How to Put an I on the dot?
(In the West we say "to put a dot on the "i" while in Arabic they say "to put a "b" on the dot".)
Agi: Here in the West we learn how to build up a project, personality, houses, companies; we were taught to build up. We don't consider that everything that once has been born has a limited time to live and that one time it has to die. We do not learn to live with limited time; we build up for endless time.
It is a rare phenomenon when someone can finish something by free will, something that is not destroyed by outside influences, like illness, finances or any other kind of circumstances. You built up in the last three years, with hard work, an interesting and valuable project, which was the center of your interest during this time and which took most of your time. Now you made a clear decision to finish it. How could you do this?
Reijo: There are many questions in your question! To take what you said from the point of view of the businessman in me I can answer that I have always been building up things, like companies, products, markets and factories, and it has been very difficult for me to 'build them down', to accept that the changes make it necessary to stop. I have been a witness to whole industries and companies on the world scale, European scale and the tiny Finnish scale, disappearing, even with companies over 100.000 people being run down and stopping.
In the present circumstances and in relation to GIG I am reminded of a saying: "when help is needed it becomes available!" In a different time, say a thousand years ago, what has taken place after my decision to stop would be considered a 'miracle', and act of God, in business life known as 'force majeure' (definition), and for me it is a source of wonder. In our time we often just call these happenings 'coincidences'.
Agi: Does that mean that you were in some way compelled to stop?
Reijo: No, not at all! To stop is a part of my aim and of my free will; I am doing other things and GIG does not fit into my plan. It became a hindrance for my commitment to ars sacra, where we are building up a Fourth Way School, and it needs all my attention.
Agi & Reijo at ars sacra 'open doors' 2004
What happened was that in the middle of April 2005 I was evaluating GIG and asking myself the question "what do I want". I felt that I had achieved my personal aim with the website (this is something I keep to myself and it is related to my personal Work). I decided that I would stop editing GIG on August the 7th, my 63rd birthday, which at the same time would be GIG's 3rd birthday. In other words my decision to stop was definite and I was prepared to carry it out.
In spite of big steps towards 'putting Gurdjieff properly on the internet', the aim that I set for volume nearly three years ago at 1 million visits a year, was not yet achieved. The plan was that one million visits should be actualized in five years. In March, with half of the five years behind and the other in front, the site had over 37.500 visits a month and there was an increase every month over the past year. The question became: can I stop now before the target is achieved? The question can also be put in another way: is there any point in stopping when the going is good? Even with these considerations my decision was firm: to stop as planned.
When the decision to stop was clear I then received 'first aid' already on the 16th of April. This came in the form of a close friend, who was in a similar position with his own venture. He wanted advice, and my advice was to stop altogether. To give him support, and at the same time get support from him, we decided together that we both stop with our projects.
Nine days later we had a good weekend in ars sacra with Gurdjieff Movements and our Movements teacher Maja Möser-Thimm was visiting us. Opening the PC in the morning on the 25th of April to check if everything was running smoothly I discovered that GIG website was not available. I have over the time got quite used to the site disappearing, but this time the reason was only indirectly the usual hacking!
On checking the e-mails I found out that the manager of the hosting company had decided 'to help me' by making the site inaccessible due to excessive hacking. My question had now become: "what is going on?"
But this was not all the help - much more real help was to come! As soon as the situation was clear I connected to the site to make a backup of all the files, which by this time numbered over 10.000. Try as I might for some reason the program did not work and... (now we are getting to what I call help from the 'unconscious') there was nothing available on the site! The only explanation for this is that I must have pushed the wrong button and deleted all those files; a 'miracle' in itself as it happened in a fraction of a second!
I then told the manager that I need a backup of the site, which he provided the same day only for me to find out that the files I needed were missing. Right now he is looking for an earlier backup, something that the company does make on regular basis, but I do not yet know if they have also 'disappeared'.
Agi: How do you feel about what happened?
Reijo: I received various 'shocks', some tougher, some lighter, and each time something took place I felt a relief. This strengthened my decision to stop and that is why I now call these happening help; something that I needed and received in these ways. I feel very good about the decision to stop.
Agi: At different times of our inner work we see reality differently. How do you see the Gurdjieff work today in relation to your reality? And in particular: how do you see what Gurdjieff said, that he brings 'a new idea of God'?
Reijo: Indeed the reality as I see it seems to be constantly changing, but I don't think that I see reality to-day all the time 'upside down'! My Gurdjieff of today has very little in common with the one I first came across. Take the idea of "Sarmoung Brotherhood" or an "Essene Brotherhood"; they both represent the idea that real knowledge has been kept alive in some centers and that if you are interested enough and you have the right resources, then you can find these kind of 'data banks', called Schools, and get access to their knowledge.
One way is to search for the knowledge outside us. Another way is to find the knowledge inside ourselves. Gurdjieff did not find his knowledge outside himself, most of it was inner discoveries. Of course, we need a change of being, but what does it really mean? What does being mean? There are things that come to us from the 'unconscious' in flashes and dreams; things that we forget if we do not record them immediately. There is also 'a slow train coming, around the bend', like Bob Dylan sings, something in us that happens very slowly, but at the same time its coming is inevitable. Is this the growth of being? Nevertheless, it is important to find the Way and follow it.
