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Author Message

WIlliam Yeates

Hello Dimitri, I was listening to a pod cast of yours and I thought I I heard a mention of Gurdijeff? If so what are your thoughts about Gurdijeff?

Tuesday 02 August 2011 07:49:46 pm

Dmitry Orlov

I have studied Gurdjieff and found his ideas very useful. Specifically, they provide a great deal of insight into questions of personal self-transformation and individual evolution. Unfortunately I was born a bit too far into the 20th century to have been able to study with Gurdjieff personally, and so I had no access to the practical elements of his teaching that could not be imparted second-hand and through the various writings (Ouspensky specifically). Also unfortunately, Gurdjieff's teachings are quite limited in their application to the perhaps 1% of the population that is capable of exercising the willpower and the self-control at the level they require. But for those willing to give them a try, these are not esoteric teachings at all. They offer a conceptual map to the human animal, one that allows for quite a bit of tinkering, such as shutting off fear, anxiety or anger at will, or turning on senses that are normally off, or gaining conscious control over physiological and mental processes that are normally automatic.

For those who want a quick summary: even when you are awake you are asleep, on autopilot, repeating motions and thoughts that you unconsciously copied; you might be awake for a split second or two right after some stunning event or incident or trauma, and no doubt find such episodes deeply unsettling and want to go back to your habitual sleep-state as soon as possible, because you consider it normal. In this autopilot state you are using perhaps 10% of your abilities; the rest are simply off and degenerating from disuse. To top it off, you don't really exist; you are a behavior, not an object. What gives rise to the behaviors you think of as yourself is the set of habitual, repetitive interactions between several centers within you: physical, intellectual and emotional. Each of these is like a different machine: mechanical, electronic and chemical (respectively) and work according to different principles which your intellectual center can self-referentially understand. Change the way these machines within you communicate, and you become someone else.

Wednesday 03 August 2011 08:06:22 am

WIlliam Yeates

Would it be fair to say that the Gurgijeff work has change or influenced the way in which you think? I ask this because you truly are an outside of the box thinker, and very perceptive, which is very much needed.

With the minimal knowledge I have of Gurgijeffs work I would say that it was only intended for 1 % of the population. I know that Gurgijeff sees the importance of hard work and "intentional suffering" to challenge and break down the ego. In learning about the upcoming collapse it seems like everyday reality may very soon become a Gurdijeff work retreat, if one wants to see it that way.

Wednesday 03 August 2011 05:19:39 pm

Dmitry Orlov

I avoid being defined by things or teachings, Gurdjieff's included. Maybe that's a Gurdjieff influence, maybe not. He'd say that identity (especially religious, ethnic or national identity) is a fiction. Religious identity is particularly iffy in his view, because it's just an odd coupling between centers that allows imaginary mental constructs to have emotional and (in the case of genuflection or prostrating towards Mecca or flagellation) physical representations. But how useful is it to talk about this here? Telling people that they are asleep and dream that they are Moslem or Catholic or whatever else — that's just upsetting to them, and is neither useful nor pleasant, so it isn't up to Gurdjieff's standard for useful activity. But I wish I had a chance to meet the old man. He'd probably have told me to go stuff it. I think I would have been fine with that.

Thursday 04 August 2011 01:56:42 pm