Gurdjieff's Primitive Cosmology

Laura

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Over the past few months I've been doing heavy research in biblical topics, history and philosophy. Recently, I recommended three books for those who want to go deep: Collingwood's "The Idea of History" and "Speculum Mentis", and Evans' "In Defence of History" which deals with the postmodernist attack on theories of knowledge, particularly history.

Slightly before I began Collingwood's "Idea..." I read about half of "Deconstructing Gurdjieff". Now, those who know me know that I very rarely - almost never - will quit a book half-read; it has to be pretty bad; and this one was really deplorable. It's one of those books that purports to be a historical study but, as you get deeper into it, you realize that the author began with an agenda and that this agenda is paramount, the facts and reasonable historical interpretation be damned. I actually began to dislike the author intensely as I got about half-way into the book and that is why I stopped reading it; I would read a few pages and feel like I needed a shower; the author is just slimy and nasty minded.

At that point, I began Collingwood's "Idea..." This book really helped clarify for me exactly why I was so repulsed by "Deconstructing Gurdjieff": sometimes reading a work of history tells you more about the author than about the topic s/he has chosen.

I was finishing up "Speculum Mentis" - a real tour de force - when Ark handed me a book he had read not too long ago: "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermenuetic Study", so I divided my time between the two. Pierre has described Collingwood as something like a whale... he swims along on the surface and everything is fine and then he dives and you really have to hang on to be able to go to the depth with him and you are thankful when he surfaces so your brain can get some air!

"Speculum Mentis" is about theory of mind, epistemology, etc, and the most furiously interesting thing about it is that it very strongly coincides with many things the Cs have said though Collingwood would be aghast since he expresses opinions against the very idea of such a thing as "channeling", obviously based on what was available at the time. (One can't be an expert on everything, after all.) Nevertheless, the very ideas he explicates give support to the Cs as a source as well as the cosmology they promote.

Which leads me to the Gurdjieff book: "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis". Its an academic study and extremely well done to very high standards which more or less compensated for the awfulness of the "Deconstructing Gurdjieff" book. The author, Mohammad Tamdgidi, lays out Gurdjieff's cosmology very early in the book stripped of all the funny words and mythical presentation. As I read, two thoughts circled in my head: 1) this reads like L. Ron Hubbard; 2) this is a very bad re-telling of the Zoroastrian story of creation.

So, I set it aside for a day or two and then went back and read it again: same result. The bottom line is this: Gurdjieff's cosmology is pretty much junk.

However, just because his cosmology is nonsense does not detract from his powers of observation in terms of human psychology. We already know that Gurdjieff had ideas about human beings that have been confirmed and supported by modern cognitive science research. Books like "The Myth of Sanity", "Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow", "Strangers to Ourselves", "Polyvagal Theory", etc, all reveal what a genius Gurdjieff was in terms of seeing into the human mind.

Now, I have a lot of thoughts about how and why Gurdjieff came up with some of the things he did: it was mainly his interest in, and practice of, hypnosis that led him to where he finally arrived. And, in this sense, I found it pretty interesting that there are many things in my own life that parallel the life of Gurdjieff; and here I mean in terms of searching for the meaning of existence, etc. and the effects my upbringing had on how I went about it and where I ended up. I would imagine that, just as I had done, Gurdjieff utilized hypnosis as a means of trying to obtain answers to burning questions. However, he had a particular cultural context that limited his sampling (true in my case, also, though different) and that is what determined the answers he obtained. And then, of course, his own nature had a profound effect on what he did with those answers. Further, the information that was available to him was somewhat limited due to the era and location of his activities. Nevertheless, as I have said, his psychological observations were stunning and I'm fairly certain that they were framed with some ancient Stoic/Orthodox Christian concepts. The Stoics were very interested in psychology and a lot of what some of them said is still valid today.

Getting back to the junk cosmology. It really is awful. You have to read it laid out as Tamdgidi has it to get the "full monty" experience of how bad it really is.

Here we find Gurdjieff's conviction that ALL that existed was material and this is clearly wrong as we now know from work in hyperdimensional physics and information theory. But for some reason, Gurdjieff simply could not conceptualize anything to exist that was not some form of matter. His ideas about the Enneagram, the combined effects of the Law of Seven and the Law of Three, are all based on this material cosmology. His idea about the original, faulty creation that had to be done over is based on this. His ideas about our "distance" from the Great Central Sun are based on this. His ideas of how we can "escape from our prison" are based on this. His ideas of 'hydrogens' and all that are based on this. His ideas about good and evil, and on and on, are based on this cosmology. And we don't know that some of this wasn't partly borrowed from somewhere (Orthodox monasteries?) though I suspect that a lot of it came to him as a result of his own thinking and experiments with hypnosis.

