Old Gurdjieffian

 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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17 June 2020 04:03
 

Hi. I’m Roy and I’m an old geezer in Europe who recently completed the introductory course. And registered for the podcast site.
I have a bit of history with meditation techniques although it has been over 20 years since I originally practiced and I wouldn’t describe myself as having any great depth of experience in this area.
As in the title of this introductory post I have been interested my entire adult life in the ideas introduced to the world by G.I. Gurdjieff - although to clarify that statement, I’m not suggesting that these ideas originated entirely in his mind, although some surely did. Trying to simplify the nature of what has come to be known as the “Gurdjieff / Ouspensky” teaching(s) is a minefield and I’m not attempting to do so. It’s also true that in the last decade or so I have slackened off my interest in and attention to the subject. The teaching is demanding and complex in comparison with what I understand about the Buddhist based “mindfulness” techniques. Even those preceding statements make me wince a little; this stuff is very hard to describe even in general non-specific terms.
I suppose that what I find interesting is the way in which the method which Sam presents to us has elements that are congruent with G.I.G’s - absence of a coherent, enduring “I” being the most obvious example - whilst in other respects is antithetical.
As for the “identifies as…” requirement in the registration I would like to request a “tries not to identify” option….
Roy

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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17 June 2020 05:26
 

Greetings, Roy. Welcome to the forum. It is encouraging to know that this place can still be found by the outside world.

I would love to expand the identity roster but it is stuck the way it is.

 
 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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17 June 2020 07:31
 

Thanks. The identity quip (such was it) is probably only comprehensible in relation to the Fourth Way.
Interesting comment about accessibility. I have to say that the way Sam’s sites are organised isn’t exactly user friendly, even though some individual elements definitely are. No links via the podcast or Waking Up. But perhaps this is intentional given his friendship with Joe R who believes in an arms’ length relationship with his fans, clients, subscribers. And who can blame him?
Roy

 
burt
 
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burt
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17 June 2020 08:34
 

Hi Roy, hope you have fun here. Never was experientially into Gurdjieff although have done a good deal of reading (G’s books, some Bennett, In Search of the Miraculous, etc.). Main study has been Idries Shah and work through Arica Institute. Thought you might find this of interest though: https://weareonetraining.org/register/

 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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17 June 2020 10:12
 

Hi Burt
thanks. I’ve heard of Oscar Ichazo and I’ll dig into the link a bit later. There’s lots of time to be wasted jabbering about the Fourth Way, which I’ll spare you, however I take the opportunity whenever I’m presented with one to mention Dr. Maurice Nicoll. You’ve probably encountered his name as he could be said to have been the most notable of Ouspensky’s pupils in addition to his time with both G.I.G. and C.G. Jung. 

His five volume (six including the subsequently published index) collection of lectures, “Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky” are astonishingly lucid. At one critical point in my life I read steadily through the whole collection almost 3 times. I’ve always regarded these as being the closest thing to an operating manual for the human psyche as I’ve ever encountered.
I’m pretty skeptical about J.G. Bennett. Extremely interesting chap though.

I’m currently inclined to think of mindfulness exercises as equivalent to the process of attempting to create “observing ‘I’”. YMMV…
Roy

 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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20 June 2020 08:16
 

I’m not sure where to post the following, but here goes.
In evaluating the consequences of practicing meditation, what criteria indicate a “successful” outcome?
Roy

 
burt
 
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burt
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20 June 2020 09:51
 
RoySees - 20 June 2020 08:16 AM

I’m not sure where to post the following, but here goes.
In evaluating the consequences of practicing meditation, what criteria indicate a “successful” outcome?
Roy

Perhaps not wondering whether or not an outcome was positive? wink

I would have replied to your Nicoll post earlier but with this self-isolation going on I’ve been dragging out all my “back burner” projects and find that they’ve been keeping me more than busy. Haven’t read Nicoll, although he’s been recommended to me by several people. At my age (77), though, it’s not likely I’ll have a chance. I agree regarding mindfulness exercises, at least part of the intent is to produce a “witness,” although the role of the witness isn’t always specified and in some groups it seems as if that’s taken as the final goal. In Ichazo’s presentation the idea is that there are three egos arising from three basic biological instincts and the initial work is to develop a 4th “natural ego” that can manage these so that a person actually has the capacity to begin working at higher levels. It’s something like the Platonic image of the chariot (body), horses (emotions), and driver (mind) with the passenger being the one who tells the driver where to go, makes sure that the horses are fed and groomed, and the chariot is kept in good repair.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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20 June 2020 09:53
 
RoySees - 20 June 2020 08:16 AM

I’m not sure where to post the following, but here goes.

