S4/E40: Is Gurdjieff’s way the only way?
Published March 31st, 2022
Is Gurdjieff’s way the only way?
In this podcast we share with you a dialogue between Russell and several of his students, about suffering, formatory thinking, lightening the Sorrow of our Common Father, coating our higher being-bodies, how to quickly disconnect and reconnect centers, will action, the great Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen debate, Ouspensky’s Hydrogen numbers, as well as a description of Worlds 1 thru 96.
Welcome to a series of talks about objective consciousness, an objective Universe, and an objective way to awaken, expanding upon the works of George I. Gurdjieff and Russell A. Smith.
In today’s podcast I will share with you a dialogue between Russell and one of his students, about where we place our center of gravity, finding a real teacher, whether or not Gurdjieff’s way is the only way, doing something special for Russell, and the words of the late Carl Sagan regarding planetary influences.
Student: Is it true that our lives are dependent upon where we place our center of gravity?
Russell: Yes, it is, and no, it is not, as it depends on what we are describing.
If we are describing our inner world, our center of gravity is internal, whereas, if we are describing our outer world, our center of gravity is external. That is, in our inner world, our center of gravity will be coming from whatever center we are in at the moment, and in our outer world, our center of gravity will be coming from wherever we have placed it.
Firstly, let’s do the outside world.
A good example would be mothers, who place their center of gravity in their children, and oftentimes, never get it back.
Russell: Other examples would be those who place their center of gravity in their spouse, who place it in their company, who place it in their profession, who place it in their country club, who place it in their church, or who place it in their friends, and as such, are never at peace, unless they are where, or with whom, they placed their center of gravity.
For instance: Let’s say that someone, who has placed their center of gravity in their friends, is home alone, what will they do? They will either call their friends and ask them to come over or go to a bar where their friends might be; in hopes that one of their friends might tell them how valuable they are, and as such, will give them back some of their center of gravity.
However, while at the bar if someone calls them a fool, they will most likely be disturbed, and as a result, they will run over to their friends and tell them what has occurred, in hopes that their friends will tell them that they are not a fool, and once again, give them back some of their center of gravity.
Student: Wow, that is so true.
Russell: Yes, it is.
Student: Okay, I got it.
Russell: We have all heard Gurdjieff talking about creating ‘Moon’ in oneself, which is akin to having a permanent center of gravity in yourself. That is, just like the external Moon keeps the Earth stable, an internal ‘Moon’ will keep you stable.
Unfortunately, in life, it is not that way.
In life, it is “I am special because I went to New York City on New Year's Eve and got to watch them drop the ball at midnight, or I went to the Super Bowl game. And as such, their center of gravity is either in what they have done or what they are going to do: I did this, I am going there, I did that, I am going to meet him, etc.
Student: That is really a tricky concept. What you are saying, as I too am that way, is that I am not really me, but instead, I am an externally centered person, and therefore, I am not the original. That is, what I am … is not me, but rather, what is outside me.
Wow, I am beginning to understand.
What I think is important to me and to the people in my life, places me outside of myself. Is that correct?
Russell: Yes, it is.
Just like those who join a country club, join the country club because their center of gravity is in the fact that they will be members of that country club, which similarly determines whether they are an Aggie, an Arizona State Cardinal, or go to Harvard or Yale. If that is the case, it should be easy to see that their center of gravity is not in themselves, but rather outside themselves. That is, their values are not internal, but external.
Student: That is a great explanation.
Russell: Secondly, let’s do our inside world.
If someone mostly manifests from their Moving Center, they are considered to be a Man #1, from their Emotional Center, a Man #2, and from their Intellectual Center, a Man #3.
Student: A Man #1 is not necessarily inferior to a man #2, is he?
Russell: No. Not at all. He just manifests from his Moving Center more often than he does from his other centers.
