Fourth Way Perspectives


Selected questions and responses from The Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation group meetings.

Fear of Feeling

Question: I observed not wanting to feel. There was a wish to be close with my wife but there were voices that resisted. There was anger much of the week, a feeling of self-imprisonment. I spoke to my wife and I think she appreciated my discussing this with her.

Response: Hide and seek, seek and hide— it's a perennial merry-go-round. We want to feel but are afraid to feel. But as we are sentient beings (the Buddha addressed his monks as "O sentient beings," not "O mental beings") no matter what we escape into, no matter how we block our feelings, we are feeling beings. But as feelings are not always reciprocated, we get hurt. It is painful. But who gets hurt? I was angry at myself for feeling my resistance and giving into it. So one "I" resists, another "I" gets angry. How is it that this can be reported? What is it that has been observed? About relationship is static and especially marriage. Communication is essential. Given the circumstances, at any given time one will be either passive, active or neutral. Work to observe what center is active. Resist seeing yourself as "one" but rather as three centers. Observe what center one usually lives in, what center is first to interpret, and so forth.

Fog of Negativity

Q: After the fact, I observed an "I" that was caught up with negativity about situations at my job regarding expectations of others. There was a 'fog,' if you will. If I'd been asked to describe my posture at the time, or anything else, I couldn't have. The negativity was all consuming. The "I" was strongly in negative imagination, running through imaginary conversations, etc. I had made an aim to be inwardly emotionally free, and a supporting aim of the larger aim was to not 'like' and 'dislike' people. So observing this current negativity was somewhat disappointing.

R: There are one-, two-, and three-centered aims. Unless they are three-centered, one's strength of commitment will ebb. Also, am I present enough to make such an aim? The premise is that I am. And this proves to be untrue. If this is "disappointing," well, the truth will always be so to the self-image.

The Speed Freak

Q: In trying to do otherwise, one thing I've been attempting is to drive more slowly. I have the habit of driving fast. I can keep my speed down only when my attention is on it, but as soon as an association and a thought comes in I find that I'm changing into the left lane passing the truck. I refocus and slow down, but the next thing I know the speedometer is creeping back up over 75 mph.

R: That's a feature of yours—speeding.

Q: It's a very old habit—it goes back to the way my dad used to drive.

R:Ahh, the poor parents! We make them coat hangers for all our stuff. That said, it's not just driving, your approach to life is speeding. Like how you are talking now, if you are listening.

Q: I guess so....

R: Interesting how we move from certitude to "guessing so." Some people are running away from something, but I get the feeling you are running to something.

Q: If I knew what I was running to that would be helpful to me.

R: If you got there what would you do—you'd run to something else. Are you right-handed or left-handed?

Q: Right-handed. I also tried washing my hair with my left hand...

R: See, there you go—you're anticipating. When someone is talking, you think you already know what they are going to say. You aren't really there. You aren't really listening. You're still off to the races!

Q: I'm usually going 75 mph, I guess, so it's hard to hear.

R: Perhaps my speed is my fear of being present, of experiencing people, the space. Try doing one thing slowly, with attention and conscious awareness of the body. What is something that is done every day that can be done slowly?

Q: I'm open to suggestions.

R: Well, what do you do when you get up in the morning?

Q: After sitting I make coffee.

R: Okay. Try that. Every morning this week drink coffee with your left hand. Report back. Next question.

Why Do I Not Remember Myself?

Q: How is that I try to remember myself but whole stretches of time go by without the thought even once occurring?

R: You are just beginning and so self-remembering is only a mental idea, so you must wish to have the thought to remember yourself. Wish everyday.

Q: But I would have to remember to make a wish.

R: You have the support of the Work, the meetings, Days of Exploration, seminars and your fellow students. Put the word "Wish" on your bathroom mirror and other places you frequent. And when you wish first remember yourself, get the taste of it, and wish both mentally and emotionally. Do this for your being.

Remembering Nothing

Q: When I remember myself it seems like I am remembering nothing.

R: The attention is redirected to its 'normal' center of gravity, to the body. From the point of view of conscious awareness the body is largely, if not completely, nonexistent; so, yes, one experiences a somatic nothing, the body as a no-thing. Experiencing 'nothing,' the attention reverts back to the 'something,' that is, the incessant word world of the formatory mind.

Q: Does 'nothing' ever become 'something'?

R: With long and unflagging practice, the amperage, so to say, of bodily sensation increases to a level at which it becomes a referent for the attention. With the correct application of second being food, the amperage increases still more. At this phase, one is still having to mentally remember and, just as in a state of health one cannot remember the sensation and feeling of what it is like to be sick (and vice versa), one cannot remember the sensation and feeling of self-remembering. Only the idea is remembered.

Q: Does this 'something' grow or stay the same?

R: When the cells and tissues of the body have been continually irrigated with the alchemy Mr. Gurdjieff speaks of then another memory develops. This is only the first of an internal scale of a memory of an entirely different order than what modern science investigates.

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