Posts Tagged ‘Purgatory’
John Lennon: Essence and Reality
Part 13: “Instant Karma!”
“I’m only beginning to understand what this record was about”, said Lennon in 1972, more than two years after it had been released. I am sure that Lennon could have said the same thing in 1980, the last year of his life. “Instant Karma!” is, I feel, a song so large that it is difficult to take it in. I mean this the way that sometimes, by grace, one has a moment where one is struck with the reality of something: an animal, a person, the sky, the clouds, the wind, a reflection, or a street sign. Buddhists have referred to these illuminations as seeing the “suchness” of reality. It is a big thing when one can sense the “suchness” of one’s own reality, because to the extent that I can, I am able at will to sense myself in relation to other realities.
Such experiences need to be borne, meaning that they involve both “birth” and “bearing”: it is as if a new man is coming to birth, and an inner health or strength is needed to be able to bear the vision. When, in time, such moments have brought some quality of soul to birth, they can be supported for a longer period, so that the soul can do more than blink in the sunlight for a moment or two. The results of the experiences then work together, as Gurdjieff said, and one can even perhaps sense the face of God in creation, at once instantly immediate, yet also transcendent.
We shall return to this at the end of this piece, but I have said this much now because, grandiloquent as it may sound, I feel that some sort of experience along these lines is needed to receive the impact of “Instant Karma!”. Forget words like “heavy”, although for my money, it is far heavier than anything Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Judas Priest ever conceived. It may well be the most powerful song of the rock and roll era. For spiritual magnitude, the best polyphonic Western music to which I could compare it, would be the “Requiem Aeternam”, “Kyrie Eleison” and “Dies Irae” from Mozart’s Requiem, where, of course, he availed himself of words from the sacred tradition.
The secret of the power of “Instant Karma!” is not far to seek: the music and the delivery correspond with raw fidelity to its urgent message that judgment is sure, and glory is possible; that as we sow, we reap; and that we are responsible not only for our own lives but also for the lives of all those we affect and who we can affect.
The production of this song is now legendary: Lennon awoke on 27 January 1970, wrote it on the piano that morning, recorded it that evening with George Harrison (guitar), Phil Spector (producer), Klaus Voorman (bass) and Alan White (drums). On 6 February, it was available in stores, and on 11 February they performed it on Top of the Pops. For Lennon, the entire process was immediate, and this comes through in his voice and in the playing. Lennon keenly felt that he could, and even should, communicate directly with his audience. This idea was encouraged by Yoko Ono, whose own art sought, among other things, to forge an imaginative partnership between singer and audience.
Part of their thinking was that by producing topical singles like “Give Peace A Chance”, “Power to the People” and “Karma!” with a minimum of fuss, music could be as alive to the moment as a newspaper. Personally, I am not fond of “Give Peace A Chance”; to my ear it aims high but delivers low, especially in the verses, which are self-important when not meaningless. Yet, formidable critics such as Johnny Rogan relish it, so perhaps there is something in it I cannot hear. However, in the case of “Karma!”, I agree with the critics that Lennon struck gold, if not platinum. Like newspapers announcing the outbreak of war or the signing of peace, this is a bulletin of permanent value.
Two steely notes on piano into the first words, delivered by a man who sounds like he means them: “Instant Karma’s gonna get you!” This means, of course, that the results of what we have done remain with us. It means that there is justice, and that we will get our just deserts. For most of us, the outcome will be mixed. As Newman, I think, once remarked, most of us are worse than we could be but better than we might have been. And so it is that for almost each one of us, the reckoning will be bitter-sweet. As an aside, this fact of life demonstrates the sheer good sense and realism of the teaching of Purgatory – a teaching shared by Gurdjieff and mainstream Christians. This is yet another reason why, the more I study Gurdjieff, I see the main influence on him as being Greek Christianity, which holds the concept of Purgatory while rejecting that Latinate word.
