S3/E26: R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 15
R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 15
In this episode, continuing our talks on Work questions and answers, we continue a conversation between Russell and a student, saying more about the objective prayer exercise, as well as address other topics like self-deception, becoming a 30, the dangers of chaining non-magnetic center moments, having a target, Winston Churchill, and being emotional without becoming identified. The transcript and diagrams 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, expanding upon the works of George I. Gurdjieff and Russell A. Smith.
In last week’s podcast, Russell was talking to a student about the threefold attention exercise, emotions, speeds of centers, pushes & pauses, the hands in motion exercise, magnetic center moments, and the objective prayer exercise. In this week’s podcast, he will continue that conversation, saying more about the objective prayer exercise, as well as address other topics like self-deception, becoming a 30, the dangers of chaining non-magnetic center moments, having a target, Winston Churchill, and being emotional without becoming identified.
Last week ended with Russell discussing how to arrange our magnetic center moments into an Objective Prayer, and how our magnetic moments could be moments like: George M. Cohan walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with the troops, a dying cat acknowledging his caregiver, or the line “I have the power” from the “He Man” cartoon.” That is, whatever touched our lives and had meaning for us. Moments that, if we recalled them, changed our chemistry, and how those moments were the magnetic center moments of our lives.
He also explained how our Objective Prayer would change as we encountered other meaningful moments of life, and how it would become a living Objective Prayer.
Now, let’s listen in to the rest of that conversation:
Russell, to the student: So, you have had two magnetic centers moments that I know of: one being the moment, which occurred when you were reading Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am,” and encountered your Emotional Center, and as a result, had trioscopic vision; the other being The Objective Exercise, which woke you up two weeks ago.
If you recall those moments now, do they still change your chemistry?
Student: Oh yes, they are both very strong, especially The Objective Exercise, which woke me up two weeks ago; how could it not, it woke me up!
Russell: Fantastic! I now want you to find the other moments of your life that also had great meaning: church services, the birth of your children, some passages from a book that you read, something that Gurdjieff said, something that I told you, some realization you had, or some moment that happened during your Three-Fold Attention exercise. Something. That is, the other meaningful moments of your life, which also touched your soul.
Student: What about emotional poignancy?
Russell: Well, I suppose, that too, is allowed. However, it is better to find uplifting moments, rather than ones that were poignant. That is, moments that lifted you up, rather than ones that painfully affected your feelings. Positive thoughts, like the ones, which Catholics repeat when they do their rosary beads, where when they repeat the meaning of each bead, it elevates them.
I want you to do that with your magnetic center moments until they become for you an objective prayer, whereby when you repeat them, they will lift you higher and higher, and will keep you in a state of constant acceleration.
Student: I guess we need to use real moments more than fabricated ones.
Russell: Well, let’s not say you can’t.
One of the things Gurdjieff talked about in the “I Am” exercise was self-deception. That is, how the ancients had to imagine their “I Am” before they actually had their “I Am”.
Russell: Yes. It is in Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am.”
Student: Oh, yea. I do remember reading about that. But I do not think I understood it at the time.
Russell: It is like, when you were a kid, if you had the thought of being Superman, and went, wow, I would be able to fly and I could help people, and just the thought of that made you feel wonderful.
I don’t know, maybe you never had such a thought. But if you did, a thought like that would be just as emotionally uplifting as any real event.
Student: Well, I meant just sitting down and making one up.
Russell: Ah, okay, sure. If you can sit down and make one up that really touches you, then that is good. But you probably already have a whole bunch of moments like that in you that can also do that. All you need to do is find them, gather them into one place, and organize them into the proper sequence; and when you do, notice how they change your being.
By the way, in looking for magnetic center moments, you will probably find many moments, you didn’t even know that you had. Moments that you will recognize, as being magnetic center moments, once you recall them.
Student: Russ, do magnetic center moments capture the attention of the second totality. That is, stimulate it?
