S3/E16: R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 5
R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 5
In this episode, we continue to narrate question and answer dialogues with Russell A. Smith. We discuss emotions, revolving thoughts, suffering, the soul, magnetic center, our four bodies, and even the stock market. 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 emotions, revolving thoughts, suffering, the soul, magnetic center, our four bodies, and even the stock market.
Q. In The Fourth Way, it says that the reason we feel so little, is because we have so little energy available for the emotional center?
A. Yes, we mostly live in our formatory apparatus and in our lower story; and because of that, as Gurdjieff said, we only have two and a half percent of our vital manifestations coming from our emotional centers. Not to mention the fact that we leak; and, as such, spend much of our energy on tensions in our body, and on following the random associations of our formatory apparatus.
Q. What is meant by “we have no positive emotions”?
A. The model says every positive emotion – talking about a normal man – is capable of becoming negative. We must get into higher centers where there is no distinguishing between positive and negative. The books you are reading are subjective books because no one knew how to wake up. They could see that a man was filled with negative emotions but did not know how to show him how to change; to show him that his negative emotions were not real, they were imitative. They even initially told us in The Fourth Way that there was no negative part of the emotional center. It was only later on in the book that they said, “Well, there actually is a negative part in the emotional center, but if we told you that earlier, you would have thought that your negative emotions were real and would have wanted to keep them.” However, there are no real negative emotions that say beat on the steering wheel if the car does not start. They do not exist. Real orientation with the emotional center is a perception of the world that comes from recognizing meaning instead of from manifesting movement. I once had a student who said that he went to a special school that taught him how to be emotional; and, when it was his turn to be emotional, it took six people to hold him down. What the heck does needing six people to hold you down have to do with emotions?
A dog may feel your fear, which makes you a threat, and that is why he growls; or he may feel your peace, which makes you not a threat, and that is why he wags his tail. The former is an example of a real negative emotion; but all of our negative emotions are imaginary, imitative ones. Which means, if all of our negative emotions are not real, then what makes you think we have any positive ones?
Q. How far do we have to go until we can really feel something?
A. The transformation of negative emotions into positive emotions would be the beginning. To create an emotion in you that cannot become negative. It is like my story of eating oysters, which I thought were horrible. So, I ate them until I liked them. Now, I can never hate them.
But, also, if you remember that emotions are about recognizing meaning and not about intellectually assigning it, that will help you to better understand what real emotions are. For instance, I told one student, who was struggling with what real emotions were, to do his bathroom duties outside for the next thirty days. I told him to find a tree to squat behind… and wipe his backside with a leaf. Then, after thirty days, when I let him use the bathroom, he would discover what real meaning was: A door to lock, a place to sit, and soft paper to wipe my backside with. He would probably be crying from joy, hugging the commode.
Q. How will I know when I am feeling a real emotion?
A. Emotion is equated with recognizing meaning; and I suppose our own judgment is going to have to determine whether we are really glad to see our neighbor or not. Remember, we mix up emotions with sensations, so we think we are having a good emotion when we are really having a good sensation. We say I feel good because I just ate. That is not an emotion, that is an instinctive thing. Our bellies are full, we experience satiety and call it an emotion. That is why, in the Work, there are many discussions about being able to distinguish the difference between sensation and emotion, and how we get them mixed up. That is, when the sensations are pleasurable, we call them emotions, and when the sensations are not pleasurable, we also call them emotions; but emotions are the perception of the world through recognizing meaning. Certain things have meaning, which makes us emotional. We have in our Objective Prayer real moments of meaning. I think everyone, when they first formulate their Objective Prayer, have things on their list that lack real meaning. That is why I have them cut their list in half; and, perhaps, cut it in half, again, to get their list down to the moments that really have meaning. So, look for those moments.
Q. I am so aware of having revolving thoughts caused by things that affect me, but I guess being aware of them is the first step to stopping them.
A. Yes, first you must see them, and then you must say, “I do not want to be affected by those things.” Then, ask yourself, “Why was I affected by them in the first place? Why did I allow them to get in?” You know there are two great rules in life, which we should all remember. Two great rules. The two great rules in life, which were taught by an ancient wise man to his student are: Rule Number One: “Don’t sweat the small stuff”; and, rule Number Two, which is more important than rule number one: “Everything is small stuff.”
Q. Do we just suffer in the Work or does the suffering in life count?
A. This idea of suffering is very interesting. If you are doing something that you really want to do, you will not suffer. If you are doing something that you really do not want to do, you will suffer. It is just that simple. Suffering is subjective. Gurdjieff also said that the moment you make efforts, I’s will arise in you that want to stop making efforts, and because of that, you will suffer; at least those I’s will because, by nature, they are lazy. So, in truth, there will always be a certain amount of suffering, because there will always be some I’s in you that do not want to do whatever it is you are doing. But, again, it is subjective.