This is not such a detour from Lennon as may seem, for in “Karma!”, the law of cause and effect works as a sort of Purgatory. First, in the verses, there comes the judgment, and then in the chorus, the exaltation. This, it seems to me, is how the song hangs together. The verses are chiefly, but not entirely, given over to warning and admonition, until they invite the addressees to believe that they are superstars – if they believe it:
Instant karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head:
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead.
What in the world are you thinking of?
Laughing in the face of love!
What on earth are you trying to do?
It’s up to you – yeah you!
Instant karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together, darling,
Join the human race.
How in the world are you going to see,
Laughing at fools like me?
Who on earth do you think you are?
Well alright, you are!
And then comes the chorus, almost deafening in its intensity:
Well, we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Ev’ryone! come on!
The third verse adds force to the message, by declaring that we cannot possibly be here to spend our lives suffering. And then, asks Lennon, why do you limit yourself to one small place, one groove, one role, when you are made for greater things? He says:
Instant karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right off your feet
Better recognize your brothers,
Everyone you meet.
Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear.
Why on earth are you there,
When you’re everywhere?
Come and get your share.
Never before have I quoted much by way of repetitions, but I do so here so that one can at least see on the printed page how the hammer strikes the anvil:
Well, we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah, we all shine on,
On and on and on, on and on.
Well, we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
And then, in a masterful touch, at about 2’ 56”, the song softens rather than fades out:
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah, we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah, we all shine on …
Why masterful? Because the power is not lessened. One hears the decrescendo as a controlled performance. I repeat, it does not sound to me like a gradual fade: at the word “like”, Lennon lowers his voice for the rest of the piece. To me, the effect produced is, fancifully perhaps, as if the moon and the stars did not fade so much as they withdrew further back into the deeps of the sky.
My interpretation of the song as referring to judgment, justice, and mixed deserts, at least has this to commend it: it makes sense of the otherwise inexplicable gap between the condign punishment promised in the verses, and the celebratory chant of the chorus. Otherwise, surely, it would be contradictory to hurl thunderbolts, but then announce a general human apotheosis.
Commentators have noted that the chorus is based on the “Three Blind Mice” motif of three descending notes, which Lennon favoured in some of his greatest works, such as “All You Need Is Love”, “Imagine” and the poignant “My Mummy’s Dead”. The simplicity and the endless interest of the theme seem to me to be typical of Lennon’s genius. But there are more than just tricks in this song: there is depth. As Lennon explained later on:
… it occurred to me that karma is instant, as well, as it influences your past life or your future life. There really is a reaction to what you do now. That’s what people ought to be concerned about.
This insight that our actions affect the past as well as the future is an extraordinary one, involving as it does, the understanding that in each moment, our actions not only comprise the present, they determine the future by laying down the tracks upon which it will run, and they are the ever-changing connection with the past, for one knows the past by its effect, and we are that. To try and explain this, one could take Gurdjieff’s concept of “repairing the past”. I have dealt with this in George Adie, but to give an example which may clarify things: let us say that we have a neurosis, and we can say that the neurosis can be traced back to our parents’ behaviour. One could then say, “what the parents did was bad: it caused this neurosis”. But if the neurotic is healed, so that he is no longer neurotic, or at least not such a neurotic as he was, then one could say: “what the parents did was bad, but not as bad as we first thought, because the neurosis it caused was curable.” And so on: in this way we repair our past and even our parents’ mistakes, which is, as Gurdjieff said, an honour.
And so Lennon had this tremendous insight, that by taking action now we can remedy the crimes and errors of the past and build a better future. Taken as a whole, the song is a century of thought and wisdom in three minutes and about 23 seconds. It takes us from judgment and condign punishment to justification and exaltation.
But there is one more matter to mention before leaving: karma. Is karma in fact the notion of cause and effect, that one is one’s past and cannot escape it? What karma initially was, I don’t know, but Gurdjieff had an interesting view of it, retained (so far as I know) only in Ferapontoff’s Constantinople notes. This perspective states that the doctrine of karma was originally this:
Absolute conditioning of the smallest action. You have thought so far that you can do something. You can do absolutely nothing. You must understand that you are not, that you can change nothing (p. 29).
