Sunday, December 3, 2017

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. Information for
Next Meeting
3 December 2017 at 9am

CHALLENGE

READING

Disclaimer and Notes
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
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‘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.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Stargate Regulus

L said he liked to read a paragraph anyway, every day, to get familiarity with what we would be talking about and reading through the following month, but the requirement that the EXERCISE be done in the hours of dark made it harder, which was all to the good. If you remembered to do the exercise, it would normally be during daylight, so you would put it off, and might not remember it later. The other twist to it, being aware of the body and having to sit in a different pose made it feel qualitatively different to how he had been reading through it before, which was with the mind, with the intellect.

T had experienced remembering the exercise during the day, and not doing it, and after dark would be completely wiped out for the evening.
EXERCISE

Read one paragraph from the next reading every day after dark, connecting with the body that is reading and maybe sitting in a different posture to read.
The only time she had actually managed it was the day before the Meeting. It had been like cramming for an exam, which felt ridiculous, and it was after dark. She had completely missed the part about the position of the body, and remembered it now because of being reminded. She had found it extremely difficult, and would reflect the next day on the fact that she had forgotten during the evening, and about what it was that was getting in the way. She thought she was possibly doing too much, and had too many obligations, apart from things that she was really, really interested in and wanted very much to do, which were right on the back-burner.

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



With acknowledgements to Harold Good
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And the second fact, by virtue of the same degeneration of their sight into Koritesnokhnian, is ... they perceive the visibility of objects only when almost next to them.

...Here it is very opportune to repeat one of the profound sayings, seldom used there, of our Mullah Nassr Eddin, which very neatly defines the given case, that is, this degree of the limitation of the perception of visibility of your contemporary favorites...

‘Show me the elephant the blind man has seen, and only then will I believe that you have really seen a fly.’
D asked if the saying about the elephant and the fly was another way of talking about the sound of one hand clapping. TR said it was getting to the idea there was no seer and seen, there was only seeing. RM said that the blind man saw with his whole being, and was there. If you were not totally present, here, now, you would see nothing.


Alice sees the rabbit hole too late

From Alice in Wonderland, by With acknowledgements to Walt Disney Studios
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We often only saw something when we saw the outcome of it. You only saw the hole when you had fallen down it, but if you were present all the time, you saw it appear before you got to it. L said it was also about the use of language. We saw chairs and tables, partly through decades of conditioning of what chairs and tables were, but we were not seeing ghosts. There might be things around us that we were not seeing because we equally had decades of training to say they did not exist.

... they placed this Teskooano very deeply within the planet, and they carried out their observations of the cosmic concentrations found beyond the atmosphere of their planet through specially bored, pipelike hollows.

The observatory, I then saw, had five of these hollows.

...They made these observations of theirs through any one of the mentioned hollows which looked out in different directions onto their horizon, according to the given position of their planet relative to the cosmic concentration observed in the process of the ‘common cosmic harmonious movement.’

I repeat, my boy, that although the chief peculiarity of the observatory constructed there by the three-brained beings of the future Egypt proved not to be new to me, since this principle had also been utilized in my observatory on Mars, with only this difference, that my seven long pipes were fixed not within the planet but on it, nevertheless all their innovations were so interesting in detail that, for any case that might arise, I even made, during my stay there, a detailed sketch of everything I saw, and later even used something of it for my own observatory.


T said this sounded partly historic, with some sort of observatory made by ancient people to look at the stars. If you thought of the planet as the individual body, the five hollows might represent the five senses,

 
Source: catchpenny.org/shafts.html
which were the antennae we had to the external world, but they were deeply hidden inside the body. C agreed that the hollows might be the senses, but said that the construction on Mars had seven. TR said we may have lost two. L said that the description appeared to be of the great pyramid. TR said that each of the five had their own viewpoint, but it was only when they were consolidated did they make an understanding of the whole. We did not use our sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, to form, to do that whole seeing. We would taste something and label it this, or hear something and label it that. It was only when the elephant was seen by the blind man that it had been seen. It was only when you were concentrating on five that there was a cosmic concentration. GC said that each of the senses was operating on five percent of what was out there, and yet we believed the taste, the sound. It was infinitesimal, and we were just aware of that much, and we based our reality on the senses. We could not see properly - there was a space that the brain filled in. T said it was all we had. TR said it was not all we'd got - there were two more. L asked which were the two senses he thought we had lost. TR said that intuition would certainly be one, and there was something with our relationship to time. L thought this might be connected to being aware of coincidences, synchronicities, which relate things which are separated by time. N said this whole thing was about the limitations of our perceptual system, and how we drew the wrong conclusions from the limited information we had. T said we might also ignore what the senses were saying. She had been walking in central London during the week, and everyone was going about their business, but she could hardly breathe because of the pollution. She was the only one in the street who put a mask on. Everybody was ignoring it - some people were running in it, really taking it into their lungs.   