Q. What is the “miraculous”?
A. Being awake, compared to being asleep, is miraculous. Having higher feedback and impartiality is miraculous. Finding an objective way to awaken is miraculous. Sometimes people say, “You know it’s a miracle that you didn’t lose your temper.” Is it? Well, it is to them. It is a miracle. “How could you do that without losing your temper?” So, the attainment of the Higher may look miraculous to those who have not yet attained it. That is, if no oak trees were making acorns, then, suddenly, one of them did, that would look miraculous to the rest of the oak trees. So, why is it miraculous to make what you are supposed to make… or be what you are supposed to be? It isn’t… but, since no one else is doing it, it will appear miraculous.
Q. Why is it that what we experience during The Objective Exercise sometimes goes away? It is my experience that the feeling of having a passenger in the carriage diminishes over time.
A. That is a good question; and, to it, I have a really good answer. Remember the first time you rode a rollercoaster? It was a pretty big thrill, wasn’t it? Then, you rode it again, and again, and again. But, what happened to the thrill? It was the same rollercoaster ride. Why didn’t it give you the same thrill? Well, because the novelty wore off. When we first do things, they are new, and we respond to that newness. There is a passenger in our carriage. After a while, he gets comfortable there, and we get used to having him there. It is not a big change of state like it was when he first arrived. The first change of being is big, but after it remains for a while, it is no longer big. Climb up to the top of a building and look over the edge and it is like, “Wow!” But stay there for a while and the wow goes away. In the beginning we go, “Hey, look at that, I have a passenger in the carriage!” But, after a while, since that is now the norm, we stop noticing the passenger…. That is, until some event takes place, and his presence is needed… and, voilà, he is there.
So the question is, do you still have something? The answer: can you still stop thoughts; can you still bring yourself to a moment of arrest; can you still ask yourself where am I at on a scale from one to ten, and then, reach a ten, or push it to an eleven?
How many of you, since you awoke, have had a moment, while doing an exercise, that has had a “Wow factor” in it? If you have; and, if you can recreate it, that says a lot. It says that with some effort, like doing an “I am” exercise or doing a “three-fold attention exercise” or, when something happens in life… and all of a sudden you are there; and, as such, are not reacting like you would have reacted in the past… and, if moments like that are happening often; I’d say, you’re doing just fine. I imagine that Jesus Christ didn’t wake up each morning and go, “Wow! I’m Jesus Christ!” I sometimes say, “Jesus didn’t have to be Jesus, He was Jesus!” That was just the way it was. Things may have looked miraculous to others… but ,that was just the way it was. Truth is, we get used to things, and when we get used to things, we do not notice them. Ring a bell and people will notice it. Continue ringing the bell and, after a while, people will stop noticing the bell. In fact, they will only notice it when you stop ringing it. So, consciousness is something that is supposed to be our norm. And, if we don’t have it, when we first get it, it will be like, “Wow!” But, as it persists and becomes the norm, it will cease being noticed. However, since we can energize it, can enliven it, can three-fold attention it, can “I am” it, and can bring ourselves to the position of stopping thoughts, we can verify that we still have it… but, since it is no longer new, it doesn’t have the same sense of awe that it originally had. Case in point: If your eyes were shut all of your life, and then suddenly you opened them and saw for the first time, it would be pretty amazing, right? But after a time of keeping them open, you would not notice it anymore because it would be the norm.
Q. If I want to be like you when I grow up, how do I keep from being impatient. That is, I want to grasp the principles more quickly?
A. The nature of things is repetition. I do not know anybody that gets it the first time around. Nobody reads a book just once and gets it. Thank God we have the remarkable abilities to repeat things, and with repetition we always get better, whether it is throwing a basketball, casting a fishing lure, cutting a piece of wood, memorization, or learning the truth about ourselves. So, repeat it until you become it… or, better still… it becomes you.
Q. Ouspensky says that “…the lack of unity in man is what makes it so difficult to find a practical connection between the aims of the system and the aims of ordinary life…” and then he goes on to say that “There are no aims in ordinary life.” Would you say a little bit more about that?
A. I do not think he meant that there are no aims in ordinary life. Certainly, we have aims in ordinary life. I think he meant that most of man’s aims were not realistic. For instance, if you make it your aim to earn a million dollars by Thursday, you probably will not achieve it… but, if you do, send me a few bucks. In truth, the only true aim of ordinary life is to be what you are supposed to be. Oak trees make acorns. Man is supposed to achieve higher consciousness and make higher-being bodies. So, technically, that is the aim of ordinary life. I suppose there is a secondary aim as well, to duplicate, which too is a part of the model.