Russell: Well, yes, kind of. But they probably capture the attention of more than just the second totality, because magnetic center moments usually involve more than just one center. They are moments of unification. I would bet when you had that moment last Sunday, that it probably occurred because your machine became a 30. That is, all three centers were there, 8,10, and 12, sounding the chord, and by so doing, they produced a greater something in you, far beyond what any one center could have produced by itself. Do you see what I mean?
Student: Yep. That is what happened.
Russell: And now, that magnetic center moment can contribute its chord to your objective prayer.
Student: I got it. I see it.
Russell: Great! And the best part is, you know that it is true, because you yourself experienced it.
Contrarily, you could chain non-magnetic center moments together and create a non-objective prayer. That is, you could conjure-up certain negative emotions, followed by other negative emotions, then followed by other negative emotions, and get angrier, and angrier, and angrier, until you were ready to punch somebody.
Student: Yep. Sadly, that is true.
Russell: So, if we can see how a negative non-objective prayer, or a mechanical non-objective prayer can also build force, a negative force … “What the heck, that guy didn’t call me like he said he would! He lied! And he probably did it because of such and such.…” I am so mad at him!
Do you see what is happening? Every little accusation adds greater weight to the accusations that preceded it, and the next thing you know, you are enraged. That is powerful.
One accusation, by itself, would not have enraged you, but strung together, they have great force … “How dare that guy do that to me, I trusted him, and he lied!”
Therefore, since you know that certain organized negative emotions will push you in an undesirable direction, you should be able to realize that certain organized positive emotions will push you in a desirable one.
Student: Maybe it is a silly question for me to ask, but why is one direction better than another?
Russell: It is not so much about the direction as it is about having a target. That is, unless you have a target, and are pursuing an aim, direction is moot. But once you have a target, then direction is paramount.
Student: I guess we can agree that getting very angry is not a good thing; on the other hand, it may be beneficial.
Russell: You are correct. It may be beneficial. Sometimes, people do great things after having an unpleasant emotion. That is, after believing that some grave injustice had been done.
Student: It seems to me that the actions of the Emotional Center are uncertain at best, for the most part, emotions are rather pleasurable, but considering how we react and constantly judge the world, emotions can be very unpleasant. So, what does that tell us?
Russell: Well it tells us two things.
Firstly, that the negative emotions we have are not real emotions. That is why we are initially told, in various Fourth Work books, that the emotional center does not have a negative part, even though it actually does. Why do you think they told us that? Well, because, as I said, the negative emotions we have are not real emotions, as such, it was better for them to tell us that there was no negative half to the emotional center, otherwise, we would believe that our negative emotions were legitimate, and would want to keep them. But, as I said, the negative emotions we have are not real emotions. Thus, throw them all out!
Secondly, there are real negative emotions, which Gurdjieff indicated in Views from the Real World, where he said that real negative emotions are the rudimentary beginnings of something higher. Do you remember reading that?
Student: Yes, I think so. In other words, just like idle wishing corresponds, in a higher way, to hope, or whatever.
I just looked up the actual quote, “All our emotions are rudimentary organs of ‘something higher,’ e.g., fear may be an organ of future clairvoyance, anger of real force, etc.,” (Prieure, July 29, 1922).
Student: Of real force. I think I understand.
Russell: So, all our emotions are rudimentary organs of something higher. That is, of some higher emotion.
So, does that help you with your Objective Prayer?
Student: Yes sir, it most certainly does. It really does.
Russell: Okay, after seeing how emotions can work in a negative way, let’s be clever men, sly men, and use them in a positive way. That is, by establishing for ourselves an Objective Prayer.
Now, more on your earlier question, “Why is one direction better than another.” Well, as I said, it has more to do with having a target which determines our aim. I guess every being has to deduce, for themselves, what their target is. That is, what is useful or what is harmful, what is ascending or what is descending, and whether or not he or she is moving towards something good or towards something evil.
Then again, Gurdjieff asserted that no one ever does anything for the sake of evil. That is, whatever they do, do, they do because they believe it to be a good thing to do.
