Oksanen, Reijo

Getting the Best out of Gurdjieff

In an earlier article I wrote:

"Some months ago I found out that fairly often when I had read a sentence only halfway I involuntarily finished it and started to read a new sentence. This happened particularly when I was tired and was no doubt connected with it.

In other words the sentences were finished for me. Still another way of saying this is: "'it' finished the sentences for me". Reading on was not always understandable and that helped me to 'find myself out'."

(I made this point on my article called Comments on Beelzebub's Tales, which was further inspired by a discussion with Will Mesa and Guy Hoffman.)

What is so remarkable about this? Is it not simply an example in real life of how I am in the grips of 'the consequences of the organ Kundabuffer'. What has Kundabuffer with this situation to do? Have I not seen the reality topsy-turvy? What does Gurdjieff's friendly advice in the beginning of the book really mean?

...,I find it necessary on the first page of this book, now ready for publication, to give the following advice "Read each of my written expositions thrice
First—at least as you have already become mechanized to read all your contemporary books and newspapers,
Second—as if you were reading aloud to another person,
And only third—try to fathom the gist of my writings.
Only then will you be able to count upon forming your own impartial judgment, proper to yourself alone, on my writings. And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for yourself which I anticipate, and which I wish for you with all my being.

This is how things go! 45 years ago I read Beelzebub's Tales for the first time - and I did not even understand what he says on the first page - in the friendly advice!

Let us be reminded of what Gurdjieff writes about subconscious in the chapter 'The Terror of the Situation' in telling about The Very Saintly Ashiata Shiemash:

"This pondering of his definitely convinced him that it would indeed be possible to save them by means of the data in their common presence for engendering this sacred being-impulse [conscience], but only if the manifestations of these data surviving in the subconscious were without fail to participate in the functioning of the consciousness under whose direction their daily waking existence flows, and furthermore, only if this being-impulse were to be manifested over a long period through every aspect of this consciousness of theirs."

In this little sample there is the key to all of Gurdjieff's writings - and not only that, but also a clear statement of the reasons for the problem of understanding what we read. I do not want to take the pleasure of making the discoveries away from the reader and, as it says in a Sufi story, offer you only the banana skins after I have eaten the fruit; therefore just the following questions:

  • What does Gurdjieff mean by 'subconscious'? (I prefer to call it 'unconscious' as my unconscious has elements both from above and below.)
  • What is my 'waking consciousness' and what is for me 'subconscious'?
  • Do I do anything in an awaken state or does everything take place while I am asleep and think that I am awake?
  • Does 'to awake' mean 'to be conscious of the subconscious activity'?
  • Is there any point in reading aloud if 'the other' is not listening?
  • Who is the other person?

© Reijo Oksanen 2006