...It is extremely interesting to notice here that they erected at the chief entrance of that huge enclosure a rather large - large of course in comparison with the size of their presences - stone statue called ‘Sphinx’ which strongly reminded me of ...

The statue I saw in the city of Samlios and which greatly interested me, was the emblem of this society, and was called "Conscience".

It represented an allegorical being ...

The main mass of the planetary body of the said allegorical being was represented by the trunk of a being there of definite form, called "Bull".


L said that the reference to the Sphinx shows that Gurdjieff is definitely talking about the complex of pyramids at Giza. T said that he was also talking about a different statue, called Conscience. L said he might be inventing this statue, unless he knew of one we were not aware of.

This Bull trunk rested on the four legs of another being existing there, also of a definite form, called "Lion", and to that part of the Bull trunk called its ‘back’ two large wings were attached similar in appearance to those of a strong bird-being breeding there, called "Eagle".

 
Source: etheric.com


...Each part of this allegorical figure gives to every member of our society in all the three independently associating parts of his common presence, namely, in the body, in the thoughts, and in the feelings, a shock for corresponding associations for those separate cognizances which in their totality can alone give us the possibility of gradually getting rid of those undesirable factors present in every one of us ...


T said it was about getting rid of "undesirable factors", and to her she wondered if it was the bull factor, the lion factor and the eagle factor. It reminded L of Gurdjieff's morning exercise:

...every day, at sunrise, while watching the reflection of its splendor, you bring about a contact between your consciousness and the various unconscious parts of your general presence. Try to make this state last and to convince the unconscious parts ...

The whole point was that he was thinking of us as composite beings, with parts which may not be conscious, and trying to get those parts to work together. He was seeing us as a mechanism. These composite creatures which he described were depicting that. In the morning exercise he was trying to get the parts to work to a common purpose. T said that did not fit with getting rid of undesirable factors.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Sky At Night

L had been quite slow getting into this EXERCISE, but now, after a month, he was usually remembering himself as he went into and out of doors. Sometimes, when he went into a place, he had a habit of having something go through his mind. For example, when he entered the music studio, he talked to the Muse, in the way it was once a practice, in Ancient Greece, to have an Invocation to the Muse at the start of a play. That would remind him of the exercise, and spur him on in the attempt to be aware as he went through that door. As time had gone on during the month, it had made him a bit more self-aware than he otherwise would be. It was one of those triggers during the day which helped one remember oneself.

H had been really interested in this exercise, and he was trying to remember to practice it, but he never remembered the door except once - coming in, coming out. Mostly he remembered when he was sitting in the kitchen, or out in the tube, or something like that.
EXERCISE

Every time you go in or out of your front door, remember yourself.
Practicing self-remembering, he invariably found what before he would have called an attitude, but now it was like a demonic kind of character. By doing the exercise, the word demonic didn't mean just a word. It was like something else that had happened to him recently. The word shanti was just a word before, but then he experienced peace. In the same way, seeing this demonic thing through self-observation made him realise he wasn't that thing, otherwise it could be quite frightening. It showed that if you were practicing self observation you could see things that you never thought you would. Most people thought, when they practiced self-observation, that they were observing some sort of nothing, and calling it nothing, but if you observed the mind more carefully, you saw it was not nothing - there were things behind and behind and behind.

RG had tried to self-remember when she entered the door and was coming out of the door but, like H, it was easier for her to remember herself more when she was walking in the street or going on the tube. She concentrated on walking. She tried to acknowledge her presence with each step she was taking - that was her self-remembering. The self observation is something that can be done after we remember ourself, but the tricky part, the most important thing, is to remember ourself first. and then we pass to the self observation.

C had remembered opening and closing doors about a third of the time. The big question was what was it we were looking for when we were self-remembering, and the only thing he could understand from it was that we were looking for our pure essence, because that was what we brought into the world with us, nothing else. Since then the personality had taken over and tended to dominate ourselves, and the essence had fallen back, and back, and back. He was trying desperately to remember, to still the mind, make the mind really at peace and remember who he really was and what he really came into the world as.

