S3/E27: R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 16
R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 16
In this episode, continuing our talks on Work questions and answers, we narrate a conversation between Russell and students at his school, covering topics on how to deal with a sleeping world, completing a task, will, creating and maintaining a purpose, working through resistance, imagining yourself conscious, the Enneagram, the Three-Fold Attention exercise, becoming a 30, and identification, as well as some quotes from Gurdjieff’s writings and Russell’s responses. 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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S3/E27: R. A. Smith – Questions and Answers Part 16
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.
Continuing our talks on Work questions and answers, in this podcast, we narrate a dialogue between Russell and students at his school, covering topics on how to deal with a sleeping world, completing a task, will, creating and maintaining a purpose, working through resistance, imagining yourself conscious, the Enneagram, the Three-Fold Attention exercise, becoming a 30, and identification, as well as some quotes from Gurdjieff’s writings and Russell’s responses.
Student: Our education system seems to not be set up according to the level of maturity, nor by the level of natural development.
Russell: Perhaps someday it will be. But our education system is only part of the problem. Children are set-up to fail from the moment they are born. They are born in a sleeping world, born under sleeping parents, born in a sleeping neighborhood, born in a sleeping country, and as such, they are inundated with advertising and suggestions based on sleeping models; and seldom, if ever, see anything that has ‘right purpose and meaning.’
Student: I have been struggling with that as well; how do I find ‘right purpose and meaning?’
Russell: Let’s change the model just a little bit. Let’s not put ‘right purpose and meaning’ out there, let’s put chaos and randomness out there. Then you will be able to have moments of rejoicing whenever you see something that does have ‘right purpose and meaning,’ and therefore, will be excited when you enter the world of randomness and chaos, because, by so doing, you will be able to gauge whether or not you are influenced by the world, or whether or not you influence it.
That is, your excursions may go really well at first, but sooner or later, someone will give you a rude look or be inconsiderate, and will test your mettle. Then the question becomes, will you stay intact or not?
The world of randomness and chaos will then become an exciting challenge, instead of an inconvenience. Plus, sometimes you might be able to insert something positive into it. That is, to throw in a smile and watch someone become different. As such, you will be able to insert purpose and meaning into the chaos, and manifest in a way that makes others smile. If you do, you will change their lives, because they got to encounter a conscious entity moving through the chaos … you.
Student: I get it. Based on what you just said, I now see that if I change the model and make it one of gratitude, it will create happiness instead of difficulty. Thus, henceforth, that is what I shall do.
Student: Russ, we have all seen you take tasks to completion.
How can we take tasks to completion?
Russell: As Gurdjieff said, ordinary men have no will, they just have constantly changing passengers, which is why they find it very difficult to complete tasks. That is, they do not realize that the passenger who starts the task is not going to be the one who completes it; and as such, they deviate. However, if the task was important to them, it would get finished. So it is simply a matter of making the task more important.
Student: Okay, I see that, but how do I make the task more important?
Russell: By improving your reasons for doing it.
Things usually start off as an “I want to,” but according to the Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want;” so, go bigger; try to make the task into an “I need to,” and if an “I need to” is not big enough, then try to make the task into an “I have to.” If you “have to do something,” it will most likely get done.
Student: So, what you are saying is to do things for bigger reasons.
You have often heard me say that the first thing I do each morning is to acknowledge that I can’t wait to open a book and start reading. That is, I affix importance on what I wish to do that day, and therefore, I am able to complete many tasks.
A true story. One student, who heard me mention how I start my day, got up one morning and asked himself, “Okay, what should I do today, what is important?” When he asked that question, a voice apparently went off in his head and answered him, saying, “How the hell would you know what is important, and what you should do today, you have always gotten it wrong?”
That was when he came to me and asked, “Russ, I have a very serious question to ask you, and I really want you to give me an honest answer … if you were me … what would you be doing right now?”
Then he told me that for nearly 60 years, he thought that he knew what was important, but had always gotten it wrong. So today, he decided to ask me what he should be doing, because I have made the journey, and as such, I have gotten it right?