Q. In reading The Fourth Way I am a little confused about the magnetic center because Ouspensky says that “the magnetic center has to be able to see and distinguish certain things”.
A. Actually, there is a paper in the Archive at thedogpub.com on “becoming the middle”, which goes through each of the centers and explains where the magnetic center is and how it is enlivened. There is also a diagram in The Fourth Way that has a bunch of I’s in it; some of which are in a small circle. If you read that paper or remember that diagram it will help you better understand what magnetic center is.
Q. I may be confusing “magnetic center’ with “magnetic center moments”.
A. A man has five states of I. He starts off as a multiplicity; and, as such, has magnetic center moments, which create his magnetic center. With the development of his magnetic center, comes Deputy Steward. Following that is Steward. And, following that is Master.
Q. What is a soul, and can we verify it?
A. Everything moves by processes. What is a soul? In our model, we use the three-storied factory. No octave moves without the help of other octaves. If we understand that, then we realize that the physical octave cannot go all the way to the top without the help of other octaves. Therefore, there must be, by law, an astral octave, and a mental octave – an octave of kesdjan matter and an octave of higher-being matter, that is, the matter from which higher bodies are made. The higher matter must already be there; and, with its assistance, physical matter can go further than just DO, RE, MI. That is, when physical matter develops up to a certain point, it is able to assimilate another matter, astral matter, what we call that the second story. We see that the second story gives us properties of feeling, by recognizing meaning, and then later on by recording it. Then, according to the model, these two enjoined matters cannot go further without the assistance of a third matter, which Gurdjieff called higher-being matter, that is why we do The Objective Exercise… to awaken the third story and assimilate the third matter! We have to first awaken conscience and obtain a third way of sensing the world. Then, with the Double or Nothing Exercises, we will be able to awaken Master, the second part of the third story. It is just like in the food diagram. Three matters in motion. The third matter crystallizes when we wake up Master, and obtain Reason and Impartiality, without which, we will be struggling just like life was struggling before it had DNA and it, too, could not remember itself. We have to take in the third matter and bring it to a state where it remembers itself and, when it does, it will be able to remember itself without the physical body, and something that was constructed here in the physical world, with the help of the astral and the higher-being matter, will allow us to exist after death. Now, does the soul need food? That is a funny question. If we take the postulant that souls are immortal, then I guess they do not have to eat.
Q. Would a soul need impressions, that kind of food?
A. Again, the dilemma is, the moment you say souls need to have something in order to exist, is the moment that you say that souls are not immortal. So, take your pick. Which one do you want? We are told in Gurdjieff’s model that astral bodies do decay, and that higher being-bodies, who have sensed their astral body decaying, get into a state of what is called “Techdekgnel”. That is, in the state of looking around for a discarded astral body, which was left behind by someone who had already perfected their higher-being body; and, after completing their third being-body, discarded their, somewhat, still intact astral body, which kind of indicates that if you don’t feed the astral body, you can’t keep it going; or, once it is crystallized, it has a finite time of existence within which to crystallize the higher-being body. I have a diagram called the two squiggles diagram, which can be found on thedogteachings.com website under Resources/Diagrams. It shows a kind of flip, flopping back and forth as matter moves down the Universe and then moves back up. That is, on the way back up, something you acquire on one level becomes what you are given to start the next level. The acquisition of Reason, which is a personality center, swaps over and becomes an essence center – the instinctive center of the higher-being body – and, as such, holds the higher-being body in its own image so it therefore no longer needs a physical body. So, remember there are three things in motion. I hope that answers your question about being fed by and about feeding the soul.
Q. All the efforts must be done in the physical body. You cannot do any of them in the astral body?
A. That is correct. That is the mold, that is the scaffolding within which the building is built. Without the scaffolding there can be no building, but once the building is built, you can take the scaffolding down. Think of it this way. Here we have a physical world made of physical matter. Now imagine there are two higher worlds made of higher matters, which we cannot see… what we call astral matter and mental matter, or in Gurdjieff’s terms, Kesdjan and Higher-being matter. These higher matters cannot organize themselves by themselves. In order to organize themselves, they need the scaffolding of the physical matter. With the help of the physical world, these higher matters can become organized and crystallize… after which, they will not need the scaffolding. Physical bodies are firstly here to continue physical bodies, to have children. The big DO at the bottom influences all of the centers, except for the higher mental center, which starts to fulfill something for the DO at the end.
