In Search of the Miraculous: Observations and Questions

Buddy

The Living Force
I have recently started reading In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching by P. D. Ouspensky.

I see that I had misunderstood some comments about the book made by others in the past. I thought it would be some huge scholarly tome, mostly difficult to read and comprehend, but I find that, so far, it's very accessible to me.

Also, I notice Gurdjieff was obviously in control of, not only his behavior, but of what he said, how he said it and whether he even responded at all to some questions/comments. When I realized this, I knew to consider his words with much more thought than I would give to more superficial writings.

As one result of letting his ideas sink in, the following quote:

[quote author=ISOTM]
{...}
A man inwardly 're-quires' that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities.

Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from?
First of all from an extraordinary' opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.
{...}
ISOTM, p.159
[/quote]

Seems to compress almost all I have read about having narcissistic expectations of others. It is a description of the actual flow - how these manifestations proceed from the inner notions of self-importance. As such, this description is so very useful to my self-observations because it practically hands me exactly where to look for all the associations involved. I am already benefiting from this description in this regard.

Does anyone else understand this quote the same way...that is, in terms of narcissistic traits?
 

shijing

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Bud said:
Does anyone else understand this quote the same way...that is, in terms of narcissistic traits?
Yes, I think that's a pretty fair assessment. It probably intersects with the topic of false personality as well, but he is certainly describing what we would consider narcissism, I think.

I'm glad you are enjoying this, Bud. ISOTM is definitely not a tome, and for me it is a bit easier than Gurdjieff's own shorter books -- it has far fewer commas :P
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Yes, Gurdjieff talked about narcissism extensively though he never used that word. He also talks about psychopathy, though he also never use that word as we use it. (He used it in another context.)

What is amazing to us, after reading all the psychology books, is to realize how much Gurdjieff really knew, though it was not expressed in modern, psychological terminology. Also, how much MORE he knew! In an interesting way, he was actually trying to put all of this into "scientific" terms of the time.

Yes, there are weak spots in his formulation, but considering the fact that he brought this all together with his own experiences and understanding, right out of 19th century darkness, and today's cognitive science is only just now catching up with him, we must give credit where it is due! He was definitely a genius of understanding human beings, of reading them.

Also notice as you read how many things that we have seen and experienced either in our personal lives, or in interactions here on the forum, that are described by him quite accurately, even if he does not use our usual terms. Notice the "many I" idea in relation to Martha Stout's "The Myth of Sanity." When you get around to it and read "The Prehistory of the Mind" where a lot of cutting edge cognitive science is explicated, you will see even more of Gurdjieff's genius!

His discussion of "other worlds" is the main weakness though he certainly gives enough hints to know that he understood pretty well. I think that the weakness of this part of what is in ISOTM is due to Ouspensky's filters, not to what Gurdjieff understood and tried to explain. We've got a thread on the forum here where I talk about this - can't remember what it is called - but after you finish reading ISOTM, you may want to read that thread to see the problem with Ouspensky and other followers of Gurdjieff. We've also got a couple of podcasts on the topic on SOTT that you might enjoy.
 

Voyageur

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=ISOTM]
{...}
A man inwardly 're-quires' that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities.

Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from?
First of all from an extraordinary' opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.
{...}
ISOTM, p.159
[/quote]

Bud said:
Seems to compress almost all I have read about having narcissistic expectations of others. It is a description of the actual flow - how these manifestations proceed from the inner notions of self-importance. As such, this description is so very useful to my self-observations because it practically hands me exactly where to look for all the associations involved. I am already benefiting from this description in this regard.

Does anyone else understand this quote the same way...that is, in terms of narcissistic traits?
Indeed Bud, your understanding seems to signify the authors intent about "inner notions of self-importance". This seems to me so prevalent today in our media explosive society, we have such exposure to individuals showing these colours, and yet, for the most part, there seems just sleepy recognition of this, we are so enamoured by the creativity, publicity and theatre of such personas and they of themselves; as a generality.

