S4/E12: Remembering to Self-Remember
Published December 10th, 2020
Remembering to Self-Remember
In this episode, we narrate a question and answer dialogue, for questions posed to Russell A. Smith. The topics covered are on our ability to do, how we can self-remember, exercises, and the inner and outer languages of mankind, and how they inter-communicate.
Welcome to a series of talks about objective consciousness, an objective universe, and an objective way to awaken.
It is primarily based on the works of George I. Gurdjieff and Russell A. Smith, and aims to simplify and explain what Gurdjieff actually meant within the various subject areas of the Fourth Way. All material discussed is drawn from Russell Smith’s book, Gurdjieff: Cosmic Secrets - The Teaching Guide.
In our last talk we walked through all 48 of Russell A. Smith’s DOGTALES from THEDOG school, which appropriately fit around and complement the 38 Gurdjieff aphorisms.
In this podcast, we narrate an actual question and answer dialogue session, for questions posed to Russell. The topics covered are on our ability to do, how we can self-remember, exercises, and the inner and outer languages of mankind, and how they inter-communicate.
Q. How can a man learn to “do”?
A. The idea is to stop all of himself. That way he is not biased nor pulled by some other inclination. Man is led around by his nose. He is led around by other things as well, which dictate, pull, and drag him hither and yon and cause him to respond in various ways, which proves that he has no independent control. His life is conditioned by circumstance, and by what is going on in his inner world. Thus, until he can stop himself, stop his mechanical response, and stop his automatic response, he cannot learn to do.
Q. In pages 232 to 234 in Views from the Real World, it is about “I wish to remember myself”. Gurdjieff says that man has accumulators that must work one after another in a certain combination. Would you talk about that?
A. We know that it is possible for men and women, at certain moments of danger, to possess superpowers, super strengths. We have all heard stories about car wrecks and the kid got caught in the car. The mother sees this, and even though she is thrown from the accident, she is able to get up and, with superhuman strength, rip the door off the car. So, if certain events can take place, like the emotional fear of her child burning up in the car, she will be able to pick the car up and pull the child out. The idea is that we can tap into this vast reservoir of power if the external circumstances are right. Now, as to which accumulators must work one after another in a certain combination, I do not know if I can answer that. Just see it as an impression coming in and triggering a response that says, “Danger”, which has meaning; or something like that. I think the idea is that in drastic, desperate moments, man can do amazing things. Another interesting idea is, “Can we generate that kind of strength without the desperate moment?” Can the woman possess super strength even if her child is not in the car? I suppose, if she created an intellectual image, she might be able to do that; and, therefore, have a response that might be similar.
Q. I would like to know how that relates to self-remembering.
A. Well, self-remembering means the machine is unified. It means that all of your centers are together and are doing the same thing; all of your centers are there. That is what happens in those kinds of moments. If we are to tap into the large accumulator, every center must be on the same page.
Q. To the question of self-remembering - I really cannot answer what self-remembering is.
A. I guess the best way to understand what self-remembering is, is to find something that you remember from early life; and, since you can remember it, it was probably a moment of self-remembering, and is a moment that you will remember for a long time.
Q. So just realizing, “Hey, I wasn’t really paying attention here” is not enough? There is something else we need to do with that?
A. I do not know if you can do something with it. Either you will bring your centers together; or, you will have to wait for the circumstances of life to bring your centers together. If they are not all there, the moment will be corrupted by another center that is not participating. We are lopsided. We are “one-centered”. One center has a thought; and... there it is. It is not the whole machine that is having the thought; it is just one center having it. If it were the whole machine having the thought, we would remember it, because it would be the whole machine having it. Every part would be experiencing that thought. Again, look at your life and see what you remember. It is a given, that those are the moments of self-remembering. The rest of the moments that you had in your life, although you know you went through them, you do not remember them. Why? Because those were the moments of sleep.
Q. The chief cause of our weakness is our inability to apply our will to all three of our centers simultaneously. That seems self-explanatory, but could you expand on it, please?
A. Here is a good model, that is, if you want to understand what self-remembering is: Apply will to all of your centers simultaneously. Bring them all to the same moment, at the same time, in the same place. You do not need to create external conditions to do this. External conditions may bring all of your centers to one place, which may cause you to have a moment of self-remembering, but, usually, even if they are repeated, external conditions will not be able to, consistently, bring you to that same place. But, fortunately, the development of your centers can. Centers can be developed independently; and, as such, they can become unified. We have an Objective Exercise for that; whereafter, you will be able to apply will to each of them individually; and, by so doing, will be able to hold them all in the same place, allowing you, yourself, to become conscious... because, everything in you will be doing the same thing. There will be no bystanders. There will only be participants.
