The First Initiation by Madame de Salzmann

Buddy

The Living Force
Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

Smallwood said:
I'm starting to see that living with mental illness is not perhaps the end of your life, though certainly poses difficulty.

There are a lot of threads on the forum where you might find some things to help you to understand and break out of some limiting thought/belief patterns, if that is one of the problems.

Are you familiar with the work of Thomas Szasz?

Thomas Szasz: "Mental Illness is a metaphor, not a disease!"
Szasz consistently pays attention to the power of language in the establishment and maintenance of the social order, both in small interpersonal as well as wider socio-political spheres:

"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Szasz


[quote author=Szasz-Mental Illness is Still a Myth]
As far back as I can remember thinking about such things, I have been struck by the analogic-metaphoric character of the vocabulary of psychiatry, which is nevertheless accepted as a legitimate medical idiom.
Source:
_http://www.westernseminary.edu/Counseling/PDX/Class%20Notes/cns505/Reading%20Packets/Mental%20Illness%20is%20Still%20a%20Myth.pdf
[/quote]

The connection between language and 'condition' is powerful. It's even got the force of Government behind it to ensure we think in pre-determined ways about the issue:


In 1999, President William J. Clinton declared: "Mental illness can be accurately diagnosed, successfully treated, just as physical illness." [3] Tipper Gore, President Clinton's Mental Health Advisor, stated: "One of the most widely believed and most damaging myths is that mental illness is not a physical disease. Nothing could be further from the truth.'' [4] Surgeon General David Satcher agreed: "Just as things go wrong with the heart and kidneys and liver, so things go wrong with the brain." [5] A White House Fact Sheet on Myths and Facts about Mental Illness asserted: "Research in the last decade proves that mental illnesses are diagnosable disorders of the brain." [6] In 2007, Joseph Biden – then Senator, now Vice President – declared: "Addiction is a neurobiological disease – not a lifestyle choice – and it's about time we start treating it as such. ... We must lead by example and change the names of our federal research institutes to accurately reflect this reality. By changing the way we talk about addiction, we change the way people think about addiction...
_http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/szasz4.1.1.html

Of course, as mentioned, there are also many resources on the forum, from dealing with depression as a stepping stone (to soul growth) to Aaron Beck's view of Cognitive Therapy and forum members' experiences with things like this, osit. :)
 

Hesper

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Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

Bud said:
"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Szasz

Wow that rings true for me and I'm sure many others in the forum. I remember many times being forced to redefine situations simply because the definitions that were imposed in my narcissistic family unit seemed so untrue. It was always made out to be an act of war if I shared those thoughts. Thanks Bud for bringing up this bit from Thomas Szasz.
 

Keit

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Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

Smallwood said:
When I look at Laura and the whole Chateau team at the same time I see so much innocence, inspiring power of mind and wonderous joy of participating in creation that I really wish I could be a part of it somehow. And in a way I am through the Fellowship. It's only that I am really losing the joy in life and wish there was more time, after all I'm only 21.

When I asked myself what I am doing the Work for, why am I even trying, I realized that it isn't for me. Like anart said, it is for others. For others I must try to do all that I can. Only that way I can ever really love myself, others and the world. Maybe I've not yet reached the point where I can be absolutely sure of that but it gives me still a good enough reason to keep on peeling more layers of the onion. I know I have ways to go, and maybe tomorrow I will be once again that person who just wallows in emptiness of his life. But one thing is perhaps starting to change slowly, I no longer react like a victim, atleast all the time. I'm starting to see that living with mental illness is not perhaps the end of your life, though certainly poses difficulty.

Hi Smallwood, I might be wrong of course, but what seems to me that dealing with such deep rooted pain, rage, and feelings of an overwhelming injustice that was done to you, in your childhood, including feelings of helplessness and inability of being fully part of this world is not at all easy, to put it mildly. Especially when you can see how much of this dealing depends on concepts like love, compassion, and giving all to those who ask. And if these concepts are so foreign or even rejected by the wounded self, you can try as hard as you want, and magic of true loving or giving will never happen, unless you'll learn how to love yourself (while love being the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own and another's spiritual growth) so you'll be able to extend this love to others. In fact, knowing that you can offer much to others (and you undoubtedly can) and how important it is can be a good motivation to heal.