T used to leave lots of things behind when she left the house, and remembered them during the day. Oh my God, I have forgotten to bring that.



So she had started a checklist before she left the house, which got longer and longer, as to what she had to remember to take with her, and to do before she left, and a few months before she had added at the bottom of the list, one minute silence at the front door, timed. So she was thinking - I'm going to do this exercise every day - but she realised, after about a week, that it was cheating. But what was actually happening, when she did the minute, was that she would remember lots of other things she had forgotten, which made it very hard for her to stay at the door - she hadn't turned the heating off, or hadn't closed the window - and she realised that what she was experiencing when she was at the door, just being there, was being back in the body, and all the other times, she was doing something, and the body was a servant to the mind, sadly.

D's guilt was that he always forgot the exercise, but what he noticed, just trying to remember himself, which he kept doing as much as possible, because it gave him peace, a sense of presence, was that the space created by not doing things mechanically engendered boredom. The boredom, from what he could gather, was the mind, was thoughts, and the only way you stopped boredom was to get back in your body. This space between the thoughts, which C called essence and D called presence - was there any difference or was it the same thing? - was causing a bit of a problem.

J said that so far we were all describing the process. We were getting a bit closer. The space between the thoughts, the presence, the essence, there were a lot of ideas there. The main issue he'd found, so far, on this exercise, was that the difficulty came in describing, not the process by which we were trying to reach the essence, but the essence itself, and he was wondering at this point how easy or how possible it was through the use of language? Were we concentrating on something which we were not going to be able to describe? We each understood it in our own way, though we could not know whether our own way was the same as everybody else's way. He wondered if he could go to the next step, or whether it was a doomed exercise.

As RM had done the exercise, walking in and out of the door and being present, it created initially a vacuum, and he knew that nature abhorred a vacuum - as soon as there was a vacuum it tried to fill it with something. That was why the thoughts suddenly rushed in to fill this vacuum. So he allowed himself to ponder things like, what is time?

Agreeing with D, C said the mind was always bored. When you were in meditation, the mind wanted to take you out, it wanted to do something else, it didn't want to sit there and just be. He thought that was where we needed to arrive at.

J said there was an attention span, with a movie, with a television programme, or with anything you liked. The question wasn't so much whether one would get bored watching that day in day out, doing nothing else, but how long one could keep one's attention on this, and the fact that after a certain point one got bored, was not in itself so significant.



Source: signspecialist.com
It was if one got bored in the first few instants and one got absolutely nowhere, and one didn't want to do it. There was an amount of time you could devote to that sort of question before your normal sensations and preoccupations kicked in. So part of the exercise was in extending that amount of time that you could not be bored, and concentrate or focus. Were any of us either wanting to, or had any of us described, in a revealing sort of way, in words, what we had seen or focused on? It was the process of focusing that we were discussing.

T said that the focus during the month was to remember yourself when you left the front door. That was the thing without words - to be in that position even if it was just for a second, because remembering yourself could happen in a second, and then be gone. The exercise was about experiencing something through the month, then trying to express that and to have some consensual language, because it was such a difficult path to do on your own.

Responding to C, RG said she believed our objective was to find our essence. This was the most difficult thing, in her opinion. In fact she was very intrigued to discover what was this essence, and she had been researching on the Internet, and reading quite a lot of books recently, and what she had come across, was that the essence was to discover what we really were, not what we thought we were. In order to do that, we had to let go all the prejudice we had, the ego and so on. In order to achieve this, self-observation came into play.

H said RG would be very unlikely to discover her real, true self - that would be self-realisation, and what Gurdjieff was calling self-remembering was not really remembering your true self. It was a state where you brought yourself into focus, but mentally, not physically. You did not necessarily remember your physical body - that may be an initial step - then you had to remember this feeling of what you were, and it wasn't a kind of nothingness. It was a sense of self that you had all the time, and it was your non-self mostly. That was what he had found. on almost every occasion that he remembered his non-self, which was a negative thing in his case, and he supposed in everybody. He imagined that for everybody at this Meeting, there was this opposing force, this negative thing that somehow dominated us all the same.

Responding to D's contribution which talked of being bored in the space between the thoughts, L wondered if it was the ego that was bored. We often saw a spider in the middle of web, or expanding it. That spider never got bored, but perhaps it didn't have an ego.

