“In order to know the future it is necessary first to know the present in all its details, as well as to know the past. If a man wants to know his own future he must first of all know himself.” (Gurdjieff)
The first step on our long journey to self-awareness and enlightenment is to know and understand how the human machine works.
Gurdjieff stated that “man can be a selfconscious being. Such he is created and such he is born. But he is born among sleeping people, and, of course, he falls asleep among them just at the very time when he should have begun to be conscious of himself. Everything has a hand in this: the involuntary imitation of older people on the part of the child, voluntary and involuntary suggestion, and what is called ‘education.’ Every attempt to awaken on the child’s part is instantly stopped.”
We are born naked and free, but almost instantaneous we are thrown back to “sleep”.
To born is to wake up, but our conscience is instantly sedated and we are sent back to sleep. While our conscience – essence – is fading, we get the impression of starting from zero. Eventually we lose the contact with our conscience and it takes will and hard work to regain self-consciousness.
He said: “There is nothing new in the idea of sleep. People have been told almost since the creation of the world that they are asleep and that they must awaken. How many times is this said in the Gospels, for instance? ‘Awake,’ ‘watch,’ ‘sleep not.’ Christ’s disciples even slept when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane for the last time. It is all there. But do men understand it? Men take it simply as a form of speech, as an expression, as a metaphor. They completely fail to understand that it must be taken literally. And again it is easy to understand why. In order to understand this literally it is necessary to awaken a little, or at least to try to awaken.”
Gurdjieff taught that most humans do not possess a unified mind, soul and body consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”.
The state of “sleep” equals the lack of consciousness. Gaining consciousness by will and hard work is what we call enlightenment.
“So long as a man sleeps profoundly and is wholly immersed in dreams he cannot even think about the fact that he is asleep. If he were to think that he was asleep, he would wake up. So everything goes on. And men have not the slightest idea what they are losing because of this sleep. As I have already said, as he is organized, that is, being such as nature has created him, man can be a self-conscious being. Such he is created and such he is born. But he is born among sleeping people, and, of course, he falls asleep among them just at the very time when he should have begun to be conscious of himself. Everything has a hand in this: the involuntary imitation of older people on the part of the child, voluntary and involuntary suggestion, and what is called ‘education.’ Every attempt to awaken on the child’s part is instantly stopped. This is inevitable. And a great many efforts and a great deal of help are necessary in order to awaken later when thousands of sleepcompelling habits have been accumulated. And this very seldom happens. In most cases, a man when still a child already loses the possibility of awakening; he lives in sleep all his life and he dies in sleep.”
The man is like a box with five holes on it, holes through where he receive different type of information. Those are our five senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. In order to handle and process all this information, our brain need to be “trained”, we need to be educated.
To understand this, think of a man as of a brand new computer with only a primary operation system installed. The computer functioning perfectly, but in order to process all the information it receives, we need to install some additional software which will decode those information. We need a player for AVI files, another player for WAV files, a software witch handle TIF files, another one for opening and editing PDF files and so on.
Those additional programs in the case of the human being are implemented through “education”. If by education our perception of “reality” is altered we will fail to see and understand the reality. Quite easily we will misinterpret some or all of the information we receive. Education may act like a virus on a computer: we will develop a completely wrong picture of ourselves and the world we’re living in.
We are cultivated in one very specifically determined way. Our perception of the world is determined by those filters. Gurdjieff called them ‘buffers’.
We are cultivated to become who we are, what we are. It’s definitively not an accident, but something meticulously programed.
Gurdjieff made a very interesting division of the man in two parts: essence and personality.
He gave a detailed account of this two parts:
“Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is ‘not his own.’ ‘Not his own’ means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation—all this is ‘not his own,’ all this is personality.
From the point of view of ordinary psychology the division of man into personality and essence is hardly comprehensible. It is more exact to say that such a division does not exist in psychology at all.
A small child has no personality as yet. He is what he really is. He is essence. His desires, tastes, likes, dislikes, express his being such as it is. But as soon as so-called ‘education’ begins personality begins to grow. Personality is created partly by the intentional influences of other people, that is, by ‘education,’ and partly by involuntary imitation of them by the child itself. In the creation of personality a great part is also played by ‘resistance’ to people around him and by attempts to conceal from them something that is ‘his own’ or ‘real.'”