Q. In order to see the astral and mental centers in us, do we need to have the higher emotional center unified completely?
A. I think the wrong word there is “completely”. As I said, we need to have at least 2/3rds of our three lower centers functioning in order to illuminate the higher emotional center.
Q. How can you know what your purpose is once the physical body is gone?
A. That is a question for the ages. Is there really a heaven? Is there really something that can survive the shock of death? If there is, then there is a place of existence for those things. You know, it is almost like asking the question that atoms have, “What is it going to be like when we become sodium and chlorine and then they organize into salt?”
Q. There is so much in life and in religion, worrying, or joyfully anticipating the future when this body’s not here anymore. I have never cared much about that. What is there in me that is not worried?
A. That is the good question. A lot of us, since we do not know what to do and have not gotten right answers, find it hard to believe in such things. We do not have trust in such things. So, why worry about it? It seems like such a futile journey. Yet, we have religions that want us to pursue it. I think our advantage in my work is that we have rules and laws. That is, by defining the structure we are better able to reverse engineer it; and, as such, see how everything, law-conformably, comes into existence, and thereby, better extrapolate where it is going. The other question is… “If it is in my right to live after death, then somehow, by claiming my right, I fulfill some purpose. And, if it is my right, then it is my nature to want to accomplish that. So, just by knowing, is sometimes the biggest hurdle, because, just by knowing, we can get on with accomplishing, without the fears of not knowing.
Q. What is the indicator that one can experience in the physical body that shows that the other bodies have been completed?
A. Since they are all a part of the three-story diagram, we can check on their development by common sense. We can sense the world by sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell in order to recognize proper development of the physical body. We can recognize right meaning and verify if we perceive the world without bias or judgement, to measure the development of our astral body. We can look at the world through our conscience and observe our reason and impartiality, to indicate the development of our mental body. The lower sensing allows us to pick up a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest, the middle sensing allows us to comprehend the meaning of a baby bird that has falling out of its nest, and the upper sensing allows us to have compassion towards the baby bird that has fallen out of its nest; and, with reason and impartiality, to either care for it, or to try to safely place it back in its nest. If we can find things like this present in us, then we know that the other two bodies are indeed developing in us; and, when our physical body reaches its end, there is a good chance that the astral body and the mental body have fully established their oscillations.
Q. I believe I remember a diagram used by Ouspensky that speaks about four bodies?
A. Many religions and philosophies are built on the wrong data. However, if we are able to garner the right data, we may be able to see how they missed the mark. For example:
In religion, man has four bodies – physical, natural, spiritual, and divine.
In metaphysics, man has four bodies – physical, astral, mental, and causal.
And in Nicoll’s and Ouspensky’s model, they list four bodies.
But, in Gurdjieff’s model, man only has three bodies – physical, kesdjan, and higher-being.
Why are religion, metaphysics, Nicoll, and Ouspensky’s models different from Gurdjieff’s model?
Well, hold up four fingers.
How many spaces do you see between those four fingers?
Eureka! There are only three spaces. Bodies are the spaces not the fingers.
There are only three bodies, but you need to have four labels to define them.
Q. I want to bring in a question about the Enneagram, about the line of supervision, and what to do after you get the tools ready.
A. It is a natural law that before we have higher centers, we live in lower centers; and, as such, we get very good at gratifying our lower centers because that is all we have. But once we develop the higher centers, we have to shift our force to “Like what it does not like.” That is, after the tools are ready, the food must be prepared. Some things may need to be slaughtered, other things may need to be sliced and diced. So, it is no longer about gratifying lower centers, which is what we all do at first. But, instead, it is about fulfilling the potential of our higher centers. That is the question. Something in us must strive to fulfill our potential, even if it goes against the wishes of our lower centers. Sorry about the slaughtering part.
Q. A question on the stock market?
A. Stock markets are notoriously unpredictable. Stock markets are connected to many things we are not privy to. Do you know everything that the pig farmers went through this year, or what the people, who buy their products, went through this year? So that you have a better sense of the price of pork bellies? Are they going to go up… or, are they going to go down? In truth, you have a whole bunch of dice on the table, and you are rolling them thinking that you can predict which numbers are going to come up; and, if they do come up, and your stocks win, you believe that your thinking was right; and if your stocks do not win and you lose everything and go broke, you will blame the cold front in the Midwest, or something else. But it’s a game of chaos and uncertainty; and, probably, a game, where the only way to win is not to play.
However, there are oscillations. In Texas, energy stocks go up in the spring and down in the fall, so if you buy them in the fall and sell them in the spring, you may make a few bucks… but most people are not that patient.
That ends this question and answer session.
Thank you for listening.
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