The bottom line is this: a LOT of what Gurdjieff thought, wrote, and taught has to be simply tossed out because it is tainted at the very foundation by his truly primitive cosmology which is one variation on the Zoroastrian "revelation". Reading Collingwood juxtaposed against Tamdgidi on Gurdjieff is a huge revelation!
 

Gaby

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Laura said:
Pierre has described Collingwood as something like a whale... he swims along on the surface and everything is fine and then he dives and you really have to hang on to be able to go to the depth with him and you are thankful when he surfaces so your brain can get some air!
Very appropriate description! I'm making my way through the last part of "The Idea of History" and that is how it feels.
 

Laura

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Gaby said:
Laura said:
Pierre has described Collingwood as something like a whale... he swims along on the surface and everything is fine and then he dives and you really have to hang on to be able to go to the depth with him and you are thankful when he surfaces so your brain can get some air!
Very appropriate description! I'm making my way through the last part of "The Idea of History" and that is how it feels.
Yes. And it's actually the combined effects of reading Collingwood over against the Gurdjieff analysis that really opened my eyes to the problems and implications.

Tamdgidi moves on to laying out Gurdjieff's enneagram ideas and it is clear that this is based on the silly idea that the universe had to be done over because it was "too perfect" and thus couldn't survive. All that becomes clear in this discussion. And then, of course, the enneagram idea is the basis for the "shocks and hydrogens" theories.

Now, interestingly, when WE read Gurdjieff's story of the Evil Magician, we think immediately of 4D STS hyperdimensional beings. But that is most definitely NOT what Gurdjieff had in mind. In fact, we read a lot of Cs cosmology into Gurdjieff and quite often, it works, which is a testament to his powers of observation and that he was, at least, attempting to explain what he observed.

Nevertheless, when thinking about his idea that when something starts out on a certain path and invariably, if it does not get the right shocks at the right intervals, ends up circling around and going in the opposite direction, it occurred to me that a more simple and accurate explanation would be the idea of material gravity and its psychological manifestation: psychopathology. That is: perhaps it is the psycho-social influence of psychopaths that infiltrate and twist human endeavors as Lobaczewski describes "ponerization" rather than some "law of the enneagram" and the need to apply "shocks" at intervals and that these shocks are associated with the "right hydrogens" etc.

And that isn't to say, again, that some ideas of Gurdjieff could not be salvaged in a different context, but essentially, I think the whole enneagram business is a waste of time.
 

findit

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After all these years discussing Gurdjieff, the only clue about him knowing about 4D was the story of the Evil Magician, but you take that story away and you're involved in deep discussions whether his Hydrogens had deeper insight or his cosmology. The only reason I've made it this far into understanding hyperdimensional realities is through your work and others such as John Keel, Missing 411, etc...

I tried reading a few of Gurdjieff's students books, but none of them have touched the topic. Like you said the psychology is great, but I would personally be lost trying understand deeper meaning of hyperdimensional realities if I only had Gurdjieff to read.
 

lilies

Jedi Council Member
Laura said:
[..] Here we find Gurdjieff's conviction that ALL that existed was material and this is clearly wrong as we now know from work in hyperdimensional physics and information theory. But for some reason, Gurdjieff simply could not conceptualize anything to exist that was not some form of matter. His ideas about the Enneagram, the combined effects of the Law of Seven and the Law of Three, are all based on this material cosmology. His idea about the original, faulty creation that had to be done over is based on this. His ideas about our "distance" from the Great Central Sun are based on this. His ideas of how we can "escape from our prison" are based on this. His ideas of 'hydrogens' and all that are based on this. His ideas about good and evil, and on and on, are based on this cosmology. And we don't know that some of this wasn't partly borrowed from somewhere (Orthodox monasteries?) though I suspect that a lot of it came to him as a result of his own thinking and experiments with hypnosis.

The bottom line is this: a LOT of what Gurdjieff thought, wrote, and taught has to be simply tossed out because it is tainted at the very foundation by his truly primitive cosmology which is one variation on the Zoroastrian "revelation". Reading Collingwood juxtaposed against Tamdgidi on Gurdjieff is a huge revelation!
Not so fast. Cultural closeness and modern terms always makes the new books' new authors more easy to recommend and their writings more savory.

