Awakening begins when a person realizes that they are going nowhere and they do not know where to go.
How to live simply? It is a big question. Let the answer come into the empty space that one must create in oneself. Trying to live simply is not the way—we don’t know how. Trying to fix it is filling the space with activity, when what is needed is to empty oneself and allow an answer to appear…
Although the actual year and date of his birth is debatable, Gurdjieff’s birthday is traditionally celebrated today, January 13th.
G.I. Gurdjieff was born in Alexandropol, close to the frontiers of Russia and Turkey, circa 1866. Finding that neither science nor religion answered his questions about the meaning of man’s life, he became convinced that an ancient knowledge must exist and could still be found on Earth. After twenty years of search in remote parts of Central Asia and the Near East, he returned to Russia in 1912. Settling near Paris in 1922, he established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Fontainebleau. In 1924, he made the first of a series of visits to America. In 1929, he moved from Fontainebleau to Paris where he continued writing and working with a small number of students until his death in 1949.
A Few Quotations:
“Awakening begins when a man realizes that he is going nowhere and does not know where to go.” — G. I. Gurdjieff
“To be in a room with others where keeping a question alive is more important than thinking one has the answer.” — G.I. Gurdjieff, “Views From the Real World.”
“Man is a symbol of the laws of creation; in him there is evolution, involution, struggle, progress and retrogression, struggle between positive and negative, active and passive, yes and no, good and evil.” — G.I. Gurdjieff
“The sole means now for the saving of the beings of the planet Earth would be to implant again into their presences a new organ… of such properties that every one of these unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognisant of the inevitability of his own death as well as the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. Only such a sensation and such a cognisance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them.”
— G. I. Gurdjieff. “Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson.”
Painting by William Segal, “Self Portrait in a Yellow Hat”
In Tracy Cochran’s post over at PARABOLA Editors blog she describes the life of an extraordinary teacher, William Segal who embodied what it means to live a “double life.” He was a gifted athlete, an innovative publisher of 11 magazines, a painter, and also a writer and editor. Above all, however, Segal was a seeker of truth-his interests were in Eastern spiritual traditions, specifically, he was a student of Ouspensky, G.I Gurdjieff and, later, D.T. Suzuki.
Published in 2003, a few years after Segal’s death, “A Voice at the Borders of Silence” is an autobiographical scrapbook that contains paintings, photographs, articles, diaries and correspondence with artists, thinkers, businessmen and great spiritual teachers. In the preface, theatre director and friend Peter Brook describes Segal: “Bill was a man of many layers and if the outer layer as the man of today, the innermost core was an opening to eternity,”
Recently, Deborah Barlow who writes under Slow Muse reminded me of this extraordinary passage from the Buddhist scholar, Robert Thurman’s foreword to the book:
“Bill handed me…his charcoal drawings, which aptly got called “Transparencies.” Simple black and white, still lives of table objects, especially glasses, emerged in the luminosity of enlightened perception. Ultimate experience of this is called “clear light,” which is often misunderstood to refer to a bright white light. But the white light is a more superficial level of reality, the moonlit level called “luminance.” The clear light is just transparency, compared to the gray dawn twilight when you can see your hand but not the lines in it. It is a light that does not fall on objects, but comes from within them, casting no shadows. It is a self-luminous, non-dual awareness and presence. And Bill, untroubled by the sophisticated Tibetan phenomenology of such states, was bringing it into our dualistic awareness by scratching on paper with bits of charcoal. I was awestruck.”
Lastly, here is another pithy quote that resonates now more than ever from William Segal’s book of poetry entitled, “Opening,”
“Just as there is a network of communication, a worldwide sharing of ideas and applications, a sharing on a psychic level is also taking place among us.”
— Luke Storms
This piece appeared in the PARABOLA Newsletter: “A Double Life,” September 17th, 2010
From parabola-magazine on Tumblr.
At This Moment
When we turn to anything other than God
we miss the mark.
Even when we turn to God as an image
we miss the mark
This is what separates the mystics
and the literal minded religious.
At this point, too,
The mystics sometimes flounder.
Turning to God
in the sense of
absolute stillness, in the sense that
one dwells in the great void
cannot be described. But it is here
that we enter fully
into the experience. It is here
that the words
take their meaning and significance
for the seeker.
of higher presence
of the ever-present merging
of one ordinary,
with a limitless force
All the words merge
at this moment.
To be in a room with others where keeping a question alive is more important than thinking one has the answer.