But, as with Lennon’s admonition that instant karma will hit us right in the face, this grim perspective is not the whole of the story, because if actions are totally conditioned, understanding is not:
To understand the situation is already a great thing and it is the first necessary step. Such understanding already includes a certain freedom. … What you call inaction would have been precisely a real possibility of action. In doing one must not create a new Karmic chain. … Unity means isolation from karma (pp. 29-30).
Now this was not quite Lennon’s understanding of karma, but it is, I think, a fuller one, and corresponds more perfectly to reality. We can see how the concepts are related. If karma is the conditioning of even the smallest action, then each action is the result of the past. If some freedom from karma is achieved by not starting a new karmic chain, then there is some sense in speaking of “good karma” and “bad karma”. But it is not so simple a thing as people imagine: good karma consists in consciousness, being, and doing for an aim, without identification. Bad karma is mechanical doing. So, in the end, while Lennon may not have understood all of this, he grasped, and he felt, that we are as we act, and this is a necessary corrective to an unbalanced emphasis on “being”.
Now, to return again to where we started, I had noted that even Lennon did not understand “Instant Karma!”. He was fortunate that something very fine came through him, that he was faithful to it, and served it. Something the same is possible when we have these moments of suchness. If I can sense my presence, I can bear the moment. If I cannot, it unsettles me, which is what I think happened with Van Gogh: he did not possess the inner strength to sustain what he saw. It is not enough to express these illuminations, although that certainly will help. They must be lived. And so the question is, then, how do we live?
This is an appropriate time to stop, but I shall pursue this in the next blog, when I look at two of Lennon’s uncompleted masterpieces, “Tennessee” and “Real Love”.
Joseph Azize has published in ancient history, law and Gurdjieff studies. His first book The Phoenician Solar Theology treated ancient Phoenician religion as possessing a spiritual depth comparative with Neoplatonism, to which it contributed through Iamblichos. The second book, “Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria”, was jointly edited with Noel Weeks. It includes his article arguing that the Carthaginians did not practice child sacrifice.
The third book, George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia represents his attempt to present his teacher (a direct pupil of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) to an international audience.The fourth book, edited and written with Peter El Khouri and Ed Finnane, is a new edition of Britts Civil Precedents. He recommends it to anyone planning to bring proceedings in an Australian court of law.
Joseph Azize Page
Ferapontoff’s Constantinople notes state that: “Unity is the psychological attribute of immortality.” I would add that consciousness and conscience are perhaps likewise the intellectual and emotional attributes of immortality. The three divine impulses, faith, hope and love, may be the spiritual attributes of immortality. By contrast, death is dissolution and “tumbling to decay”, as Hopkins said. Narrowing of consciousness, stifling of conscience, closure to the divine impulses, and rigidity are all shadows thrown before the remorseless advance of death.
Life is a field in which the materials for the life-beyond-this-life are all found, and can be attracted together to create an operating wholeness. In the chapter “Beelzebub’s Opinion of War”, Beelzebub says that the ‘destiny’ of humans is “chiefly to elaborate – by means of the process of their existence – the vibrations required by Nature …” (p. 1105). On the very next page, he speaks not of producing vibrations but a sacred cosmic substance, “Askokin” (p. 1106). Perhaps there is no relevant difference: perhaps Askokin is as much a vibration as it is a substance. Beelzebub also says that Askokin is generally found blended with two other substances, Abrustdonis and Helkdonis. These latter two substances are the material from which higher being-bodies, namely, “the body Kesdjan and the body of the Soul” are “in general” formed and perfected. Further, Abrustdonis and Helkdonis are transubstantiated “by means of conscious labors and intentional sufferings”. In that process of transubstantiation, Askokin is “liberated” (pp. 1106-7).