The old term "material / matter" referred to all three types of densities, I think, going from hard-matter/physical to fine-matter->spirit/consciousness.*

G. frequently uses the word Data, transmitting data, when talking to the 'Women of the Rope'. He seemed to be obsessed with 'the quantification, storage, and communication of information'. Remember his memory exercises? What data people have in them, what data they mean when they attempt to use terms heard or learned somewhere: G. frequently reminded the 'Women of the Rope' that they had the incorrect and incomplete data, that his students didn't know the real meaning of terms they were throwing around so lightheartedly during chit-chat.

Remember your guest author/scientist on the radio show, the man had such a hard time grokking information theory, when you mentioned that you think everything in the universe is essentially based on bits of information? That was a modern scientist [or scholar] - well into and of "the new formation" - living in these modern times. Still he sounded like just politely listening to your argument for information theory - from a safe distance. (Maybe ~~ it was this show[?] or the Patterson show about G., part one?.)

Was it 6thD, when G. was talking about connecting to Remote Consciousnesses? On a separate occasion he also made this remark:
I not yet complete initiate. There are many thousands complete men on earth; not in world, but on earth. I still have far to go,
(pg. 110, Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope)

Just because people in G.'s era didn't have the exact terms for hyperdimensional physics and information theory and didn't have the C's terms, doesn't mean, what we are talking about now and what they were talking about then cannot be very close.

* Matter of spirit:
During the 1840s to the 1920s people in the west were obsessed with spiritualism, which was new and people had to explain somehow what exactly spirits were made of and what 'matter' the spirit world was built from. Orwell said: people can only think with words and terms that are being given to them, terms that are at hand for a society to use.

G.'s cosmology then had to use already existing terms: remember G. had to rewrite his books, because materialistic Americans didn't have a clue of what he was talking about in the first version?

By hydrogens G. could have meant the concept from modern physics that all hard matter is really mostly empty space - "hydrogen" - and spirit/consciousness is all really that matters, being a "hydrogen" of a finer grade. G.'s "material cosmology" I think was like a color gradient going from pitch black->matter to white->data/higher Density elements of the universe.

What we know by higher density semi or non-material, I think was signified with the words "finer matters" or "refined types of matter" then. For example:

Even the Cayce-like layman, Rev. George Vale Owen (1869 – 1931) pretty much described 5thD and 4thD in his book series and how scared out of his wits one of his main spirit/channel - the 5thD observer was, when he was allowed a peek into what must have been the War in 4thD reality: the Realm of Fire. Clouds, sky, ground everything flaming red. War as far as you could see, the fierce majestic riders in all red - in his books, one if which was titled The Battalions of Heaven. Only he didn't have the modern terms for it, but his meaning, descriptions and usage for solid matter versus what builds up the higher densities was pretty much spot on. He was consistent with lots of details, how the spirit world was built from energy by hand, the universities and applied research laboratories there and what was eaten as food. The gradual changes in environment as you would go toward higher ordered, more energy-intense realms that were more refined and always invisible from the lower-energy, less refined realms.

I began the Idea of History now. Was undecided what to read after finishing Web of Debt. Let's see what R. G. Collingwood plays with. In view of the history that transpired since Gurdjieff.
 

Laura

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Lilies, read the book before you critique, please. I don't have the time or energy to transcribe all the long proof texts and quotes, so you'll just have to take my word for some things here if you want to have a discussion. My end of it will be short.
 

biala84

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Helo
It's good that we are here on this forum and we can see the truth how it really is or was.... Then is good to know that he was not so perfect like some people say. We know that he was looking for the truth, but having very strong personality rather bring him to repeat the life time. In some reason we are here. I think in that life time where he lived was difficult to know all these things that for example we can know, but we have computers, we can share the information.Some people are choosen to see the light and the real information, but you have to do the things deep from Your heart to don't pass the line. Deffinetly he passed a little bit the line. Let that be a lesson to All of Us especially now that if U know the truth ( knowledge) then don't be skirt to talk about it, we are normal people who saying the truth, but if U don't know about something then don't talk about this otherwise U can create a disinformation.

Greetings :)
 
I find it very suspicious that Collingwoods book has been removed from the archive.

