Show#94: Remembering Gurdjieff - Interview with William Patrick Patterson Part 2

Niall

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Sunday November 30th, 2014: Remembering Georges Gurdjieff - Interview with William Patrick Patterson, part 2

This week on SOTT Talk Radio we were joined again by William Patrick Patterson. Listeners can hear the first part of our interview with Mr. Patterson here. After many years as a student of The Fourth Way and discovering no answer to the question that had gradually formed in him—what is the 'self' in self-remembering?

Mr. Patterson is the founder/director of The Gurdjieff Studies Program and has led groups, as well as given seminars and talks, throughout the United States for many years. He has written nine books on the teaching, including Struggle of the Magicians, and has directed, written and narrated the award-winning video trilogy The Life & Significance of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, and the just-released video Introduction to Gurdjieff's Fourth Way: From Selves to Individual Self to The Self. Mr. Patterson's latest book is Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission.
 

Joe

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Interesting show, for a few reasons. What did y'all think?
 

Approaching Infinity

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Perceval said:
Interesting show, for a few reasons. What did y'all think?

1) Having read many of his books, it wasn't surprising. Reading his books, I picked up on a few 'sticking points':

a) a certain dogmatism (which necessitates a 'transmission' of the theory, with teachers, without the understanding that those teachers will inevitably get it wrong, as G himself described in ISOTM),

b) a focus on the whole Egyptian thing, again dogmatically (G's claims CANNOT be verified, but they are suggestive),

c) a more general refusal to 'look beyond the text', e.g. with the source of the tradition, catastrophism, etc. It may not be in there explicitly, but there are certainly clues! E.g., G channeling using mediums, the whole plot of BT being based on cometary destruction of earth.

Patterson's understanding seems very limited to Gurdjieff. So while he's very knowledgeable about the details, he's not knowledgeable about other things, or how ideas and practices in Gurdjieff translate into other areas.

2) it was very entertaining - the shows with some disagreement tend to be the most engaging

3) it was also insightful, mainly in the way our gracious hosts' questions and comments contrasted with the way Patterson was describing things.
 

Oxajil

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It was quite interesting indeed... as others in the chatroom said, I think you and Niall handled the discussion very well! Even though I think it's a good thing that William spreads the word about G.'s teachings, it seemed to me that he has his blind spots. What I got out of the radio show is how important a network is. Getting feedback from colinear people (who have a similar 'knowledge base') is imo crucial to develop an understanding of ourselves. I'm reminded of your example of emotions clouding our judgment in a certain situation, in which case getting feedback from others who have a more neutral point of view is very helpful. I also think that you have a point when you mentioned wiseacring, we can't underestimate the big role the unconscious system plays, and to assume one is already there when it comes to being fully 'awake', can actually block someone to further develop, as it can be another lie to the self (or another 'I' speaking)!

When it comes to awareness of what goes on around the planet, I agree with you guys. If I remember correctly he mentioned helping others as being something important. My thoughts were that in order to even be able to help others, we need to understand why they, and we, suffer, and a big part of that can be explained by delving into the subject of psychopathy, research it, and see how psychopaths affect the world around us, and the systems we live in. It's horrible what goes on around the world, but ignoring what happens is unfair to those who are suffering and crying for help, plus paying attention to events around the world can expose us to ''alarm clocks'' by which we can develop a healthy conscience. Then by understanding, we can try to help. If we ignore what happens around us, then we remain ignorant about a lot of things that could help us with understanding ourselves and others, and that way, I think, the 'lines of knowledge and being' that G. spoke of, can only go so far. And as Niall said, no pain, no gain! Fwiw.

