S3/E17: R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 6
R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 6
In this episode, we continue to narrate question and answer dialogues with Russell A. Smith. We discuss imagination, active reason, the stop exercise, new knowledge, the 8-10-12 ratios, movements, rhythm, chords, rules and laws and conscious faith. The transcript for this podcast, can be found on our website at thedogteachings.com under Resources/Podcasts. Our unique 400 page E-book, entitled Gurdjieff: Cosmic Secrets – The TEACHING GUIDE available for download and study – an 8 day journey to awakening with exercises to work on being, and seven chapters explaining the diatonic nature of the universe, with an ultimate exercise to objectively awaken. Available here.
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Welcome to a series of talks about objective consciousness, an objective universe, and an objective way to awaken.
We expand upon the works of George I. Gurdjieff, with Russell A. Smith’s THEDOG teachings, which imparts a proven way to awaken objectively. All material discussed is drawn from Russell Smith’s book, Gurdjieff: Cosmic Secrets – The Teaching Guide, and this and all supporting material may be found on our website at thedogteachings.com.
Continuing our talks on Work questions and answers, in this podcast, we discuss Imagination, active reason, the stop exercise, new knowledge, the 8-10-12 ratios, movements, rhythms and chords, rules and laws and conscious faith.
Q. Can you tell us how imagination is produced and becomes a habit?
A. Controlled imagination is the beginning of reason. It allows us to extrapolate what we know into what we do not yet know and set things in motion towards a specific aim. In Gurdjieff’s teachings we are told that the right use of imagination is to imagine ourselves conscious. That is, to imagine how we would think and act if we were conscious. But the kind of imagination we have is certainly not that. We imagine that there are monsters under the bed, which is called uncontrolled imagination. Uncontrolled imagination is when we allow the mind to go places without direction. Controlled imagination is when we give direction to the mind. Having controlled imagination is different from having uncontrolled imagination. Controlled imagination is something that has direction – like when chemists imagine what would happen if they put two chemicals together. That’s OK. Of course, sometimes they get something other than what they imagined, but that is how things get discovered. Uncontrolled imagination occurs when we see two people whispering and assume that they are saying something bad about us. Oftentimes uncontrolled imagination is triggered by outside things. So, we have to stop, or at least be aware of what triggers it.
Q. So, a good use of imagination would be to imagine something and then take action on it?
A. Right. Say that you teach children. You have to imagine how you’re going to communicate with them. That is, how you are going to get your idea across to them. So, you play it out first in your mind, and then imagine their response. Or, you try to imagine what the guy at the interview is going to ask you, so that you will have proper responses. Right imagination happens when there is control. Wrong imagination happens when there is no control. Again, controlled imagination is a good thing because it leads to the attainment of reason. It is only when it is not controlled that it is of no value because it creates images, beliefs, and ideas that have no foundation in reality.
At its root, imagination is remembering what a thing did to one thing, and then extrapolating that onto another thing, which, as I said, is a prerequisite to reason. Like the first guy who was beating two rocks together and one of the rocks broke, became sharp, and cut his hand. Later on, when he killed an alligator, he imagined that if the rock cut his hand, it might cut through the tough skin of that alligator.
Q. Would you describe active reasoning?
A. Active reasoning is a Gurdjieff’s exercise that keeps us free. It is when we produce in our minds opposite scenarios. Gurdjieff used the following model: If someone calls you a fool, in order to not be affected by what they say, active reasoning is required. He goes on to give us two examples. I Paraphrase: Wow! A. called me a fool. I do not think I was a fool, nor that I acted foolishly. So why would A. call me a fool? Perhaps he listened to somebody else’s opinion of me and believed what they had told him, without verifying it for himself; and, as such, he formed an opinion about me, which today caused him to call me a fool. Well, you know, it is pretty foolish to believe what someone says about someone else without first verifying it. So, therefore, A. must really be the fool for blindly believing what he was told; and, as such, I should not be affected if a fool calls me a fool. Thus, I am free from what A. has said.
