Soul Potentiality in Adamic Man


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I am currently reading (amongst other things), Margaret Anderson's book, "The Unknowable Gurdjieff". In it, she presents a very good explanation for what Gurdjieff might have meant by his (in?)famous references to man not having a soul unless one is "grown". The quote is as follows:

Margaret Anderson said:
Perhaps one of my own experiences, after several years of working with Gurdjieff, may be a propos.
It was a kind of vision -- the sort of illuminated 'seeing' that happens with great suddenness, lasts for an instant, and leaves an indelible impression. Such moments are rare, and usually happen when you have been making great effort or have been harassed beyond endurance, too discouraged to go on trying at all.
One morning, after a night of anguish, I sat up in bed as if I had been catapulted from sleep. I had had, in a flash, an answer to the recurring question: 'Why do we work with Gurdjieff? Why do we do the "exercises" (physical, emotional, mental) he gives? What are they really for?'

The answer traced back to a statement of his -- a statement he never ceased to repeat and which was, to most people, the most antagonistic of all his pronouncements: 'Man has no soul; he has only the potentiality.'
We have always assumed that man is born with a soul, that this is the endowment which distinguishes him from animals. But now in my vision I saw that you can't say a man is born with a soul any more than you can say that he is born with an art. A man may be born an artist -- that is, with an art tendency -- but he won't have an art until he has worked at art, developed it through an organic process of growth. He must live a life of Art. In the same way, a man can't have a soul until he has lived a life of the Soul.
So I began to understand at last -- after how many years? -- the reason for the Gurdjieff 'exercises': you work with them to make the soul function just as a painter works with colour and design to make his painting function. This 'great discovery' seems so simple that you can't imagine why you haven't always known it, especially since it has been suggested to you from the beginning. But when it strikes you as a piece of original thinking -- as it struck me that long-ago morning -- it's as if you had solved the whole mystery of the world.
Based on the work of Mouravieff, Dabrowski and hints from the C's, the QFG working hypothesis is that this potentiality is only manifest in at most half of humanity. According to Dabrowski, this potentiality can be identified to some extent by psychoneurotic behaviour. Anderson goes on to discuss nurturing this potentiality ('essence' in Gurdjieffian terminology), and transforming the repressive aspects of the False Personality that hold it in stasis.

Margaret Anderson said:
'Transformational' was the key word, and it meant an effort to strip off the mask of your personality so that your essence could develop -- 'personality' being your false picture of yourself, your 'emotional attitude towards yourself'. This stripping operation often presents itself to me now in images. The most frequent one is that I am carrying with me, wherever I go, a huge sack. In it is my personality -- that manifesting 'animal' which expressed itself so incessantly for so many years, and that now lies dormant in the sack, stirring only faintly from time to time in its likes, dislikes, pleasures, rebellions, happinesses, angers and obsessions.
Gurdjieff's teaching on transformation was sometimes given like this:

Gurdjieff said:
There is an old Russian saying: 'A hunchback can be straightened only in the tomb'. Just so, a man must die to become changed.
I wish you not to be Nonentity. So first I make you feel like nonentity. Only from there can you begin. It is nothing to know your nonentityness, you must experience it personally.
To know mentally is nothing, worth nothing. You must have a third kind of knowledge.
There is a passage in Gurdjieff's book which suggests the kind of knowledge that he meant. It's title is 'The Sheep and the Wolf':

Gurdjieff said:
Only he will deserve the name of man and can count on anything prepared for him from Above who has already acquired corresponding data for the ability to preserve intact both the wolf and the sheep confided to his care. An old saying of ancient times definitely showed that by the world 'wolf' is allegorically understood the totality of all fundamental reflex-functioning of the human organism; and that by the word 'sheep' is understood the totality of a man's feeling. As for the functioning of a man's mentation, it is represented, according to the saying, by the man himself who in the process of his responsible life, owing to his Conscious Labours and Voluntary Sufferings, has acquired in his common presence corresponding data for the aforesaid ability always to create conditions for the possible existence together of these two heterogeneous and mutually alien animals (laws).
In every man there must be the constant striving that the wolf be full and the sheep intact.
For the 'wolf' I quote the first of the Five Obligations Gurdjieff gave us:

THE FIVE OBLIGATIONS (five strivings for daily effort)

1. Preserve your life. (Be just to the body; satisfy its needs; treat it as a good master treats a good servant.)

... and for the 'sheep', the other four:

2. Find your place in the scheme. (Understand the meaning and aim of existence. Know more and more concerning the laws of world creation and world maintenance.)