All in all, it was quite an informative show, and offered much food for thought. :flowers:
 

Voyageur

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Edit: moved over from Part 1

Interesting by all accounts. Found myself challenged insofar as some of the topics went - many "I" biases I guess. The concept during the discussion of it doesn't matter, comes to mind, such as whether you look at history or what have you. Nevertheless, it seems to me that our awareness in these things does matter, it adds weight/mass to perhaps our collective universal objective observation - to see or not to see, to acknowledge or not to acknowledge. Yes, to know oneself as they truly are and be present becomes a pinnacle we ascribe to reach, and unless one has a sudden epiphany of awareness as Mr. Gurdjieff did at the age of 11 or Mr. Patterson seemed to be saying at the fair that day, the work requires some context, some experiences. It is in the history of humankind that helps add to knowing, and it is in its seeking out that helps one arrive at perhaps the past, present and future simultaneously, to see cycles which aids seeing the self.

The last caller talked about post TM meetings whereby they talked and never really got anywhere, or so he seemed to be saying. He then changed directions. Has he got anywhere since, don't really know, yet his experience and awareness to date seemed to be shaped, helped in a way by the experiences of those discussions. So it either did or did not matter to him - it seems to me that it mattered, he became aware of his never getting anywhere thinking, which may have helped him on his path to a further understanding of G via Patterson. G, when looking into Egypt as was discussed, in deciphering what he came to become awarer of, whatever that was, lead to other new things; he had to understand history to find keys, his steps along the way. So does it not matter that one should know nothing about Homeric works, its nuances, or to know nothing of true Egypt, nothing of our human condition? Perhaps I'm just not getting what was said?

What is said, is you can't help others if you can't help yourself - helping yourself seems to be the ability to pay attention, to discover and to learn, whether it is about ones own machine or about the historical conditions that support machines actions and their views - subjective, objective and personal. It all seems to be connective work.

Being asleep, I don't know and have a long way to go...

Thanks to the guest (and for his books) and hosts (and their good work) for today's show - these shows are never dull and perhaps Mr. Patterson will be back to discuss further.

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world."
~ William Shakespeare
 

Turgon

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I thought it was a very interesting show, although not in the ways that I initially thought it would be, and there was a lot of discussion afterwards about what exactly was said and transpired during the interview here at the house. My initial impressions were that Patterson was trying to teach during the interview, hence him directing certain questions to the listeners themselves at the beginning.

Although I found some of his explanations of certain concepts and his comments about not paying attention much to what is going on in the world to be surprising. I wondered if he was playing a role and saying that on purpose to shock Joe and Niall or if he really meant it. In particular, I thought his description of being at the Health Expo and seeing himself dissolve and coming to a realization that everything is consciousness to be vague. Granted, if someone were to reach a heightened state of being, how would that person then relate that experience to a laymen in an understandable manner. But his very brief description seemed to not align with the Gurdjieffian idea of Being and having an Individuated I.

I say this because there are definite moments when I realize how easily affected I am by the music I listen to, the people and environment I am interacting with and how easily my thinking and emotions are swayed one way or another. Sometimes I am able to see this in real time and adjust and not identify with this, moments where I feel very much in touch with the body and temporarily permanent in mind. But during those times there is no dissolving of distinctions and boundaries but a greater realization and embodiment of who I am in the midst of all these influences and seeing what is actually happening around me for what it is.

The description Patterson gave reminded me more of Eastern religious practices of reaching Nirvana and the total dissolution of Ego, which is a path in and of itself, but something I found very different than the Fourth Way.

Either way, it was a great show and I really enjoyed listening to it!
 

Psalehesost

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Apart from the dogmatism others noted, I was particularly struck by his lack of interest in the world around him. And his comfort with the world we live in, even given the present, rather advanced state of mass madness and degeneration (of which he seems only vaguely aware).

I got the sense that his conscience does not seem to be awake - he seems very well-buffered. For all the talk of "self-love and vanity" in others during the show, that seems to describe his own attitude quite well.

Further, regarding history, one thing not brought up in the show is what's related in Meetings with Remarkable Men, that "To grow a soul, one must study events of the past". This makes sense in relation to what the C's conveyed regarding a progression at three levels in the growth of consciousness:
Laura said:
A: [...] work daily at becoming more aware on three levels
1. Body and immediate environment,
2. Wider world affairs,
3. Cosmos and spirit.