So, I told him what to do, which not only gave him a big enough purpose, but also a right one.
A good example of having a big enough purpose is reflected in the story of some guys who went hunting for Dall sheep. Dall sheep live on the top of mountains; so the guys headed off for the mountains. When they got there, they had to climb up the mountain in the rain; navigating through thick trees, and over loose rocks. The trek took them nearly 3 hours, after which, they hunted for Dall sheep all day long, but saw none; as night fell, they climbed back down. The next morning, one of the guys said, “I am not going to go up that mountain again; it is too hard!” One of the other guys, who heard him say that, responded by saying, “I did not come here to make that decision. I made that decision before we came. I came here to get a Dall sheep, and if I have to climb the mountain, through thick trees, over loose rocks, and in the rain; then hunt all day long, so be it.”
Do you see that he had a big enough purpose?
Having a big enough purpose, engendered in him with both tenacity and resolve; and, on the third day, he got a Dall sheep.
Now you do that; develop a “definiteness of purpose,” so that folks hear you proclaiming, “I am going to climb the mountain; you are either going to see me waving from the top, or dead on the side, because I am not coming back.”
Any other questions?
Student: I have one. When I take on a task, I am not very good at factoring in all the things that might happen. Can you help me improve that?
Russell: I can, and I will.
Put the task on an Enneagram. The Lines of Supervision in an Enneagram will show you everything that you need.
Then, if you decide to climb a mountain, they will take you through the forest that gets to the mountain and consider the briars, and bears that you may encounter, prompting you to carry a machete, and some bear repellent. Then when you reach the mountain, they will consider the sheer cliffs that need climbing, and as such, will prompt you to carry block and tackle, pitons and hammers, and ropes and such; and ensure that you know how to use them properly.
We often think that climbing a mountain is going to be easy, with steps and hand holds and such; and thus, aIl we need-do is leisurely climb to the top!
But successful tasks begin by considering everything that is needed.
As I said, put the task on an Enneagram, which I explain in detail in Gurdjieff: Cosmic Secrets – The Teaching Guide, wherein I thoroughly define every note, reveal all Fourteen Lines of Supervision, and examine every pitfall along the way.
Student: In the past, I would often get stuck in the moment, and could only look up the mountain. But after reading what you wrote about the Enneagram, I can now see why I got stymied, I got stymied because I had no idea of how the process actually works. Your explanation has helped me immensely, and now the tasks, which I attempt, are proving to be very easy.
Russell: That is terrific, but it is also law-conformable. Right actions always begin with right knowledge, and understanding the Enneagram, and the Fourteen Lines of Supervision, is right knowledge.
Student: I have a question. In Life is Real, on page 112, Gurdjirff says, “For the given case, it is indispensable first to learn to divide one’s entire attention in three approximately equal parts, and to concentrate each separate part simultaneously for a definite time on three diverse inner or outer ‘objects…’”
Is that an exercise? And, what does he mean when he talks about the inner or outer objects?
Russell: Yes, that is an exercise. It is called the Three-Fold Attention exercise, which evolved from the 3-finger exercise. In the 3-finger exercise, you were told to tap a finger and to count the taps; there is the object. Then, you were told to have a second finger sense; there is another object. Finally, you were told to establish a feeling in a third finger; but for myself, and for many others, creating a feeling in a finger is a very difficult thing to do. So, after trying the 3-finger exercise many many times, with only a modicum of success; my higher center instructed me to do it in a different way, and then gave me the Three-Fold Attention exercise. It said, “Count your breaths; put all your attention on the rhythm of your breathing, and get all of you to count your breaths. Then, when you have locked into the count, pull your Instinctive Center away from the count, and tell it to sense. That is, tell it to create and hold a second attention on some sensation, like listening, or watching, or smelling, etc.” When I tried that, it was amazing; it was almost as if my eyes had fish-eye lenses, creating acute peripheral vision, and my ears were like parabolic listening devices that could lock on any sound, and amplify it.