But active reasoning also requires that I say to myself: Hey! A. called me a fool. Well maybe I was a fool or maybe I acted foolishly. You know, my aim is to not be a fool, nor to act foolishly…. And, since A, bless him, has come along and called me a fool, he knowingly or unknowingly has reminded me of my aim, which, when you think about it, is a pretty cool thing; that someone else is able to help me on my journey by reminding me of my aim. So I am not affected that A. has called me a fool. Instead, I am thankful.”
Q. So, imagination is a way to train our minds to use imagination correctly?
A. Yes, as long as we hold it and direct it. However, if we allow the mind to run by itself, it will soon have us believing that Russian spy satellites are peeking in our window because someone told us they were in orbit.
Q. One of our readings from Views from the Real World contains the stop exercise. Is there a way to do a stop exercise on yourself?
A. Technically, you cannot truly give yourself a stop exercise; because, if you do, it will start at your command, be in the posture of your choosing, and stop when you feel uncomfortable. That is, you will not be giving up your will; and, as such, will only do it for ten seconds, saying, “Okay, I can go now.” But, if you set a timer which goes off randomly, it will not be starting at your command. However, you run the risk of having the timer go off when you are coming down the stairs; and, if you try to stop yourself when you are coming down the stairs, you may inadvertently fall down the stairs and hurt yourself. So, we have a rule in Texas; if you do use a timer; or, if you are in my presence and I initiate a stop exercise, you are not allowed to hurt yourself. Thus, you may be able to randomly create a stop exercise; but then the question is, how long do you stay stopped? When do you allow yourself to go? What is the time period? Is it when you become uncomfortable, or do you push through a few uncomfortable moments? If so, how many of them do you push through? So, there are some considerations to be made. Perhaps, what you need is some kind of dual timer, maybe the duration of a radio or TV commercial. If you did so, you would then be under a more appropriate stop exercise… holding yourself stopped until the commercials ends. But the question still remains, how long will you actually hold yourself? Are you really going to give up your will, or will you say, “That’s a long commercial, I’ve done it for long enough, as such, I am going to let myself go?” So, factor in all of that. It is always better to give up your will to someone who will recognize when to initiate the stop exercise and when to end it; but, if you can find triggers that will mechanically, randomly do it, you may be able to somewhat experience a stop exercise without needing a conscious guide. I was lucky, because I had two bells, like in school; where they ring one bell to end a class period and another bell to start the next. Thus, having two bells worked perfectly for doing the stop exercise. The two bells would sometimes be ten minutes apart, and sometimes one minute apart. I never knew; but I did know that there were going to be two bells. So, I was able to subjugate my will until the second bell rang. But again, if the bell rang when I was in a precarious position, I never allowed myself to get hurt.
Q. What did Gurdjieff mean when he said, “When you are ready for new knowledge it will come to you?”
A. I think a simple model that will help you understand the idea is this… before you learned to multiply, you first learned to add, because multiplication is just an extension of addition. That is, if you understand that 5+5+5+5=20, then you might be ready to learn that four fives are twenty. Thus, instead of adding 5+5+5+5 four times, you can simply multiply 5×4, or for that matter 4×5, and get twenty. So, I think the idea is once you acquire a certain knowledge, other knowledge will become available. Imagine learning the times tables without first learning addition. You would probably not get the model, it would just be two numbers with an x in the middle; but once you understand that multiplication means adding the same number to itself x number of times, you would understand multiplication.
Q. In Views from the Real World it talks about eight, ten, and twelve being the representation of a real man. Would you explain that to me, I want to understand?
A. Eight, ten, and twelve are ratios, that is, they are the correlation between three things. In music, playing any three notes that are in the ratios eight, ten, and twelve produces a chord. However, if you play three notes that are in the ratios eight, ten, and eleven, you will not produce a chord; instead, you will produce a cacophony, which has a non-harmonic resonance. But, when any three notes are played that are in the ratios eight, ten, and twelve, there will be harmonic resonance; resonance that produces a chord. So, I think Gurdjieff was saying, “Since all things are a product of three forces, it is imperative to have the three forces sounding in the proper ratios, in order for them to produce something higher.”