Being a Man #1, #2, or #3, simply means that if we consider everything a man does, most of his manifestations will be coming from one center. For instance, if a man manifests 40% of the time from his Emotional Center, 35% of the time from his Moving Center, and 25% of the time from his Intellectual Center, he will be called a Man #2.
Student: Okay. I got it.
Furthermore, a Man # 1 will be able to lay on a bed of nails, and will be able to withstand the pain, a Man #2 will be able to be insulted, and will be able to withstand the insults, and a Man #3 will be able to recognize that he does not know something, and will be able to withstand the truth that he does not know something.
However, your inner center of gravity will be determined by whatever center you happen to be in at the moment. That is, when you do the ‘I-wish-to-remember-myself’ exercise, Gurdjieff says the moment you utter the word ‘I,’ the ‘I’ will be coming from whatever center you are in. That is, if you are in the Moving Center, the ‘I’ will be coming from the Moving Center, if you are in the Emotional Center, the ‘I’ will be coming from the Emotional Center, and if you are in the Intellectual Center, the I’ will be coming from the Intellectual Center.
However, after you learn the three-fold-attention exercise and subsequently are able to split yourself into three parts and then bring those three parts to one place, your ‘I’ will be in all three centers simultaneously. That is, you will no longer be manifesting from just one center, but from three centers, as you have successfully unified your three lower centers into one; just like the members of a chorus do, who at first, learn their parts separately, and then, sing them together.
Student: Can I do that while I am doing the ‘lying still for an hour’ exercise?
Russell: Yes, of course you can. In fact, you can do many exercises while you are lying still.
Student: That is terrific, because there is a fear in me that if I do my exercises in public, someone might see me doing them, and as such, they will judge me.
Russell: Well, I suppose they might. However, if they see you talking on your cell phone, they might judge you as well. Does that mean that you should only talk on your cell phone when you are behind closed doors?
Student: That is a great point. I guess, as long as I am not breaking the law, I shouldn’t care about what others see me doing.
Not to mention the fact that most of our exercises are mental exercises, and as such, unless someone is able to read your mind, they will have no idea that you are doing an exercise.
Student: Yes, indeed. That is, unless I am doing the hands in motion exercise or the objective walking exercise.
Russell: Probably not, as they would be too busy looking at their cell phone.
But I do understand your concern.
If so, I suggest that you be a sly man, and only do the mental exercises in public, and the others in private.
Student: Unfortunately, there is an emotional element in me from my childhood that says, “Don’t be an odd man!”
Russell: Yes. I think, to some extent, we all suffer from that. One way of dealing with such things, would be to acknowledge the fact that if a Christian saw a Muslim on the floor bowing to Mecca several times a day, the Muslim’s manifestations would look pretty odd to the Christian, right?
Student: Yes, they would.
Russell: However, they would not look odd to the other Muslims who also bow to Mecca several times a day, would they?
Student: No, they would not.
Russell: So, I guess, all things have an air of relativity, as to what people do or do not do, which may look odd or not look odd to someone else.
Student: Yeah. I think it was Jan Cox who said that if a being from another planet was to visit the Earth, and witnessed a Catholic ritual, they would probably say, “What a humorous event that was.”
So, I get it. What we think looks odd to us, might not look odd to someone else, and vice versa.
Russell: That’s terrific.
Student: It’s kind of like having a hillbilly attitude, which I think we all have to some extent.
Russell: Yes sir, whatever that means.
Student: It is like what we do in our community, where we only do what we think is right, and anything else is dubious.
Russell: Ah, yes, indeed.
Student: Besides that, I think, we are too intellectual and emotional. I’m not talking about you, but about some of the people in my group.
Russell: Well, that may be true. However, your group is a very talented group, and as such, I am tickled pink to have met them; I really am. You are a great force to the school, as well as to the people here.
Student: Well, we are very grateful to have found you, as we were searching for a real teacher.
Russell: After witnessing the commitment in your group, you guys deserve one.