I was thus able to establish two attentions: one, that was counting the rhythm of my breathing, and another, that had a sensation locked in as well. Then it said, “Okay, now pull your Emotional Center away from the count and tell it to feel, ‘Hey you, come over here and create and hold a feeling.’” So, I did; I pulled the Emotional Center off of the count, and created and held a feeling, which too, became definite and strong.
I was able to create and hold three separate attentions: my Moving Center was counting breaths, my Instinctive Center was focused on a sound, and my Emotional Center was holding a strong emotion. It was remarkable!
It was not only remarkable; but, compared to the 3-finger exercise, it was a heck of a lot easier to do.
Student: I concur, the Three-fold Attention exercise is indeed a heck of a lot easier to do, and it is remarkable.
Okay, I too, have a question about something Gurdjieff wrote in Life is Real… “And so, if you really wish to have in yourself that which alone can distinguish a man from an ordinary animal, that is to say, if you wish to be really such a one to whom Great Nature has given the possibility with the desire, that is, with a desire issuing from all the three separate spiritualized parts and with the conscious striving to transform yourself into a so to say “cultivated soil” for the germination and growth of that upon which lay the hopes and expectations of the CREATOR OF EVERYTHING EXISTING, then you must always and in everything, struggling with the weaknesses that are in you according to law, attain at any cost, first of all, an all-round understanding, and then the practical realization in your presence, of this exercise just elucidated by me, in order to have the chance for a conscious crystallizing in yourself of the data still engendering the three mentioned impulses which must be present obligatorily in the common presence of every man who has the right to call himself a GODLIKE CREATURE.”
What I am wondering is, after doing The Objective Exercise and waking up, and after doing the Three-Fold Attention exercise and gaining multiple attentions, what do I do with the three, spiritualized parts?
Russell: The answer to that question is easy; you simply keep them unified.
The process was: The Objective Exercise unified your three spiritualized parts. After which, it was up to you to keep them unified. Which was not hard to do, because, with the Three-Fold Attention exercise, you learned how to hold them separately, and then hold them together. Thus, you were able to reestablish the state of unity anytime you wished.
It all began when you became unified, and when you did, you had a sense of oneness: a sense of being present, a sense of thoughts stopping, and a sense of you being separate from you, which often persisted for days, or weeks, or months; during which time, you probably realized how precious unity was, and therefore, did everything in your power to maintain it, which, as I said, is easy to do with Three-Fold Attention exercise.
Unity is imperative. I repeat, unity is imperative; as Gurdjieff proclaimed in this passage from Views From the Real World.
Gurdjieff: “A man should be able to give a total of 30 for everything taken together. This figure can be obtained only if each center can give a certain corresponding number–for instance, 12 + 10 + 8.
“If 30 is correctly a true manifestation of man and this 30 is produced by three centers in a corresponding correlation, then it is imperative that the centers should be in this correlation.”
Russell: That is why, after doing The Objective Exercise and waking up, we do the Three-Fold Attention exercise, and learn how to create, hold, and unite three separate attentions, which not only allows us to remain unified, but also produces a 30 in us.
So, stay a 30; sound your chord; and keep your three spiritualized parts unified.
Student: That is so true, doing The Objective Exercise did bring me to a state of unification. But I will admit, after I awoke, I did get identified a few times; and when I did, I no longer recognized that I had three separate, spiritualized parts. Is that normal?
Russell: Yes, unfortunately, that is normal; such is the nature of identification. When you are in the state of identification, all you see is the object of your identification.
But I am sure that is not what you meant to ask. What you probably meant to ask, is how do you prevent yourself from becoming identified.
If so… you should know this:
The key to everything, lies in your ability to stop yourself. If you cannot stop yourself, as it says in one of the DOGTALES, anything else you attempt will only be an illusion.
That is, if you feel yourself becoming irritated by someone or something, and are not able to stop yourself before you become identified, or if you find yourself wanting to impose your opinions on someone else, then you do not have a prayer. You are not going to maintain unity, and will be like the guy that Gurdjieff talked about, in Views From the Real World, the one who dropped his hairbrush.