3. Develop yourself. (Constant, unflagging need for self-perfection in the sense of Being. Improve your 'being'; make 'being' efforts.)

4. Help others to develop. (Assist in the most rapid perfectioning of other beings.)

5. Pay back. (To lighten the load of the Creator, pay back in gratitude and effort for the fact that Evolution has helped you to get this far.)
In psychological/narcissism terminology, we might suggest that the 'wolf' is the 'negative introject' and the 'sheep' is the 'inner child' or 'true self'. For those who are narcissistically injured or semi-ponerized, Gurdjieff's five obligations are basically psychological exercises formulated along the same lines as certain modalities of psychotherapy, and aimed at the same goal - integrated awareness (what Dabrowski called "Secondary Integration"). Gurdjieff describes the starting point for these exercises in Ouspensky's "In Search of the Miraculous":

Gurdjieff said:
"It must be understood that man consists of two parts: essence and personality. Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is 'not his own.' 'Not his own' means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation—all this is 'not his own,' all this is personality.
"From the point of view of ordinary psychology the division of man into personality and essence is hardly comprehensible. It is more exact to say that such a division does not exist in psychology at all. [in the time of Gurdjieff, anyway]
"A small child has no personality as yet. He is what he really is. He is essence. His desires, tastes, likes, dislikes, express his being such as it is.
"But as soon as so-called 'education' begins personality begins to grow. Personality is created partly by the intentional influences of other people, that is, by 'education,' and partly by involuntary imitation of them by the child itself. In the creation of personality a great part is also played by 'resistance' to people around him and by attempts to conceal from them something that is 'his own' or 'real.'
"Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further. It happens very often that the essence of a grown-up man, even that of a very intellectual and, in the
accepted meaning of the word, highly 'educated' man, stops on the level of a child of five or six.

It is possible that in these times of more severe societal pathology, the development of essence is arrested even earlier - perhaps at the level of a child of 1 or 2 years old.

Gurdjieff said:
This means that everything we see in this man is in reality 'not his own.' What is his own in man, that is, his essence, is usually only manifested in his instincts and in his simplest emotions. There are cases, however, when a man's essence grows in parallel with his personality. Such cases represent very rare exceptions especially in the circumstances of cultured life. Essence has more chances of development in men who live nearer to nature in difficult conditions of constant struggle and danger.
"But as a rule the personality of such people is very little developed. They have more of what is their own, but very little of what is 'not their own,' that is to say, they lack education and instruction, they lack culture. Culture creates personality and is at the same time the product and the result of personality. We do not realize that the whole of our life, all we call civilization, all we call science, philosophy, art, and politics, is created by people's personality, that is, by what is 'not their own' in them.
"The element that is 'not his own' differs from what is man's 'own' by the fact that it can be lost, altered, or taken away by artificial means.

"There exists a possibility of experimental verification of the relation of personality to essence. In Eastern schools ways and means are known by the help of which it is possible to separate man's personality from his essence. For this purpose they sometimes use hypnosis, sometimes special narcotics, sometimes certain kinds of exercises. If personality and essence are for a time separated in a man by one or another of these means, two beings, as it were, are formed in him, who speak in different voices, have completely different tastes, aims, and interests, and one of these two beings often proves to be on the level of a small child. Continuing the experiment further it is possible to put one of these beings to sleep, or the experiment may begin by putting to sleep either personality or essence. Certain narcotics have the property of putting personality to sleep without affecting essence. And for a certain time after taking this narcotic a man's personality disappears, as it were, and only his essence remains. And it happens that a man full of the most varied and exalted ideas, full of sympathies and antipathies, love, hatred, attachments, patriotism, habits, tastes, desires, convictions, suddenly proves quite empty, without thoughts, without feelings, without convictions, without views. Everything that has agitated him before now leaves him completely indifferent. Sometimes he sees the artificiality and the imaginary character of his usual moods or his high-sounding words, sometimes he simply forgets them as though they had never existed. Things for which he was ready to sacrifice his life now appear to him ridiculous and meaningless and unworthy of his attention. All that he can find in himself is a small number of instinctive inclinations and tastes. He is fond of sweets, he likes warmth, he dislikes cold, he dislikes the thought of work, or on the contrary he likes the idea of physical movement. And that is all.

