Monday, June 20, 2016

Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff
Thursday, June 23rd, 6:30 - 8:00 
Panera (meeting room)
5430 Center Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Discussion: "I Do Not Know Myself"
Who am I? I need to know. If I do not know, what meaning does my life have? And what in me responds to life? So, I must try to answer, to see who I am. First, my thought steps back and brings suggestions about myself: I am a man or woman who can do this, who has done that, who possesses this and that. My thinking volunteers possible answers from all that it knows. But it does not know what I am, does not really know me in this moment. Then I turn to my feeling. It is among the centers most capable of knowing. Can it answer? My feeling is not free. It has to obey the “me” who wants to be the greatest, the most powerful and who suffers all the time from not being first. So, my feeling does not dare. It is afraid, or doubts. How can it know? Then, of course, there is my body, the capacity to sense my body. But am I my body? In fact, I do not know myself. I do not know what I am. I know neither my possibilities nor my limitations. I exist, yet I do not know how I am existing. I believe my actions are affirming my own existence. Yet I am always responding to life with only one part of myself. I react either emotionally or intellectually or physically. And it is never really “I” who responds. I also believe I am moving in the direction I want to go and that I can “do.” But in fact I am acted upon, moved by forces that I know nothing about. Everything in me takes place, everything happens. The strings are pulled without my knowing. I do not see that I am like a puppet, a machine set in motion by influences from outside. At the same time, I sense my life passing as if it were the life of another person. I vaguely see myself being agitated, hoping, regretting, afraid, bored . . . all without feeling that I am taking part. Most of the time I act without knowing it and realize only afterward that I said this or did that. It is as though my life unfolds without my conscious participation. It unfolds while I sleep. From time to time jolts or shocks awaken me for an instant. In the middle of an angry outburst, or grief or danger, I suddenly open my eyes—“What? . . . It’s me, here, in this situation, living this.” But after the shock, I go back to sleep, and a long time can pass before a new shock awakens me. As my life passes, I may begin to suspect that I am not what I believe. I am a being who is asleep, a being with no consciousness of himself. In this sleep I confuse intellect—the thought functioning independently from feeling—with intelligence, which includes the capacity to feel what is being reasoned. My functions—my thoughts, feelings and movements—work without direction, subject to random shocks and habits. It is the lowest state of being for man. I live in my own narrow, limited world commanded by associations from all my subjective impressions. This is a prison to which I always return—my prison. The search for myself begins with questioning where “I” am. I have to feel the absence, the habitual absence, of “I.” I must know the feeling of emptiness and see the lie in always affirming an image of myself, the false “I.” We are all the time saying “I,” though we do not really believe in it. In fact, we have nothing else in which we can believe. It is the wish to be that pushes me to say “I.” It is behind all my manifestations. But this is not a conscious impulse. Usually I look to the attitude of others in order to be convinced of my being. If they reject or ignore me, I doubt myself. If they accept me, I believe in myself. Am I only this image that I affirm? Is there really no “I” who could be present? In order to respond, I need to know myself, to have a direct experience of knowing myself. First, I have to see the obstacles that stand in the way. I must see that I believe in my mind, my thinking—I believe it is I. “I” wish to know, “I” have read, “I” have understood. All this is the expression of the false “I,” my ordinary “I.” It is my ego that prevents me from opening to consciousness, from seeing “what is” and what “I am.” My effort to awaken cannot be forced. We are afraid of emptiness, afraid to be nothing, and so we make an effort to be otherwise. But who makes this effort? I must see that this too comes from my ordinary “I.” All forcing comes from the ego. I must no longer be fooled by an image or an ideal that is imposed by the mind. I need to accept emptiness, accept to be nothing, accept “what is.” In this state, the possibility of a new perception of myself appears. 

                                                              - Madame De Salzmann,  "The Reality of Being"

Next Meeting: 
Thursday, June 30th (6:30-8:00 at E. Liberty Carnegie Library)

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