Q: (L) Shouldn't "spirit" go with "Body and immediate environment"?

A: No, it is via the first steps that one achieves cosmic consciousness.

Q: (L) I don't understand.

(Chu) You have to work on the body and environment, and then understand the wider world at first. And then you can develop cosmic consciousness and spirit.

(L) Oooh. So in other words, to achieve cosmic consciousness, i.e. true spiritual advancement, you have to expand your field of vision to be very wide?

A: Exactly. Those who suggest that you must look only within live in a singular bubble.
The most fundamental disagreement seems to be about the basic approach to reality - how one interacts with the universe. Our basic understanding, where it seems to contrast the most with that of WPP, is further described in the following:
Laura said:
Q: (L) What is the best way to Work on being aware? I mean, we talked about this last time, didn't we? And what did they say last time? Awareness is the key.

(Pierre) Seeing the world as it is.

(L) Consciously collecting truth and networking with others about it.

(Perceval) They said something about when you see someone else feeling bad about themselves or whatever, do something to lift them up. It's associated with empathy as well: empathy for others. Awakening the emotional center.

----------
Session Date: July 26th 2014

[..]

Q: (L) Well, that makes me think of a question to follow up on that. Something that's been on my mind is the difficulty so many group members have in getting themselves moving to do useful things, helpful things that help the network, help the group, help the Work, and to keep going. They sometimes get started, and then they peter out. Sometimes they try something too big, too much, too soon, too fast, and then they get discouraged. And I would like to know what is it about this group here that has made us able to put our noses to the grindstone for years and years... even under the most trying of circumstances. What is the quality that a person needs to be able to get - excuse me for saying this, but - to get their asses in gear, move, and keep moving? What is the quality?

A: Awakened conscience.

Q: (L) But how did we manage to get awakened consciences, and how can other people manage to do it, too?

A: Recall how you started, you acted on your own as the conscience of the world.

Q: (L) Well, what do you mean? How do you mean?

A: Recall why you began to try to see everything that was happening on your plane of existence.

Q: (L) You mean SOTT? My Signs of the Times?

A: Yes

Q: (L) Well, the reason why was because I could see that other people were not remembering from one freakin' day to the next what happened! I mean, they needed to be reminded every day, day after day, what was happening.

A: And that is what developed your conscience. And those who helped were also in the process.

Q: (Andromeda) You have to constantly keep awake about what's happening.

(L) You have to get awake, you have to wake up, and you have to stay awake... all the time, about EVERYTHING. Any minute you allow yourself to sleep, you're putting your conscience to sleep. Dissociation is putting your conscience to sleep. Okay, that's all I wanted to ask about that. Go ahead.

[...]

----------
 

Gaby

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I'm sorry, but at times he sounded quite loopy and a New Ager with a total disregard for human suffering and objective reality. Like 180 degrees opposite of what Gurdjieff was for. Quite a sign of a time by itself for an American Gurdjieff expert. Lots of self-importance and bad jokes, sounding like a desperate person who doesn't want to let go a failed illusion. This is only my view, I've only heard his interview (1:40 min).

I'm enjoying his latest book though which has lots of Gurfjieff's quotes and historical background. I'm looking forward to finishing it.

FWIW.
 

Altair

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Gaby said:
I'm sorry, but at times he sounded quite loopy and a New Ager with a total disregard for human suffering and objective reality. Like 180 degrees opposite of what Gurdjieff was for. Quite a sign of a time by itself for an American Gurdjieff expert. Lots of self-importance and bad jokes, sounding like a desperate person who doesn't want to let go a failed illusion. This is only my view, I've only heard his interview (1:40 min).

I'm enjoying his latest book though which has lots of Gurfjieff's quotes and historical background. I'm looking forward to finishing it.

