Category Archives: Gurdjieff Teachings
How many of us when we come to a red light while driving in our cars get annoyed at having to stop? I for one have been among that group for many years, and have just begun to realize why.
With the help of a friend I recently came to notice that I get visibly annoyed when I come to a red light while driving my car. I have this burning desire while driving to not have to stop, and when I am forced to… it pisses me off. This friend helped me see that instead of getting mad, I can use this moment as a time to connect with G!d and bless all the people around me. For some reason, in that moment her words got through and literally my vision of the outside world changed, my soul became awakened, and became the driver of my body-vehicle which was driving this car-vehicle. In that moment my vision expanded, became much wider, and I was able to truly send love and blessings to all the people around me. After that I was actually looking forward to the next red light and gave so much thanks when it came because it brought, again, the ability to stop and connect with G!d and send love and blessings to all the people around me.
This deep teaching showed me how our “triggers” – the things that get us annoyed, or cause us to “react” in any way – can most powerfully serve as our greatest tools for awakening and self transformation… And the bigger the trigger, the bigger the transformation.
But this also brought about another understanding… That actually it’s this society and culture based on productivity, on moving forward, and not on stopping which causes the annoyance at having to stop. Our whole psyche is imbued with the imperative, the directive, to continue moving forward, and it’s not just coming from our culture, it’s a deeply programmed biological and evolutionary response of nature. The nature of evolution is to move forward, to progress, and this has been strongly – and most of the time unconsciously – embraced by our culture and society… In so much that there is actually a physical aversion to stopping.
But stopping is exactly what is needed to tap into the spiritual dimension of life, to feel the beauty and amazement of existence… Stop and smell the roses. Stopping is also the essence of meditation. when we stop we have a chance to remember what we are and where we came from, and to live and act from there, instead of from the biologically mechanical imperatives we are driven by throughout our fast paced, “non-stop” day.
This also happens to be the essence of most – or even all – the Jewish practices, mitzvot/halachot, they are systematically set up as times to stop and remember Source, to remember our selves, our divine nature.
So, next time you’re stopped at a red light, or waiting in a line at the post office, or suddenly get triggered by something, see if you can use it as a chance to stop and remember G!d, to remember that you are a beautiful divine soul, surrounded by love and other beautiful divine souls. It’s a hell of a good practice : )
Here is another description of Self Remembering from Mme Ouspensky – “What is the first characteristic of self-remembering? In this state is not center. He is not separate. Sitting in a room, he is aware of the whole room, of himself as only one of the objects in it. He is likewise aware of others and does not put himself above them or criticize or judge. This is not love, but it is the beginning of love. In this state a man has no self as he is usually aware of it. It is quite impossible for him to consider or become negative, for the moment he does so the state will vanish.” (Robert de Ropp; Conversations with Mme Ouspensky: 1939-40 at Lyme; Farwest Press, 1974)
In Gurdjieff’s own words, Self Remembering could be described thus – “There are moments when you become aware not only of what you are doing but also of yourself doing it. You see both ‘I’ and the ‘here’ of ‘I am here’- both the anger and the ‘I’ that is angry. Call this self-remembering if you like.” (Views From the Real World)
A gateway into an entirely different world
“… So that one seems to have stepped abruptly through a gateway into an entirely different world and mode of living. The small limiting ‘self’ of everyday life, the self which insists on its personal rights and its separateness, is no longer there to isolate one from everything else, and in its absence one is received into a much wider order of existence common to all that breathes. Separateness has gone and, as the clamour of thought dies down into the inner silence, an overwhelming sense of ‘being’ takes its place. Not only has the head ceased its chatter, but the very words it formerly used have lost all relevance. Such limiting concepts as ‘yours’ or ‘mine’, ‘his’ or ‘hers’, are meaningless in the boundless realm into which one has been received, and even those old devisions of time into ‘before’ and ‘after’ have been drowned in the fathomless depths of an ever-present ‘now’. So also has disappeared that distinction dear to the heart of the Western philosopher, the division between the subject and the object, the knower and the thing known. All the old partitions are down at that moment, and one becomes conscious of a unity, an intensity of existence, a blissfulness of ‘being’ never experienced before” (Kenneth Walker, A Study of Gurdjieff’s Teaching)
In the Gurdjieff teachings, “Self Remembering” is surely one of the core foundational teachings and principles. Self Remembering are the moments, the consciousness, when we remember that we are more than just our bodies, minds, emotions, identity/egos etc.. For in the moments of Self Remembering we are connected to The Big Picture of life, the Cosmos, and The G!dly Reality that runs through all, of which we are just a part.
My feeling is that the Mitzvot, and particularly the Brachot of the Jewish practice, are tools for Self Remembering. They can help us to pause and remember The Big Picture during our fast paced days which are often filled with mechanical movement. They present us with specific moments during the day which allow us to stop and re-connect to the core of our being and the Source of It All.