Gurdjieff: “You have plenty of money, let us say. You live in luxury and enjoy general respect and esteem. The people who run your well-organized business are absolutely honest and devoted to you. In a word, you have a very good life. “Perhaps you think so yourself and consider yourself wholly free, for after all your time is your own. You are a patron of the arts, you settle world problems over a cup of coffee and you may even be interested in the development of hidden spiritual powers. Problems of the spirit are not foreign to you and you are at home among philosophical ideas. You are educated and well read. Having some erudition in many fields, you are known as a clever man, for you find your way easily in all sorts of pursuits; you are an example of a cultured man. In short, you are to be envied.
“In the morning you wake up under the influence of an unpleasant dream. The slightly depressed mood disappeared but has left its trace in a kind of lassitude and uncertainty of movement. You go to the mirror to brush your hair and by accident drop your hairbrush. You pick it up and just as you have dusted it off, you drop it again. This time you pick it up with a shade of impatience and because of that you drop it a third time. You try to grab it in midair but instead, it flies at the mirror. In vain you jump to catch it. Smash! … a starshaped cluster of cracks appears in the antique mirror you were so proud of. Hell! The records of discontent begin to turn. You need to vent your annoyance on someone. Finding that your servant has forgotten to put the newspaper beside your morning coffee, your cup of patience overflows and you decide you can no longer stand the wretched man in the house.
“Now it is time for you to go out. Taking advantage of the fine day, your destination not being far away, you decide to walk while your car follows slowly behind. The bright sun somewhat mollifies you. Your attention is attracted to a crowd that has gathered around a man lying unconscious on the pavement. With the help of the onlookers the porter puts him into a cab and he is driven off to the hospital. Notice how the strangely familiar face of the driver is connected in your associations and reminds you of the accident you had last year. You were returning home from a gay birthday party. What a delicious cake they had there! This servant of yours who forgot your morning paper ruined your breakfast. Why not make up for it now? After all, cake and coffee are extremely important! Here is the fashionable cafe you sometimes go to with your friends. But why have you remembered about the accident? You had surely almost forgotten about the morning’s unpleasantness. . . . And now, do your cake and coffee really taste so good?
“You see the two ladies at the next table. What a charming blonde! She glances at you and whispers to her companion, ‘that’s the sort of man I like.’
“Surely none of your troubles are worth wasting time on or getting upset about. Need one point out how your mood changed from the moment you met the blonde and how it lasted while you were with her? You return home humming a gay tune and even the broken mirror only provokes a smile. But what about the business you went out for in the morning? You have only just remembered it . . . that’s clever! Still, it does not matter. You can telephone. You lift the receiver and the operator gives you the wrong number. You ring again and get the same number. Some man says sharply that he is sick of you—you say it is not your fault, an altercation follows and you are surprised to learn that you are a fool and an idiot, and that if you call again . . . The rumpled carpet under your foot irritates you, and you should hear the tone of voice in which you reprove the servant who is handing you a letter. The letter is from a man you respect and whose good opinion you value. The contents of the letter are so flattering to you that your irritation gradually dies down and is replaced by the pleasantly embarrassed feeling that flattery arouses. You finish reading it in a most amiable mood.
“I could continue this picture of your day—you free man. Perhaps you think I have been exaggerating. No, this is a true scenario taken from life.”
Russell: Wow, thank you Mr. Gurdjieff, that is a great scenario of identification, and of how men lose their unity.
Even those who have awakened subjectively, who manifest as you have indicated, will lose their unity.
Fortunately, after awakening objectively, we have two advantages. We have the Three-Fold Attention exercise, and also, a double arrow of attention, which gives us the ability to stand apart from ourselves and observe ourselves objectively, to where we will be able to stop ourselves from becoming identified, and from imposing our opinions on others; and as such, maintain unity.
Gurdjieff then continues his discussion of this so-called ‘free man,’ and the state of sleep that most men entertain. Prepare to be saddened.
Gurdjieff: “…Tell me where is the freedom when people and things possess a man to such an extent that he forgets his mood, his business and himself? In a man who is subject to such variation can there be any serious attitude toward his search?