This was known to the people of Atlantis, says Beelzebub. Atlantean males would gather in their temples for certain “mysteries” in the “special state” of self-remembering. There they would give themselves over to “active and conscious contemplation the whole time, and in this state performed these corresponding sacred mysteries, so that there should be transubstantiated in them the sacred substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis.” (p. 1109) Thus they fulfilled two duties at once, the duties of perfecting their higher being-bodies and of serving the cosmic Trogoautoegocratic process (p. 1108). It would appear, although it is not explicitly stated, that Askokin, Abrustdonis and Helkdonis are elements of the active element Exioëhary which can be used both for continuation of the species and for self-perfecting (see pp. 277, 761 and 793). That is, self-remembering, conscious labor and intentional suffering, contemplation, normal use of the sex energy, the production of the soul and of the vessel of the soul (“Kesdjan” is said to mean “vessel of the soul”) and so immortality, are aspects of the one process, the “process of (our) existence” if lived consciously.
The same doctrine is, I think, referred to in the chapter “Purgatory”, when Beelzebub speaks of “intentional contemplativeness”, which he states is “the principal factor for the assimilation of those cosmic substances”, being those “definite cosmic substances necessary for the arising and existence of higher being-parts …” (p. 783). Once more, he tells us in this context that the absorption of the higher being-foods was considered by some of the inhabitants of Atlantis to be “the chief aim of their existence” (p. 783).
Then, Beelzebub states in the chapter “Beelzebub in America” that the practices of what he calls the Mohammedan religion were introduced because the followers of the teaching had “lost the capacity for contemplation and consequently the possibility of understanding truths consciously …” (p. 1010). Again, contemplation is placed at the beginning of a progression of conscious development.
As for faith, hope and love as spiritual attributes of immortality, Beelzebub speaks eloquently of them in the Ashiata Shiemash chapters, stating at the outset that they are the “three sacred ways for self-perfecting, foreordained by OUR ENDLESS CREATOR HIMSELF …” (p. 353). Immortality is thus the prize, but immortality necessarily includes these divine impulses, and therefore is more than a bare extension of existence indefinitely far into time, it is an immortality of faith, hope and love.
In one of the Paris group meetings, Gurdjieff spoke of forming the second body by accumulating a substance, and said that a “will” was needed for this, and a struggle. He stated that this was the “only possibility” of coming to the second body, and that “the only aim is that everything should serve this aim”. Once one has glimpsed the simplicity of Gurdjieff’s methods, many other indications of how the methods all serve the crystallizing of higher bodies spring to mind, or are more quickly spotted. Perhaps Gurdjieff’s self-remembering, the five Obligolnian-strivings, and conscious labour and intentional suffering, can all be integrated into one system: they are integrated as being different notes in the octave of crystallizing higher bodies.
That integration of the methods, their simplicity (the folding of many into one ply), is illustrated in a passage titled “The Opening for the Appearance, the Materialization and the Coating of the Second Being-Body” read on 2 August 1978, where Mr Adie stated that the road to the coating of the astral body was “by means of gradually controlled, directed and divided attention”, which all tended to the harmonization of the life processes within us. He spoke there of the need to be able to remain balanced in the preparation and also in life, so that the inner transmutations could be sustained in their integrity. This text is now in the book, George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia.
If the process of Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation is necessary for the formation of the highest being body, the converse is also true, that the formation of the bodies makes a more conscious life possible. As Mr Adie then said: “the formation and completion of the coating of this emotional body … enable(s us) to have the power to return and to enter the daily life of outer activity without suffering the usual dispersal of the emotional body”. In fact, this is, I think, the real reason why we are always forgetting: depending upon one’s vocabulary, one can say either that the higher bodies are insufficiently crystallised or that the soul is insufficiently pure. That this is Gurdjieff’s treaching is apparent from the diagram of the four bodies and the explanation found in Miraculous.
