“If you have not by nature a critical mind your staying here is useless.”
Aphorism inscribed above the walls of the Study House at the Prieuré.
The following is a quote from the book The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff by Jeanne de Salzmann.
“I need to see that what is lacking is a connection with my body. Without a connection I am caught in thoughts or changing emotions that give way to fantasy. And my body is either my master, a tyrant demanding satisfaction of its appetites, or my enemy, obliged to pay for all my thoughts and feelings. Yet my body could be the greatest support for experiencing my existence. It is on the level of the earth and draws its strength from it. The action of our life is on this level, this sphere, not somewhere up in the air. I have to feel the body on the earth, the ground. I do this by sensation sensing its weight, its mass, and, more important, sensing that there is force inside, an energy. Though sensation I need to feel a connection with my body so deep it becomes like a communion.”
I am not going to comment on the book because I have not read it and now plan to read it. However, concerning the Living Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us, I only read Beelzebub’s Tales because it is the Prime Source of his teaching. I read other books but they have nothing to do with the Living Teaching. For example, few months ago I read for the 10th time Little Red Riding Hood and maybe because it was the 10th time I clearly understood that the only way to avoid being eating by the Wolf in me, is to listen to the grandmother in me (He who has ears let him hear). Anyhow, the intent of this post is to show, exclusively on the basis of the paragraph above quoted, the lack of understanding that Jeanne de Salzmann had of the Living Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us in His Legominism All and Everything and very specifically in Beelzebub’s Tales.
I open with the first line of the paragraph, namely, “I need to see that what is lacking is a connection with my body.”
That line shows how much Mme. de Salzmann was connected to what she and others have termed the Work and that she and others call the Fourth Way. The Fourth Way Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us in his Living Teaching, is the Way of Conscience. The other three ways are the way of Faith, Love, and Hope. This is the exact message contained in what many serious students of the Living Teaching call the most important chapter in Beelzebub’s Tales. This chapter is “The Legominism Concerning the Deliberations of the Very saintly Ashiatat Shiemash Under the Title of ‘The Terror-of-the-Situation.’” The heart of the message contained in this chapter is that only the Divine Impulse of Objective Conscience can now restore us to normality. The message in this chapter has nothing to do with what many people in the Work call the Fourth Way. The Fourth Way according to the Living Teaching, is the Way of Conscience and it is a fourth way because three more are identified as ways, namely, Faith, Love, and Hope. All this has nothing to do with the ways of the fakir, the monk, and the yogi
Let’s now examine the first line in the quote from Jeanne de Salzmann in the light of the Way of Conscience. In this light, connection is not with the body but with Conscience. Conscience, and not the body, is the inner guide and inner Master in us, and Conscience is the link to God. We become Sons of God when we acquire Conscience: “Only-he-will-be-called-and-will-become-the-Son-of-God-who-acquires-in-himself-Conscience” (Beelzebub’s Tales, p. 368). Connection with the body is the result, and not the cause, of being connected with Conscience.
Here now is how I have lived all this in my own life and search.
When I connect with Conscience, I connect with the Higher in me and outside of me through a vertical axis. This connection makes possible the harmonizing of the functioning of my three centers and even the connection among them. This is so because the functioning of my three centers is now harmonized about a vertical axis. Then connection with the sensation of the body follows naturally and it must be so because if such connection is not established, there will be no horizontal axis and there must be a horizontal axis because otherwise the vertical axis cannot be brought into Life. This is the meaning of the Crucifying of the Divine Teacher Jesus Christ and the very foundation of Esoteric Christianity, as Mr. Gurdjieff called his teaching: The vertical axis, the body of Christ on the cross, is the connection with the Father, the Higher in us and outside of us; the horizontal axis, the two arms of Christ, is how the higher is brought into Life. In a certain way the teaching of Christianity in the sense that the Divine Teacher died for all of us, is very correct because it teaches all of us what it means to take one’s cross. The body of Christ on the cross is my body in Life; the arms of Christ on the cross are my arms in Life. I must “suffer” in the Cross of my own life if I ever expect to be born and awake to Conscience. Then, Like the Divine Teacher, I too become a Son of the Living God. This “Suffering” is precisely what leads to Conscience and that is why Ashiata Shiemash taught that for the awakening of Conscience in us, “the whole of us and the whole of our essence, are, and must be, already in our foundation, only suffering” (Beelzebub’s Tales, p. 372). “Suffering” and not sensing the body is what is required of us if we ever going to awaken to the Divine Impulse of Objective Conscience and this “suffering” begins with the “suffering” of my situation in Life which is awareness of my nothingness to start with. Then I have a chance for Conscience and Real Consciousness.
Connection with the body, as Mme. de Salzmann emphasizes in her book, is not the correct aim and it shows a lack of understanding of the Cosmology Mr. Gurdjieff brought in his Living Teaching. This is one of the main critiques to the teachings given in what is now known as the Work, a total lack of the Cosmological aspect of the teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us. What is mostly practiced in the Work today is Psychology and one only has to look at the Psychological Commentaries in the title of Nicoll’s book. Ouspensky, Jeanne de Salzmann, and Nicoll are the three most influential people who have made the expression the Work analogous to the Living Teaching. But it is not and Mr. Gurdjieff never used that expression when referring to his teaching. If we go to the so-called Paris War Meetings where the oral teaching given in Paris is mostly recorded, we will find 144 entries for the word Work but each and every one of them refers exclusively to our need to work and not to an organization of the teaching in a body called the Work. And if one searches for the word teaching one will find that this is the word Mr. Gurdjieff used to refer to his teaching. You can go there and find for yourself.
Now you readers of this post may be wondering and asking yourself “So what. What is this insane little man is trying to tell us here?.” Well, what this madman is trying to tell you here is that we must begin with the right beginning; otherwise and because of the operation of a cosmic law, the law of the initial impetus to be more precise, the initial impulse is of the utmost importance because it is the one initiating the end. In other words, the beginning is the end. If we begin with a connection to the body, we will end with a connection with the body and we will spend the rest of eternity striving to connect with the body living for ever a horizontal life. That is exactly what people in the Work and particularly in the so-called Foundations are telling us again and again and again ad nausea. We must begin with the beginning and then we will end with the beginning and the beginning of the Living Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us is the awakening of the Divine Impulse of Objective Conscience. Then all and everything else follows according to Law, including sensing the body
It is a proven fact that one does not have to study or read Beelzebub’s Tales to be in the Work. I have known many people who are in the Work and have never read the book one time, let alone the three times Mr. Gurdjieff advised us to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and not reading Beelzebub’s Tales does not mean that one cannot benefit from the Work. That is not the point here; the point here is that one can be in the Work all life and understand nothing or very little about the Living Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to humanity. Conversely, one does not have to be in the Work to understand the Living Teaching. And finally, one can be in the Work and understand the Living Teaching.
Having said all this, I now plan to read The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff. I want to make sure how Madame presents the teaching in terms of a Cosmology and the awakening of the Divine Impulse of Objective Conscience, as taught by the Most Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash in the five strivings of Objective Morality.