“You understand better now that a man need not necessarily be what he appears to be, that the question is not one of external circumstances and facts but of the inner structure of a man and of his attitude toward these facts. But perhaps this is only true for his associations; with regard to things he ‘knows’ about, perhaps the situation is different.
“But I ask you, if for some reason each of you was unable to put your knowledge to practical use for several years, how much would remain? Would this not be like having materials which in time dry up and evaporate? Remember the comparison with a clean sheet of paper. And indeed in the course of our life we are learning something the whole time, and we call the results of this learning ‘knowledge.’ And in spite of this knowledge, do we not often prove to be ignorant, remote from real life and therefore ill-adapted to it? We are half-educated like tadpoles, or more often simply ‘educated’ people with a little information about many things but all of it woolly and inadequate. Indeed it is merely information. We cannot call it knowledge, since knowledge is an inalienable property of a man; it cannot be more and it cannot be less. For a man ‘knows’ only when he himself ‘is’ that knowledge. As for your convictions—have you never known them to change? Are they not also subject to fluctuation like everything else in us? Would it not be more accurate to call them opinions rather than convictions, dependent as much on our mood as on our information or perhaps simply on the state of our digestion at a given moment?
“Every one of you is a rather uninteresting example of an animated automaton. You think that a ‘soul,’ and even a ‘spirit,’ is necessary to do what you do and live as you live. But perhaps it is enough to have a key for winding up the spring of your mechanism. Your daily portions of food help to wind you up and renew the purposeless antics of associations again and again. From this background separate thoughts are selected and you attempt to connect them into a whole and pass them off as valuable and as your own. We also pick out feelings and sensations, moods and experiences and out of all this we create the mirage of an inner life, call ourselves conscious and reasoning beings, talk about God, about eternity, about eternal life and other higher matters; we speak about everything imaginable, judge and discuss, define and evaluate, but we omit to speak about ourselves and about our own real objective value, for- we are all convinced that if there is anything lacking in us, we can acquire it.
“If in what I have said I have succeeded even to a small extent in making clear in what chaos is the being we call man, you will be able to answer for yourselves the question of what he lacks and what he can obtain if he remains as he is, what of value he can add to the value he himself represents.
“I have already said that there are people who hunger and thirst for truth. If they examine the problems of life and are sincere with themselves, they soon become convinced that it is not possible to live as they have lived and to be what they have been until now; that a way out of this situation is essential and that a man can develop his hidden capacities and powers only by cleaning his machine of the dirt that has clogged it in the course of his life. But in order to undertake this cleaning in a rational way, he has to see what needs to be cleaned, where and how; but to see this for himself is almost impossible. In order to see anything of this one has to look from the outside; and for this mutual help is necessary.
“If you remember the example I gave of identification, you will see how blind a man is when he identifies with his moods, feelings and thoughts. But is our dependence on things only limited to what can be observed at first glance? These things are so much in relief that they cannot help catching the eye. You remember how we spoke about people’s characters, roughly dividing them into good and bad? As a man gets to know himself, he continually finds new areas of his mechanicalness—let us call it automatism—domains where his will, his ‘I wish,’ has no power, areas not subject to him, so confused and subtle that it is impossible to find his way about in them without the help and the authoritative guidance of someone who knows.
“This briefly is the state of things in the realm of self-knowledge: in order to do you must know; but to know you must find out how to know. We cannot find this out by ourselves.”
Russell: Wow …!
Again, thank you Mr. Gurdjieff. The domain of the sleeping world makes self-development virtually impossible without the help and guidance of someone who knows.
We therefore, are truly blessed, because an objective way has broken through to the surface, and is currently being filled with men and women, who not only know, but are capable of showing other people how they too can know.
So, I say to those who are in class today, and to those who have done The Objective Exercise and awakened: you are very fortunate to have chosen this time in History to seek the truth, and also … how I am honored to be the one who is able to share it with you.
See you next week.
That ends the question and answer session for this episode.
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