This diagram ties in with the idea of the higher centres. The balancing of our three most amenable centres (thinking, feeling and moving) corresponds to the development of man number 4. The harmonization of the higher emotional centre with these corresponds to the development of man number 5 and of the astral body. Thus, in the Ferapontoff notes it is stated: “The matter of the astral body is to be found in the emotional centre, but it is not crystallized.” Then, the harmonization of the activity of the higher intellectual centre with these corresponds to the development of man number 6 and the mental body. In man number 7, these developments are permanent.
There is found in Miraculous a diagram where alongside the ray of creation are two columns for bodies and laws. The diagram relevantly shows that the fourth (causal) body is subject only to six laws and is made up of the material of the starry world; the third (mental) body is subject to 12 laws and is composed of solar matter. The second (astral) body obeys 24 laws and is of the material of the planetary world, while the physical body under 48 laws is made of earthly matter (p. 94).
All of these various ideas of bodies, centres, energies, matters and laws, are but perspectives from different sides of the one process. On 2 July 1982, Mr Adie said that in the preparation one could, if one’s efforts had come to that point:
… direct a part of my gaze upwards through my brows, to that higher source, the source of the all-pervasive influence of the initiation of all life. It is as if the gaze started in my centre of gravity, and flowed upward, and joined in my head at that opening, to receive the finest impressions coming from the source of everything existing.
This is a reference to the work of the higher intellectual centre and the incipient mental body, which being composed of the matter of the sun does in fact directly receive the influence of “all suns”, the source of all life. Importantly, the process Mr Adie describes is natural. The ground for it has been prepared by the harmonization of the centres, but yet there is required both an understanding and effort, albeit surpassingly subtle understanding and effort.
In this regard, a letter which Adie wrote to Mr Gurdjieff and Mme de Salzmann on 24 July 1949 is interesting. In it, Adie speaks of the latest exercise Gurdjieff has given him, and what he experiences through it, describing the “building up or materialisation of the envelope of my sphere”. He also describes the stopping of thoughts, and an awareness of the “higher emotional body or Kesdjan body or at least something leading to this”. It is clear that he has not to been told to expect it, but nonetheless the concentration of his attention and energies, as directed, has made it possible. Adie explains that when he has the stated experience no negative emotions even appear. He notes that his consciousness seems to shift or be centred in a particular part of his body which I shall not describe. Now initially, his consciousness placed itself there, but now that he is aware of it, he says, this “is to be cultivated … as if from here I am safe in regard to others”.
In the blog on the Prayer of the Heart I wrote about the Christian prayer which makes use of awareness of the breath and its flowing into and through the body. There, too, the consciousness is placed in the body. As it happens, Mr Adie was referring to a different part of the body in this letter, but the principle is clear: when the consciousness has shifted, one can intentionally, by a simple act of will, place the consciousness there again, making possible a fresh experience. The placing in the body undoubtedly provides a stool for a more continuous experience.
One does not have to speak of the higher centres to come to the point of being able to sense the movement of energies through them. In fact, it may even be counter-productive if one speaks unwisely, or perhaps more accurately, if one allows oneself to mix imagination in with what one learns. This type of dreaming can lead to sleep in higher centres. Yet, once one has had an experience of the movement of subtle energies or of the activation of higher centres, then I feel as Mr Adie did, that one should not neglect them. Incidentally, that letter provides contemporaneous evidence of the methods Gurdjieff was using in 1949, and also of Adie’s faithfulness to his teacher.
Why is Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation necessary for the development of higher bodies? It is worth pondering some portions in the posthumously published Tu L’Aimeras, translated into English and re-edited as Gurdjieff, A Master in Life: Recollections of Tcheslaw Tchekhovitch.
