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Friday, 1 March 2013

Commentary on the Gurdjieff Work

Among Rosicrucian and Hermetic scholar, Joy Lonsdale's papers, we found copious notes originally written to another writer in the field as a commentary on his new book on Gurdjieff's Work. We have abstracted some of the more general comments here. 

No, we don't really wish to know and accept that transformation and freedom are very hard to achieve. We like to feel it should be easy. Therefore, it doesn't help us in any way to imagine that anyone at all had it easy (the condition messengers from above must enjoy, who did not feel like this, but had a future of bliss assured them! Ordinary human beings don't have such assurances). Gurdjieff suffered, like most humans, physical and no doubt emotional pain, death of loved ones, failures, financial and otherwise, frustrations, ill will towards him, insults, treachery, jealousies, etc. etc. I think this is why people can relate to him - he was so human! As he said himself, he's not only been through the mill, but even through all the grindstones!

p.46. There are many who would say that G's cosmology was just another theory, among others. I do not believe he has laid bare in his writings all the secrets of everything you've mentioned. If, as I believe, he was an Hermeticist he would have been under oath not to do so anyway, and it's why he wrote allegorically. I have come to learn that it is not wise to put all our faith in any one theory, or line of thought, but to leave our minds open to all possibilities, provided they make sense and are not too fantastic. G's Ray of Creation is a wonderful portrayal of the way things could have occurred, not necessarily how they actually did occur, for who can know this anyway?

p.56. I tell people that Gurdjieff was a Rosicrucian! Not that I equate him with what currently passes for this word in its outer garb, but definitely with its older and inner meaning. And yes, I agree that the Fourth Way IS a Rosicrucian manifestation, as you say, for they, the real masters, by whatever name they are called at any time, go underground periodically and resurface under a new guise. I think it's ever been thus. R.N. feels that there never was any real Exodus of the Jewish race, but rather it was an exodus of the Jews (allegorical for initiates) from Heliopolis when Egypt was overrun. G himself predicted that his teaching would go full circle, and then retreat for a time. And I remember that P.O. said that a conscious teaching was not under the law of recurrence, so that if we met it once we may not meet it again so all the more reason to work now.

p.68. Can't agree with you that a really free attention is the desired state. The attention must be captured, fixed and then controlled through the will-power, when it becomes one-pointed concentration. Mercury represents the attention, and with his winged sandals plays a double role. He is the agent, or messenger, of the subconscious, but also becomes a fugitive servant, forgetting his real master and becoming a plaything for all the caprices of the conscious mind, a real will-o'-the-wisp. It is why the old alchemists said one must work with the right type of mercury to succeed. Let's not forget, too, that Mercury wore a helmet, symbolic of invisibility (for the attention is not a visible manifestation) and his winged sandals show his duality. His wings have to be clipped - in one myth he was even threatened with having his feet cut off - both of these showing he has to be grounded and his freedom taken away from him so he will work more constructively. It says something about our general state of inattention that it does not appear anywhere in myth that Mercury was ever so grounded!

p.78. You obviously believe in reincarnation. It's the one aspect of the Rosicrucian teaching (or any other) with which I can't concur! And did G ever expound it? As I remember he seems to have said that only fully conscious men can reincarnate and as these would be very few, it seems he meant it was not a general occurrence. I favour Ouspensky's eternal recurrence (and he stated that he got confirmation of this from G, albeit in a roundabout sort of way). I feel it is more orderly, and it makes much more sense to me, and (provided one can understand what it means) I think it gives the possibility to everyone to change if they awaken. (P.O. said no, there are some who have to play the same role over and over.) I feel we are wheels within wheels within wheels, and we can go round and round on the same one for however long eternity may be - as P.O. said himself, there is a real death and an end to it if one never makes the effort to change. The possibilities get less and less each recurrence until they eventually run out, or it may follow the Law of Seven and we only get seven chances, but who knows this for sure?

p.79. The number of Man is five: I've always taken the very simplistic view this means that he is Man in the middle of Numbers between Nothing (the circle) and Ten (or One, the centre). He is first of all the lower Five and must reunite with the higher Five before becoming One. An example for me is the 5 point in the Enneagram - all before it is material, all after it is spiritual. This is the cross-over point (from where any Hasnamuss who comes this far may become eternal).

p.80. I like your point about EVIL and who makes it! But try telling an orthodox religious person that God and Satan are one and the same and see where you get! And if you can't convince them of this, you will never convince them that it is really they who are responsible for their own good and evil.

p.181. It is difficult for someone like me, who does not believe that there ever existed in material form a person by the name of Jesus Christ, to take seriously your many mentions of this personage, so I therefore have to skip over them. I personally believe that the way this story has been perpetuated by the churches and religious zealots has been the cause of mankind's failure to rise above a certain level. Religion, as it has been set forth, is like the Organ Kundabuffer - it keeps man in a state of illusion. As long as people are taught that they are going to be saved in some miraculous way or another once they die, no work on themselves will ever be done. Remember that G stated to P.O. that he did not teach Eternal Recurrence because if people thought they had life after life to repent they likewise would not work NOW. I personally believe that if mankind is going to move forward (through his mind) then all religions will have to be banned! Something will have to replace them, perhaps a Law of Conscience as G proposed.
     You state that it is not blind faith which you demand or advise but a study of some concrete Objective Science which Christ knew and tried to teach. By this statement I, of course, have to feel you are perpetuating the myth! And there's that controversial word 'objective' again!
     G himself said that all the religions had failed. They are a prop, just like a drug, and whilst I agree that in this way they contribute a sense of comfort to their followers, this is just the barrier that keeps people like sheep.