Student: Yeah, I think so too. We had been looking for a long time, and as such, we had brought in many teachers, but after hearing about you from one of our members that met you in England, who we trust, the group here was very excited to meet you.
Russell: Well, I am glad that they were.
Since our first meeting, everything I have heard from those who I have talked to, has indicated that your group is rapidly changing.
Student: Yes, it is.
After being exposed to your teachings, our Work has once again become practical, so much so that many of the members are beginning to see the real possibility of them awakening, which has infused the group with enthusiasm and excitement.
It is just wonderful.
It is funny, before finding you, we had odd expectations of what teachers would be. We thought that female teachers would be wearing mink coats, and male teachers would be wearing a headdress, or something like that! [laughing]
Russell: [also laughing] That is funny.
Student: Stuff like that.
I think what impressed us most about you was the fact that you were down to earth. We all got the feeling, after first listening to you speak, that you had an immense grip on the truth. A truth that would lead us to awakening.
Russell: Well, thank you for that. That was my aim. As I said from the beginning, I got into this work for only one reason: I wanted to fulfill the potential that I had a right to fulfill. That is, if the potential was to awaken, I wanted to awaken. If the potential was to acquire reason and impartiality, I wanted to acquire reason and impartiality. If the potential was to create higher being-bodies, I wanted to create higher being-bodies. Whatever the potential was, I wanted to fulfill it, and when I started to acquire it, I realized that I also had the obligation to share everything I had acquired with as many people as possible, as it was their right to acquire it as well.
Furthermore, the only way of doing that was to be honorable. That is, to not use the Work for my own personal gains, but to do it simply because it was the right thing to do.
Student: That shows, Russ. It really does.
Russell: Well, thanks.
Student: Which I believe is Gurdjieff’s fourth ‘being-obligolnian-strivings,’ isn’t it?
Russell: Yes, sir. It is.
Student: Great. Okay, what do you want me to do next?
Russell: I want you to read the chapter on Influences at the end of Views from the Real World.
Student: Okay. I will.
We have that book, in our group’s library, in three different languages: English, Spanish, and German.
Russell: Great. Any of them will do, as long as you understand that language.
Student: I do. I speak them all.
I think it is really interesting to read about the Work in different languages, as it often gives me greater insight as to what was meant.
Russell: Yes, sir. I imagine so.
However, when I was visiting a Fourth Way school in Oregon, there was a fellow there from France who had several books in French. One evening, he approached me and told me that he was perplexed, because in the English version of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, when Gurdjieff was talking about perceiving one’s existence, it used the word ‘I,’ and in the French version it used the word ‘toi,’ which meant you.’ After which, the fellow stated that he was having difficulty figuring out which term was correct. When he did, I said to him, “Let me ask you this, do you know what it is like to remember yourself, and therefore, to perceive your own existence?” To which he replied, “Yes.” When he did, I uttered, “Well, if you know what it is like to perceive your own existence, then it shouldn’t matter to you whether it was translated as ‘I’ or ‘you,’ That is, if you know the taste of the state you are in, everything else is meaningless.”
Student: What a great reply, Russ. Did he get it?
Russell: Yes, he did. He looked at me and smiled.
Student: I have one other question: do you believe that students of Gurdjieff believe that his way is the only way?
Russell: Well, some probably do. However, those of reason will most likely recognize what I recognize, which is that Gurdjieff’s way is not the only way, but rather is a practical way; at least to me it was. That is, after deciphering it, it has allowed me, as well as hundreds of other seekers to awaken. And now that it is available, I am compelled to ask why people who hear that it is now available, still continue to believe in things like hypnotic healing, horoscopes, channeling, and numerology.
I sometimes wonder why those who say they wish to find the real, do not pursue the real, but instead, pursue the unreal, like trying to contact the dead. If they just learned the laws of World-creation and World maintenance, they would be able to contact their higher selves, which after they did, they would find it to be a lot easier than contacting Elvis Presley!