"Sometimes, though very seldom, and sometimes when it is least expected, essence proves fully grown and fully developed in a man, even in cases of undeveloped personality, and in this case essence unites together everything that is serious and real in a man.
"But this happens very seldom. As a rule a man's essence is either primitive, savage, and childish, or else simply stupid. The development of essence depends on work on oneself.
Dr Arthur Janov, noted for his "Primal Therapy" work, presents an interesting take on the process of the personality usurping "essence" in his theory of neurosis:

Janov said:
We all are creatures of need. We are born needing, and the vast majority of us die after a lifetime of struggle with many of our needs unfulfilled. These needs are not excessive--to be fed, kept warm and dry, to grow and develop at our own pace, to be held and caressed, and to be stimulated. These Primal needs are the central reality of the infant. The neurotic process begins when these needs go unmet for any length of time. A newborn does not know that he should be picked up when he cries or that he should not be weaned too early, but when his needs go unattended, he hurts.

At first the infant will do everything in his power to fulfill his needs. He will reach up to be held, cry when he is hungry, kick his legs, and thrash about to have his needs recognized. If his needs go unfulfilled for a length of time, if he is not held, changed or fed, he will suffer continuous pain either until he can do something to get his parents to satisfy him or until he shuts off the pain by shutting off his need. If his pain is drastic enough, death may intervene, as shown in studies of some institutional babies.

Since the infant cannot himself overcome the sensation of hunger (that is, he cannot go to the refrigerator) or find substitute affection, he must separate his sensations (hunger; wanting to be held) from consciousness.

This separation of oneself from one's needs and feelings is an instinctive maneuver in order to shut off excessive pain. We call it the split. The organism splits in order to protect its continuity.
This may be the point of origin of the personality. Laura's discussion of "first/second/third-circuit imprinting" in the Wave series seems to suggest that there are "vulnerable" points in a child's development which can create a particularly strong split if the circumstances are correct. Transmarginal Inhibition may be the biologic mechanism for the way that the split is created.

Janov said:
This does not mean that unfulfilled needs disappear, however. On the contrary, they continue throughout life exerting a force, channeling interests, and producing motivation toward the satisfaction of those needs. But because of their pain, the needs have been suppressed in the consciousness, and so the individual must pursue substitute gratifications. He must, in short, pursue the satisfaction of his needs symbolically. Because he was not allowed to express himself, he may be compelled to try to get others to listen and understand him later in life.

Not only are unattended needs that persist to the point of intolerability separated from consciousness, but their sensations become relocated to areas where greater control or relief can be provided. Thus, feelings can be relieved by urination (later by sex) or controlled by the suppression of deep breathing.

The unfulfilled infant is learning how to disguise and change his needs into symbolic ones. As an adult he may not feel the need to suck his mother's breast owing to abrupt early weaning but will be an incessant smoker. His need to smoke is a symbolic need, and the essence of neurosis is the pursuit of symbolic satisfactions.

Neurosis is a symbolic behavior in defense against excessive psychobiologic pain. Neurosis is self-perpetuating because symbolic satisfactions cannot fulfill real needs. In order for real needs to be satisfied, they must be felt and experienced. Unfortunately, pain has caused those needs to be buried.
This compartmentalization of traumatic emotions is also known as "dissociation". Severe forms of dissociation result in what is commonly known as 'Dissociative Identity Disorder'. Psychologist Martha Stout has done some excellent research into this syndrome in her book, "The Myth of Sanity".