p.226. All these changes make me feel (again!) that there's not much point of working with anything on a minor scale and we struggling idiots at the bottom really may as well just carry on with meditation (growing choongary, as I said regarding the mistranslations of B.T.). All this type of work to me is too heavily into intellectualism, and I try to look for simple solutions to questions I have.
    For instance, it does me more good, when I am out cutting back all my bushes, to contemplate that their beginning was just a seed, they flourished and grew, some needing more care and attention than others, but all suffer the same fate when I come along regularly and sheer off their tops and branches - but still they grow again and flower for me! A sign of recurrence? For they are not different shrubs when they grow again, albeit some may be a little more vigorous and some less so, perhaps depending on environmental conditions, or the care and attention I give them (ie if I've worked on them).
    I'm a believer in the old Hermetic injunction to look to Nature to discover what we wish to understand. There's an old saying: He who wishes to be happy for the rest of his life, let him become a gardener. Both 'happy' and 'gardener' have significant meanings in allegory.

p.246. Addendum 3. You most likely have noted that in Hermetic allegory Water is Thought, Air is Attention and Fire is Concentration. So it is that Thought can be more easily canalised and controlled, directed and usefully employed than either Attention or Concentration. Thought can be enclosed within the mind etc. The Attention should fill completely the space it is in etc., while it is true that Concentration is hard to contain in any particular shape.
    From this it can be seen that Water (Thought) is the easiest to control, Air (Attention) is usually here, there and everywhere (Mercury), and Fire (Concentration) does need the added fuel of emotion, not the destructive kind, but that which is cleansed and purified.
    My knowledge of the Kabbala (of whatever kind) is limited, so I don't feel able to make any constructive comments on this. Rosicrucian tradition is based upon gnosticism, hermeticism and the Kabbala, but the latter does not form part of their regular teaching, and one has to study it separately. A project yet to be taken up by me.

p.248. Yes, of course, Man is both God and Devil. These terms mean different things to different people. To me, if the highest intelligence in the known universe which we can envisage with our small minds is something called God, then such an intelligence must contain all within it, and this includes the negative aspect to which man gives the name devil.
You lose me with a different numbering system. I only work with the numbers 1-9, plus the zero (and the so-called Master numbers 11,22,33). To me this is all we need. When we go on into multiple numbers, I feel they should be reduced to their basics to come to a correct meaning. I would like to work on the Tarot with this in mind. Some day. I like what you've done with the Tarot, but I'd like to try to simplify it.

p.249. Don't forget that 8 on its side, oo, represents Eternity. I think the Fool can be represented by both 0 and 22. Man comes in as 0, The Fool, and if he does not reach perfection, goes only as far as 21 and returns to 0 (PO's Eternal Recurrence). If he gets to 22 (supposed to be a Master Number and not reduced) but if we do reduce it, it is 4. Remember Maria the Jewess (an initiate) used to shout something to the effect that the One becomes Two, the Two becomes Three, out of which comes Four to return to One again, which is so often quoted that it must contain a basic knowledge. To me it could mean 1+2+3+4=10, back to ONE and completion.

Just going back to p.282 and the description of all the trouble HE undertook to save his abode (which theory might be accepted if this important part of the universe were in danger) but it seems unimaginable that the affairs of an insignificant little speck like Earth, with its even more insignificant particles of dust (us) would have ever got much (if any) attention at all in the overall scheme of things!
    I have been watching a TV programme on the Universe - its origins and future (which all has to be only speculative) and it is all so mind-boggling that it is totally incomprehensible that human beings could even be on the agenda of the Great Mind itself, whatever it might be.
    Perhaps the Galaxies are the Most Sacred individuals which are somehow responsible for their solar systems, and in turn such systems are responsible for their own planets, and the planets for their own beings. Again, a hierarchy, from which we never seem to be able to escape. Wheels within wheels.

You mention that this teaching/Work is far from being easily assimilated or transformed into a religion or cult or sect. I disagree. I feel that the previous and current practice of some of G's followers to call him a Messenger from Above and to inflict on his memory other suchlike epithets, has all the ingredients within it to just so transform his teaching into a cult. I think I said something of this once in a letter to Dr S, that to do this takes away from G himself all the years (one could say a full lifetime) of effort, hardship, heartbreak and pitfalls, plus the dogged determinationn he showed in partially fulfilling his outer aim, and perhaps (we don't know for sure) of fulfilling his inner aim. This is why I enclose the poem.
    G was a human being - a very extraordinary one, it is true (an unique idiot) but human nonetheless. I do not think he would be at all pleased if he were to know that some of his followers were intimating by such references to a highborn divine state, that he came into this world with all his Knowledge, Understanding and Being intact, and he had to make no effort at all to attain what he did.

 You can download Joy's two books Gurdjieff and the Arch Preposterous and Dictionary of Allegorical Words from Buzzword Books.

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