The new born needs God or needs X-box? Obviously do not. Those are cultivated needs – desires.
The human being, just like the animals, is driven by three basic desires: food, sex and shelter. (The three again!) Everything else it’s ‘unnatural’, it’s cultivated, and it’s coming from the outside and not from the inside. I’m afraid that what we’ve been taught that are ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ are actually quite the other way around.
I always wondered what triggered the need for civilization?
Civilization is such an abstract and complex notion it’s kind of unbelievable that a simple (primitive) man just simply came up with it. Just like the idea of “one god” in a world dominated exclusively at that time by polytheism. Monotheism is not the natural, but it’s the result of a deviation from the natural course of the world. It’s an obvious limitation of our options and perception. I find it hard to believe that these were original human ideas. These ideas were imposed to humans from outside – some identifying this ‘outside’ with God.
And monotheism generated monogamy. Before monotheism the world was polygamous. It was considered ‘normal’ and ‘natural’. But our perception was deviated, educated in a different direction.
The question is why and by whom?
The process of ‘education’ is a process of limitation and indoctrination, intoxication. It’s introducing the ‘virus’ into our system. Just like in the case of the computer: if it gets infected by viruses, all the work done by that computer is compromised.
If our perception is restricted by education to zeros and ones we will never think of the possibility of a third option and we never will try to find another solution. We will be kept inside the box, a box of zeros and ones. Our perception of ourselves and our world is rigid and conservative. While we will continue to think in the dualistic matrices we will be imprisoned inside the boxes we are living.
If we’re limited to think only in two dimensions (while the world have at least three), our judgment can be easily clouded by emotions and we are easy targeted by professional manipulators.
Two sides generates conflicts and conflicts are always profitable. And – we’ve been told – we have to pick a side.
The nature of numbers is generally divided also into two: odd and even numbers. But the true nature of the numbers is determined by their charge, so the numbers are positive, negative and neutral.
Traditional computer technology is based on zeros and ones. The traditional computers bits must have a value of either zero or one. Quantum computing is based on quantum bits or qubits. A qubit can represent a zero, a one, or both values simultaneously. According to the +Google Quantum A.I. Lab Team, this makes the quantum computer 100 million times faster then any traditional computer. Although we are still far from having a quantum computer at our service in the near future, it’s important to keep in mind that the next jump forward in technology is based on the idea of using three units instead of the traditional two.
But this is such a dangerous idea! It’s jeopardizes from our moral to our political system everything we’ve believed in, everything we’ve been taught!
A political system divided only in ‘left’ and ‘right’ is not an equitable one.
A world in constant battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is not a reasonable one.
There is no balance when only two forces (energies) are involved in any action and for creating harmony and balance, a third force is necessary.
Two is a dead end while three represents the exit, the solution.
The functions of the man are divided into three (!) and are controlled by three centers: the moving (or physical), the emotional, and the intellectual (or mental).
These three centers are controlling the filters and put up three levels of strainers which will sort and shape our perception.
In many cases, oddly, the man acts against himself and his best interests wittingly.
Quite often the mental center is ignored and its functions are overtaken by the emotional center.
The working of one center for another is the most efficient way to manipulate a human being. Often people are taking judgment calls exclusively on emotional bases.
Gurdjieff explained: “There are situations in life which the thinking center alone can deal with and can find a way out of. If at this moment the emotional center begins to work instead, it will make a muddle of everything and the result of its interference will be most unsatisfactory.”
“The emotional center working for the thinking center brings unnecessary nervousness, feverishness, and hurry into situations where, on the contrary, calm judgment and deliberation are essential. The thinking center working for the emotional center brings deliberation into situations which require quick decisions and makes a man incapable of distinguishing the peculiarities and the fine points of the position. (…) Moving center working for thinking center produces, for example, mechanical reading or mechanical listening, as when a man reads or listens to nothing but words and is utterly unconscious of what he is reading or hearing.”