J said this was probably a debate that was not going to be resolved. We were all trying to discover, through one part, one essence, or one remembered self - but what if there were several selves you could remember, several essences, and they were all possibly equally true, and one of the selves was saying I don't want to, and another was saying I do want to. T said, that was Me, Myself and I. J said that the danger in all this, was that in wanting to get rid of ego, we made ourselves more self-important.



Fraser in Dad's Army expressing concern
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D said, that was thoughts - there were so many thoughts there, thoughts. All those thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, and we were doomed. That was the problem.

J said that this indicated that we shouldn't be trying to get at what our essence was, or our remembered self was, through thoughts.

C drew attention to the philospher David Hiume's analysis of this issue. He was looking for the permanent self, but did not find it. In his Treatise of Human Nature (1739), he wrote when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.

It seemed to "R" that D had produced the moment of question, which was really important, it had energy. If you had labels for everything, end of story, but to be in question was really valuable, and that could lead to a real wish to be aware and to find a new way which was based in the body. All these little arguments were resistance, and that was an important force as well, which we needed, otherwise we wouldn't have an incentive.

For T, J's question about egos brought up the dilemma between the tribe, the community and the individual. You had to survive together, but then, when you were an adult, you could have time alone, and that was when the question arose, Who am I?, when there were no people around, when you were on a desert island or in a room on your own. RG said that often people were themselves when they were alone. T had the image of a democracy. It was not just three selves, it was millions of selves. Who was in charge? Was there a government, was there a parliament? Were you allowed to speak? Did the selves have to speak to each other, and was there violence, or was there measured dialogue about difficult issues, in the person?

H said that apart from all these separate things, different identities, there was an I that made real efforts, not pretend efforts, and that was the situation, this I that made the effort, but all these other I's were based on something we did not really know, but presumably what Gurdjieff called the Chief Feature. You could call it ego if you liked, but all these were just words until you experienced them in some way or another.

Following the contributions and responses, the reading continued from Chapter 23 of Beelzebub's Tales.



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
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The three-brained beings of your planet who became members of this society actually did a great deal in respect of approaching objective knowledge which had never been done there before and which perhaps will never be repeated.

And here it is impossible not to express regret and to repeat that to the most great misfortune of all terrestrial three-brained beings of all later epochs, it was just then—when after incredible being-labors ... that, in the heat of it all, certain of them constated, as I have already told you, that something serious was to occur to their planet in the near future.

For the purpose of discerning the character of the anticipated serious event, they dispersed over the whole planet and shortly afterwards, as I have already told you, the aforesaid second ‘Transapalnian perturbation’ occurred to that ill-fated planet of yours.


J said it was often the case you would assume, as in this passage, that before you reached Nirvana, there would be a cataclysm that would get in the way when you were almost there, and this was a common and often repeated idea.

...Such a suitable place they found in the valley of the large river flowing on the north of the said continent and there indeed they all migrated together with their families to continue in isolation the attainment of the tasks set by their society.

"R" said they were looking for a location where, they could continue, with their families but in isolation, the attainment of the tasks. J said it was surprising they would want to go with their families. They would surely want to go with people who were like minded.

This definite part of the surface of the continent which the Pythoness indicated, lay just at the source of the said large river Nipilhooatchi where the beings of our tribe existed all the time the said second Transapalnian perturbation lasted, as well as later when everything had gradually resumed its relatively normal state and when most of the surviving beings had then almost forgotten what had happened and had again formed—just as if nothing had occurred to them...

L said this paragraph described how quickly we forgot ourselves after we became aware. It said the members of the tribe went back to how they were before, "... just as if nothing had occurred to them", which they had thought to be a high state.

Although the expectations that I had formed from all that our countrymen had told me concerning the mentioned new observatory there, before I had seen it with my own eyes, were not justified, nevertheless, the observatory itself and also the other constructions of the beings then of that region proved to be exceedingly ingenious and provided data for the enrichment of my common presence by a great deal of productive information for my consciousness.

J said this was one of the rare occasions, as far as he could see in Gurdjieff, where he was actually being rather positive, as opposed to slating the idiocies he saw all around him, and awaiting the doom-laden end.

D said he was using everyday language, presence and consciousness, which he did not do very often.

And later, ... Great Nature was compelled ... also to degenerate the functioning of their organ of sight ... then thereafter they were able to perceive the visibility of their great as well as their small concentrations situated beyond them only when the sacred process ‘Aieioiuoa’ proceeded in the Omnipresent Active Element Okidanokh in the atmosphere of their planet, or, as they themselves say—according to their understanding and their own perceptions—‘on dark nights’.