Q. How can a person go about finding out if they have balance in their centers? In doing the movements, it seemed that when my centers were in balance the movements went smoothly, but if I made a mistake, it threw me out of balance, and I could not keep the sequence going.
A. That is a good question, but a difficult one to answer; because if you do the movements over and over, eventually they will become mechanical; and, as such, they will only be performed by the mechanical part of the moving center. So, I don’t think it is about having your centers in balance, as much as it is about the interference caused while you are learning to make the movements mechanical. It is like typing. Once you have it in your moving center, you don’t have to think about where the keys are. But when you are trying to put it into your moving center, if you start thinking about where the keys are, that will interfere with your typing. So, in talking about movements, I don’t think it is about having our eight, ten, and twelve in balance, as much as it is about letting our eight become an eight without the interference from the ten and twelve.
Q. When we finally got the movements down, the instructors would tell us to bring in emotions and hold them while trying to think about different words in the vocabulary of different languages.
A. I cannot answer that because I was not there when Gurdjieff taught the movements; as such, I do not know if he suggested that, or if those things were added by someone else.
I do know, from what I have read about the movements, that Gurdjieff did not allow anyone to master the movements; because it was not about doing the movements, it was about paying attention while you were trying to do the movements, and if you mastered the movements, that is, if you drove them into the mechanical part of the moving center, you could do them without paying attention, which didn’t serve anything. So, perhaps, he did not want the eight to become an eight, but rather, he wanted the ten and twelve to interfere with it, so that all three centers would be involved. I think the challenge in doing the movements was in thinking about what you needed to do next and in feeling your inability to do it.
Thus, it is hard to know why someone said to add emotions and thoughts.
The point of the movements was not to drive them into the mechanical part of the moving center, so that you didn’t have to think about the position of your arms; but rather, to force you to think about the position of your arms; and, as that was difficult, it took attention, and therefore, served some good. But, when it finally became mechanical, it stopped serving good, because you could think about your date that evening; and, thus, you were no longer a participant.
Unfortunately, the movements have degenerated. Case in point, we once hired a movements teacher, who came to the school and showed us how to do some of the Gurdjieff movements. Then, we found out she had never even read a Gurdjieff book! So, perhaps, many of the modern day movements’ teachers know nothing other than how to show others how to do movements; and, as such, have driven them into the mechanical part of their moving centers, to where the movements have lost all of their value and meaning, until finally someone said, “Gee, these movements have lost all of their value and meaning. That is, we can do them without attention, so let’s throw in some emotions and intelligence… because without having emotions and intelligence, it will just be dancing.”
Q. At your school in Texas, you don’t teach movements, so does that mean that our work is complete without them?
A. I did learn some of the movements once, from someone who had never read a Gurdjieff book. But, no, we do not do movements at our school. Instead, we do exercises like “pick a center”, which brings attention to our centers. It is all about bringing attention. Do you need movements to bring attention? If you understand the structure, the Rules and Laws, and the fall of Atlantis, that is, how people fell asleep because things were driven into the mechanical parts of their centers; parts that do not have attention, you might be able to reverse engineer yourself and wake up. Then, if you do, you may realize that mechanical movements are not your salvation.
Q. Gurdjieff talked about how impressions depend on rhythm. What is rhythm?
A. Rhythm is when things are in sync. I will give you a simple model. Imagine stepping on stones that are placed according to the stride of your steps, as such, they would be in rhythm with your walking. You could simply walk and be able to step on all the stones; but now imagine the stones being placed either farther apart, or closer together… to where they did not match the rhythm of your stride. Now walking would be more difficult. You would have to intentionally take large steps, or intentionally take small steps in order to hit all the stones. Now imagine that some of the stones were placed close together, some of the stones were placed far apart, and some were placed according to your stride. If they were, you could not get into the rhythm of only taking long steps, or the rhythm of only taking short steps, or the rhythm of your stride. Every footstep would have to be individual and intentional.