Easy said than done though. Speaking from personal experience here. There are so many obstacles on the way, the root of may of them actually lies in our inner beliefs and convictions created by our narcissistic and damaging upbringing. Recently I've been reading a book called "Getting Through the Day, Strategies for Adults Hurt as Children" by Nancy J. Napier. It is a very helpful and nice book that offers imaginative but useful techniques and strategies to reconnect with emotions, learn how to sit with them and heal. And this is what she writes on a topic of disappointment and despair, two most toughest to heal and let go destructive emotions that in many cases feed the rest of Predator's arsenal like victim-hood, helplessness, passivity, passive aggression. Hope it is helpful. But don't forget keeping the diet! This will make everything easier and more clear.

Nancy J. Napier said:
Some feelings are easier to contain than others. In fact, some are so basic and so deep that it takes courage and practice to deal with them consciously. They are difficult even to acknowledge, much less to sit with and allow. Of these feelings, disappointment and despair are two of the toughest. [...]

We mask the impact of disappointment and cover our despair in many different ways. How we deal with disappointment and despair is uniquely individual and yet embraces the universal urge to get away from pain. Most of us play out the ways we created to deal with those feelings in our current interpersonal relationships. When we were hurt as children, so many needs remain unmet, so many wishes, hopes and expectations have been crushed. Usually, there is no real chance for these natural needs to be respected or honored. This sets many of us on a path, which we may follow throughout our lives, of searching for what we didn't get back then. This search, unfortunately, often recreates the very devastation we originally felt in childhood, bringing yet more disappointment and despair our way.

When this happens, we come to believe that there is no way out of these feelings. Even if we choose to avoid relationships, the unresolved feelings of disappointment and despair may color our inner life. What is important to realize is that as an adult, today, you can deal with these feelings and discover that not all human relationships need be the source of so much pain.

In another thread you wrote the following:

Smallwood said:
I've been unconsciously expecting for the world to turn into a loving place where things would be all fluffy and flowery again and I wouldn't have to never do anything again but just die of too much happiness Grin. Clearly that ain't happening judging from all the deepening chaos. So I need to become more conscious, more aware of my personal shortcomings as well as positive qualities, programs, stuff that produces all this negativity in me for my life to feel purposeful and positive again. At the same time I need to learn to do all that stuff that a person of my age (21) is expected in this society to do. For the longest time I rationalized my laziness and lack of directive with "oh things are going to go to hell in this planet anyway, so why should I get a job and education".

Unconsciously expecting for the world to turn into a loving place, rescuing you, and then fulfilling all your needs that weren't met in childhood is actually quite common for those of us who were deeply hurt in childhood. In fact, we think this rescue is justified, because for the wounded child inside us is the only proof of an unconditional love. Anything less than that is just another disappointment. And this is when our predator acts against us and our best intentions and eventual healing. Nancy J. Napier continues:

Whenever I conduct workshops for adults who were abused as children, someone inevitabely makes a comment that goes something like this: "It sounds as though you are telling us that we have to take care of ourselves. I've spent a lifetime doing that and now I want someone else to take over for a while. I don't want to do all the work. I want someone to take care of me." Often, there is a good bit of anger and frustration behind these statements.

Usually these comments emerge as we explore the many ways in which the present-day adult can become an important source of soothing and comfort for inner child parts. For some people, the thought of becoming their own supportive presence creates a feeling of being cheated. It's as though there were a child part inside that demands fairness: what was wrong must be made right! It's intolerable to imagine that, eventually, no one will come along and rescue you. Becoming a competent, masterful adult who can resolve internal distress and deal with life's challenges doesn't feel like a positive development to this inner child part. Instead, it feels like an unbearable defeat. [...]