Is this too not so in the main of humanities psychologically driven social constitution? Maybe every time we look in the mirror and put on our armour to face the day, allowing whispers to enter our minds telling us of our specialness, our “self-importance” and many at the cost, at the exclusion of all those around. Possibly in this way, many measure themselves to what they blindly see of the “extraordinary” and like a cast system endeavour to fit as closely as possible to those they see above, see as creative and special; at least persuading and attuning it in the mind. Narcissism explodes when our notions of self are not met and are threatened with “lack of understanding and lack of appreciation”, as was said.

Shijing said:
Yes, I think that's a pretty fair assessment. It probably intersects with the topic of false personality as well, but he is certainly describing what we would consider narcissism, I think.

I'm glad you are enjoying this, Bud. ISOTM is definitely not a tome, and for me it is a bit easier than Gurdjieff's own shorter books -- it has far fewer commas :P
Think you are spot on Shijing. :)
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Laura said:
Yes, there are weak spots in his formulation, but considering the fact that he brought this all together with his own experiences and understanding, right out of 19th century darkness, and today's cognitive science is only just now catching up with him, we must give credit where it is due! He was definitely a genius of understanding human beings, of reading them.
Yes, I can see that already. :) I also understand what you meant by 'the cornerstone', now.


Laura said:
His discussion of "other worlds" is the main weakness though he certainly gives enough hints to know that he understood pretty well. I think that the weakness of this part of what is in ISOTM is due to Ouspensky's filters, not to what Gurdjieff understood and tried to explain. We've got a thread on the forum here where I talk about this - can't remember what it is called - but after you finish reading ISOTM, you may want to read that thread to see the problem with Ouspensky and other followers of Gurdjieff.
Do you mean this thread:

Imitation Fourth Way Groups Started by Gurdjieff Rejects

I hope so because there are 17 pages of search results for Ouspensky. Going by your phrase "the problem with Ouspensky and other followers of Gurdjieff", I chose the one that seems most relevant. Someone please correct me if that's wrong.
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Bud said:
Does anyone else understand this quote the same way...that is, in terms of narcissistic traits?
Absolutely. And I think the part about suffering from having "requirements" lends itself to the predators mind interpretation. That is, a lot of our negative character traits have to do with manipulating others to get what we 'need', which leads us to develop the kinds of 'pre-recordings/records' a la Mouravieff, that G. calls "being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation." Are those the same things as, in psychological parlance, "primitive defence mechanisms" and that "narcissistic rage" that a child (and most adults) experience when they can't have what they want?
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Bud said:
Do you mean this thread:

Imitation Fourth Way Groups Started by Gurdjieff Rejects

I hope so because there are 17 pages of search results for Ouspensky. Going by your phrase "the problem with Ouspensky and other followers of Gurdjieff", I chose the one that seems most relevant. Someone please correct me if that's wrong.
That's it. But wait until you finish the book and digest just a bit before you read that thread.
 

Eongar

Dagobah Resident
It is very interesting as the laws governing this 3d world will gradually seeing as they are looking at what mechanisms are operating the System Control.
I refer to the guidelines to follow that are imposed irrespective of the time. It's something that may be out of place to say at this point, but when one sees the same human mechanistic, psychopathy and narcissism with their own eyes can clearly see that people live a life that is not he´s/she´s truly, not is a conscious life ...
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Reading ISOTM has been an interesting experience so far. I could have been through it by now, but as I get 5 or 10 pages ahead, I keep wanting to go back and recover details I may not have soaked up in order to keep it all together in my head as G.'s teaching sinks in.

I have a new understanding of the forum rules and can see how they aid a person interested in starting Work through this forum. All other rules of self-discipline a person can place on themselves can also serve the purpose of helping a person to "remember himself."

[quote author=G]
"In reality rules are the chief and the first help that they get from the work. It stands to reason that rules do not pursue the object of affording them amusement or satisfaction or of making things more easy for them.

Rules pursue a definite aim: to make them behave as they would behave 'if they were,' that is, if they remembered themselves and realized how they ought to behave with regard to people outside the work, to people in the work, and to the teacher. If they remembered themselves and realized this, rules would not be necessary for them. But they are not able to remember themselves and understand this at the beginning of work, so that rules are indispensable, although rules can never be either easy, pleasant, or comfortable.