Q. What you said about all the centers working together, could you give me an example when the instinctive center is not on board, where maybe the other three centers are on board?
A. Try lying still for an hour to see if your instinctive center gets on board or acts on its own; or, start some project. Start something with the rest of your centers and watch to see if something like hunger comes in and pulls you away. If there is something that is really important, that you are really engaged in, hunger won’t be there. It will not interfere. It will not have its own associations. Look at the events in your life to see if impressions come in, through the instinctive center, and start their own flow of thinking; thinking that is based on sensual things.
Q. In Views from the Real World, Ouspensky says the following proportions: 50% of a man’s vital manifestations are in the moving center; 40% in the sex center; and 10% to the emotional center. Now, I gather, he is talking about ordinary man who is not self-remembering. Is it possible that with self-remembering those proportions change?
A. Yes, those are the proportions for sleeping men. It shows that 90% of their manifestations come from their lower story. Sleeping men are interested in food, sensual gratifications, and the joys of movement, like dance. There is only 10% that comes from their emotional center. Gurjdieff indicated that mankind has no manifestations coming from their intellectual centers, save what comes from their formatory apparatus. Then, he goes on to say that actually it is worse than that because 75% of man’s vital manifestations come from his formatory apparatus, from the secretary, who is a slave to her own education. So, we can look at that math and say, okay, if 75% comes from the formatory apparatus, that means 25% is coming from the other centers. And, since the split there is 50%, 40%, and 10%, then, out of the 25%, that would be 12-½%, 10%, and 2-½%. So, 12-½% is from moving center, 10% is from the sex/instinctive center, and 2-1/2% is from the emotional center, which defines the gist of a man’s life. That is, an ordinary, unawake, man, who manifests from his lower story and knows nothing of the higher. By the way, I need to mention that there is no sex “center”, but rather, “sex” is the function of the entire machine.
Q. Can you say something about how the other centers are connected to the “secretary” that is, to the formatory apparatus?
A. It is probably because impulses that actually come from centers, kick start the machine. When the impulses are not coming from centers, then it is up to the formatory apparatus to decide what to do. And, as Gurdjieff said, the formatory apparatus is likened to a young girl who sits in the office all day preening herself, dreaming about her date that evening. That is, when there is no data coming in, no information coming from the centers, the machine is occupied by the daydreams and remembrances, which keep running through her mind by association. One thought connects to another thought; then, to another thought that leads to associative thinking. Then, suddenly, the phone rings, and she is back in the office again... answering the phone; but, in the in-between moments, when she’s not receiving stimuli from centers, she’s lost in mental wanderings, daydreams, and thoughts of future dates, etc. So, in a nutshell, if we remember, in Gurdjieff’s dissertation, how the secretary who works there is unorganized, uneducated, and easily distracted by all the labels she has on her desk. And, how, through association, she keeps moving from one thing to another, just by going through her files, we will have a pretty good picture of the state of our machine.
Q. Is it possible to think without association; or is the goal to direct associations?
A. Associations are necessary because all centers live by them. The key is to direct them. If you do not direct them, they will direct you. For instance, if I am following an enneagram, trying to overcome something, I may have to look for things that are similar to the denying force that I am trying to overcome, which is achieved by association. The idea of “associative thinking” is when thinking proceeds by itself, by association, without any direction from you. For instance: “I went to the park the other day and they were having a little fair in the park. It reminded me of the fair that I went to as a kid, when I lived in Ohio in a cabin by the lake, where we used to go fishing. I liked going fishing. Once, I caught a six and a half pound Pike.” Can you see how associative thinking works? You go from one thought to the next; and, when you are done, it has nothing to do with the fair in the park, it ends up with catching a Pike. You lose the thread of where you were going, because associations trigger new associations, which trigger new thoughts. In order to stop that, you have to keep something in your thoughts that remains constant and is not deviated by associations; something that holds and maintains the direction, and only allows thoughts, which are connected with that direction.
Q. I read in The Fourth Way about the different languages of man.
A. Yes, it talks about how the outer circle has the language of words, and the next level speaks in parables, and the highest speaks in symbols. Words, speak to men numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. Parables to man number 5; parables convey a thousand meanings, like a picture paints a thousand words. That is, you would have to tell a thousand stories in words to convey the meaning contained in one parable. But at the level of man number 6 we get into the symbolic language where a symbol represents a thousand parables. So, it is a condensation of a greater whole. Ouspensky and Gurdjieff talked about how men number 1, 2, 3, and 4 have to learn the language of man number 5, and how man number 5 has to learn the language of man number 6, so that when they approach the place, they will be able to understand the language that is spoken there.