Okay. Assuming that it is necessary for you to have a target, I recommend putting “consciousness” on one end of the stick, and “sleep” on the other.
I will then let you choose which of those targets you wish to pursue.
Just remember, as Gurdjieff said, the world is filled with artificial men, not real men; and as such, their targets will most likely not be the same as your target. That is why you yourself must decide what your target is.
Student: Thank you, Russ. I now understand the necessity of having a well defined target.
But I have another question concerning identification. How can you have an emotion that you do not identify with.
Russell: That is a very good question. One of things we are told about identification, is that it permeates everything at every moment, and if we free ourselves from identification, we will free ourselves from everything else. So that should be our target; and as such, we should strive to have emotions with which we do not identify, which is indeed possible!
Student: It is?
Russell: Yes sir. It is.
I will tell you a moment from my life, when I had an emotion with which I did not identify. My son, who was practicing driving, had just wrecked my new car. He had hit a tree while he was driving around the campground. My wife, who was coming back from the store, just happened to pull into the campground in time to see what had occurred. She managed to bring the car back to the campsite. However, my dejected, and embarrassed son walked back with his head hanging low. When he arrived, knowing what he must be going through, I went out, greeted him on the road, hugged him, and said, “Congratulations you just had your first accident.”
Student: Wow! That is amazing. I am impressed that you were able to do that! That is, to choose to have an emotion that was not created by identification.
Which by the way, brings up another fallacy which seems to permeate everyday life: that emotions cannot be real, unless they cause you to be out of control. That is: uncontrollably sobbing, uncontrollably laughing, or uncontrollably angered.
Russell: Yes, indeed. Many people believe that if someone does not get angry, they are less macho, less virile. In fact, if someone looks at our girlfriend, we are supposed to lose our temper. Society places great value on such behavior. But again, society is composed of artificial beings.
Student: And if you don’t sob incoherently, you aren’t really having a real emotion.
Russell: Also correct.
In Gurdjieff’s Toast of the Idiots he says:
“You must understand that the people you know do not have any reason at all. They live in their dreams and have no connection with reality. Whoever has any contact with reality is called an Idiot. The word idiot has two meanings: the true meaning that was given to it by the ancient sages was to be oneself. A man who is himself looks and behaves like a madman to those who live in the world of illusions: so when they call a man an idiot they mean that he does not share their illusions.”
“Everyone who decides to work on himself is an idiot in both meanings. The wise know that he is seeking for reality. The foolish think he has taken leave of his senses.” We here are supposed to be seeking for reality, so we should all be idiots: but no one can make you an idiot. You must choose it for yourself.”
Student: I like that.
Okay, I have another question for you. If I am watching a television show and let’s say it is a little bit sappy, and I feel emotional pungency, am I identifying with something?
Russell: No. Identifying would be: you like the show so much that you have to have your own copy, so you drive 50 miles in order to buy it; or you fly to California to visit the studio where it was produced, in order to obtain the script, and to meet the actors. That would be identification.
Or, on the contrary, if you did not like the movie, then identification would be: hosting a movie burning party, so that people could bring any recordings that they have of the movie, and burn them at the party, or attending a rally, so that you could march up and down the road in front of the tv station that broadcast the movie, shouting, and protesting, and throwing bricks through their windows.
Student: Okay, I understand, but surely there are less objectionable or less strenuous forms of identification.
Russell: Well, identification is identification. Where is the line between good identification and not so good identification? If you are not identified, that is, if you are not absorbed by the moment, you will have no need to respond, either by throwing bricks through their windows, or by cursing them under your breath. But if you are identified, that is, if you are absorbed by the moment, then you will definitely feel a need to respond; and as such, probably will.
Student: If I get absorbed by the moment, I bet I won’t be able to remember myself.
Russell: That is correct.
Or, if you forget that you are watching a tv show, and thereby get angry with the actors, you probably won’t be able to remember yourself, either. However, if you realize that you are watching a tv show, and allowing yourself to be touched by its meaning, then you probably will be able to remember yourself, or you probably are remembering yourself.
