In Search of the Miraculous: Observations and Questions

Neil

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Huxley said:
Just hit chapter 9, p167 today in ISOTM. And within a previous chapter it explained the basis for the octaves. I somewhat got the jist of that, but now in this chapter G. is applying it to the ray of creation, and the three octaves of radiations that pass through all existing worlds from the absolute. To say i was mind boggled is an understatement... But i kept reading, trying to get the main message of what was being said even if i couldn't understand the technicals.
What kind of filled in the blanks for me in regards to the three octaves was Mouravieff's discussion of the three Absolutes. In Gnosis, he personifies these Absolutes which actually represent sets of cosmic laws. These Absolutes all radiate love in their own way to all the creatures throughout the Ray of Creation. The Absolute I is the love of the creator. It is the gift of life that pervades all entities from the most spiritual to the least.(7th density) Mouravieff defines the love of the Absolute II in terms of a duality of creation emanated in perfect equilibrium. In my view, this level corresponds to STS and STO. The Absolute III maintains biospheres and ecosystems through the pleasure of sexual reproduction. He goes on to say that this third Absolute maintains the General Law, in order to keep organisms in their place so that worlds remain balanced. Now these Absolutes are all nested within each other so that the lower ones increase the mechanicalness of the divine love emanated by the higher one to a level appropriate to the cosmoses that they govern, but that the original energy from the Absolute I is still passed through in some form.

The diagram in ISOTM shows these absolutes as Absolute, Sun, and Earth. Each of these Absolutes has their own materials to work with, which is why Gurdjieff gives three different scales of hydrogens. If something occurs in 7th density, the energy must travel down the ray of creation across two intervals or "shocks" before it reaches 3D reality. Gurdjieff defines the "shock" between the Earth and the Planetary world as organic life on Earth. Therefore it follows that the receivership capacity of organic life on Earth determines how well the divine impulse is received and how much it deviates from its original aim. This all ties in with the Cassiopaeans' comments about being transducers for the cosmic energy of truth and love. It is likely that the energy to make Earth evolve/transform is being sent, but humanity must administer a conscious shock to the system in order for that aim to manifest and not be deflected by the Law of Seven, keeping the planet in and endless loop.

I think the octave system is an ambitious attempt to bridge science and mysticism. Because it seems to be based on universal spiritual laws, it is infinitely scalable in a fractal fashion. Gurdjieff shows it on the grandest scale in the ray of creation, it can be used to describe the evolution of organic life on earth, the evolution of a man, and the evolution of the substances in his body. It is a fundamental science like physics, that can be used to describe basically any physical phenomenon in the material universe. However, using physics for everything kind of results in requiring lots of complex math to explain every mundane occurrence. So derivative sciences like chemistry and biology evolved which were predicated on certain proofs and theorems derived from physics to simplify and speed up the transmission of understanding which out having to rely on abstract and complicated equations as much. I think the octave system is similar. It is a metaphysics that can act as a foundation for understanding any process, physical or nonphysical, but there are derivative disciplines which convey understanding in a much more direct and concrete way. Mouravieff gives a good example of this in Gnosis II.
Gnosis II P120 said:
Food absorbed through the mouth passes through the digestive tract: going first to the esophagus, then the stomach, afterwards passing into the intestines. Absorbtion of nutritive elements has already occurred by the time the food passes from the mouth to the esophagus. Proteins are treated in the stomach, then the peristaltic movement conducts the alimentary bolus along the intestines where the last stages of digestion and the first of assimilation occur. Once the organism has drawn all of the nutritive elements from the absorbed food, the residue is evacuated. We shall note that the complete digestive tract can be conceived as an octave in the following way:
DO: Mouth
RE: Esophagus
MI: Stomach
1st Int: Intervention of bile and pancreatic juices
FA: Small Intestine
SOL: Caecum
LA: Colon
SI: Rectum
2nd Interval: The start of reflexes for the evacuation of residues occurs naturally. When this is lacking from various causes, they must be artificially induced or the organism dies.
So the octave is definitely descriptive and accurate there, but describing it in terms of biology/physiology is much more convenient and to the point. However, the octaves in principle can be applied to any system, whereas biology cannot.

So I understand where Gurdjieff was trying to go with it, especially since the octaves take into account many nonmaterial processes, but I don't think it's really practical until science has far advanced and methods of detection are much more expanded. When one can study to be a professional "Esoteric Scientist" perhaps the octaves will have greater applicability. Oh, and when it comes to actually being able to "do the math" to see how the hydrogens, carbons, oxygens, and nitrogens combine and change their numbers to different degrees of fineness, I get totally lost too. Personally, I think a "gist" understanding is good enough for this subject, getting into the details of it is a very academic exercise and I don't know if it really bears much fruit at the moment.