Janov said:
When they are buried, the organism goes into a continuous state of emergency alert. That alert state is tension. It propels the infant, and later the adult, toward the satisfaction of need in any way possible. This emergency alert is necessary to ensure the infant's survival; if he were to give up hope of ever having his needs fulfilled, he might die. The organism continues to live at any cost, and that cost is usually neurosis--shutting down unmet bodily needs and feelings because the pain is too great to withstand.
Using Gurdjieff's analogy, the 'Wolf' begins to devour the 'Sheep'.

Janov said:
Whatever is natural is a real need--to grow and develop at one's own pace, for example. This means, as a child, not being weaned too soon; not being forced to walk or talk too early; not being forced to catch a ball before one's neurological apparatus can do so comfortably. Neurotic needs are unnatural ones--they develop from the nonsatisfaction of real needs. We are not born in this world needing to hear praise, but when a child's real efforts are denigrated virtually from birth, when he is made to feel that nothing he can do will be good enough for him to be loved by his parents, he may develop a craving for praise. Similarly, the need to express oneself as a child can be suppressed, even by the lack of anyone listening. Such denial may turn into a need to talk incessantly.

A loved child is one whose natural needs are fulfilled. Love takes his pain away. An unloved child is the one who hurts because he is unfulfilled. A loved child has no need for praise because he has not been denigrated. He is valued for what he is, not for what he can do to satisfy his parents' needs. A loved child does not grow up into an adult with an insatiable craving for sex. He has been held and caressed by his parents and does not need to use sex to satisfy that early need. Real needs flow from inside out, not the reverse. The need to be held and caressed is part of the need to be stimulated. The skin is our largest sense organ and requires at least as much stimulation as other sense organs. Disastrous consequences can occur when there is insufficient stimulation early in life. Organ systems may begin to atrophy without stimulation; conversely, as Krech has shown [D. Krech,
E. Bennett, M. Diamond, and M. Rosenzweig, "Chemical and Anatomical Plasticity of Brain," Science, Vol. 146 (October 30, 1964), pp. 610-19], with proper stimulation they may develop and grow. There must be constant mental and physical stimulation.

Unfulfilled needs supersede any other activity in the human until they are met. When needs are met, the child can feel. He can experience his body and his environment. When needs are not met, the child experiences only tension, which is feeling disconnected from consciousness. Without that necessary connection, the neurotic does not feel. Neurosis is the pathology of feeling.

Neurosis does not begin at the instant a child suppresses his first feeling, but we might say that the neurotic process does. The child shuts down in stages. Each suppression and denial of need turn the child off a bit more. But one day there occurs a critical shift in which the child is primarily turned off, in which he is more unreal than real, and at that critical point we may judge him to be neurotic. From that time on, he will operate on a system of dual selves; the unreal and real selves.
I think this explains very well the formation of the personality, the way it can take control and halt the growth of essence by the creation of 'buffers'.

Janov said:
The real self is the real needs and feelings of the organism. The unreal self is the cover of those feelings and becomes the facade required by neurotic parents in order to fulfill needs of their own. A parent who needs to feel respected because he has been humiliated constantly by his parents, may demand obsequious and respecting children who do not sass him or say anything negative. A babyish parent may demand that his child grow up too fast, do all the chores, and in reality become adult long before he is ready--so that the parent may continue to be the cared-for baby.

Demands for the child to be unreal are not often explicit. Nevertheless, parental need becomes the child's implicit command. The child is born into his parents' needs and begins struggling to fulfill them almost from the moment he is alive. He may be pushed to smile (to appear happy), to coo, to wave bye-bye, later to sit up and walk, still later to push himself so that his parents can have an advanced child. As the child develops, the requirements upon him become more complex. He will have to get A's, to be helpful and do his chores, to be quiet and undemanding, not to talk too much, to say bright things, to be athletic. What he will not do is be himself. The thousands of operations that go on between parents and children which deny the natural Primal needs of the child mean that the child will hurt. They mean that he cannot be what he is and be loved. Those deep hurts I call Primal Pains (or Pains). Primal Pains are the needs and feelings which are repressed or denied by consciousness. They hurt because they have not been allowed expression or fulfillment. These Pains all add up to: I am not loved and have no hope of love when I am really myself.

Each time a child is not held when he needs to be, each time he is shushed, ridiculed, ignored, or pushed beyond his limits, more weight will be added to his pool of hurts. This pool I call the Primal Pool. Each addition to his pool makes the child more unreal and neurotic.