Student: [laughing] Is there anything else you would like me to do?
Russell: Other than to read the chapter on Influences, create more reminding factors to constantly remind you to remember yourself, and to keep doing what you are already doing, no.
Student: [laughing even more] Okay. I will.
Russell: And, it won’t take you hours.
Student: Well, that is good.
That being said, Mr Smith, I would like to do something for you.
Russell: What’s that?
Student: Well, what is your sun sign?
Russell: My sun sign? You mean like my birth sign, as in my horoscope?
Russell: I am a Libra.
Student: Terrific, I am a Libra too. So, I guess, what I am about to tell you, applies to us both.
I have it right here. It is out of one of the biggest newspapers in the country, the LA times.
Russell: Oh, wow, then I am sure that it is official.
Student: [reading out of the newspaper] “You said wrong things to Scorpio, almost cause love a fringes, recovered over smooth, troubled waters.”
Is that about right?
Russell: Yes, indeed. That is spot on!
Student: [laughing] And, had you talked to a Sagittarius, you would have said all the right things! [continues laughing]
Russell: I would have. [pleadingly saying] I know I would have.
Student: [laughing uncontrollably] Isn’t it hilarious that some people actually believe in horoscopes?
Russell: Yes it is. And those horoscopes, although they are in almost every newspaper, are all different.
Student: Yeah, go figure, if they spoke the truth, you would think that they would all say the same thing. So, which one is right? Which one is the official Horoscope of the day?
Russell: Sadly, people have many illusions, like believing that the position of the planets actually influences them.
I love what Carl Sagan said when he was asked if the planets influenced us. He said, “How could the rising of Mars at the moment of my birth affect me, then or now? I was born in a closed room. Light from Mars couldn’t get in. The only influence of Mars which could affect me was its gravity. But the gravitational pull of the obstetrician was much larger than the gravitational influence of Mars. Mars is a lot more massive, but the obstetrician was much closer.”
So, if anything, Carl Sagan should have been like his obstetrician.
Student: Ha, I like that.
Russ, do you think there are any influences out there that actually affect us?
Russell: You mean like horoscopes?
Student: Well, no, horoscopes are bologna. But are there any influences that affect us?
Russell: Well, the Sun keeps giving us heat, and the Moon has kept the Earth at a constant tilt, which allowed the slow process of evolution to take place, and the large outer planets have either captured or deflected many comets and meteors that might have hit the Earth and whipped out our existence, just like the one that killed the dinosaurs did. So, in a sense, the Sun and planets not only affected us, but continue to affect us. However, if we attribute the state of our inner world to the position of Jupiter, we are helpless.
Student: Yes. I think so, too.
Russell: Furthermore, if our inner state was the resultant of the position of Jupiter, we would be unable to change it, and as such, we would have no reason to try.
Student: Hmm, I don’t know if I read this wrong, but in some Work passages the authors seem to say that things like that do happen.
Russell: All I will say about that is this, “Let God kill him who himself does not know and yet presumes to show others the way to the doors of His Kingdom.” - Gurdjieff, Meetings with Remarkable Men, pages 184 and 185.
Again, read the chapter on Influences in Views From the Real World. In it, Gurdjieff will address planetary influences.
Russell: He says, quite honestly, that even if God, Himself, was trying to send us a message, we would be unable to receive it, because, since we are so wrapped up in lower influences, we would not be able to hear His message. To do so, we would first need to free ourselves from lower influences, in order to receive higher ones.
Anyway, read the chapter on Influences, and then, when we talk next Tuesday, you will be able to tell me about planetary influences you are under.
Student: [laughing] Okay. Alright.
Russell: Well, my friend, I think we have exhausted that subject.
Student: I think so too. Thanks a lot.
Russell: Okay, anything else?
Student: That’s about it. Thanks for answering all my questions.
Russell: Great call, sir. You have a wonderful week. Good night.
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