Student: That is what I always tell my boys, just remember, you are in papa’s bedroom watching the tv.
Russell: That is good advice.
On a similar note: it was reported that Winston Churchill would cry if he saw a bird killed in his yard, and he wasn’t ashamed of his tears.
Is that identification, or was he just in contact with life?
Now, if he went out and tried to beat up the guy, or kill the cat, who killed the bird, then that would be identification; or if he enclosed his yard, so that birds could not die in his yard so that he wouldn’t have to cry, that too would be identification. Identification always rules you; always incites action.
However, it is good to allow yourself to feel the meaning of things. If you do not, you will have some work to do. For instance: when Lassie comes home to Timmy, if you do not feel the joy of that event, then something in you needs to be developed.
Student: On the other hand, it is just a movie.
Russell: Yes, that is correct. It is just a movie. A movie that has meaning.
So the question is … what is the proper way to perceive events? I want to perceive them in a way that offers me Astral food, Higher Emotional food, don’t you?
For me, the movie Pollyanna has been a reminding factor. It is about a girl who always finds good in almost everything that happens. I like that.
Or another one: the idea that it is okay to care. That is, to take in a wounded bird and try to heal its broken wing … even though you can’t.
That is not identification; that is caring.
Student: Well, you do have a lot of dogs that you care for.
Russell: Yes, I do, and I love them all. On the other hand, I have taken many stray dogs to the pound, which were probably euthanized … sigh.
Student: So it seems to me, that at any given moment there are plenty of things to cry about, and plenty of things to laugh about.
Russell: That is correct. Fortunately, we have ‘choice.’ That is, we have the ability to choose our thoughts, which is certainly better than allowing life to choose them for us.
Student: So I suppose, at some very high level, with so much to cry about and so much to laugh about, you perhaps may look like you are identified, but you actually are not?
Russell: Indeed. It is all a matter of control. You can be emotionally in control, or emotionally not in control. You can choose to weep, or choose not to weep.
In fact, do you know the shortest sentence in the Bible?
Student: Jesus wept.
Russell: Ahh, yes. Jesus wept.
Let me ask you, was he in control, or was he not in control?
Student: I do not know. But it is obvious that he allowed himself to feel the meaning of something. So I would say he was in control.
Russell: Yes. You are getting it!
If we think about the concept of the exercise “I am, I can, I wish” … and Gurdjieff’s statement of, “If I am, then I can!” That too, will indicate non-identification.
Student: Say that again.
Russell: In the exercise “I am, I can, I wish,” which is also in Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am,” Gudjieff talked about the “I can.” When he did, he said that only if “I am” then “I can,” and therefore I will be not identified; because if “I can” do, what “I am” capable of doing, the thing itself will not be doing me.
Student: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha.
Russell: Therefore, it is not identification.
Just like conscious imagination is not imagination, because, if I am controlling it, it is not imagination.
Gurdjieff said we have this remarkable power of imagination, but use it for the wrong reasons.
That too, was in the “I am, I can, I wish” exercise, where Gurdjieff said, a man should imagine himself conscious, and if he could, since he was controlling and directing it, it would not be imagination.
Student: Hmmm. Well then, was Churchill having imagination?
Russell: No, as I said, it was reported that Winston Churchill would cry if he saw a bird killed in his yard, which, I suppose meant, he actually saw it, and did not imagine it.
Student: Right, he saw that it had happened.
Russell: Correct, and when he saw that it had happened, he felt empathy for the loss of a two-brained being. But I wasn’t there, I just heard the reports. However, I would like to think that something about that event touched him, and caused him to comprehend the loss of life.
Student: I get it, we can’t do it for everything, but at some point we have to tip our hats and pay our respects to one thing.
Russell: There you go. We are not going to fret about every bird that may get killed today, just the ones we witness.
