From: email@example.com (Mark Danburg-Wyld)
You are certainly seeing to the heart of the
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 00:11:32 -0500
So tonight, I have just been recalling what were the questions that brought me into all this?
First and foremost, it was the issue of will.
Ouspensky declares flatly that we have no will.
And for me, this certainly seems to be true.
I have no difficulty at all being tossed about by various wishes that might
arise in me, however momentarily.
Not at all.
So my first question is: how does one develop will?
[I have gone back afterwards to insert this comment.
Please: Do not bother telling me I must have some will to even write this message.
I know that.
But to say this is either some sort of flattery or an attempt to calm me (or yourself).
If you don't know the difference between the amount of will necessary to write a short epistle and that necessary to write a whole book... well, never mind.]
Second, and to my mind strongly related, is the issue of aim.
For a long time now I cannot say that I've felt there was a particular goal for my existence.
Or at least I have not been aware of it.
It would still at least help me to accomplish minor aims if I could develop will.
But it seems to me possible that part of the reason I have no will is that I lack a real need for it.
So my second question is: if I have a life purpose, how do I discover it?
Finally, perhaps unrelated, is the issue of negative emotions.
In one passage, Ouspensky talks about how foolish it is to conduct an argument
with someone else in your own head, when they are not even present and
indeed when the argument is possibly even about an event which has not and
probably will not occur.
This passage had a tremendous impact on me at
the time as I was engaged in that very activity moments before I read it!
Off and on, I have struggled with this ever since.
When I even notice
myself doing it, I can stop because of the sheer silliness of that
But I know that I do not always notice myself doing it.
Third question: how to quit this absurd behavior?
To finish, I would like to share a quote I heard at a recent talk I
attended (connected with one of these new opportunities), which made a
great impression on me.
If you wish to find it, it is in the new book
edited by Needleman and Baker.
It made such an impression on me that I
easily committed it to memory, but I will not promise that if you find it
in that book, that it will match exactly with what is below.
Any difference, however, will certainly be slight.
"We stand between Nature and God, between the created world and the
creator, between the world as it is, and the world as it might be.
Our highest function is to act like a bridge between these two worlds.
And our highest attainment is to be conscious of this function" -- Orage.
Briefly, will is based on the ability to make up
the mind, rather
than identifying with the various not-I's that argue constantly while trying
to ``make a decision'' or ``solve a problem.'' One who can disidentify
with many or most of the not-I's may discover that a pleasant side effect is
that they are more often able to just make a decision, single-mindedly,
without conflict, and without being afraid of the consequences of
``being wrong'' or ``making another mistake.''
Will is an attribute of essence.
The personality attempts to
substitute will with beliefs, opinions, authorities, power, rules,
morality, etc., to resolve the constant conflict between the various not-I's
so that a decision can be made and one can act. The not-I's have no will,
although they can occasionally demonstrate ``will power,'' which lasts
about as long as the individual not-I using the ``power'' of temporarily
stopping conflict on some subject.
That doesn't answer the question, though.
It gives a direction to
start: work at disidentification with the not-I's which may provide
something as close to will as one can experience in the naturally
evolved state; and when you are able, work at Self-remembering. Only
X truly has will.
No offense intended: one who has discovered that
they are without
will (that they only have its substitute, will power) is wasting time
considering how to stop behavior. When you remember, you can stop it --
temporarily, or more permanently in some cases. But one has only
substituted some other behavior most of the time, and the games remains
the same. That's called will power. One without will doesn't remember
very often. It might be more valuable to work at remembering than
attempting to stop behavior. The beginning work is often to observe the
not-I's in self and to see how the machine works, so that one can use it
properly one day. Someone with specific information about those workings
can be of great assistance in that effort. As often as possible one
attempts to stop identifying with a not-I in self -- and just let it be
while it is observed without condemning or justifying what it's doing.
The second question is perhaps the most valuable
question one can
ask at this point. What purpose am I living by now? What purpose would
it be to my advantage to live by?
