The Living Force
There's a part of this that resonates with Paul's work. From page 254 of Laura's new book:
So my reading of this indicates that it's not enough to do what is healthy and good (right action) for the body, heart, and mind - for ourselves, others, the planet, the cosmos, etc. If I seem to be 'doing what is right' on the outside, but harbour a secret inner motivation to 'do what is right' for my own benefit, its doubtful that substantial Soul growth will result. Sort of like the Work (EE, diet, supplements, spinning, prayer, raeding etc.) as a form of 'obeying the Law' spoken about by Paul.
To be fully honest, I've noticed some members are well aware of their indulgence in the flesh/materialism, whether it is masturbation or negative emotions or bad diet, and also have all the Knowledge on hand to address these issues - but still indulge. Peter Sloterdijk, if I'm remembering correctly, calls this Cynical Reason. We know better, but the mechanism keeps on running. Subjectivity and self-love is still being chosen over and above Objective Knowledge and a love of something higher. So as a Group, the C's are indicating that there's an opportunity to see to that. And I don't think this should be taken lightly. And I say all this knowing that I still have growing up to do. It's not an overnight miracle. But the reflection feels important to share.
So I think it's a crucial time to really check in and see what the motivations truly are, and network about what's there. Personal health, personal survival, personal growth - all these are fine as sub-Aims, but it seems to me that unless these personal considerations are all intrinsically linked to a broader Aim to increase the health and connectivity of the network, and be kinda like an authentic vibrational offering to the cosmos as a whole, they fall short of actualizing our true collective potential - which is enormous, when you think about it.
The following session quote about bees protecting the hive, and Ark's paragraph about always using negativity for expansion as the best mode of defence, and his flagging of stagnation seems like its on point here:
The last bold quote reminds me of how and the childhood of man, the introduction of the Law, the rebellion against it, and the resulting realities of sin and death may be uncomfortable, but are a necessary stage in the cycle of learning. Only through all of that can we know good and evil. So our current non-colinearity may be seen in such a light.
Anyways, back to gathering nectar!
I think you raise a lot of good points. In all this drive for self-improvement and gaining knowledge we can sometimes get distracted, and inadvertently fall back towards a more entropic and ego-centered view of reality. I think one good practice would be to spend at least some time each day devoted to an activity for which you are NOT the beneficiary in any major way. For example, devoting time to prayers for those who request it in certain threads, reiki, or working on research and writing about something you learned to share with others.
I said "in any major way" because conceivably, there is a potential positive self-benefit to every possible action we take if we just look hard enough. For example in prayer one may hope to habituate oneself to connecting with the DCM or higher self; in the act of writing one may derive pleasure from learning new things and teaching things to others. So it can be tricky at times to determine what activities are helping others and ourselves and which are just using others (even while ostensibly benefiting them ) to shore up a self-image. In order to determine which is which I think one needs a lot of experience in inner observation, calibrated by external feedback from others, in order to determine if one's heart is in the right place.
For what it's worth I see the term "self-love" as having many potential meanings, and it's worth qualifying what precisely Gurdjieff meant by the term. Both those terms, self and love, can mean many different things. If I take the loftiest definition of love as, "a wish to serve its object, and embrace all that it is and has potential of being and effecting on the wider reality, and seeing the full beauty of the object and its potential," then practicing love toward our true selves as we are enables the self to better love others. The trouble I think comes down to the definition of "self." That can mean several different things (probably more, but these categories make sense to me):
Type 1. Identity or self-image, i.e. how we represent ourselves to ourselves mentally, which can have all kinds of incorrect ideas or improper emotional or instinctive influences controlling it. Alternatively it can be a positive STO agent if properly integrated with higher types of self.
Type 2. Ourselves in total, which perhaps is what G means by the totality of our emotions (which G defines as "conscience") and awareness/knowledge (which G calls consciousness).
Type 3. Ourselves in total in conscious relation and concert with others with whom we are colinear (soul families). Identifying with the Group and its Aim.
Type 4. Self as "the all" (Law of One style), DCM, STO prime creator, etc.
I think any act that is meant to benefit the self as defined in type 2 (ourselves-in-total) can in principle can benefit type 3 (our network) and type 4 (the self as DCM) , so long as that is their actual intention and conscious choice. With type 1 the odds of aiding type 2 (ourselves-in-total) and type 3 (our conscious network) are highly incidental and accidental, because it is a self that is asleep and dependent on external acquisition of mental, emotional, or physical objects (be these perceptions of respect or esteem, food for the sake of eating, drugs, drama-for-its-own-sake, sex, and so on). In a wider and more holistic understanding of the self (and love for that matter) such types of pursuits tend to take us FARTHER away from our true state of being , potential, and wishes, since all of these drives are fueled by an emotional vector that narrows attention and awareness and makes us inherently less conscious and capable of feeling what's truly going on for use emotionally at all levels (which G defines as conscience, and is part of the type 2 self ). It is an act of self-love to strive for consciousness and conscience at the expense of the short-term satisfactions of all that attempts to distract us from and habituate us against deepening our experience of ourselves and our lives and the world we inhabit.
That being said, once people are pretty good at 2 (improving things for the self objectively), they can get stuck there and not really train themselves to act in a way that primarily benefits others in the group (3) instead of themselves. Someone with a solid sense of their type 2 self may not even decide to continue further fulfilling an aim in a group setting. Then of course there are those who misunderstand what The Work is, and begin trying to become more conscious and serve 2 and 3 but due to some misunderstandings or issues only remain in 1, where they are simply dreaming that they are working on themselves. I think we come up with general rules and expectations (what Paul calls The Law) as a way to generally (but not always successfully) plug all the holes in which the General Law (4D STS) can vector us into blind alleys of serving false senses of self (little i's) of the type 1 self variety. But because each individual is unique, the specific ways that we need to work on ourselves can vary; this is also complicated further by how 2 harmonizes and becomes reconciled to 3, because of course if individuals are complex groups of them are even more so. So with these higher levels we get into learning to trust and follow the spirit through Faith, i.e. loyalty to the ideal or higher concept of the soul group. It is harder to get hard-and-fast rules there, since sometimes you need to work on self 2 to better serve self 3, and sometimes you need to focus on self 3 a bit even though you know there's still lots of work left on self 2. This is where networking and learning to see the unseen comes into play. It would be a good practice when conducting any action or directed activity, to ask whether it is directly benefiting your type 3 self, your type 2 self, or just a type 1 self.
Going back to iamthatis posted, it seems like lots of people should try and get into the habit of acting to benefit self 3 more directly, instead of just self 2 directly and self 3 only indirectly, especially if a "lack of true colinearity" is an Achilles heel we all wish to address. Learning to put 2 second to 3 is part and parcel to developing this, or so I think. And of course banish all actions that are solely in service of the type 1 self at the expense of 2 and 3. (i.e. the "self-love" Gurdjieff so detested).