Do you remember when you walked to school as a kid, and played the game, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back?” I do. Fortunately, my rhythm was such that I missed all the cracks and didn’t even have to try to miss them, because my rhythm made my foot fall just short of one crack or just passed another; and, in order to miss the cracks, I never needed to take short steps or long steps. Maybe, next year, when I am an inch or two taller, I will have had to intentionally take short or long steps because my new stride will not miss the cracks.
It is the same with impressions. We think at a certain rhythm. If incoming impressions come in at a faster rhythm than we think, it will be hard for us to follow them, and if they come in at a slower rhythm, we will either get bored, or will insert our own thoughts into the slower rhythm, which again, will make it very hard for us to follow them.
Q. So, when you were avoiding the cracks and were walking in your rhythm, did you still need attention?
A. You always need attention. However, since my natural rhythm missed the cracks, I only needed to have mechanical attention. It was only when my natural rhythm hit the cracks that I had to bump my attention up to a higher part.
Q. So, when you were in that place, that rhythm, could you receive other impressions?
A. Yes, of course I could, since I did not have to pay attention to my steps, I could entertain other things. Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Watch your step?” Why do you think they made that sign? They made it because whatever was there was out of most peoples’ rhythm.
Q. The exercises that are given out when someone comes to you in Sanger are in three categories. Are the magnetic center exercises, like the study of oneself, only for people who have not studied themself, or is it also for people who have studied themself?
A. The first page of exercises comes right out of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution. In it, you will find a great dissertation of what the magnetic center is, and of what the study of oneself means. That is, the study of one’s machine, the study of one’s functions, the study of one’s centers. But, yes, all exercises are for everyone. Just like the practice of catching a baseball is exercised by the novice as well as by the professional.
Q. So, if I decided to study myself, should I start by reading The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution?
A. Yes, that would be a great place to start. We have produced five podcasts of Gary reading that book from cover to cover. So, it is at your fingertips.
Q. Is the point of these discussions that we need to develop ourselves in order to get unity, or to get unity in order to develop ourselves?
A. I think it is probably a bit of both. Certainly, the first stage is true; we must develop ourselves in order to achieve unity. That is, by developing all sides of ourselves, the eight, ten, and twelve, we may become a chord and also be in accord. Then, once we become chord and are in accord, we will be able to refine the parts of our machine to both maintain, and advance that harmony.
Q. Does this have to do with “liberation leads to liberation”, to liberate ourselves from our inner world so that we can liberate ourselves from the outer world?
A. Yes, I think that is a very good way of putting it. If you are influenced by the outside, it is hard to be impartial on the inside. But first, you need to reverse that and be liberated internally before you can be liberated externally. That is, when impressions come in from the outside, if you react to them on the inside, the outside becomes a reflection of your inside. We have a DOGTALE that says, “What a man sees, when he looks at the world around him, says more about the man than it does about the world.”
Q. In the example of the chord, is it possible to have a chord in yourself and not hear it? Just like, if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
A. I am not really sure of how to answer the first part of your question. That is, of having a chord in yourself and not being able to hear it. In my experience, if you become a “thirty”, you will know it. But, perhaps, I can answer your first question by answering the second. Which was, “If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” That one is simple. And of course the answer is, “It does.” “How do I know.” Well there are rules and laws which govern things; and, if something is in motion, it is going to make a sound if something else stops it from being in motion. That is, if part A hits part B there are going to be vibrations, frequencies, and sound. Having no sound would be like saying, “If someone rolls some dice and you are not there to see it, would the numbers still come up?” Of course they would. Every dice has six sides. One side has to come up. Thus, you do not have to be there to know that the tree makes a noise when the ground stops its motion.
So, whether dice are rolling, or the tree is falling, there are Rules and Laws. I think that having Rules and Laws allows us to go beyond the philosophical idea of whether or not a falling tree makes a noise, unless of course it falls in a vacuum, but certainly it makes a noise if it falls in the woods.
