following year, when they would have become thoroughly acclimatized and orientated to existence under the new conditions, I ascended then to the planet Saturn so soon because at my last personal meeting with Gornahoor Harharkh, I had promised him to be present at his family solemnity which had soon to take place.

T thought the subplot about the poor apes going out to Mars was on a theme of distraction. He had to become a godfather to the raven, and so instead of acclimatising these apes to the atmosphere, they took them after three days. It was about these multiple pulls as to where you were supposed to be, and what you were supposed to do, and things getting in the way.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bull's Eye

L had got into the CHALLENGE a bit more after a number of days. It had felt very liberating, going through the door and then letting the weight go. It had also made him more aware of posture generally, because if you felt lighter, you tended to stand more upright. It was also generally about how bogged down we were by possessions and by thoughts, and had made him think in a much wider context - about eating less, about having less, desiring less. So he would do it, not just when going through the door, but might do it at any time. He had found it helpful.

For N, it was an interesting injunction to try and become lighter, which had got him thinking about what is lightness, and Kundera's novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Whenever you open a door, for example coming home, try to feel lighter for five minutes.
Like L, he had also become aware of his posture, and sometimes his shoulders got a bit rounded and he did not always stand up straight. He had made some associations with the Alexander Technique, whereby you were told to think lighter. He thought there was a lot to be said for having that concept in one's framework of concepts to live by. He thought it was very easy to start believing you had all this heavy stuff going on, we all tended to do it at some stage or other, but you could say that none of that really mattered, and just try and be in the moment.

From the novel Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch

The image that came to mind for T whilst she was doing this, was trying to get the bullseye, because it felt a real challenge for her to connect her memory and her everyday life with the exercise and this Meeting, and Gurdjieff Work. She remembered the exercise before going out the door, maybe an hour or so before, that she would have an opportunity to do it, but when she was going through that door it was out of her mind. Also the other extreme happened. She remembered after she had been out of the door, minutes or an hour after, that she had missed the opportunity, and it had started to feel like playing darts. It was honestly once or twice that she hit the bullseye, that she got to the door and remembered, trying to feel light afterwards, and she felt the satisfaction of achieving a goal rather than the exercise of experiencing being in that peaceful moment.

Following what T had said about achieving the target perhaps taking precedence over what the challenge actually was, L thought it was more of a challenge than some of the others which were to be done at a particular time every day, for which you could set an alarm to remind you, and he wondered if that was cheating. Here the trigger was going through a door, for which it did not make sense to set a reminder, so it was question of whether that passing through the door, which happened several times a day, reminded you to feel lighter.

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

With acknowledgments to Harold Good
this Watch on YouTube

‘This emblem of ours constantly reminds and indicates to us that it is possible to attain freedom from what I have mentioned only if we compel our common presence always to think, feel, and act in corresponding circumstances according to that which is expressed in this emblem of ours.

‘And this emblem of ours is understood by all of us, members of the society Akhaldan, in the following way:

‘The trunk of this allegorical being, represented by the trunk of a “Bull,” means that the factors crystallized in us and which engender in our presences the impulses maleficent for us, those we have inherited, as well as those we have personally acquired, can be regenerated only by indefatigable labors, namely, by those labors for which among the beings of our planet, the Bull is particularly fitted.

‘That this trunk rests on the legs of a “Lion” means that the said labors should be performed with that cognizance and feeling of courage and faith in one’s “might,” the property of which “might” is possessed among all the beings of the Earth in the highest degree by the possessor of these legs—the mighty Lion.

‘The wings of the strongest and the highest soaring of all birds, the Eagle, attached to the Bull trunk, constantly remind the members of our society, that during the said labors and with the mentioned inner psychic properties of self-respect, it is necessary to meditate continually on questions not related to the direct manifestations required for ordinary being-existence.

L said it was very interesting that here was one of the very few occasions when Gurdjieff actually mentions meditating.

RM had found the allegorical statements there very useful, because really Gurdjieff was talking about how you could fracture the crystallisation once you became crystallised, and break through it, and you had to do it with persistence, strength, all those symbols of the lion's legs and heart. That said it all to him.

C said Gurdjieff also mentioned indefatigable labors, which really meant how hard this was, because you had to detach yourself from ordinary life to do it, and your mind was always taking you away.

...when they begin to carry out on some part of the surface of their planet the process of reciprocal destruction, then, at the same time, without any deliberate aim, and even without what is called ‘organic need,’ they also destroy everything which chances to come within the sphere of the perception of their organ of sight. During the periods of this ‘phenomenal psychopathic apogee,’ they destroy also all the objects in the given place and at the given time which these same beings themselves, between whom this terrifying process proceeds, have intentionally produced as well as the productions which have chanced to survive and to reach them from the beings of previous epochs.

L said that we had to hope that this did not get reflected in the news.

Source: Wikipedia

One of the things that had struck RM was that we have had this tendency through a lot of these teachings that you have to get rid of all your possessions and destroy stuff, and it was not the point. Being not attached was the issue. You could possess everything in the world, but not be attached. If you were dependent on them for your happiness and your wellbeing, then you had a problem.

L said that two of the component animals on that statue represented constellations, Leo and Taurus, which each have a psychological significance.

RM said they were just representations. They used visible examples of things, but they were not any more meaningful than that. There was no substance to them except just as a story.