As the assaults on the real system mount, they begin to crush the real person. One day an event will take place which, though not necessarily traumatic in itself--giving the child to a baby sitter for the hundredth time - will shift the balance between real and unreal and render the child neurotic. That event I call the major Primal Scene. It is a time in the young child's life when all the past humiliations, negations, and deprivations accumulate into an inchoate realization: "There is no hope of being loved for what I am." It is then that the child defends himself against that catastrophic realization by becoming split from his feelings, and slips quietly into neurosis. The realization is not a conscious one. Rather, the child begins acting around his parents, and then elsewhere, in the manner expected by them. He says their words and does their thing. He acts unreal--i.e., not in accord with the reality of his own needs and desires. In a short time the neurotic behavior becomes automatic.

Neurosis involves being split, disconnected from one's feelings. The more assaults on the child by the parents, the deeper the chasm between real and unreal. He begins to speak and move in prescribed ways, not to touch his body in proscribed areas (not to feel himself literally), not to be exuberant or sad, and so on. The split, however, is necessary in a fragile child. It is the reflexive (i.e., automatic) way the organism maintains its sanity. Neurosis, then, is the defense against catastrophic reality in order to protect the development and psychophysical integrity of the organism.
ie. the creation of 'buffers' in Gurdjieffian terms.

Janov said:
Neurosis involves being what one is not in order to get what doesn't exist. If love existed, the child would be what he is, for that is love: letting someone be what he or she is. Thus, nothing wildly traumatic need happen in order to produce neurosis. It can stem from forcing a child to punctuate every sentence with "please" and "thank you," to prove how refined the parents are. It can also come from not allowing the child to complain when he is unhappy or to cry. Parents may rush in to quell sobs because of their anxiety. They may not permit anger--"nice girls don't throw tantrums; nice boys don't talk back"--to prove how respected the parents are; neurosis may also arise from making a child perform, such as asking him to recite poems at a party or solve abstract problems. Whatever form it takes, the child gets the idea of what is required of him quite soon. Perform, or else. Be what they want, or else--no love, or what passes for love: approval, a smile, a wink. Eventually the act comes to dominate the child's life, which is passed in performing rituals and mouthing incantations in the service of his parents' requirements.

It is the terrible hopelessness of never being loved that causes the split. The child must deny the realization that his needs will never be filled no matter what he does. He cannot live knowing that he is despised or that no one is really interested in him. It is intolerable for him to know that there is no way to make his father less critical or his mother kind. The only way he has of defending himself is by developing substitute needs, which are neurotic.
There is a strong correspondence between Janov's description of neurosis here, and "narcissistic wounding" as described by other psychologists - which is a more contemporary term.

So, it is in this state - the stunted essence of Gurdjieff; the psychoneurosis of Dabrowski; Janov's "Real/Unreal Selves"; and the contemporary "narcissistic wounding", that the influence of 'something within' draws that person to the Work. It is at that point the struggle for the Real "I" - the rightful reclamation of the "Throne" by the Real Self, begins, with only the teacher/group to help the weak, feeble essence overcome the psychological might of the mechanical False Personality - the "Predator's Mind".

Margaret Anderson said:
On another day -- in 1936, I think -- we were all lunching with Gurdjieff in his Paris flat. I had been feeling hopeless about ever being strong enough to do the inner work that he demanded.
He had asked one of the pupils to give up smoking for a while and to turn her longing for a cigarette into what he called an 'intentional contact' between the ordinary world and a higher world. I felt that his words were especially offered to meet my need, and I quote them -- with slight paraphrasings to make his meaning clear:

Gurdjieff said:
'I will tell you one thing that will make you rich for life. There are two struggles -- an Inner-world struggle and an Outer-world struggle. But these two worlds can never make contact with each other, to make data for Third World; even God cannot give the possibility for contact between Inner-world and Outer-world struggle; neither can your heredity give it.
'Only one thing can give it: you must make an intentional contact between the two worlds; then you can make data which crystallize for the Third World of man, called by the ancients the World of the Soul.
'I can give you a small example which will perhaps give you the "taste" of this intentional contact. You, for example, when you give up cigarettes. You have an Outer-world struggle (not to buy, not to take, but remember always to break habit); and you have an Inner-world struggle (you imagine how it was when you could smoke -- you imagine it in a different way, more keen, and with more longing); and it will seem (with this Inner-world imagining) even more desirable than it had ever been. You will have made this cigarette an Intentional Contact between the two struggles, and even by this small effort you will have made data for the Third World.
'This can be a thing for power. I will tell you one very important thing to say, each time when the longing to smoke comes. You say it the first time, and maybe notice nothing. You say it a second time, and maybe nothing. Say it a third time, and perhaps something will happen. Say: "I wish the result of this suffering to become my own, for Being". Yes, you can call that kind of wishing suffering, because it is suffering.

'This saying can maybe take force from your animal and give it to Being. And you can do this for many things -- for any denial of something that is a slavery. A force such as this has special results, special emanations.
'Man is man -- he can never be another thing. But he can make his body work for another part of him -- his mind. If it is easy to subdue the body, then the exercise is no good. If the body will lie down at once, nothing happens. The greater weakness the body has, the more labour it does, the more it can give to the mind, and to Being.'
Oh yes, say the Christians, this is exactly what we do. We resist temptation, we renounce, we become better human beings.
This is not true.
It is true that they often do renounce, or try to renounce, or think that they have renounced. Then they forget that they have renounced, they feel remorseful, and they begin all over again to renounce. In every case they remain exactly the same kind of people they were in the beginning. The only results they achieve are that, at intervals, they behave more kindly towards other people; or they become more intolerant and cruel towards them (the stake for dissenters).
Some people become fanatical renouncers. And, since the exercise of will (so-called) produces strength in anyone, they sometimes become very strong people -- strong enough to make a great impact upon others; strong enough to kill them.
All this will and effort is haphazard, none of it has any relation to a conscious self-directed activity for a conscious aim. The Gurdjieff technique for this development is a unique activity, and it has not been presented in any literature, science or teaching in the way it was presented by him.

The great science of transformation -- the birth of the soul, that conscious 'second birth' which parallels automatic (physical) birth and for which Gurdjieff had such a marvellous phrase: 'the arising of the presence of man' ... this transformation demands years of study and practice for its incorporation. 'Past joys', he said, 'are as useless to man in the present as the snows of last year which leave no trace by which one can remember what they were. Only the imprints of conscious labour and intentional suffering are Real, and can be used for obtaining good.'
This good comes to you step by step, in great 'discoveries' -- for instance, like the one that teaches you why anger is so often an expression of self-love. I shall never forget the day when I first 'learned' this truth. I had spent a week of frenzied anger and rebellion over everything Gurdjieff was asking me to do. The conscious labour was too difficult, the voluntary suffering too unendurable, too impossible, too unreasonable. And then, in one lighted moment, I had a picture of myself, my state, and its cause. I rushed to the rue des Colonels Renard and said, 'Mr. Gurdjieff, I see now that it was because of my vanity and self-love that I was so angry.'
He didn't speak for a moment, then he smiled at me. 'You not know?' he said.
'No,' I said, 'I hadn't the faintest idea.'
Never, never, shall I forget the way he smiled, or the intonation he put into those three words. Never shall I fail to remember them as I watch myself making other discoveries that will take me as long a time; and never shall I fail to find comfort in six other words of his: 'He who goes slow goes far.' [...]

When you have finally grasped the meaning of transformation and realized how false your picture of yourself has been, when you have discovered the kind of person you really are, and heard (as Maurice Nicoll says) the little song you've been singing all your life... this is the moment when you can say that you've begun at the beginning. You will never be entirely your old self again -- that is, you will know forever that that is what you were, and are, and will be over and over, but with this difference: the hair's-breadth difference that you now know it, and can never forget it, and therefore you will stop short of feeling, or showing, the intolerance you have always felt; you will begin to behave towards others as you would like them to behave towards you -- the difference being that you will now know how they want you to behave, and you will know how to help them behave well towards you. You will see that you are they and they are you, and that if everyone could experience this searing revelation the idea of war would never have arisen.
Or rather, if all those who were capable could have this revelation, the reality of war would become nothing more than a bad dream.