Considering it is well out of copyright ,
does anyone have a txt or pdf copy handy ?
 

zak

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Hi SocietyoftheSpectacle, i bought the kindle version on Amazon(France) it is pretty cheap.
If not take a look to this thread on Divide By Zero answer n°27/29 and also on Konstantin answer n°42
 

John G

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Laura said:
And that isn't to say, again, that some ideas of Gurdjieff could not be salvaged in a different context, but essentially, I think the whole enneagram business is a waste of time.
Yeah change the context to what Ark (or Tony Smith) does.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way_enneagram

Although no earlier record of the Fourth Way version of the enneagram can be cited, it has been proposed that it may derive from, or be cognate to the reversed Kabbalistic Tree of Life as used in “Etude sur les origines de la nature du Zohar”, by S. Karppe, Paris, 1901, pp. 387. There has been speculation that it may be related to the Pythagorean Tetractys, which also combines the numbers 3 and 7. Renaissance Hermeticism (which used an enneagram of three interlocking triangles, also called a nonagram)[3] or a nine-pointed figure used by the Christian medieval philosopher Ramon Llull.
Smith has a lot on Llull at his website related to Clifford algebra and group theory and Llull was into virtues/vices models that match the modern use of the Enneagram as a personality model. The Enneagram as a personality model is basically just plotting Jungian two factor (MBTI) personality types on to coordinate axes though that's what I not Smith write papers on. Smith though does relate the Jungian MBTI to Clifford algebra. I worked with cellular automata at IBM and it's also related to Clifford algebra. The plots on to coordinate axes are related to group theory root lattices. I've written a couple papers referencing Smith a lot, if you want Ark to look into Smith's work that can be used to relate the Enneagram to a Clifford algebra/cellular automata information theory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Llull

Ramon Llull, T.O.S.F. (Catalan: [rəˈmon ˈʎuʎ]; c. 1232[3] – c. 1315; Anglicised Raymond Lully, Raymond Lull; in Latin Raimundus or Raymundus Lullus or Lullius) was a philosopher, logician, Franciscan tertiary and Majorcan writer. He is credited with writing the first major work of Catalan literature.[4] Recently surfaced manuscripts show his work to have predated by several centuries prominent work on elections theory. He is also considered a pioneer of computation theory, especially given his influence on Leibniz.
This is very related to how you matched the densities to the tree of life (Sefirot) in the original Secret History.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefirot

The most important and well known scheme of depicting the sefirot arranges them as a tree with 3 columns. The Right column represents the spiritual force of expansion. The Left represents its opposite, restriction.
This restriction would relate to your use of STS and expansion would relate to your use of STO. It would also relate to inward perfection and outward broadening in the Enneagram/MBTI root lattice plot below with the 3-4-3 left-central-right columns being Sefirot related. The Keter intellect top of the Tree of Life is actually at the theorizing/discover/future bottom of this plot thus it's upside down relative to the Sefirot:

 

whitecoast

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Thank you for the book recommendations Laura. :) To the credit of FOTCM a lot of the statements of Gurdjieff in cosmology haven't really been utilized for any practical purpose, aside from occasional rhetorical constructs for framing certain concepts (such as the law of seven = entropy and law of 3 = situational ethics rooted in objective values). I've seemed to internalize a lot of the perspectives of G in some respects, so in light of the new information it may be a trial re-examining a lot of tacit understandings, for which purpose I think it would be beneficial for me to read "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis".
 

Laura

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whitecoast said:
Thank you for the book recommendations Laura. :) To the credit of FOTCM a lot of the statements of Gurdjieff in cosmology haven't really been utilized for any practical purpose, aside from occasional rhetorical constructs for framing certain concepts (such as the law of seven = entropy and law of 3 = situational ethics rooted in objective values). I've seemed to internalize a lot of the perspectives of G in some respects, so in light of the new information it may be a trial re-examining a lot of tacit understandings, for which purpose I think it would be beneficial for me to read "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis".
Yes, I always kept a lot of what Gurdjieff said bracketed off to the side to await further verification if possible. Now I see why I did that.

As I continue to go through "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis", I also begin to see why it was actually very useful to have read at least half of "Deconstructing Gurdjieff". So, even though I don't like the latter author's overall agenda, I think it is useful to read it because he was rather relentless, in the first third of the book, in digging up what facts are to be had about Gurdjieff's life. Having that context is very helpful to me now. Not only can I see where G picked up many of his bits and pieces, and re-shaped them, I can see where and how he came by them. I can also see how he disguised some things, mislead about others, and generally exerted a great deal of effort to create his own mythology. And it sure does get L. Ron Hubbardian at certain points!!!