Gurdjieff have a very consistent, although completely different understanding of the human machine. While modern psychology is still dealing with someone’s personality – or more accurately, personalities -, Gurdjieff presented a well-argued and structured anatomy of this complex machine.
As he noticed: “People do not know what man is because man has no permanent and unchangeable I.” It is necessary to understand the structure of the human machine. Gurdjieff divided the actions of a man according to the centers controlling them. He completely rejected the possibility of “conscious” actions because he considered that there was nothing conscious in somebody’s actions. Then, the term “subconscious” which plays such a big part in the theories of some authors became quite useless and even misleading, because phenomena of quite different categories were classified under the category of ‘subconscious’.
The next thing to understand are what Gurdjieff called ‘buffers’.
According to Gurdjieff “a man can never tell the truth. Sometimes ‘it tells’ the truth, sometimes ‘it tells’ a lie.” Most of these lies are created by ‘buffers’ and a man cannot live without ‘buffers.’ ‘Buffers’ automatically control a man’s actions, words, thoughts, and feelings.
The buffers are created, not by nature but by the man himself. ‘Buffers’ make somebody’s life much easier. And people love easy!
As Gurdjieff noticed: “The cause of their appearance is the existence in man of many contradictions; contradictions of opinions, feelings, sympathies, words, and actions.”
We are not born with the notion of good and evil, and just like Adam in the Garden of Eden we’re born completely innocent (naked) and free.
But then we are taught of “good” and “evil”, of “right” and “wrong”, of “black” and “white”, of “positive” and “negative”, of “bitter” and “sweet”, of “masculine” and “feminine”, and so on.
The ‘buffers’ are created slowly and gradually. Most of the ‘buffers’ are created artificially through ‘education.’
We learn to be ashamed of ourselves and we learn to keep secrets and buried our own thoughts and feelings, hide our actions. We’re constantly pretending to be somebody else. We learn to lie and to live in constant lie – and contradictions. From small, so-called “innocent lies” to secrets which grow inside us and can become sources of frustrations and even harmful disease.
We even can get in a state of conflict with our own self or denial of our self because our thoughts sometimes are in contradiction with what we’ve been taught and what others, the society expect from us, what is “normal”, what is “good”.
We fail to understand that there is no general and permanent good and evil outside the men or if there is one, it’s not accessible for them.
An important aspect is that people often mistook ‘conscience’ to ‘morality’.
An in-depth explanation of these notions we may found in the book of P. D. Ouspensky “In Search of the Miraculous”, chapter Eight.
“The concept ‘conscience’ has nothing in common with the concept ‘morality.’
Conscience is a general and a permanent phenomenon. Conscience is the same for all men and conscience is possible only in the absence of ‘buffers.’
There is nothing general in the concept of ‘morality.’ Morality consists of buffers.
There is no general morality.”
“The idea of morality is connected with the idea of good and evil conduct. But the idea of good and evil is always different for different people, and is connected only with a given moment or a given situation.”
What is moral in one corner of the world is immoral in the other one. What is moral in one class of society is immoral in another and vice versa.
“Morality is always and everywhere an artificial phenomenon. It consists of various ‘taboos,’ that is, restrictions, and various demands, sometimes sensible in their basis and sometimes having lost all meaning or never even having had any meaning,
and having been created on a false basis, on a soil of superstition and false fears.”
“Morality consists of ‘buffers.’
Morality and conscience are quite different things. One conscience can never contradict another conscience. One morality can always very easily contradict and
completely deny another.
The more ‘moral’ a man is, the more ‘immoral’ does he think other moral people.
The idea of morality is connected with the idea of good and evil conduct. But the
idea of good and evil is always different for different people, always subjective.
For a subjective man evil is everything that is opposed to his desires or interests or to his conception of good.”
While we loose our essence, we develop not one, but multiple personalities.
There are several ‘I’s within us. It’s one ‘I’ which we love and which at any rate we consider to be nice, strong – ‘good’ – and whatever we consider to be ‘positive’. And then there are the other “I”‘s we consider fat, ugly, weak, coward, boring and whatever we consider to be ‘negative’.