I would recommend reading the Gnosis books after ISOTM has had some time to settle. For me, Mouravieff's teaching style was a bit more accessible than Ouspensky's. Since he was in contact with Gurdjieff, he has a lot of the same diagrams and talks mostly about the same topics, except they're explained a little differently.
 

Mikey

The Living Force
Huxley said:
Heimdallr said:
Approaching Infinity said:
I'd say the former more than the latter. As with a lot of stuff Gurdjieff writes, it may be that with time and experience, and further re-readings, things may 'click' in new ways, but I don't think it's necessary to really force yourself. Most (all?) people have trouble with that octave stuff!

Uh yeah, I never really "got" the octave stuff either, so don't feel alone there! I don't think that stuff is entirely integral to understanding the principles of G's Work as outlined in ISOTM. I wouldn't get too worked up about struggling with it. If you feel like none of it is understandable, it's probably better to just skip it instead of getting bogged down in deciphering what he was trying to get across.

Yeah I new pretty much it was out of my league, so I was happy to leave it be for now and not waste time and energy running in circles. Damn Gurdjieff and his riddles :P. Thanks for the confirmation.

Or, stepping back, maybe the 'octave stuff' is no riddle, nor exact science, but merely an analogy for higher concepts/laws/mechanics that could not be easily described verbally otherwise. Every analogy is imperfect.

For example, Yin and Yang are often described in the West as the analogy of 'dark' and 'light', but the true content of these ideas is infinite and indescribable.

So maybe it's just important to get the 'essence' from the analogy. In the case of octaves, this would be vibration, repetition, intervals, 'shocks' (see here) etc. If this is indeed the case, anyone who exclusively focuses on it and tries to 'fully get it', will go nowhere. We know from Ouspensky that he over-intellectualized in a big way only to admit at the end of his life that he understood nothing. [Struggle of the Magicians]
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Huxley, this discussion reminds me of how some years ago, I tried to really "get it" concerning Gurdjieff's octaves. Having studied music and physics, it really bugged me that I couldn't figure out all the details. You can read the thread I started here, where I wrote:

So all this finally revealed to me that Gurjieff was only using the musical scale (the just scale) as a 'visualizing aid' because it fits so nicely to the concept. Because I tried to understand units and stuff taking the musical scale representation too 'literally' I got confused. And since G says that the appliance of the law of octaves to music became AFTER this law was known to ancient science, the number of 'check points' being 7 must have come from other knowledge. We can only guess what that knowledge was, OSIT.
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Heimdallr said:
Approaching Infinity said:
I'd say the former more than the latter. As with a lot of stuff Gurdjieff writes, it may be that with time and experience, and further re-readings, things may 'click' in new ways, but I don't think it's necessary to really force yourself. Most (all?) people have trouble with that octave stuff!

Uh yeah, I never really "got" the octave stuff either, so don't feel alone there! I don't think that stuff is entirely integral to understanding the principles of G's Work as outlined in ISOTM. I wouldn't get too worked up about struggling with it. If you feel like none of it is understandable, it's probably better to just skip it instead of getting bogged down in deciphering what he was trying to get across.

Me too, I agree. When I read this stuff, I literally feel an urge to "recreate this perfect system in my mind", which is doomed to fail, of course. I think it's kind of a trap for intellectual people ("man 3"), and that Ouspensky himself got entangled in it. In my experience, loosing oneself in abstract mind exercises is not very productive, I try to "ground" those thoughts whenever possible by making connections to personal experiences, feelings, body etc. So for example, instead of obsessing about the technical details, we could try to find "abrupt changes"/leaps in our understanding, in the development of our personality, in the change of little I's etc., inspired by G's octaves, or we could think of our thoughts as consisting of "finer hydrogen" and thus picture our mind as something material that needs careful maintenance/repair etc. and see where this leads us. Fwiw
 

Matthew

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I just started reading this. I admit that I have delayed reading it before now as I thought it would be intimidatingly dense and difficult. However, although I have only just started it I am finding it very accessible. I could easily have read it before now but I am glad that I waited. I have been a member here for almost three years and lurked as a non-member for perhaps a couple of years before that. I think that I am getting much more out of it now than if I had read it before because of familiarity with the material. In the first chapter, Ouspensky repeatedly states that 'G' says things that seem to have a deeper meaning that he did not grok until much later. I am fortunate to have had this forum, an advantage that he did not have.
 