Again, I apologize for any inconvenience.

There is no sub-forum for meditation practice because the layout is just as stuck as the identity roster.

Your intro thread is fine. The Waking Up book sub-forum is where others have ended up. Or eastern traditions if they are.

I know the place needs an update.

 
 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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20 June 2020 10:50
 

Thanks for all the responses.
Re: Nicoll.
There are copies of “Commentaries” floating about although the original editions are fetching absurd prices. For a while Watkins esoteric bookshop held the rights and published a paperback version off the original plates. I recently sold a collection including original 2nd edition Commentaries plus a lot of interesting ephemera from his group. I had intended to scan and post them online somewhere but… Definitely worth getting hold of any one of the volumes. They cycle through the range of topics and each paper is brief. Although I suppose it might be seen as an irrelevance, the literary quality is wonderful - such clarity as one seldom encounters. Nicoll’s home was not far from my own in Sussex.

The “horse, carriage, driver, master” parable is reproduced beautifully and quite humorously somewhere in Mr. G.‘s own writings. I found the exercise of trying to create “observing I” when I was more involved with the 4th Way teaching to be very valuable. It became relatively easy for me to snap into it at least some of the time. At that point I was struggling to recover from decades of alcohol addiction and the discomfort engendered by sobriety functioned to some extent as an “alarm clock”. Of course i was in my 40s and now, at 72 it’s more difficult to focus.

So many teachers have borrowed from Gurdjieff it seems. I knew a few people who were closely involved with the Rajneesh movement in its early days at Poona and they agreed that “Bhagwan” had taken a lot from 4th Way teaching. There’s an amusing story in a book about the early days of the ashram by a guy who was his bodyguard. They tried to set up an agricultural commune (decades before Oregon) in the area that Rajneesh came from; one of the villagers sidled up and asked “is Mohan still hypnotising people?” Unlike Gurdjieff I don’t think he ever stopped.

 
burt
 
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burt
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21 June 2020 11:42
 
RoySees - 20 June 2020 10:50 AM

Thanks for all the responses.
Re: Nicoll.
There are copies of “Commentaries” floating about although the original editions are fetching absurd prices. For a while Watkins esoteric bookshop held the rights and published a paperback version off the original plates. I recently sold a collection including original 2nd edition Commentaries plus a lot of interesting ephemera from his group. I had intended to scan and post them online somewhere but… Definitely worth getting hold of any one of the volumes. They cycle through the range of topics and each paper is brief. Although I suppose it might be seen as an irrelevance, the literary quality is wonderful - such clarity as one seldom encounters. Nicoll’s home was not far from my own in Sussex.

The “horse, carriage, driver, master” parable is reproduced beautifully and quite humorously somewhere in Mr. G.‘s own writings. I found the exercise of trying to create “observing I” when I was more involved with the 4th Way teaching to be very valuable. It became relatively easy for me to snap into it at least some of the time. At that point I was struggling to recover from decades of alcohol addiction and the discomfort engendered by sobriety functioned to some extent as an “alarm clock”. Of course i was in my 40s and now, at 72 it’s more difficult to focus.

So many teachers have borrowed from Gurdjieff it seems. I knew a few people who were closely involved with the Rajneesh movement in its early days at Poona and they agreed that “Bhagwan” had taken a lot from 4th Way teaching. There’s an amusing story in a book about the early days of the ashram by a guy who was his bodyguard. They tried to set up an agricultural commune (decades before Oregon) in the area that Rajneesh came from; one of the villagers sidled up and asked “is Mohan still hypnotising people?” Unlike Gurdjieff I don’t think he ever stopped.

Regarding Rajneesh, for a long time I lived in Edmonton and following on the collapse of the Oregon commune, a guy I knew there (one of ten kids in an Irish family) became Rajnessh’s go to guy (he’s still running the commune in Poona, along with one of his brothers). He’d formerly been involved in Arica and told me of a conversation he had with Ichazo where he asked about Rajneesh and Ichazo replied “Anybody who can hypnotize 10,000 people at a time has something.” Was never attracted to the guy myself. Back in the late 80s Ichazo wrote about Gurdjieff in an uncomplimentary way (at the time he was involved in legal wrangles with the “enneagram of personality” people who were publishing books plagiarizing his work and claiming that they could do this because he’d gotten it from Gurdjieff or from the Sufis, so he needed to differentiate what was new in his work from what came from others). His main point was that what Gurdjieff taught came from Greek and other ancient sources adapted to early 20th century culture (the chariot analogy is in Plato, the law of three from multiple sources, and the ray of creation from the Chaldean astral religion and Pythagoras). It seems to me that there’s a long line of transmission. I’ll keep an eye out in case anything by Nicoll comes my way. Ichazo died this last March so there is a shaking out process going on in the Arica community at the moment. The main 4th way guy still around is A.A. Almass with his Diamond Approach, and although I know several people involved in this I’m ignorant about it in general. https://www.diamondapproach.org/almaas. These days I’m more involved in enjoying life, to the extent possible when having to stay home most of the time and wear masks in crowds.