Q. Is that largely the emotional center?
A. When you say “largely the emotional center” that is kind of a misnomer. It is coming from the higher emotional center, which is made up of three centers, so we cannot say it’s mostly the emotional center. There is an eight, ten, and twelve that must be sounded in a man for a man to produce thirty. Parables come with the level of being a thirty not just of being an eight, a ten, or a twelve. With a higher state of conscience, a parable becomes understandable in its vast scope. It does not mean just one thing. It is not just a story about a guy planting corn. However, it may apply to planting corn, but it also applies to a vast number of other things.
Q. Why do higher men speak in symbols?
A. Because symbols are even more objective than parables. They are at a higher level. A symbol leads to a thousand parables, and a parable leads to a thousand stories. Man, down at the bottom, is just left with words. Most people take parables literally, and miss the other meanings.
It’s no different than when we first read Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson/All and Everything, and think that this part is about some spaceship, that part is about some higher bodies, and that all these things actually happened to men in the past. Later we realize that it’s more about what is taking place inside ourselves. For instance: We learn stories about how two planets came too close to each other; and, by so doing, stole electricity from each other. Later we realize it is not about planets, it is about us. It is about how people take energy from each other.
You read about the three different spaceships. The first ones had to carry all of their own fuel, which they consumed in order to get around. Those ships were finally replaced by the second kind of ship, a ship that could use the Law of Falling. It could pick a place, like some planet which had gravity, and fall towards it, almost at the speed of a second order sun; but, when it got into the atmosphere of that planet, everyone had to be on their tippy toes to make it through the atmosphere. It took great effort. Finally, those ships were replaced by a third kind of ship. The third ship took everything in, everything, even empty space; or, the atmospheres of planets, and expanded it. Then, it opened a little aperture on the back and blew it out; and, therefore, was able to move effortlessly, to where even a little child could reach up and push it around. However, the story is not about three different kinds of spaceships. It is about the different stages in the development of man. Men number 1, 2, and 3, have to make constant efforts in order to maneuver through life; and, as such, they barely have enough energy to sustain their own existence, let alone, have room for anything or anyone else. After a man finds a school; or, joins in some great work, he becomes a man number 4… and becomes the second kind of spaceship. He develops a center of gravity in himself and starts to follow an inner aim. But, that only works in the calm, quiet, emptiness of space. When he gets around other people, he has to use great force not to get affected, not to get identified, not get angry, and not to hold accounts. Then, when he becomes man number 5, he becomes the third kind of spaceship; and now even insults are transformed and made into something higher. It doesn't matter where he is, or if he is around other people, everything comes in and gets expanded.
So we have to realize that not only things like Beelzebub’s Tales, but also the Holy Bible, the Koran, even Alice in Wonderland, and other various writings may contain more than just what is written on the page. In fact, if we were to make a serious study of Beelzebub’s, or even Ouspensky’s, The Fourth Way, there are things in there that are written for men numbers 1, 2, and 3, things written for man number 4, and even things written for man number 5 and man number 6. So, if you change the level of your understanding and go back and read it again, you may see different meanings; because you will be reading something that was left there for someone with a higher mind. Thus, in the same story, you will not see the same thing you saw before. You will see something greater that has a different meaning. All great works are probably written in that way. That is, in different languages. The lowest level is just the language of words. But, on the next level, on the level of parables, something will have a multitude of meanings.
On the next level the language is symbolic. Gurdjieff said that when two people meet, they should draw an enneagram in the sand; and, who ever knew the most about it, should be the teacher. So, truth is in the fullness, not just in the bits and pieces. Little bits, is the language of man. More, is the language of parables. And, all, is the language of symbols. We could even go the other direction: From symbols to parables to language; and, on the other side of language, would be theory, and, beyond that, philosophy. You could say there are five different stages. It starts at the philosophical stage, as an idea, “Someday man will fly”. Then, it moves into something theoretical, where proofs are offered, such as wings, and motors; that is, it starts being more than just philosophical. Finally, in the hands of the Wright Brothers, it becomes practical, where something is actually constructed. So, if you can think of it going from philosophical to theoretical to practical to parable to symbol, you will see all the various possible states along the way. We can look at ourselves, our lives, our belief systems, and see how much is philosophical, how much is theoretical, how much is practical, etc. There is a way to verify. For example: Someone says, “Snakes are slimy” There is a good philosophical idea for you. You have never touched a snake, nor ever held one. But, the first time you do, you get some practical knowledge, and realize, “Wait a minute, snakes are not slimy.” Or, if you read several books about snakes, and they all said that snakes were not slimy; and, if the authors were well known, you might have gotten some theoretical knowledge, like snakes do not have sweat glands, thus, they can’t be slimy. But practical always wins; holding a snake is the best way to verify that snakes are not slimy. Later, you may find some parabolic understanding or even a symbolic understanding, like a picture of a snake biting his own tale, eating itself in order to survive. You may even discover other symbols, but first you have to get it out of the philosophical and into the practical, which may lead you to understand many other things; and, finally, bring you to symbols. So, I guess... when two men number 6 meet, they just start throwing symbols at each other.