Answering the first question I posed is
difficult only because that
purpose is as invisible and ubiquitous as air. Yet I must answer it to
answer the second question. I can have many aims at one time, but only
one purpose for the life. As long as I am living by a purpose that I
have forgotten, I cannot choose another.
Answering the second question I posed is best
done by first
answering three other questions first: what am I, where am I, and what's
going on here? A purpose made (like the one most are living by now)
without fairly objective answers to these three questions would be
pretty useless, or possibly downright insane. Someone who doesn't know
what they are, where they are or what's going on would be judged to be
insane, don't you suppose? What purpose would be sane, when one is not
sane? Rather than asking what purpose I should be living by, perhaps
there would be some value in going sane, and only then making a purpose
for the life.
There is a rumor around these parts that each of
us has a purpose
for our life, and we need to find it. Perhaps the fact is that we
already have an unconscious and rather meaningless purpose for our life,
and our job is to make a purpose and live by it, rather than looking
around to find one already made for us.
In short, the personality has a great hunger for
``how.'' It wants
to know how to do all sorts of things that would solve ``my'' problems.
Then I wouldn't have to do all this Work stuff.
The Work is about developing the real I, so that
one can live a
conscious, purposeful life: about whatever suits them. One who lives
consciously, intelligently and purposefully for a while may see what
Orage was referring to and put their life to the purpose of being that
bridge. Or maybe something else. To each their own.
We stand between Nature and God, between the created world and the
creator, between the world as it is, and the world as it might be.
Our highest function is to act like a bridge between these two
worlds. And our highest attainment is to be conscious of this
By the way, I'm not sure what all these factions
about actually are. A group either has a functioning teacher (whose
degree of ability is usually unknown to those in the work group), or it
does not. If not, the group is either aware of that fact and working
together in the effort to attract a teacher, or they are not. Sleeping
folks argue about everything: we live in a time when controversy is in
high fashion, quite the in style. I've never seen working groups with a
more-or-less functioning teacher acting as factions: in the real world,
all who have left society are immediately recognized, regardless of how
they came to leave.
When I first came to this teaching,
transmission of ideas was entirely oral.
A suggestion was given that this one verify the ideas given, by using the
Treat each idea as an hypothesis.
It was pointed out that any idea, no matter how
true to the speaker, must be treated as an opinion by the hearer, unless the
hearer has themselves experimented to prove the idea wrong and failed so far.
And the best that anyone can ever say is, ``I made many efforts over time to
prove this idea wrong, and I can not.''
Determine one or more experiments that could
prove the hypothesis wrong.
Perform the experiments, and any others that are
seen as one continues experimenting, that could prove the hypothesis wrong,
repeatedly when time, place and circumstances permit.
Advance the hypothesis to a theory if it could
not be proven wrong by one's own efforts and much experimentation.
Over much time, and many observations, treat the
theory as true if it still could not be contradicted.
When even one contradiction is observed, the idea is not descriptive or it
is incomplete, and a new hypothesis is required that fits all the facts.
No matter how true the idea sounds, to reach a
state of certainty or knowing, I must still experiment for myself, and make my
own efforts to disprove the idea (which sounds to me to be true).
If it sounds wrong to me, I must still demonstrate that fact by experimentation
if I wish to be certain and be aware for self.
Not by thinking.
The suggestion is often given to read.
I once read this in an introduction to a book on this very subject by Rhondell:
This book contains statements only, no
explanations. It is designed for worktime, not pastime.
I would interject here that one ignores a
statement by either agreeing or disagreeing with that statement.
It required this one two years to read that book, which is quite short (around
At the end of those two years, not every statement in the book was verified.
Continuing experiments are ongoing.
But, by the end of the two years, it was possible for this one to read a
statement that was not verified and set it on the shelf as unknown to this one
for later experimentation without forming an opinion on the validity of the
One usually finds much pastime activity in
agreeing or disagreeing with explanations one finds in books. In this
book, one will either work with a statement to attempt to disprove it or
simply ignore it. One ignores a statement by forming an opinion about the
statement based on one's conditioning, one's preconceived opinions, but not
If one works with any of the statements herein,
one will gain knowledge at the expense of learning.
