Conduct and observance

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Friday, June 8, 2007

What is the Gurdjieff work?

The intention of this blog has never been to regurgitate Gurdjieff and Ouspensky wholesale. You can go to plenty of other places on the web to get that kind of material.

To me, there seems to be an unfortunate impression abroad in the online Gurdjieff community that the Gurdjieff ideas are a sophisticated intellectual circus act, and that much of the important core of the Work can be located in Ouspensky's texts.

That's okay, for those who wish to believe that. However, the Gurdjieff work is not just a set of complex esoteric ideas cribbed out on sheets of paper. It is a living entity that breathes in and out through every individual that engages in it. There are as many versions of the Gurdjieff work as there are people practicing it, because every individual's work and aim belongs to themself.

In this blog, I try to speak about personal practice, as derived from 25 and more years of actual struggle and experience in my own living work.

This means I try to speak directly about my own experience. It's not going to sound just like the material in the traditional body of the Gurdjieff literature. This blog is not about the Work in theory, it is the Work from the perspective of practice, as it is passed on in current practice. There is a significant difference, as anyone who joins the formal Work soon finds out.

If it resembles "new age" material, that is probably because new age efforts have some real material in them. I suppose outsiders might find it quite shocking to hear from someone on the "inside" (ha ha) that many, many people in the formal line of the Gurdjieff work study all kinds of new age ideas. They do new age stuff. They see new age movies and read new age books. Even some of my close friends in the Work do this.

Ach du Lieber! Quelle outrage?!

You know what? There's room for everyone out there, gang.

Here's how I see it.

One of the essential characteristics of inner development is to learn how to respect others and their efforts, not intentionally devalue them as inferiors of one kind or another.

Another essential characteristic is transparency and responsibility. People who wish to say something negative to someone else should be willing to stand there naked, to reveal their identity. To hide behind anonymity and judge is to avoid the essential question.

Take note, in this blog, you know who I am. I don't hide behind obscure pseudonyms. If we don't have the courage to be who we are, where is our Being?

And then there is the ultimate question of compassion and humility. People who have a real organic sense of self must try to avoid flinging their monkey poop at others

...being human, none of us succeed at this all the time. But-- poop ever in-hand-- do we understand that the effort to be present should be present?

There is a terrific in danger in believing that we know something about the Gurdjieff ideas and are hence somehow "above" other people. The moment any of us go there, we are living through ego, and we think that we are something.

It can hardly be described as a moment where we, as Gurdjieff repeatedly wished for all of us, fully sense our own nothingness.


Recent events have provoked me to begin writing a major essay on our collective struggle against negativity, which is a task I have had in front of me for nearly a year now. I have repeatedly put it off because of its scale, and the fact that it will require me to lay bare much hard-won personal material.

This essay will be a follow-up to my 2003 essay on the enneagram and its esoteric implications, which is available by clicking on the link.

Stay tuned.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

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