 
RoySees
 
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RoySees
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22 June 2020 06:51
 

As the years have gone by I’ve continually noted antecedents to the Gurdjieff teaching, some of which you’ve mentioned above. Nonetheless, he’s always felt like the “genuine article” not least where his motivation was concerned. I think he genuinely gave up hypnotising people and i’m hard pressed to think of anyone else of his stature who voluntarily gave up the power he had and retired to semi-private life. Most of them are eaten alive by the consequences of their influence over others, Rajneesh being a prime example. That said, some of the people I knew who had been present with him in the early days still spoke fondly of that time and didn’t seem to have suffered any ill consequences. I assume you’ve seen “Wild Wild Country”. Phew.

I’ll take a look to see if I still have a stray copy of one of the “Commentaries” and if I have I’ll get it to you. My ex business partner certainly has one and he’s in the process of culling books prior to a move. Nicoll’s work seems to be the least known of the G/O canon but in my opinion it’s the only written source that can actually be used to effect change. Sorry if I’m over-selling it!

Your final comment could have been uttered by myself. I fish quite a lot during the summer and when the weather’s inclement I work on restoring vintage timepieces, cycle, read and try to stay healthy and moderately sane.

 
burt
 
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burt
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23 June 2020 10:42
 
RoySees - 22 June 2020 06:51 AM

As the years have gone by I’ve continually noted antecedents to the Gurdjieff teaching, some of which you’ve mentioned above. Nonetheless, he’s always felt like the “genuine article” not least where his motivation was concerned. I think he genuinely gave up hypnotising people and i’m hard pressed to think of anyone else of his stature who voluntarily gave up the power he had and retired to semi-private life. Most of them are eaten alive by the consequences of their influence over others, Rajneesh being a prime example. That said, some of the people I knew who had been present with him in the early days still spoke fondly of that time and didn’t seem to have suffered any ill consequences. I assume you’ve seen “Wild Wild Country”. Phew.

I’ll take a look to see if I still have a stray copy of one of the “Commentaries” and if I have I’ll get it to you. My ex business partner certainly has one and he’s in the process of culling books prior to a move. Nicoll’s work seems to be the least known of the G/O canon but in my opinion it’s the only written source that can actually be used to effect change. Sorry if I’m over-selling it!

Your final comment could have been uttered by myself. I fish quite a lot during the summer and when the weather’s inclement I work on restoring vintage timepieces, cycle, read and try to stay healthy and moderately sane.

Would be interested in the Nicoll material if easily available to you. Most of my readings of Gurdjieff were back in the late 70s and 80s and I definitely felt the sense of something genuine. That’s also what drew me to Ichazo, listening to him lecture or interacting with him there was always a sense of presence and clarity, never a feeling of “hypnosis.” In a lecture in 1975 he was asked if he was enlightened. He said definitely, that if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be teaching because that would be like passing his own dirt on to others, which was terrible spiritual karma; that Arica was structured like a pyramid but he was not at the top, he was at the center where all the forces converged and this would destroy him if he were not totally clear and centered. He “semi-retired” to Hawaii in the 80s, although still developing new levels of work, working with individuals, guiding things in the development of the School, and hosting large reunion gatherings every five years.

I got involved with Arica in 1973 after returning from eighteen months in Iran where I’d gotten interested in Sufism. At a stop over in London on the way home I bought a copy of a book, Center of the Cyclone (John Lilly) to read on the flight home. I was impressed by his scientific approach in experiments with psychedelics in the first half of the book but put off when in the second half he wrote about studying with a mystic in Chile. My thought was that he’d fallen from the scientific rationality of the first half of the book into some sort of mumbo jumbo. Several months later I’d just moved to a new job in Edmonton and saw a poster for “Introduction to Arica” on a Thursday night. It was being held half a block from where I lived and I thought that it really wasn’t fair to assume Lilly had gone bonkers so I should check this out. Which was the foot in the door, as it were. What grabbed me at the beginning of the first training was the instruction to keep a journal of experiences and not to accept anything said, rather do the exercises and note results.

Cheers