Keyhole

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I just started reading this. I admit that I have delayed reading it before now as I thought it would be intimidatingly dense and difficult. However, although I have only just started it I am finding it very accessible. I could easily have read it before now but I am glad that I waited. I have been a member here for almost three years and lurked as a non-member for perhaps a couple of years before that. I think that I am getting much more out of it now than if I had read it before because of familiarity with the material. In the first chapter, Ouspensky repeatedly states that 'G' says things that seem to have a deeper meaning that he did not grok until much later. I am fortunate to have had this forum, an advantage that he did not have.
Excellent that you are finding it accessible. Reading ISOTM for the first time can indeed seem like a daunting task, but for me, the anticipation of the difficulty was actually a lot worse than the read-through.

Like you say, we are all very fortunate to have this forum as such a rich repository of information which serves to add necessary context to the teaching of Gurdjieff. The work done here over the years also helps us separate the wheat from the chaff, and discard the unnecessary/inaccurate aspects of the material.

I am not sure if you have come across the following thread, but you may be interested in reading it for extra information on Gurdjieff and the discussion on which parts of his teaching (mainly his cosmology) are likely inaccurate and can be discarded:

Gurdjieff's Primitive Cosmology
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I just started reading this. I admit that I have delayed reading it before now as I thought it would be intimidatingly dense and difficult. However, although I have only just started it I am finding it very accessible. I could easily have read it before now but I am glad that I waited. I have been a member here for almost three years and lurked as a non-member for perhaps a couple of years before that. I think that I am getting much more out of it now than if I had read it before because of familiarity with the material. In the first chapter, Ouspensky repeatedly states that 'G' says things that seem to have a deeper meaning that he did not grok until much later. I am fortunate to have had this forum, an advantage that he did not have.

Glad that you are enjoying the book. Although during the recent years a consensus was formed, that Gurdjieff didn't have 'the whole banana' and that he had some oddities and holes in his reasoning, I still find this book to be my absolute favorite. The many absolutely astounding, accurate and brilliant thoughts of Gurdjieff that you learn through Ouspensky's notes (I've always wondered how O. could make such detailed notes) outweigh the not-so-useful things. I'd say that reading this book some 10 years ago had the greatest impact on me and my thinking than any other book, and I still return to re-read it every now and then.

I'd recommend, that if you find the 'calculations' and 'mental gymnastics' surrounding the octaves, hydrogens and planetary influences tiresome (I sure did!), just skip those parts for now – those are in my opinion the most dubious and less useful parts of the book.
 

Matthew

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Excellent that you are finding it accessible. Reading ISOTM for the first time can indeed seem like a daunting task, but for me, the anticipation of the difficulty was actually a lot worse than the read-through.

Like you say, we are all very fortunate to have this forum as such a rich repository of information which serves to add necessary context to the teaching of Gurdjieff. The work done here over the years also helps us separate the wheat from the chaff, and discard the unnecessary/inaccurate aspects of the material.

I am not sure if you have come across the following thread, but you may be interested in reading it for extra information on Gurdjieff and the discussion on which parts of his teaching (mainly his cosmology) are likely inaccurate and can be discarded:

Gurdjieff's Primitive Cosmology

Thanks for the thread recommendation Keyhole; I shall give it a look.

Glad that you are enjoying the book. Although during the recent years a consensus was formed, that Gurdjieff didn't have 'the whole banana' and that he had some oddities and holes in his reasoning, I still find this book to be my absolute favorite. The many absolutely astounding, accurate and brilliant thoughts of Gurdjieff that you learn through Ouspensky's notes (I've always wondered how O. could make such detailed notes) outweigh the not-so-useful things. I'd say that reading this book some 10 years ago had the greatest impact on me and my thinking than any other book, and I still return to re-read it every now and then.

I'd recommend, that if you find the 'calculations' and 'mental gymnastics' surrounding the octaves, hydrogens and planetary influences tiresome (I sure did!), just skip those parts for now – those are in my opinion the most dubious and less useful parts of the book.

Yes, I am only two chapters in so far but already I am having thoughts that his understanding was not as comprehensive as he may have thought. I have also been struck by how his followers seemed to put him on a pedestal and considered him the fount of all wisdom but I am not feeling that inclination, thankfully. As you say though, aragorn, he still has much to offer. With regard to O's notes, my assumption is that he took copious shorthand notes given that he was a writer and worked in the newspaper industry. Yes, I am not looking forward to his personal theories. I have already found his 'four body' growth explanation less than clear. However, I remember someone saying on here quite some time ago not to get too worked up about his attempt at rationalisation of the unseen into his own system. I shall read them but shall not worry if I don't grok it.
 
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