Knowledge Protects.


The Living Force
oh wow. nothing else to add yet except: thanks for bringing this all together in one place, Ryan. very useful.


The Living Force

Thank you for this excellent post, you have given me a great gift today. It is so full of profound insights and connections for me that I wouldn't know where to begin to comment on it. I'm sure I have grasped only a small fraction of it, so I have saved it and will return to it again and again. Excellent work, thank you.


Dagobah Resident
Margaret Anderson said:
You will see that you are they and they are you, and that if everyone could experience this searing revelation the idea of war would never have arisen.
This is why I am here.
Thank you, Ryan.


The Living Force
Incredible, I've been rereading ISOTM in order to relearn many things I have forgotten and this post was the icing on the proverbial cake. So many gems piled in one place. Thanks Much.


Dagobah Resident
Ryan, thank you for such wonderful post. Definitely will be my daily re-read for a while.
I definitely feel the need to say, “WOW!” I would like to make a suggestion that this topic be “stickycised!” I have put “The Unknowable Gurdjieff,” Dr. Arthur Janov’s “Primal Therapy,” and Dabrowski’s work on my reading list. All of what you have referenced and discussed has really resonated with me. I would like to thank you for bringing these concepts together in such a coherent way. I also think this thread is one that I will read and re-read daily. THANK YOU!


The Living Force
Wow! That was truly a 'lion's roar' which explained in uncannily precise detail the mechanism of my childhood, amongst many other valuable insights and pearls of wisdom. Much to ponder . . . thank you, Ryan.


Thanks for the post - that's just great. I have no idea how to fix this, even I did it would probably take years. Basically I'm screwed. Dissociation and separation from excessive psychological pain is a way of life.

It reminds me of this image in a recurring dream years ago of a tree except it wasn't a normal tree it had this huge gap in the middle of the trunk, it was separated. I knew then something fundamental had changed inside of me.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
moonwalker said:
I have no idea how to fix this,
What do mean, 'fix this'? Do you perceive something "wrong" with not having 'soul potentiality'? This brings to mind another of Gurdjieff's sayings:
Gurdjieff said:
Blessed is he that has a soul,
Blessed is he that has none,
But misery and woe are to him
That has in himself its conception.
moonwalker said:
even I did it would probably take years. Basically I'm screwed. Dissociation and separation from excessive psychological pain is a way of life.
I think many people who do the Work could empathize with your state. Question is, are you going to do something about it, or just languish in self-pity?

As Martha Stout wrote in "The Myth of Sanity":
Martha Stout said:
Given the work I do, I naturally ponder whether there are any organizing systems of meaning arid value-"good" ones or "bad" ones-that correlate with successful recovery from dissociative disorders, or any that militate against such an outcome. Are there souls, so to speak, for whom the prognosis is better than for others? And when I consider all my patients, over all the years, the answer is yes: there is in fact an astonishingly robust correlation between an individual's successful recovery on the one hand, and on the other hand, a person's preexisting conviction that she and she alone is responsible for something. This something could be an endeavor or a specific person, or is quite likely to be the conduct of her life in general. People who are compelled and organized by a sense of responsibility for their actions tend to recover.
And conversely, sadly, people whose directive meaning systems do not include such a conviction tend not to recover, tend to remain dissociatively fragmented and lost.
This distinction is other than that of perceived locus of control-Who has the power, I or the universe?-which is an understandably double-edged issue for nearly all survivors of trauma. Rather, the difference is that of tenaciously assuming personal responsibility for one's own actions, and therefore taking on personal risk, versus placing the highest valuation upon personal safety, both physical and emotional, which often precludes the acknowledgment of responsibility. (If I acknowledge responsibility toward my child-or my friend or my ideas or my community-then I may be compelled to stick my neck out. I may have to do or feel something that will make me more vulnerable.) Here, the psychology of trauma comes full circle, in that the original function of dissociation is to buffer and protect; and so by rights, patients who value self-protection above all else should be candidates for treatment failure, even though they may experience, in addition, an ambivalent wish to be rid of their devitalizing dissociative reactions.
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