For children who were traumatized, there was an undeniable need to be rescued. Sometimes it's hard to let go of an experience that feels so real, ,so immediate. To imagine that you can take care of yourself might feel as overwhelming as it was then - and as unachievable. For these inner child parts, there is a desperate need to hold onto the wish to be rescued, because it is inconceivable to them that they can have any mastery of their own. [...]

While it is natural to want what you didn't get as a child, the demand that others must make it better for you causes all kinds of problems in adulthood. Mostly, it leads to inevitable disappointments with people who can't possible measure up to the expectations and secret that reside in this child part.

This last sentence probably also applies to our personal disappointments with ourselves. For example, you are doing a wonderful and an enormous effort to deal with your own pain, and it requires courage. So "living with mental illness" is, as you say, not the end of your life, but it doesn't have to be the final destination either. You don't have to settle for this and continue feed your predator's song that you are not up to the task of becoming a healthy and responsible adult with a mastery over your life. It won't be easy (personally, I myself only at the beginning of this understanding), but it, undoubtedly, worth it. And speaking of things worthwhile not being easy, Nancy J. Napier brought up a short story about Being Rescued:

A client recently told me a story she had heard that relates to the wish to be rescued. The story goes like this: A man came home one day and discovered a moth cocoon near his door. He became curious and wanted to watch the moth cocoon near his door. He became curious and wanted to watch the moth emerge, so he took it inside and put it in a warm place. Soon the moth began to break through the top of the cocoon. It made a small hole in the top of the cocoon and then seemed to be unable to free itself further. As a man watched, he became impatient and worried because the moth seemed to be making no progress in breaking free. In an effort to be helpful, the man cut a larger hole in the top of the cocoon.

To the man's dismay, the moth emerged with a large, bloated body and small, withered wings. It couldn't fly and had great difficulty managing its unwieldy body. In his efforts to make it easier for the moth, the man hadn't realized the central role that a seemingly insurmountable effort played in the emergence of a healthy, viable adult moth. He didn't know that it was essencial for the moth to struggle through the small hole at the top of the cocoon: it was the process of squeezing through the hole that forced the liquid in the moth's body out into its wings. Under normal circumstances, by the time an adult moth has struggled through the small hole in the top of the cocoon, its body is smaller and its wings are large enough to support it. Effort and struggle comprise the key to healthy development for the adult moth.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

The note on the Gurdjieff International Website says:

This essay was originally published in Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching, New York: Continuum, 1996, edited by Jacob Needleman and George Baker, from the French edition compiled by Bruno de Panafieu. Earlier versions of this essay—sometimes under the variant title, The Only Exact Measure—have been incorrectly attributed to G. I. Gurdjieff.

Indeed, in Needleman and Baker's book, the piece is attributed to de Salzmann. However, there is no other bibliographic reference in the book. However, in Needlemans more recent, 2008 compilation of Gurdjieff related essays, he appears to revert back to Gurdjieff as the source. In the recent publication, he includes the following note:

The following is a translation of words recorded by G. I. Gurdjieff's pupils during a meeting in Paris on December 16, 1941. Printed by permission of Triangle Editions.

So it appears as if the piece is actually Gurdjieff's. I notice that in de Salzmann's new book there is an entry in her journal titled "the first initiation", but the text is completely different. Perhaps, as her journals were unpublished until recently, whoever made the attribution to her did so on the knowledge of that section of her journal? I've emailed the editor of the GIR to try to get some clarification. I'll post here if he replies.
 

Laura

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Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity


I've merged three rather similar topics into this one thread and hope to see this discussion continuing since the topic is an interesting one.
 

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

Listening to Breton's recording for the umpteenth time, I stumbled on an idea about the line below:

This test divides men into two kinds: the "wheat" and the "chaff." No matter how intelligent, how gifted, how brilliant a man may be, if he does not change his appreciation of himself, there will be no hope for an inner development, for a work toward self-knowledge, for a true becoming. He will remain such as he is all his life.