On the contrary, they ought to be difficult, unpleasant, and uncomfortable; otherwise they would not answer their purpose. Rules are the alarm clocks which wake the sleeping man. But the man, opening his eyes for a second, is indignant with the alarm clock and asks: Can one not awaken without alarm clocks?

ISOTM 233
[/quote]


Another observation concerns the realization of the difficulty of correct External Consideration from the Fourth Way perspective and how it shows to what extent I understand the concept and value the Work. I keep thinking I understand the idea but I find something I missed every time I go back over it.

"Right external considering is very important in the work. It often happens that people who understand very well the necessity of external considering in life do not understand the necessity of external consider-ing in the work; they decide that just because they are in the work they have the right not to consider. Whereas in reality, in the work, that is, for a man's own successful work, ten times more external considering is necessary than in life, because only external considering on his part shows his valuation of the work and his understanding of the work; and success in the work is always proportional to the valuation and understanding of it.
ISOTM 160-161

Along similar lines, I've made an important realization of the role that inner weakness plays in that behavior of "being unable to restrain oneself". I made a recent post that stunned me later as I realized that I had been identified with the very same weakness. Instead of confining myself to a succinct post with the point I wanted to make, I also "threw it all out there" at once. That's likely too much for a person to handle at once, this early in his Work and it shows a breakdown in External Consideration, osit.

It is very uncomfortable to write this post, but after realizing the above and letting all this sink in, I notice that I feel a heat in my body, similar to a deep embarrassment that is not yet fully conscious. I feel like it's probably coming from a profound realization of the inner lying, fears and personal weaknesses. Right now I am able to keep it below the neck and just feel it as it seems to be slowly rising.
 

Stevie Argyl

Jedi Master
It is very uncomfortable to write this post, but after realizing the above and letting all this sink in, I notice that I feel a heat in my body, similar to a deep embarrassment that is not yet fully conscious. I feel like it's probably coming from a profound realization of the inner lying, fears and personal weaknesses. Right now I am able to keep it below the neck and just feel it as it seems to be slowly rising.
Good for you for getting over the discomfort.

re:
I notice that I feel a heat in my body, similar to a deep embarrassment that is not yet fully conscious.

Be aware of the possibility that this might be the beginings of an experience of what G called organic shame in Beelzebubs tales, as one 'I' criticises the former unbecoming manifestations of another 'I' or group of 'I's.
It does not read like a 'negative emotion' , observe, don't make hard and fast rules, get to know the machine first.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Stevie Argyll said:
Be aware of the possibility that this might be the beginings of an experience of what G called organic shame in Beelzebubs tales, as one 'I' criticises the former unbecoming manifestations of another 'I' or group of 'I's.
It does not read like a 'negative emotion' , observe, don't make hard and fast rules, get to know the machine first.
Thanks for that Stevie. I just continue to read, reflect and self-observe. It's not as bad as last time when I was fully identified with the pain. This time there is a small part of me that sees what's going on and knows that it is totally OK because this is my Work, and it's not too much to handle.

fwiw, anyone else who may want to use this thread for observations and questions about ISOTM is welcome to also. :)
 

Adobe

Jedi
Do to assistance from this forum, and recently reading ISOTM, I’ve been having some interesting work with my machine and emotions. This week I had three definite times where I chose to keep it below the neck. I’m surprised how strong the emotion or chemical is to convince me to react stronger to the situation. If I have analyzed the situation and say on a scale of 1-10 I should “do” something at say level 4 (tell the person xyz that makes my point, but leaves out over emotional and narcissistic tendencies) and nice level 4 response was all I felt necessary.

Yet every few minutes if not seconds the emotion produces a feeling of my god! we have to do something and do it now, with the same urgency I would feel if I had just slip and had to save myself from falling a hurting myself. Urgent, do something now! If I allow it up to the intellect, which I do from time to time, a re-examinations says…nope level 4 response will do just fine, now put it back under the neck.