FWIW.

Yeah... it was pretty lopsided and dogmatic and sometimes he contradicted himself.
 

Nienna

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I agree with AI:

Approaching Infinity said:
Perceval said:
Interesting show, for a few reasons. What did y'all think?

1) Having read many of his books, it wasn't surprising. Reading his books, I picked up on a few 'sticking points':

a) a certain dogmatism (which necessitates a 'transmission' of the theory, with teachers, without the understanding that those teachers will inevitably get it wrong, as G himself described in ISOTM),

b) a focus on the whole Egyptian thing, again dogmatically (G's claims CANNOT be verified, but they are suggestive),

c) a more general refusal to 'look beyond the text', e.g. with the source of the tradition, catastrophism, etc. It may not be in there explicitly, but there are certainly clues! E.g., G channeling using mediums, the whole plot of BT being based on cometary destruction of earth.

Patterson's understanding seems very limited to Gurdjieff. So while he's very knowledgeable about the details, he's not knowledgeable about other things, or how ideas and practices in Gurdjieff translate into other areas.

2) it was very entertaining - the shows with some disagreement tend to be the most engaging

3) it was also insightful, mainly in the way our gracious hosts' questions and comments contrasted with the way Patterson was describing things.

I admit that I thought he was a bit "loopy" and was sort of disappointed, which comes back to what AI said above:

a) a certain dogmatism (which necessitates a 'transmission' of the theory, with teachers, without the understanding that those teachers will inevitably get it wrong, as G himself described in ISOTM),

I, too, felt as Gaby describes:

Gaby said:
I'm sorry, but at times he sounded quite loopy and a New Ager with a total disregard for human suffering and objective reality. Like 180 degrees opposite of what Gurdjieff was for. Quite a sign of a time by itself for an American Gurdjieff expert. Lots of self-importance and bad jokes, sounding like a desperate person who doesn't want to let go a failed illusion. This is only my view, I've only heard his interview (1:40 min).
 

Odyssey

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Approaching Infinity said:
Patterson's understanding seems very limited to Gurdjieff. So while he's very knowledgeable about the details, he's not knowledgeable about other things, or how ideas and practices in Gurdjieff translate into other areas.

I agree. Patterson may know a lot about Gurdjeiff the man but his knowledge of actually working on oneself lacked depth and "bite" He would casually talk about Gurdjeiff's teachings, and being in the body and so forth but it all lacked substance. If a listener was new to the work and had no idea of Gurdjeiff they wouldn't walk away with much.

I also found his statement that he enjoyed being on earth quite surprising. And he kept referring to war as if it is the only awful thing in the world. His poo-pooing of learning history...just plain stupid, not to mention his believing in the Hitlery lies about Putin. Maybe believing in lies has warped his brain?

The show was great. We had a few good laughs during. I thought Joe and Niall's handling of him was very expert, especially during the recruitment bits. :lol:
 

Carl

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Jesus, this guy is really full on Dunning-Kruger, and had I not known the circumstances beforehand I could have mistaken it for an interview with Eckhart Tolle. I agree with all that has been said so far, naturally.

Psalehesost said:
Apart from the dogmatism others noted, I was particularly struck by his lack of interest in the world around him. And his comfort with the world we live in, even given the present, rather advanced state of mass madness and degeneration (of which he seems only vaguely aware).

I got the sense that his conscience does not seem to be awake - he seems very well-buffered. For all the talk of "self-love and vanity" in others during the show, that seems to describe his own attitude quite well.

Yeah. He pretty much says don't study history or the real world, just look at the theoretical mystical octave system. And when he responded to Niall's question "are you awake?" with "Yes!"... :rolleyes:
The recruitment thing was hilarious, and clearly caught you guys by surprise. Kudos for your politeness to a guest.

Having said that, there was a lot of good information in the show. And it really was a powerful demonstration of how all the theoretical knowledge and teachings in the world can be entirely useless if not applied properly and without a network.
 