And what is true in one woods, is true in all woods. Just like, if there is life on another planet it will be constructed according to the Fibonacci sequence, even if no one is there to see it. Why? Because those are the Rules and Laws.
Q. Someone asked me to tell them something that was true. The only thing I could think of was that two plus two equals four. Is there something else I could have told them that is also undeniable?
A. Yes. Since the structure is based on mathematics, anything created by the structure would have sufficed. So, albeit you gave them a simple answer, you gave them a good one. Other mathematical things, like everything being Fibonacci, dualities, sevenfold octaves, or water is always H2O, etc., would also have sufficed.
Q. I know we can describe the astral and mental matter mathematically; but, in their essence, are they still mathematical?
Q. The only things I know that are true about myself are that I am mechanical and that I have a physical dimension. However, it seems that I cannot really know if I have a spiritual dimension. Would you comment?
A. Again, it is a question of Rules and Laws. If we understand octaves, if we understand that you cannot make bread without fire, that is, you can mix flour and water and make dough, but cannot make bread without fire. Then, you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if someone walks up to you and shows you a loaf of bread, that the dough, from whence it came, received fire. You would not have to see the fire, to know that fire was involved. Because you know that you cannot make bread without the fire; and, as such, if they have bread, it had to have fire. So, if you understand octaves, how they work, and that assisting octaves are always necessary, in order to keep other octaves in motion; that one force in motion will not complete itself without the help of other forces, and that all things are a product of three forces. Then, by looking at the evolution of life on earth, and by seeing that it has passed through several stages: one-brained beings, two-brained beings, and three-brained beings… and by knowing that the octave of physical matter could not have gone far without the help of two other octaves, which we call the astral and mental octaves, then you can be certain that human beings only exist because they are the product of three forces in motion. Without which, there would only be bugs and worms. So, even though you cannot see the two other forces, you know that they are there there, just like you know that the bread had fire. So, by being a human being, you know that you must have a physical, an astral, and a mental dimension.
Q. When Gurdjieff talks about three brained-beings, he says that they are the only ones that have the capacity of having a higher mental center, is that correct?
A. Yes, that is correct. Some other two brained-beings may pass the reason threshold; but, as of today, we are the only beings with reason.
Q. Is it correct to say that there are exceptions to everything?
A. No. That is not correct. There are not exceptions to everything? When is two plus two not four? The model is… there are no exceptions; there are only right answers.
Q. Is conscious faith something that only arises in the understanding of real human beings?
A. That is a good question, and to answer it, we have to go back to the model of mathematics. When we previously asked the question, “If there is life on another planet would it be Fibonacci? The answer was, “Yes.” Which means that even though we cannot see that it is Fibonacci, we have faith that it will be Fibonacci. That is, we have developed a belief structure founded on Rules and Laws; and, as such, we know that life has no choice, no matter where it arises, it will be Fibonacci.
It is conscious faith because it is based on Rules and Laws. I think the model is, once you bring it down to the Rules and Laws, to the real parameters, and learn the mathematical structure behind things, you will have faith that all things will be that way. If you put chemical A into chemical B and get a certain reaction, you know that if you put them together on top of a mountain or on another planet you will get the same reaction, because that is the way it is. Only things that are not law-conformable engender no faith, like believing that reindeers can fly. So, faith is based on Rules and Laws, as indicated by what Gurdjieff says in the following passage, “Likewise, an all-round awareness of everything concerning these sacred laws also conduces, in general, to this, that three-brained beings irrespective of the form of their exterior coating, by becoming capable in the presence of all cosmic factors not depending on them and arising round about them–both the personally favorable as well as the unfavorable–of pondering on the sense of existence, acquire data for the elucidation and reconciliation in themselves of that, what is called, ‘individual collision’ which often arises, in general, in three-brained beings from the contradiction between the concrete results flowing from the processes of all the cosmic laws and the results presupposed and even quite surely expected by their what is called ‘sane-logic’; and thus, correctly evaluating the essential significance of their own presence, they become capable of becoming aware of the genuine corresponding place for themselves in these common-cosmic actualizations.”
That ends this question and answer session.
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