The dividing of men into the 'wheat' and 'chaff' always meant to me that there were some people who just could not go through this stage of the Work, and others who could surpass their own inner barriers. The new idea I had about this is that the 'wheat' and 'chaff' are right inside of me, that there is always a part of me which is against the Work, the Work divides me into 'wheat' and 'chaff,' something like A influences and B influences, the appreciation or image of self from his true self. Thus with the objective measure of inner vision we learn to discern between them. Now it seems like such an obvious thought. :lol:
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Re: The First Initiation and Gurdjieff and Christianity

beetlemaniac said:
The new idea I had about this is that the 'wheat' and 'chaff' are right inside of me, that there is always a part of me which is against the Work, the Work divides me into 'wheat' and 'chaff,' something like A influences and B influences, the appreciation or image of self from his true self. Thus with the objective measure of inner vision we learn to discern between them. Now it seems like such an obvious thought.

Yes! Also using that metaphor, chaff = False personality and wheat = Real self or I.

False personality = negational identity, or that sense or feeling of being a self based from what we think we see that we are 'not' and what we remember and sense of what we've been told we 'are' (thus, perceiving what we are not) and what we pretend. Based in imagination and with an underlying fear that it is not true - because it's not true.

Real personality or self or I = positive identity, or simply that undefined sense of being 'something' - whatever we are - somehow anchored in the primal Real - essence. As Rumi would say: Fihi ma Fihi, or "It is what It is (whatever It is)". :)


------------------------------
Edit: additions for clarity
 

Alma.Innovadora

Jedi Council Member
I imagined a so-called friend walking up to me and smiling a greeting. I would look at him and say What do you want? Go away. I don't like you. You think you know me. You don't even know yourself. You think you like me. You interact with me just to feel your own emotions. Go away! But don't go far. You can come back if you want. I don't like you, but I want you to think I do because it makes you like me. Blah, blah, blah and on an on as long as I could express what I was feeling no matter what it sounded like.

I read this and remember every moment when that was really what I wanted to say. For so long containing that truth or reality equally began to manifest itself in an impulsive and unreflective way through anger and of course generating a chaos that to then bring it to an order without the proper knowledge, sufficient contemplation to know how to do productively what must be done, only generates more unnecessary problems. There have been people that I have had to leave in an unkind way, but with time they have returned realizing that it was the only way to be able to see things from the outside. Nowadays I don't even accept being told "I love you" when I see that the reason they say it is nothing more than a program of needing love and even telling them the same out of "pity" is keeping the lie.

What you contain, attracts the experience needed to stimulate it out and is not pleasant for those involved. Heads will roll and yours will roll, but the truth must come out in order to see it and act accordingly for a benefit that no one else will understand. And even you don't understand it yourself until years later.

For example, right now I am thinking a thousand times how I should respond to a co-worker because he wants the customer to like him. We work together, he gets the client and I do the work. One project is done, but the client wants an extra change off schedule, 3 weeks later. My partner says "I need your help" that help really is extra work for which I have to submit extra cost, but they usually see it wrong, because to them that help they ask for should not charge you for being "friends". They don't establish a healthy limit between the internal help that we could give each other internally to another extra help or taking advantage that really is what I see, because of the trust between him and the client and his program of being nice because of his need to keep his job, but he doesn't realize that it affects me and gets the client used to develop his and his own irresponsibility at the same time and create unnecessary conflicts between us. One acts as a mirror in this case and it is as if we fluctuate between being both the student who gets annoyed and the teacher of oneself who tells others to "go away if you don't like it" for not letting me convert to what they want.

In this case, depending on how I say it, even if it is politely with all reasonable points, I can lose the relationship with the person and the job.

I will always be nice as long as I never say no, "you will go far for being so helpful" the person who played Jesus told me when I had to participate in the dramatization of the life of Christ in school, well, I got to be the Roman soldier who slapped him. And just as I have continued to give slaps today when I must, I receive my own but miracles have also occurred.
 

whitecoast

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FOTCM Member
I found a great few passages from Seneca which dovetail nicely with this idea of "payment," even if it's more talking about payment "in the other direction," so to speak.