It is said that everything has a price; the
price of knowledge is learning.
It is not answers, nor explanations, that have
value when one wants to know and be aware.
It is the process of questioning that has value.
If all one wants is to be learned, then explanations are an essential.
For one who wishes to know, the experiments one performs to question what has
already been learned on the subject, and to discover knowledge, may bring
about a new type of mental activity that leads to peace of mind.
No amount of learning will do that, to the best
of this one's experience.
For many years, personally, I refused to read
a book on this subject, preferring to find out for self from experimentation and
observation, relying on the possibility that the effort to know would
change the state of being and make knowing possible.
Everything that is in all these books is just a description of what is being
experienced, if it is accurate at all.
(Which is not guaranteed, even in the books written by Gurdjieff's students,
many of which contain some rather interesting descriptive errors -- interesting
because they illuminate the preconceptions of the writer.
Beelzebub's Tales is full of misinformation, right beside accurate
Nowhere does Gurdjieff state that the ideas in the book are intended to be true.
He does state what the purpose of the book is, and it is not its purpose to
be an accurate exposition of the teaching ideas.)
First off, one really needs to be taught how to
know, and a general outline that (for most of us) must come from outside -- and
a burning desire that allows everything to be questioned, no matter how big a
sacred cow the subject being questioned is to the personality.
The only reason we need that general outline
from outside is because we have never discovered how to know for ourselves.
So we already have enough learning on every subject we come in contact with to
fill volumes of books with explanations about nothing experiential at all.
That outline from one who already knows makes it possible to discover what it
means to know for oneself, if one is willing to make the effort to disprove
everything one already has learned and the new ideas one is being given.
In many ways, answering questions does a great
disservice to the one asking the question, unless they are willing to treat
what they hear as someone else's opinion and work to disprove what was said.
I freely admit to doing that disservice here, knowing full well what foolishness
Without that effort to disprove what has already
been learned and all new information being heard or observed or read, there
will only be more conditioning, more of the same type of thinking, and the
state of being will remain the same.
Whatever new state of being that may be possible for man will remain a theory
to such a one, although that one will most likely eventually convince self
that they have experienced it to some degree or another.
No doubt a theory that will be endlessly
explained to others who will not work to question everything, also, and work
to disprove all that comes within their field of living.
It would be interesting for the name callers to
see that one only points out flaws in others that exist in self, but are not
freely experienced -- otherwise they would not be considered to be flaws,
since no one is actually flawed.
One who sees this discovers much in self.
When I cannot abide a liar, it is most likely
that I am either a liar myself and don't like that fact, or that I want to lie
but feel that it is wrong and am bothered by the freedom of others to lie, or I
want the fruits of lying all to myself and am disturbed that others are gaining
from me what I usually take from others.
In any case, I, also, am a liar.
When I can freely lie, I no longer give a damn whether anyone else lies or not:
even if I have chosen not to from within that freedom to lie.
I get to check everything out for self, anyway. I will see, shortly, that they
are lying, or just don't know, or whatever.
If I cannot abide those who point out the flaws
of other's thinking, but never reveal their own thinking, it is because I am
doing the same, or wish I could but am not free to do so because I believe it
to be wrong, or whatever -- it disturbs me to see it simply because it reveals
something about self that I do not want to be reminded of.
Not because of some great moral or ethical position as I would like to
Pointing out what ``they'' are doing is refusing
to see it in self and discover that the lack of freedom is an illusion.
I can do that.
When I am completely free to do that, I can also not do that (whatever that is).
When there is no freedom, I do what the self tells me to do, which probably
changes even on that subject from moment to moment.
I am not able to choose -- the choice is made by the not-I's.
And I can do nothing.
Pointing out the same thing in another will not
magically give me the freedom or ability to do and not to do.
The machine clanks on.
The state of being remains the same: in a state of lack.
Lack of freedom. Lack of ability. Lack of discrimination. Lack of love.
Lack, lack, lack: in the midst of abundance of all kinds.
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