Abstract. The aim of this presentation, dear sisters and brothers in the Living Teaching G. I. Gurdjieff left to humanity, is to explore until its ultimate consequences the question, What Does it Really Mean to Be Awake? In other words, the purpose of this presentation is the exploration, together if possible, of a question and not the search for answers. Answers may arise from the nature of the questioning but not from looking for answers because that is not our intention. It is an open end questioning that we wish to engage in. And for that open end process of inquiry, the consequences of the inquiry may not be anticipated nor preordained.
Presentation. I will begin by sharing with you how this presentation is so important for me, although it may not for you. I made lots of efforts in order to be here. My wife of 54 years suffered a stroke about six years ago and now I have to take care of her and it has become practically impossible for me to travel.
But in order to understand why my presence at this Conference is so important for me personally, I have to go to the year 1983 when I lived together with my family in Venezuela. I had just finished the translation from English into Spanish of the third series of All and Everything, namely, “Life is real only then, when ‘I am’” Once finished it I gave a copy to most of my friends in a Gurdjieff group in my city of Valencia, about two hours from Caracas. At the same time the idea came to me that I had to move with my family from Venezuela to the United States. I remember that I felt I should use the Law of Seven which was very much used in the third series of Mr. Gurdjieff writings in order to facilitate this move from Venezuela to the USA. As soon as I began to contemplate this possibility I had an experience that now I would like to share with you here.
I had to go to the office of the real estate agent who was taking care of selling a house, an apartment, and a large piece of land located in a country club where my wife and I were planning to build a big house. The office of this real estate agent was in the seventh floor of a building in downtown Valencia. As I arrived to the building, the elevator door was opened I entered it and pushed the seventh floor button. The elevator began to move upward and it arrived to the fifth floor it got stuck. It was not moving up or down. I began to panic but soon I got relaxed and calm and even sat on the floor of the elevator. While there I began to contemplate the fact that I was trapped in a Fifth Stopinder of my Law of Seven. If the elevator moved upward I would see the agent, take care of my business and moved tgo the USA; but if it moved down I would be in bad shape and probably that would be an indication that I was not going to move with my family to the USA. All that was taking place in my imagination but I felt everything I was imagined was real. Well, the elevator finally moved upward, I spoke with the agent, and in few months I was in New York with my family.
Soon after this experience I went to my home and the first thing I did was to check my copy of Beelzebub’s Tales in order to see if I could find some piece of information that could serve as a verification of my experience. I went straight the chapter on the Sacred Heptaparaparshinokh or Law of Seven and without too much search I found this paragraph on page 869 of the book:
“It is necessary at this point in connection with the actualization of the fifth Stopinder of the sacred Heptaparaparshinokh to trace a parallel between two processes which externally have nothing in common with one another, namely: in the same manner as the first being-food cannot acquire its vivifying power until after its transformation into being-piandjiehari, in the same manner on this piano the vibrations of a chord do not a corresponding vivifying power until they have fused with the preceding vibrations produced, starting from the center of gravity of the totality of the vibrations of the note ‘sol.”
I immediately realized than his paragraph in Beelzebub’s Tales corresponded almost exactly with my elevator experience and hat my octave related to our move to the USA had acquired a vivifying power after the elevator had gone through the fifth floor toward the seventh floor. Three months later I was with my family in New York.
But there was much more I later learned about the actualization of the fifth Stopinder. It so happened that after moving to New York, I had to come back to Venezuela to take care of some business. It was then that I went through a more dramatic experience that I rather keep to myself because of its personal nature. This experience showed me that not only actualization of the fifth Stopinder was necessary in order to give to the octave of work a corresponding vivifying power, but it was part of the temptation all seekers must go through. In other words, the fifth Stopinder is the place of temptation and if one falls into temptation, one cannot advance beyond the fifth Stopinder and one’s octave returns back to the note Do or something catastrophic happens in the life of the seeker.
The best example of this is the life of Jesus and His temptations. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus receives the Spirit and then the Spirit leads Him into the dessert to be tempted. After overcoming the three temptations of the Ego (Satan) Jesus is served by the Angels and begins the octave of His mission on Earth. Later on, there are other temptations because the fifth of the Law repeat themselves, although in different forms.
Now coming back to my statement of the importance of my presence at this Conference, I can say that for me its importance is the fact that I am now going through another fifth Stopinder of my own octave, something I can gather from the fact that this is my fifth presentation at an All and Everything Conference (2003, 2008, 2012, 2016, and this one in 2018). This knowledge, by the way, provides me material to understand what my situation in life now is.
My point here is that all this work I have related here is a sign of being awake.
Awakening takes place at different levels because all phenomena is made of levels according to the operation of the Law of Seven. In any case, the question of awakening, of being awake and stay awake for a fairly amount of time, has been a long one and it has been part of the elements in most spiritual traditions. In Vedantic classics there is theMandukyo Upanishad. It consists of only 12 verses. Each of them deal with an aspect of awakening to truth or reality. In Buddhism it is said that after his Awakening experience, someone asked Buddha how he wanted to be known and he replied: “The Awakened One.” And in many of its verses, the New Testament speaks of being awake because we do not know when the Son of Man is coming. In the Living Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff, the one he left to humanity, it is arguably that the idea of awakening is the central idea. In any case, it is a very important one. Some sages, among them the great teacher of non-duality Ramana Marhashi, have said: “The greatest healing is to wake up.”
We can ask questions such as is awakening to be awake to the beauties of a sunrise and a sunset? Or is awakening to be awake to the misery of millions of children who die every year in this lunatic planet Earth? After considering these questions as true questions because, after all, when we are awake we are awake to the totality of life, we then attempt to go deeper into our inquiry.
When we go deeply into our questioning we intuitively see that to be awake must somehow be related to the matter of being awake to our “true nature.” This “true nature” is known in some non-dualist Hindu teachings, such as the one of the twentieth Century Ramana Marhashi, as the Self. In Taoism, the name Tao is used for the expression “true nature.” But the most common expression in used when referring to “true nature” is Self. So, we may say, that to be awake, is arriving at what is known as “the realization of the Self.” When taken in the context presented here, it must be pointed out that we cannot by means of words express the experience of being awake. In effect, “The Tao that can be named is not the Tao.” The experience of awakening, or being awake, in the context of this discussion, can only take place in Silence, total and complete Silence. This experience, this awakening to our “true nature” is what in many teachings is referred to as attaining unity. No more separation, no more experience of a state of separateness; only blessing unity.
If we now relate the question under consideration in this presentation to the Living Teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff, we may pose the very legitimate question, to what does this realization of the Self compare to in the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff? It is a very legitimate question because this teaching is the one that has touched us the most directly. But we must leave these questions open if we wish them to be to be living and not dead questions. The most we can say at this moment is that this realization of the Self corresponds closely to the title of the last book of the series All and Everything: “Life is real only then, when ‘I am.’” And that for that we must first attain some level of inner harmony and inner unity.
So we leave these questions, as well as all related questions, open for the kind of exploration which is the intention of this presentation.