I found it on this website:

Moral Letters to Lucilius by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Letter 42: XLII. On Values

Has that friend of yours already made you believe that he is a good man? And yet it is impossible in so short a time for one either to become good or be known as such.
Do you know what kind of man I now mean when I speak of “a good man”? I mean one of the second grade, like your friend. For one of the first class perhaps springs into existence, like the phoenix, only once in five hundred years. And it is not surprising, either, that greatness develops only at long intervals; Fortune often brings into being commonplace powers, which are born to please the mob; but she holds up for our approval that which is extraordinary by the very fact that she makes it rare.

This man, however, of whom you spoke, is still far from the state which he professes to have reached. And if he knew what it meant to be “a good man,” he would not yet believe himself such; perhaps he would even despair of his ability to become good. “But,” you say, “he thinks ill of evil men.” Well, so do evil men themselves; and there is no worse penalty for vice than the fact that it is dissatisfied with itself and all its fellows.

“But he hates those who make an ungoverned use of great power suddenly acquired.” I retort that he will do the same thing as soon as he acquires the same powers. In the case of many men, their vices, being powerless, escape notice; although, as soon as the persons in question have become satisfied with their own strength, the vices will be no less daring than those which prosperity has already disclosed.

These men simply lack the means whereby they may unfold their wickedness. Similarly, one can handle even a poisonous snake while it is stiff with cold; the poison is not lacking; it is merely numbed into inaction. In the case of many men, their cruelty, ambition, and indulgence only lack the favour of Fortune to make them dare crimes that would match the worst. That their wishes are the same you will in a moment discover, in this way: give them the power equal to their wishes.

Do you remember how, when you declared that a certain person was under your influence, I pronounced him fickle and a bird of passage, and said that you held him not by the foot but merely by a wing? Was I mistaken? You grasped him only by a feather; he left it in your hands and escaped. You know what an exhibition he afterwards made of himself before you, how many of the things he attempted were to recoil upon his own head. He did not see that in endangering others he was tottering to his own downfall. He did not reflect how burdensome were the objects which he was bent upon attaining, even if they were not superfluous.

Therefore, with regard to the objects which we pursue, and for which we strive with great effort, we should note this truth; either there is nothing desirable in them, or the undesirable is preponderant. Some objects are superfluous; others are not worth the price we pay for them. But we do not see this clearly, and we regard things as free gifts when they really cost us very dear.

Our stupidity may be clearly proved by the fact that we hold that “buying” refers only to the objects for which we pay cash, and we regard as free gifts the things for which we spend our very selves. These we should refuse to buy, if we were compelled to give in payment for them our houses or some attractive and profitable estate; but we are eager to attain them at the cost of anxiety, of danger, and of lost honour, personal freedom, and time; so true it is that each man regards nothing as cheaper than himself.

Let us therefore act, in all our plans and conduct, just as we are accustomed to act whenever we approach a huckster who has certain wares for sale; let us see how much we must pay for that which we crave. Very often the things that cost nothing cost us the most heavily; I can show you many objects the quest and acquisition of which have wrested freedom from our hands. We should belong to ourselves, if only these things did not belong to us.

I would therefore have you reflect thus, not only when it is a question of gain, but also when it is a question of loss. “This object is bound to perish.” Yes, it was a mere extra; you will live without it just as easily as you have lived before. If you have possessed it for a long time, you lose it after you have had your fill of it; if you have not possessed it long, then you lose it before you have become wedded to it. “You will have less money.” Yes, and less trouble.

“Less influence.” Yes, and less envy. Look about you and note the things that drive us mad, which we lose with a flood of tears; you will perceive that it is not the loss that troubles us with reference to these things, but a notion of loss. No one feels that they have been lost, but his mind tells him that it has been so. He that owns himself has lost nothing. But how few men are blessed with ownership of self!
Farewell.
 
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