Student: Okay, I get it; we choose at that point to witness it, acknowledge it, and feel the meaning of it.
Russell: Yes, that is correct. We have freedom, and with freedom comes the ability to care.
I imagine that you could go to a funeral and really cry, if you really wished to cry.
Student: I am sure that I could.
Russell: That is different from going to a funeral and uncontrollably crying, because someone told you, you were supposed to be uncontrollably crying.
Student: I am sure that it is.
I don’t know if this is important to pursue or not, but if I was Winston Churchill, and I saw a bird die, and I went through this process of, well, thousands of birds die every day, as do fish, cows, dogs, and cats, but I will allow the passage of this one bird, this one two-brained being, to resonate in my being, and thus, cry over its loss; and by so doing, pay my respects to the cycle of life; that is one thing. However, if I went to my mother’s funeral, I bet it would be quite different, and that I would probably be out of control, crying and such; that is another thing.
The latter sounds like identification, the former does not.
Russell: That is a good way of describing it. Yet, if you went to your mother’s funeral and could see her just like you saw the bird. That is, as a life form reaching a moment of termination, which you happened to be aware of, and you allowed yourself to acknowledge that something or someone’s life had ended, and you were touched by it, and saddened by it, and … I don’t want to use the words that are colloquially used, like remorse, and grief, and such, but you simply allowed yourself to recognize the event, as an event, albeit a sad event, one that caused you to consider the meaning of life and death, and saw the whole spectrum of existence from its beginning to its end, and then choose to rejoice over its existence, which made you cry, that would be a good thing.
Student: Like rejoicing over what a mother is, or what your mother was.
Russell: Yes. Indeed. There you go.
Then maybe it would not be so much about identification, but about recognition. But if it was uncontrolled, “Oh my God, mom’s dead. How horrible,” then it probably leads to identification. Do you see the difference?
Student: Yes, I think I do … that was quite clear.
Russell: It is subtle … that is, you can’t help but notice what is going on around you, but if you become immersed in those things, and allow them to grab you, then where are you?
However, in the midst of all those things, if you can still remain you, yet allow some of those moments to touch you, then that is a different thing … a good thing.
Student: I understand. I really do. Subtle.
Student: Maybe that is why, if feeling the meaning of things is a valid exercise, then when you get to the poignant moments, you allow yourself to feel them. Whereas, if it is not a valid exercise, then you won’t allow yourself to feel the poignant moments, because after all, they are just in a tv show, and as such, they are not real?
Russell: Try to not allow them, is that what you are asking me?
Student: Yes, as in not identifying with them.
Russell: Ah, yes. Then okay, if that is what you are asking, then yes, you are correct.
But you can still allow yourself to feel the meaning of things, even if they are on a tv show.
Student: So, don’t focus on the fact that I am sitting in my bedroom with the tv on, and those are play actors, and they are just pretending?
Russell: No and yes! If you do the ‘no’ part, everything will affect you. If you do the ‘yes’ part, nothing will affect you. For example, you might be watching a movie that actually touches you, one that makes you cry; it really does. But if there are eight other people in the room, then you might not cry. Why? Well, you don’t want them to see your tears, because, if they do see your tears, you think – that they will think – that you are a wimp. So, you will not allow the movie to touch you.
Student: Do you think that is a valid exercise in non-identification?
Russell: To try and not allow something to touch you?
Russell: Well, Gurdjieff would say, we need to be more emotional. However, if we are doing that as an exercise, that is, trying not to be emotional, then yes. Which would indicate some semblance of control.
But first we should first try to find the things that bring us to good emotions, especially because Gurdjieff said, and I concur, we need to be more emotional.
Maybe, once we develop our Emotional Center, and have it under our control, we will be able to allow, or not allow, any emotions that we choose.
Student: I guess I was thinking, not so much about controlling emotions; but about not identifying with them.
Russell: Okay, then yes. Anything you can not identify with is a good thing.