Alana

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Gaby said:
I'm sorry, but at times he sounded quite loopy and a New Ager with a total disregard for human suffering and objective reality. Like 180 degrees opposite of what Gurdjieff was for. Quite a sign of a time by itself for an American Gurdjieff expert. Lots of self-importance and bad jokes, sounding like a desperate person who doesn't want to let go a failed illusion

Don't be sorry. That's how I experienced him through the show also.

I mean, how can someone claim to be awake when he sounds asleep to the reality around him? What did he awaken to? What was the purpose of the awakening?


Psalehesost said:
Further, regarding history, one thing not brought up in the show is what's related in Meetings with Remarkable Men, that "To grow a soul, one must study events of the past".

Exactly.

The comment about Putin pushing for a new war was totally influenced by "MSM forces", which are forces of disinformation obviously. It is history that can teach us about our reality today and how to prepare ourselves for the possible futures. And how can one even begin treating the disease of ponerization in themselves, if they are not aware that they suffer from it?

You can't just focus on yourself and your subjective impressions that your self-focus generates. How do you measure your success or failure in this way? What's your measuring stick? And G was not walking around experiencing "experiences of consciousness", he was applying Work concepts to Act for the benefit of his students, for humanity, for the circulation of Truth.

I also think that P was a rude guest, and playing games at best, with more nefarious agendas at worst. Obviously he irritated me (can you tell?!), but I did laugh at the comments of our hosts. I think you did a good job guys, especially since he tried to ambush you.

But hey, like his student said, I might not be able to understand an "awakened individual" like him :whistle:
{what an excuse, really}
 

Keit

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Alana said:
Gaby said:
I'm sorry, but at times he sounded quite loopy and a New Ager with a total disregard for human suffering and objective reality. Like 180 degrees opposite of what Gurdjieff was for. Quite a sign of a time by itself for an American Gurdjieff expert. Lots of self-importance and bad jokes, sounding like a desperate person who doesn't want to let go a failed illusion

Don't be sorry. That's how I experienced him through the show also.

I mean, how can someone claim to be awake when he sounds asleep to the reality around him? What did he awaken to? What was the purpose of the awakening?

I had exactly the same impressions. There was too much emphasis on "me me me", not to mention total lack of understanding why one should learn from history, or why one has to pay attention to reality and people around him. Quite a hedonistic approach to life. No wonder that he sees this planet as a wonderful place to live on right now! The whole show was rather revealing, and the hosts were very patient and courteous!

If only we could all gather our observations and present him with a mirror. I bet his reaction wouldn't be particularly enlightened. :evil:
 

dugdeep

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I agree with what's been said here so far about the interview and I have to say that, over all, I was disappointed in Patterson with this second interview. I quite enjoyed the first one.

On the other hand, I think I cut him a little more slack than many listeners, particularly compared to a lot of what was said in the chat room during the show. I mean, we knew going in that Patterson doesn't have the whole banana (how could he?), but things really seemed to derail in the chat once differences in the two approaches surfaced, and suddenly anything that he said seemed to be nitpicked - like he couldn't say anything right at that point.

I think we have to remember that the acquiring of knowledge in the form of staying informed about the state of the world is something that the C's emphasize, not Gurdjieff, AFAIK (at least not explicitly), so I wonder if it's asking a bit much of Patterson to expect him to parallel the C's in his teaching.

That said, it could have been that I was triggered since Patterson's work is something that I hold in high regard. The interview definitely put it all into better perspective for me. We can take what is valuable from his books, but the man himself should not be canonized. Another sacred cow down :D

An unrelated point - I found it very interesting that Patterson believes that the teaching actually comes from "off-world", so to speak. Makes me wonder if he'd actually be open to the C's transmissions, if he were to come into contact with them, or if, on the contrary, his cup is already too full.

Kudos to the hosts - you guys handled the whole thing with diplomacy.
 
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