Saturday, December 9, 2006
Gurdjieff teaches that each center has a "brain," or mind, of its own.
We encounter glimpses of this concept in other systems, but no matter where we encounter it, it probably seems theoretical and inaccessible. Body and mind and emotion may be separate "brains" in man, but we think we experience them simultaneously, and perceiving separation becomes difficult.
The difficulty is that there's no way to think about this. The idea isn't tangible unless the "brain" of the body wakes up, that is to say, it begins to manifest consciously on its own, next to the brain of the intelligence. And then it isn't thought about, it is sensed, which is different. So our perception of our being is one centered, or, based on observations from only one brain. Living our lives from one center's point of view, we cannot even know what the other minds or centers "taste" like.
Each of the six main "minds" or "brains" in man are alseep. These correspond to the six "lower" chakras in man (the seventh being understood as belonging to another, higher level.)
By using the word "asleep " we try to indicate that they are not functioning with full awareness. They are on autopilot, and they do not interact with each other very much. Each one has its own active intelligence, its own "thought" process- which may not manifest as what we usually call thought at all- and its own agenda.
Instinctive center, for example, may decide it would be good to eat a lot, no matter what intellect, emotion and body have to say about it. The next thing you know we get fat, and then a tense struggle ensues because the centers are not listening to each other.
In ordinary life, we are accustomed to finding what we call "I", or our sense of being, within the context of the thinking mind and the emotions. What we don't realize is that what is called "real I" in the Gurdjieff work-- and would represent a state of relative enlightenment in other works- emerges when most or all of the centers wake up and start to work together. This inner act of reassembly of the separated inner minds is an esoteric meaning of the task of "self re-membering" Gurdjieff calls on us to engage in.
In this re-awakening, re-attachment, no one center replaces another as superior to the others. Instead they re-exist simultaneously, in conjunction with one another, but always distinct.
What emerges from the mind can only ever emerge from the mind. So this piece of writing emanates from one mind and enters another. It carries seeds of ideas that might touch the other minds in other bodies but of itself it cannot be more than what it is.
All it does, in other words, is advise intellect that there are other minds in the body it could cooperate with. Five of them, to be exact. If you have ever wondered why we human beings often seem to function as though we're about five times stupider than we ought to be, this could well be the reason.
The body is one accessible place to begin to sense our additional intelligence. Over the years I have begun to learn that it really is an intelligence all its own, separate from this intelligence which speaks and writes, but equally valid. This gives me a new repsect for it: there is much, much more to me than the part that thinks. Like that part which regulates breath (the instinctive center's mind) the body's mind is a deeply intelligent awareness of its own that has serious work to do- often far more serious than what my "monkey mind" comes up with in the course of a day. It just expresses itself quite differently than my mind's awareness, which takes the form of thought.
If I listen to it more carefully, it often surprises me. It consistently informs me of my life in a different way. For one thing, it remembers I'm alive- something my mind, with all its machinations, has a way lot of trouble doing, believe me. In remembering this, it repeatedly calls me back to a greater sense of attention.
That kind of support can be vital in a spiritual practice. Through a continuing observation of the different minds, or centers, within me, I can gradually encourage them to participate more wholly in this thing we call life.