L said that Gurdjieff was using an advanced concept. He was talking about an observatory, which could mean a sophisticated way for people to observe themselves. GC asked, why only on dark nights. L said that it was metaphor. When was it easier to see the stars?

T said it was suggesting that there was a sight or a sense that we had lost, or never attained. We did not need this contraption of a telescope, if only we were more sensitive, and in our bodies and our beings.

H thought it was something to do with this three-brained being becoming a two-brained being.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Truth, Reason and Creativity

N had had a month of quite strong feelings, sudden waves of emotion coming over him. His normal thing would be to do music, or write, but this time he started drawing. He drew faces or shapes, maybe symbolically of what he was thinking. He had found it was a good way of transforming the emotion and changing it, working with it, and seeing possible new dimensions in it. The main thing he was doing was trying to observe the emotions that came in, and see where they came from and what they gave him. He did not always have a book to hand to sketch things in, but he did find that when he was drawing it took his mind in to a different place in a different mode, and he thought it was beneficial. So it was an interesting exercise and a useful one.

J spoke of a previous experience, as he had not had any particular pain this month. He had gone through a difficult phase, and without having the conscious intention he did something in an artistic way.
EXERCISE

When you feel physical or emotional pain, do something creative in an art you do not normally do.
It was utterly different from anything he had done previously. He had found that the mere fact of it being something completely different, not just a work of creativity, completely took his mind off what was the problem at the time. So it was a very cathartic thing to do, and he could not help thinking that it was also a natural thing for him to do. In a sense the difficulty, rather like the dung hill, produced the lilly, so as an exercise he thought it was a very good one.

T thought the exercise, as ever, was extremely difficult to remember to do, and think about, particularly this month. She usually painted, so thought about composing music, but there was too much in the way - she was too unskilled and she thought that helped the resistance. She did try it, but found it very difficult to relate to, because it was something new that she needed to learn and everything else got in the way. That was her self-observation - these exercises pulled you up short, because the fantasy was that you would do that exercise, no problem, every day, or at least once a week. She thought she did it once.

L's usual art was composing music, so he thought he would do some drawing, but managed to sabotage this quite successfully. He thought he would do it on his phone. He had a new phone.



Source: giphy.com
The old one, which he had broken, had contained a stylus, but the new one did not, so first of all he had to find a stylus which worked with it, which took him quite some time. Eventually he found one, though the tip was too thick. He then had to regain familiarity with the drawing app on his phone, which was quite difficult. Although he had pain a few times, emotional or physical, he had made so many obstacles that he didn't do very much drawing. Of course, he should have got a little notepad, made of paper, and had a pencil with him. So that had not gone very well. It was a difficult exercise, and kudos to whoever managed to do it, because if you were used to working in one art, it took grit and determination to start doing something in a different art and keep going.

H said that although he had not been for a while, he had read about the exercise on the website, and found it very puzzling. He could get to understand it, but at the same time he had to write a poem for a class he went to, on Shakespeare sonnets and related things. He had found it very, very difficult. It was just a seven line stanza, but he had got the whole thing mixed up, and thought the "ABAB..." structure applied to a line rather than the stanza itself. He had eventually broken through that, and had brought the poem with him:

The Sparrow and the Ant

I thought I saw a sparrow in the sky
Swoop on an ant too small my sight to see.

Ant gone in an instant, wingless, not to fly.
Unlike the mating mother soon to be
Laying eggs in the earth in marvellous quantity.

More life for the sparrow's chirping progeny.
For ant, perhaps, a new eternity.


A had just discovered about Gurdjieff a week before. A lot of coincidences were happening, and he kept coming across the name Gurdjieff in a lot of different places. A lot of it was coming through music and dance. He was very interested in the Gurdjieff Movements and the idea of separating your body into sections and being able to follow different rhythms, but then he also realised that the dance goes along with the teaching. Then he discovered the blog and decided to come.

Following on A's description of recent coincidences, L quoted Jung: The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. So coincidences may reflect things that were happening within us, but which we were not expressing or conscious of. T said that synchronistic experiences might feel amazing and unusual, but actually they were happening all the time, and it was about being aware of that, observing and noticing. There had to be a lot of external work, because the universe was giving us all these clues that we were missing.

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



With acknowledgments to Harold Good
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...Analyzing himself in this manner, he began to recall just which impulses evoked which reactions ... in his feelings and in his thoughts, and the state of his essence when he reacted to anything more or less attentively, and how and when, in consequence of such reactions of his, he had manifested consciously with his ‘I’ or had acted automatically under the direction of his instinct alone.