Agi: There are as many Ways as there are human beings in the creation, but there is only one Way.
Reijo: This idea is beautifully told in the lecture called Symbolism, which looks like it would be from Gurdjieff (but please do not take my word for it; the authenticity is confirmed by Ouspensky in connection with his quotation of the lecture):
"In every man there has been implanted a need for knowledge, differing only in its intensity, and the passive human mind, while utilizing every means of reception (taking in impressions) often gets into an impasse in trying to find the answer to the question 'why'".
"His eyes are dazzled by the play of colours of multiformity, and under the glittering surface he does not see the hidden kernel of the one-ness of all that exists. This multiformity is so real that its single modes approach him from all sides - - some by way of logical deduction and philosophy, other by way of faith and feeling. From the most ancient times down to our own epoch, throughout the ages of its life, humanity as a whole has been yearning for knowledge of this one-ness and seeking for it, pouring itself out into various philosophies and religions which remain as it were monuments on the path of these searches for the Path, leading to the knowledge of unity. These searches radiate to the Path just as the radii of a circle join at the centre, getting closer into contact with each other, the nearer they get to the centre."
Ouspensky wrote this, the beginning of the lecture by Gurdjieff, quite differently in 'In Search of the Miraculous', although the rest of the text is quite similar, but I leave it to the reader to find out for him- and herself what it does say about the necessity of being careful in reading Ouspensky or any other writer. What also happens to us when reading anything was expressed by a friend recently (he was reading Beelzebub's Tales): "What I understood I already knew before. The rest of it I did not understand".
The start of this lecture confirms that one of the aims of Gurdjieff's mission was to show the Path towards 'unity' and oneness.
What is unity and the one-ness? In the different Paths it is expressed with the help of ideas, concepts, images and rituals. What Gurdjieff says is that we get stuck with the ideas, concepts and the outer forms and that that is the reason why we cannot find our way to unity. We have this amazing mechanism that gives us our different identities and we get lost in the Polytheism, as the Sufis say, and we think and imagine that we are Monotheists! The nature plays a trick on us! The Kundabuffer effect. We identify with the actors in the film that is being shown to us!
This is what was happening to me for a long time; the ideas had became something very similar to old chewing gum which I had in my mouth and I had a need to spit it out!
Agi: Yes, and you can also play with your chewing gum, stretch it out of your mouth and blow bubbles, adding excitement and tension in your own struggle, but this alone does not lead to union!
Reijo: There is a Finnish folk saying about a blue arse fly that kept flying against a sunny wall hitting its head hard against it every time. He commented himself in the action: "When you are furious like me, you get many hits".
Gurdjieff did not bring a 'new idea of God'; what he did was to introduce the spirit of Sufism into the Western world of Christianity and in this way bringing East and West closer to each other. His own vision was so clear that he did not need the support of a tradition to deliver his message. He said many things clearly using the language of his time. Our job is to find out our own expressions in the language of our time. Gurdjieff's message is often misunderstood when the direction towards 0neness and God is not taken into consideration.
Agi: That's it! I am often, not always, but often, surprised when I meet people who are 'in the Work' or 'following Gurdjieff' and it becomes evident after a short discussion that they are searching for themselves, away from unity, instead of turning away from the self and finding the 'centre of the circle', 'spritualizing the ego' as Trungpa put it. It reminds me of the story of a pilgrim, who thought he was on his way to Mecca and when he asked for the way was told: 'I am afraid that you will not reach Mecca, because the road you are on is heading towards Turkestan'.
Reijo: It shows how a teaching can literally become its opposite and this applies not only to all groups, but also to every one of us. It also shows how important it is to get the first thing right, or at least to get one thing right, like getting to know how to make coffee!
Agi: After your long time with the Gurdjieff ideas and your experience now with GIG how would you describe the essence in Gurdjieff's message?
Reijo: Gurdjieff said jokingly that he was dealing with solar energy. We are entangled in our 'earthly' small circles. The misunderstanding of Self-Remembering is one that would be good to diminish. First it is important to understand what self-remembering means. Gurdjieff asked: "when you remember yourself, which self do you remember?" As we are, we do not know ourselves, and we have no change 'of remembering the right self', but we have an idea, a concept, in our head that we know what it is and what it means, and this cuts us off.
Instead of 'Self-Remembering' I would suggest 'upgrading' it to the practise of 'Remembrance of God'. To remember God we must know God. We can not know God with our 'moving parts', our functions, our centers; no concepts or images can help us - they are not possible.
John the Baptist was needed as the witness to prepare the way, but his head was cut off when it was no longer needed.
The Christians who knew said: "God is always present, but we are not." The Sufis have said: "If you seek yourself, you will never find God." It is up to us to verify if these claims are right or wrong. Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (1077-1166) wrote in the "Secret of Secrets", that we all remember according to our ability, and continued: "At every spiritual level the remembrance is different. It has another name, it has another character, another way. Only the ones who are at each level know its proper remembrance."
The task becomes to find the one who knows. I know from experience that when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. Maybe your time has come. I wish you all good luck!
© Agnes Hidveghy & Reijo Oksanen 2005