Saturday night I had to text someone declining on a certain subject, I was emotional…I thought not to respond because I was emotional…no, it needed an action, after some time reducing the message to a clear and concise (no excess emotion) message I sent it…no response came back…I offended them….I received a flood of emotion! Woke hours later with emotion. I tried to be “chief steward” and find out which “I”s were causing the issue. I found three: One was just snively wanting only to be nice and other to think I’m nice, one was I’m afraid of what repercussions this could have on me, could be future trouble? The last one was the most hidden to me…I’m afraid to be publicly humiliated e.g. If I was proven to have made a mistake and am dissected by a peer in a group of other peers etc, you see where I’m going..embarrassment in public. I immediately started to construct buffers out of habit, and planned to put it all right in the morning….then hey! Who’s in charge here the chief steward or “I”’m afraid of embarrassment and humiliation”. Allowing the chief steward to continue with control I push it down below the neck. It burns.

Also, I have an experiment/exercise I have been working with: While walking I observe now, then self, and then self remember one after another then repeat it 3 times. “Now” is just observing everything around me, sound, smells, trees, depth etc with no brain chatter. Self observing (as I understand it) seeing myself walking feeling the bodies movements, the thoughts e.g. which “I”s are running the machine, what emotion are available at the time and so forth. Then self remembering (as I understand it), rising above and slightly away from the machine and sensing a presents without thoughts just an observing presents. “Now” is the easiest, I can stay in it for a few minutes, Self Observation 10 or 20 seconds, and self remembering…fractions of seconds. I do this three times, and then Im exhausted. I feel the exhaustion from the chest and head. I’ve noticed no particular benefit, but as I said it’s an experiment.

I have more I’d like to discuss on Gurdjieff but this post is already a bit long.
 

RyanX

The Living Force
Bud said:
Reading ISOTM has been an interesting experience so far. I could have been through it by now, but as I get 5 or 10 pages ahead, I keep wanting to go back and recover details I may not have soaked up in order to keep it all together in my head as G.'s teaching sinks in.
Yes, ISOTM is one of those books that is easy enough to read, but hard to absorb in the first sitting. When I read through it last year, it helped to have some understanding of the book from reading quotes and discussions of the book on this forum.

I find that it is a good book to pick up every now and again, flip to a random page and start reading. I've noticed that as I've grown over the past year I get something different out of reading certain parts of the book. Certain things make sense, whereas I might have a slightly different understanding of other things. I believe this is what G referred to when he talked about different levels of Being.

Bud said:
Along similar lines, I've made an important realization of the role that inner weakness plays in that behavior of "being unable to restrain oneself". I made a recent post that stunned me later as I realized that I had been identified with the very same weakness. Instead of confining myself to a succinct post with the point I wanted to make, I also "threw it all out there" at once. That's likely too much for a person to handle at once, this early in his Work and it shows a breakdown in External Consideration, osit.
I think this is a good observation. External Consideration is more than just providing knowledge or being nice, it's taking into account the Objective view of the situation. In this case, it means that one has to estimate the level of Knowledge and Being of the person that you're responding to and try to tailor an answer based on that information. This is not always that easy to do, especially in an online setting with a lot of unknown factors.

[quote author=Bud]I have a new understanding of the forum rules and can see how they aid a person interested in starting Work through this forum. All other rules of self-discipline a person can place on themselves can also serve the purpose of helping a person to "remember himself."[/quote]

The quote on the section about "rules" is a good one. There is a lengthy discussion about "group work" prior to this, which I think is also helpful to understand rules as well as other observations one might have about this forum. This section discusses why group work is necessary to overcome the false personality and what external consideration means in the context of those inside and outside of a group. After reading this, many things about this forum with the interactions between members and so forth made a lot more sense to me, OSIT.

[quote author=ISOTM]"The next important feature of group work is that groups may be connected with some aim of which those who are beginning work in them have no idea whatever and which cannot even be explained to them until they understand the essence and the principles of the work and the ideas connected with it. But this aim towards which without knowing it they are going, and which they are serving, is the necessary balancing principle in their own work. Their first task is to understand this aim, that is, the aim of the teacher. When they have understood this aim, although at first not fully, their own work becomes more conscious and consequently can give better results. But, as I have already said, it often happens that the aim of the teacher cannot be explained at the beginning.