We refuse to be ourselves and we create a generally false ‘I’ which we prefer. A kind of ‘positive’, imaginary version of us. That’s why we love nicknames, we hide behind false names, pictures, icons, we invent ‘better’ versions of us constantly.
We have developed surreptitious or duplicitous behavior for our different personalities.
One way we behave when we’re alone; in a different way we’re behave at home with our partner and differently in front of our children or parents. We have a different behavior at work with our superiors and a different one with our colleges. We have a different behavior with some of our friends, other with a different circle of friends.
If ‘normally’ we never can tell a lie, another ‘I’ of us will lie without blinking an eye. Or will steal, cheat or even kill.
This is one of the reasons I think psychology and therapy are inefficient. They are dealing with one – or more – of our personalities, but never reach our essence. Someone might doing great progress with his/her therapy sessions, but then a completely different ‘I’ of him/her will do something unacceptable – deviant or reprovable.
Tarot might a strong tool in a hand of a therapist because it reveals our ‘true self’ and shows our essence or – at least – the trails and the path back to it.
But – unfortunately – man do not want to change consciously, denial himself, refuse to be himself and refuse to reveal his/her true nature. Sometimes even to him/herself.
Man appeals to God, to a therapist, to an Astrologer or a Tarot reader in order to avoid responsibilities and externalize them. Once we have paid a therapist the problem is not ours anymore, but his/hers. And if the problem persist, the fault is his/hers, never ours!
People believe that a Tarot reading will solve their problem. No, it won’t. A Tarot reading will only reveal the options and point out the possibilities. Only the client, the Querent is the one who actually can take decisions and make changes – willingly and consciously. Both a therapist and a Tarot reader are only observers, eventually advisers. Can not take decisions, can not make changes in someone’s life, in somebody else’s behalf.
Unfortunately, man is not willing to change. This is the main reason for why Tarot predictions are so accurate. It’s easy to foreseen the future of a man-machine which will act and behave mechanically, its life is governed by ‘accidents’ and pre-destination and he/she is not willing to change, don’t act of his/her own will and according to his/her conscience.
Another issue is that we do not posses a permanent ‘I’. Our ‘I’s are constantly changing and quite often what yesterday we considered true, today we might consider false and vice versa. We not even notice these changes because we are a different ‘I’ today then we was yesterday, sometimes a different ‘I’ from one moment to another. These are unconscious changes, ‘accidents’, ‘happenings’. The life is happening to us – we’re only ‘play our part’ while we’re acting and pretending to be somebody else. These ‘changes’ creates only the illusion that we’re changing, respectively of a conscious change, while actually only different ‘I’s changing roles and functions between each other. We don’t like ourselves, we don’t assume ourselves and we hide behind our different ‘I’s pretending that we’re changing.
Conscious changes requires will, constant observation and hard work.
It became fancy recently to talk about zombies and Hollywood delivers “Zombie’s Apocalypses” almost on daily basics. The subject might seem childish or foolish, but think of the zombies as a metaphor. They are not “back from the dead” or “walking dead’s”, but asleep people, sleep-walkers, man machines – robots, people without conscience.
Someone with conscience will see the rest of the people around him as zombies. In other words, we’re living among zombies, and actually we are the zombies. It’s happen when our essence dies while our personality is still alive.
Gurdjieff explained: “It happens fairly often that essence dies in a man while his personality and his body are still alive. A considerable percentage of the people we meet in the
streets of a great town are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead.
It is fortunate for us that we do not see and do not know it. If we knew what a number of people are actually dead and what a number of these dead people govern our lives, we should go mad with horror. And indeed people often do go mad because they End out something of this nature without the proper preparation, that is, they see something they are not supposed to see. In order to see without danger one must be on the way. If a man who can do nothing sees the truth he will certainly go mad. Only this rarely happens. Usually everything is so arranged that a man can see nothing prematurely. Personality sees only what it likes to see and what does not interfere with its life. It never sees what it does not like. This is both good and bad at the same time. It is good if a man wants to sleep, bad if he wants to awaken.”
Written by Attila Blaga.