And that is not to say that he did not have the best of intentions; he did, and that is obvious. But for him, it was all experimental. He formulated these ideas based on observations of life, other human beings, wide reading, and then began his great experiment to see if it actually worked, if the methods he derived from his formulation could actually make a difference in the lives of others and, most particularly himself. As Tamdgidi points out, of all the people with multiple *I*s, Gurdjieff was chief.
 

luc

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Thanks Laura for sharing this.

whitecoast said:
Thank you for the book recommendations Laura. :) To the credit of FOTCM a lot of the statements of Gurdjieff in cosmology haven't really been utilized for any practical purpose, aside from occasional rhetorical constructs for framing certain concepts (such as the law of seven = entropy and law of 3 = situational ethics rooted in objective values). I've seemed to internalize a lot of the perspectives of G in some respects, so in light of the new information it may be a trial re-examining a lot of tacit understandings, for which purpose I think it would be beneficial for me to read "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis".
This is my take on it as well - the cosmology, all the hydrogen theories and all that never made much sense to me and I thought it's pretty "far out", though some of the ideas are kind of interesting, like the idea that we always come full-circle without "shocks" - something I have observed in daily life many times: you begin something, then you lose steam and must "break through" a block in order to continue, then you can nearly complete it, but just before he end, there comes another point where you have to push hard to overcome the barrier. But as Laura said, such things can (and probably should) be explained in modern psychological terms - we have much more refined and useful concepts now to frame these phenomena as opposed to far-out esoteric theories.

Something that bothers me about G. for a while now is the rigidness in his thinking/philosophy, which may have been even strengthened by Ouspensky's very intellectual account. This rigidness may be useful to "break through" the blocks of some people (I think it was for me), but I think it's problematic and can easily lead one on the wrong path. I was pretty shocked when I read some of the work of G's students - many of those (not to mention the various groups) sure lost it big time. If you compare that to the video from two students of Castaneda that was recently shared here, the latter seem to do better, though that may be just one random example.

Anyway, I haven't read any of the material, so these are just some thoughts.
 

Laura

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Well, I'm still working my way through "Gurdjieff and Hypnosis". It would be labor intensive for me to transcribe stuff here, but I'm constantly reading passages that I think "peeps on the forum need to read this!"

What is developing in my mind as the hermenuetic process continues is that Gurdjieff attempted to combine science and religion utilizing the numerous bits and pieces he found to be useful and interesting from religion and philosophy. He stripped religious ideas of their mystical implications, gave a rational reason for this or that, but THEN, re-wrapped everything in a bizarre mythology of his own creation. I'm pretty sure he didn't believe any of that nonsense, but he WAS convinced of the materiality of everything, something that he acquired from his scientific studies at the time. It is helpful to have read Collingwood's work to have a frame of reference for this issue.

Another thing that occurs to me as I continue to read is that Mouravieff provided something of a check on Gurdjieff. It seems that a lot of his ideas were derived from some of the Orthodox monastic practices and ideas though, as noted above, he "scientized" them and then mythologized. I can see Plato and the Stoics in there as well as Paul. He was also certainly familiar with the "spiritualism" that arose in the 19th century, and the later experiments along those lines of the early 20th century because I pick up echoes of that as well.

And here, I should make it clear again that Gurdjieff was really a genius in terms of observing human behavior and sussing out what might have been going on. And he applied the same mental powers to trying to figure out the esoteric systems and traditions he came across with very useful conclusions! But it seems that he buried everything so that it requires some serious effort to collect the gems from the mud and rocks. There are definite gems in this book thanks to Tamdgidi's efforts and a lot of other things that we have talked about here begin to fall into place while reading it.

But, at the same time, one can realize the main flaw that prevented Gurdjieff from understanding the real nature of some phenomena: his insistence that all was matter. And this wasn't some lack of terminology problem, or anything like what lilies suggested above; it is clear and unequivocal; and for G, "data" was matter.

But, in a sense, what we are doing here is right in line with what Collingwood describes in his "Idea of History" as the development of Mind as a historical process. And, in a sense, it also relates to what G himself said which is similar to what Collingwood was saying: what proceeds from something before, includes and contains that which went before, and contains within itself the seed of its own transformation.
 
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