"Therefore, the first aim of a man beginning work in a group should be self-study. The work of self-study can proceed only in properly organized groups. One man alone cannot see himself. But when a certain number of people unite together for this purpose they will even involuntarily help one another. It is a common characteristic of human nature that a man sees the faults of others more easily than he sees his own. At the same time on the path of self-study he learns that he himself possesses all the faults that he finds in others. But there are many things that he does not see in himself, whereas in other people he begins to see them. But, as I have just said, in this case he knows that these features are his own. Thus other members of the group serve him as mirrors in which he sees himself. But, of course, in order to see himself in other people's faults and not merely to see the faults of others, a man must be very much on his guard against and be very sincere with himself.

"He must remember that he is not one; that one part of him is the man who wants to awaken and that the other part is 'Ivanov,' 'Petrov,' or 'Zakharov,' who has no desire whatever to awaken and who has to be awakened by force.
"A group is usually a pact concluded between the I's of a certain group of people to make a common struggle against 'Ivanov,' 'Petrov,' and 'Zakharov,' that is, against their own 'false personalities.'
"Let us take Petrov. Petrov consists of two parts—'I' and 'Petrov.' But 'I' is powerless against 'Petrov.' 'Petrov' is the master. Suppose there are twenty people; twenty 'I's' now begin to struggle against one 'Petrov.' They may now prove to be stronger than he is. At any rate they can spoil his sleep; he will no longer be able to sleep as peacefully as he did before. And this is the whole aim.
"Furthermore, in the work of self-study one man begins to accumulate material resulting from self-observation. Twenty people will have twenty times as much material. And every one of them will be able to use the whole of this material because the exchange of observations is one of the purposes of the group's existence.
"When a group is being organized its members have certain conditions put before them; in the first place, conditions general for all members, and secondly, individual conditions for individual members.

"General conditions at the beginning of the work are usually of the following kind. First of all it is explained to all the members of a group that they must keep secret everything they hear or learn in the group and not only while they .are members of it but forever afterwards.

"This is an indispensable condition whose idea should be clear to them from the very beginning. In other words, it should be clear to them that in this there is no attempt whatever to make a secret of what is not essentially a secret, neither is there any deliberate intention to deprive them of the right to exchange views with those near to them or with their friends.
"The idea of this restriction consists in the fact that they are unable to transmit correctly what is said in the groups. They very soon begin to learn from their own personal experience how much effort, how much time, and how much explaining is necessary in order to grasp what is said in groups. It becomes clear to them that they are unable to give their friends a right idea of what they have learned themselves. At the same time also they begin to understand that by giving their friends wrong ideas they shut them off from any possibility of approaching the work at any time or of understanding anything in connection with the work, to say nothing of the fact that in this way they are creating very many difficulties and even very much unpleasantness for themselves in the future. If a man in spite of this tries to transmit what he hears in groups to his friends he will very quickly be convinced that attempts in this direction give entirely unexpected and undesirable results. Either people begin to argue with him and without wanting to listen to him expect him to listen to their theories, or they misinterpret everything he tells them, attach an entirely different meaning to everything they hear from him. In seeing this and understanding the uselessness of such attempts a man begins to see one aspect of this restriction.
[/quote]
 

logos5x5

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=ISOTM]
{...}
A man inwardly 're-quires' that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities.

Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from?
First of all from an extraordinary' opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.
{...}
ISOTM, p.159
[/quote]

Funny, this excerpt made me think that maybe this G's words were addressed to Ouspensky himself, like a G's attempt so that Ouspensky could observe his own self-importance, something that he didn't manage to get rid of.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
logos5x5 said:
[quote author=ISOTM]
{...}
A man inwardly 're-quires' that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities.

Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from?
First of all from an extraordinary' opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.
{...}
ISOTM, p.159
Funny, this excerpt made me think that maybe this G's words were addressed to Ouspensky himself, like a G's attempt so that Ouspensky could observe his own self-importance, something that he didn't manage to get rid of.
[/quote]
This type of self-importance/narcissistic traits mentioned here by G are almost universally applicable. Madam Salzmann's First Initiation talks about these narcissistic traits as well. Any other reason you think that this was directed at Ouspensky except for the fact that we know in hindsight that he ultimately had problems dealing with his own self-importance? Just curious.
 
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