Q. Could you speak on the languages between the driver, horse, and carriage?
A. We are now talking about the connections between them because that is how they communicate. How does the carriage and the horse communicate? It is by the shafts; they are very rigid and connect the carriage to the horse. How does the driver of the carriage communicate? It is by the seat and the brake. How does the driver communicate with the horse? It is through the reigns. These are the connections between the centers; some are strong, and some are frail. Some only have a connection one way and some another; that is, the driver can communicate with the carriage with the brake, and the carriage can communicate with the driver through his seat, but the connection between the horse and the carriage is very strong, once the horse moves, the carriage is destined to follow. Sometimes, the only way to stop the horse is to stop the carriage. The carriage, horse, and driver are marvelous in that allegory, and it works very well if each is properly prepared to do its job, that is, if the wheels aren’t straight, like you get on a car, then the carriage has a tendency to pull to the left or pull to the right, or if they are not greased, then it has a tendency to hold back the movement of the carriage. If the horse doesn’t have blinders on, then it can be distracted from the left or the right.
Q. Any exercise, and even our reading, can go directly towards creating better connections so that the will of the passenger, the driver, and the Master can actually be in control and hold the whole thing together. Right?
A. That is right. All exercises are for self-remembering which means they develop centers. When we are awake, and self-remember, we have to have unity in the centers. So, each needs a certain amount of development.
Q. In the driver, horse, and carriage model, is the passenger the only communication with the driver, and then it is the responsibility of the driver to communicate with the carriage and the horse?
A. Yes. That is correct.
Q. Are we saying that our higher centers, or what we call Steward, doesn’t communicate to the lower centers except through the driver?
A. Yes, Steward is an example of the passenger, which is only present when all three pieces of the machine are working together and produce a state of consciousness. The way it works is, the passenger gets in and says take me to 5th and Main. Well, the carriage cannot do that, and the horse cannot do that. It is the driver that says, 5th and Main, I know where that is. He snaps his whip and pulls off the brake, turns left there. He is the one that is steering the carriage and if he finds out that the passenger doesn’t know where he’s going, he might decide to lengthen the journey to get a little extra fare. It is all subjective at that point. It is still the driver that is responsible for the communication between the carriage and the horse that will get the passenger to the appropriate destination. What we want is a permanent passenger, someone who doesn’t get out and let another “I” in the machine - one that wants to give different directions, wants to go somewhere else - where, half-way there, he gets out and lets someone else get in who wants to go someplace different. The passenger is not steward at this point. It is every single “I” that enters in from every single association. You know the model, from Gurdjieff, of the guy who drops his hairbrush? That is a good model of the changing “I’s” that enter the machine. There is no permanent passenger there, just any “I” that happens to enter at the moment, by association. Our guests from England know that the English cabbies have to know the city of London very well in order to get a licence. Their formatory apparatus has to memorize every street. They put them through a rigorous training program before they issue them a license. It shows you that, as a driver, you have all this knowledge. Knowledge that is just sitting there waiting for a passenger to bark out, “Take me to Buckingham Palace!” In addition, the cabby knows exactly which roads to take, which ones are under construction, and the fastest route from hither to yon.
Q. What is self-consciousness and what does Steward represent in our machine?
A. Steward represents a permanent passenger, someone who does not get out at the next corner. Steward is produced by the right functioning of the machine, and appears when the carriage, horse, and driver have come into common accord.
Q. So, I have to try to keep moving towards Steward, and just need to watch for the signs along the way?
A. Yes, but be careful. Signs can be misleading. The nature of our machine is that when an event occurs if it is strong enough or repeated enough it gets recorded; and, as such, it creates a belief in us that it has always been that way or will always be that way. For instance: If we have a genuine moment of self-control or are told over and over that we have control because we are higher beings. Then, we will never see, day after day, when we yell at our kids, hit our dog, or are mad at our boss, that we don’t have control. Instead, we will be completely oblivious to our lower manifestations, because every time we read that passage that says we are God’s children, we will reinforce the image of us that says we are always good, always true, and always in control; and, thus, will never see when we are not.
Thank you for listening.
If you would like to know more about the subjects and exercises we have been exploring, including the book and guide that underpins it all, which is also available for PDF download, you can do so, by going to thedogteachings.com.
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Goodbye until next time.