Student: But the layman would say, any emotion that you do not identify with is not a real emotion. Or, the man in England might say, “But where, Mr. Gurdjieff, is love in your system.”
How do those fit in?
Russell: Well, the layman and the Englishman are both wrong. I think we have sufficiently addressed the layman’s concern. As to the Englishman’s concern, let’s see, Aphorism #23 comes to mind: “Practice love first on animals, they are more sensitive,” or Aphorism #34: Conscious love evokes the same in response…” Need I go on?
Student: Yeah, I guess the Englishman is wrong too. People have so many different emotions, as well as so many wrong ideas about what real emotions are that it is hard to make sense out of anything they say.
Russell: That is correct, and what is even worse … their emotions are not even their emotions; they are somebody else’s!
Student: Well, it all goes back to education, I guess.
Russell: That is correct, it all goes back to education … blame movies, tv, and advertising. That is, when you get angry, you are supposed to punch a hole in the sheetrock, or go after those guys with a gun.
Student: They do portray those emotions as being the correct emotions to have.
Russell: You betcha they do. But the church practitioner would say, “If you go after them with a gun, you will probably be going to hell.”
Oh that reminds me, I wanted to share with you what Doctor V., the student who is here from Arizona, told me yesterday about hell. He said that the Church of England just redefined what hell is. Traditionally, up until recently, hell has always been defined as, “Fire, brimstone, and the gnashing of teeth,” but now, according to the Church of England, hell is now simply, “not being.”
Student: Wow! Hell is officially, not being. Whatever that means.
Russell: Well, I guess it means that either I exist or I do not exist, which seems to be a better concept than fire, brimstone, and the gnashing of teeth, but perhaps more frightening. That is, when I say, “I Am,” I am saying I exist. However, as I said earlier, when I am identified, only the object of my identification exists, and therefore, I do not, as such, according to the Church of England, I must be in hell. Scary stuff!
Student: I think the Church of England got it right. Let’s keep trying to exist.
Russell: Yes. Indeed. However, the bottom line is still about, whilst we do exist, making efforts that will lead us to the target, which for us, as I said, should be in the direction of consciousness, and not of sleep.
That is, we must consciously pursue our own existence, consciously pursue our own I Am, and consciously hope that our Deputy Steward is properly preparing us for awakening.
So, keep doing the exercises, keep making practical efforts, and keep bringing attention to all the tasks that you do in life.
Student: Well, I have been doing the exercises, and as part of that, have been trying to sense things, be aware of things, and feel things.
I think the last time we talked, I told you about how it occurred to me that everything was one basic concept, but to see it, you had to have a trioscopic view of things.
Russell: Yes, sir. Indeed you did.
Student: Then obviously, emotional perception is a major part of that trioscopic view. So now I try, when perceiving things, to feel their meaning.
In some things it is easier, and in other things it is not. However, as long as I am able to keep out identification, I am usually pretty successful.
Russell: Oh, I am sure that you are.
When we are identified, we forget what we were doing, because we do not exist. When we are not identified, we remember what we were doing, because we do exist. Do you see that?
Student: Say it one more time.
Russell: If you are going to the store, to get some milk, and if along the way you become identified with something, then the object of your identification will become your new target, not that of getting the milk.
Student: Right. Gotcha.
Well, I think that covers me.
Russell: Good phone call, sir.
Student: Well, it was good for me too. I need these charges; I need these re-focusings.
Russell: I am glad to be of assistance. Everyone needs reminding factors. So, let me again remind you that your work is heading in the right direction, and you are making ample efforts, that is why you are starting to get real results, and if you continue making ample efforts, you will continue getting real results, and those real results will come more often, and will last longer. I think we can both say, “Yee-Haw,” to that.
Student: Well, with that bit of inspiration, I will keep on plugging away.
Russell: Very good sir. I will talk with you on Thursday; keep existinging.
Student: Yes sir, I will.
Again, thank you, Russell.
That ends the question and answer session for this episode; we hope you found some tidbits for your Objective Prayer.
Thank you for listening.
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