RG thought this paragraph was amazing, and in fact she was underlining it. This was exactly, to her, how she interpreted the way Gurdjieff said we have to meditate - that the real observation was to look at the impulses. She did not think he meant to meditate at one hole on the wall - that was more like a relaxation. This was one of the best pages she had read in this book so far. The last paragraph spoke of observing, when we had done something, whether we had done this automatically or consciously.

C asked if the act of self-remembering might in itself be distracting? L said that once you started to congratulate yourself over your success in self-remembering, the ego was already coming in, so Gurdjieff was suggesting there was hardly any "I". L paraphrased the title of one of Gurdjieff's books to say, I am only real, then, when when I create.. Many of the people who came to the Meetings were artists of one kind or another. C said, that when you were creating, you were outside of yourself. L said that when doing art, it was coming out of the inside. L thought that H had been real when he was doing the sonnet. H did not remember this.

H thought that a good way of self-remembering was to become aware of your sense of self, and you were not going to do that easily unless you initially became aware of the presence of your body in space, and a separation of what you were, and not being absorbed in everything. If you became aware of your own sense of self, you were, to some extent, self-remembering. Otherwise what self were you remembering? You were just sensing, generally speaking.

These exhaustive conscious observations and impartial constatations finally convinced Belcultassi that something proceeded in his own common presence not as it should have proceeded according to sane being-logic.

H thought the very last line was really good, it said - not as it should have proceeded according to sane being-logic - and that was something he had been aware of more and more, that he did not always proceed according to reason. Mostly it was just automatic, being absorbed, but even if you were more aware, sometimes the mechanical parts of you proceeded not according to reason, and that was what he seemed to be saying, that reason was not the way we normally always worked. It was usually mechanical in some way or another, like some other world you were working against, as it were.

RM said that the trouble was that our desire for something overruled reason. You want things to be like this but reason tells you they are not. I want to eat more but reason says I am going to get fat. We get overruled by that and get totally into a world of nonsense.

...With that aim he began inquiring among his friends and acquaintances to try to find out from them how they sensed it all and how they cognized their past and present perceptions and manifestations, doing this, of course, very discreetly, so as not to touch the aforementioned impulses inherent in them, namely, ‘self-love,’ ‘pride,’ and so on, which are unbecoming to three-brained beings.

Thanks to these inquiries, Belcultassi gradually succeeded in evoking sincerity in his friends and acquaintances, and as a result it turned out that all of them sensed and saw in themselves everything just the same as he did.

...Soon after, on the initiative of the same Belcultassi, they began to meet together from time to time, and to share their observations and new constatations.

After prolonged verifications, observations, and impartial constatations, this entire group of terrestrial beings also became categorically convinced, just like Belcultassi himself, that they were not as they ought to be.

RM said it was like the reason for playing chess. It was reasonable to make a move, but as soon as you made a good move, your ego goes "Hey, I've done a good job", and suddenly you got caught by that somewhere else, so you had to watch that you did not get caught by these things while you were reasoning things through. L said chess was a very good example, because we used reason to play it, but it was not computable, so reason was not enough, even for a computer.



GM Yasser Seirawan on the late GM David Bronstein (2006)
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T said it was highly emotional - if you listened to people describing the chess moves in the game, there were all sorts of emotive words used, which was a real surprise. L said the passage also implied that it needed a team of people to overcome this problem, because left by ourselves we slipped very quickly into automatic behaviour. So long as a few people were awake at any time, things could keep going.

...later they founded that society which they named the ‘Society of Akhaldans.’

...From the very beginning of the foundation of this society, Belcultassi himself stood at its head, and the subsequent actions of the beings of this society proceeded under his general guidance.

...But as it proved impossible for each and every one of them to acquire the necessary special knowledge, they divided themselves for convenience into a number of groups so that each group might separately study one of these special branches of knowledge required for their common aim.

RM got the sense he was describing here what should happen. There was a need to specialise in various aspects of what was going on without losing touch with what their main purpose was. He thought this alluded to Gurdjieff's own experience. In reality a lot of the groups that left Gurdjieff went off and did their own thing and lost touch with the core principle of self-observation. H said it was also a kind of description of what group he belonged to - The Seekers after Truth - their system was more or less what he had described. RM found the whole book was separated into two larger views. What we had read up to now about what humanity was like now, and now he was getting into the nuts and bolts of what we should be doing and how we should be observing.

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
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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
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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.