Tchekhovitch recalls that a friend of a member of their Constantinople group had died, and they were speaking of this death when Gurdjieff approached. One of them summoned up the courage to ask Gurdjieff to clarify “how work of a spiritual nature leads to immortality”. They knew that he had said subtle bodies could be formed, but found this obscure. In reply, Gurdjieff gave the examples of stones forming in the kidney, and salt crystallizing from saturation. So too, he said, “psychic substances” can, if they saturate the body, crystallize. Further, a substance such as salt, when crystallized, possesses qualities lacking from the salt dissolved in water. A salty liquid poured into a river will quickly blend into the river water, and while one might detect some salt fifteen metres downstream, there will be no trace at all one kilometer further on. However, if the salt can be crystallized and placed beyond the waters, then it is “theoretically … immortal”.
The river, said Gurdjieff, is life. Life carries away the energies elaborated in us. If we could somehow keep separate from life the higher substances formed by conscious labors then the substances would crystallize more quickly and, like the salt crystals, retain their integrity. Once formed, the new arising has its own destiny. Gurdjieff went on to give the example of bread: one it has been properly baked, bread can no longer be reduced to flour. “Once made, bread has a fate of its own.” But, Gurdjieff went on to add, this does not mean that one must withdraw from what we call ‘life’, as some wrong-headed ascetics do, with the result that they exhaust themselves rather than developing. One must acquire a deeper understanding of the nature of life and separation from it.
Hence, I think, the importance of Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation and making a connection between our experience of it and the manifestations of our lives. One commences the day with the preparation as a means of fostering the elaboration of finer substances.
By consciously collecting oneself within one’s atmosphere, one sets up, by an act of will, a sort of magnetic field for the collection and coherence of finer hydrogens. As the relative tempos of each centre start to come into the sacred relationship, these hydrogens coalesce and form a spiritualised unity according to a pattern contemplated on a more subtle plane of existence.
For this reason, some of Gurdjieff’s exercises end with instructions to rest ten or fifteen minutes in a collected state. One example, from “The Four Ideals” which Gurdjieff gave Mr Adie on 1 October 1948, specifically states that without this “calmness” the results cannot be assimilated and the exercise will have been in vain. It even gives further indications of what is meant by the collected state. Then, in the meeting of 9 December 1946 averted to above, Gurdjieff says that one should not do anything which causes one to emanate excessively: should one wish to accumulate the desired substance, one must come to a concentrated state. The danger he says, is that the results may evaporate like cigarette smoke. In fact, Gurdjieff there recommends that an exercise be finished with a prayer, to ask one’s “ideal” (sic) to help safeguard this result, and even to use the prayer between exercises so as to evoke “a factor of recall”.
In that meeting, and elsewhere, Gurdjieff insisted upon practising and repeating. An undated pencil jotting, found with what I call Mr Adie’s “Paris Notes” is headed Real I. It reads, in part:
Practise to isolate yourself from everyone, so as to come into this presence.
Real I. This you must practise now to have every aim.
Practise for this isolation … Stop considering. … Keep all in. Real I.
As these “Paris Notes” of September 1949 briefly chart the Adies’ time with Gurdjieff, including something of the exercises, treatment and advice he gave, it is a fair conjecture that this piece either reflects a resolution Mr Adie made under the influence of what he was receiving in Paris with Gurdjieff, or even that its terse cadences record Gurdjieff’s own advice to him.
The advice seems to me to tie in with the talk on immortality recorded by Tchekhovitch, and also with another allegory which he relates. Still in Constantinople, Gurdjieff was asked about the proper attitude for a pupil. Imagine, he replied, that you are offered a house in a vast virgin forest with but one condition: you must maintain the fire beneath a cauldron. Even though no one checks on you, you are not allowed to lift the lid of the cauldron, and you know nothing about the boiling substance inside. You know only that you must keep it boiling and never allow the fire to go out. Significantly, no one but yourself verifies that you are doing it correctly. Such dedication, perseverance and honesty are the best attitudes in a pupil. Only later, Tchekhovitch said, did he come to understand what the mysterious alchemical substance might be and why sacrifice was required to obtain its gift.
It is also interesting that the stimulus for this allegory was a question about the desirable attitude in a pupil. I doubt that I am the only one who has for too long not appreciated what we have in Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation. Jane Heap said that we live beneath our privileges. Nowhere, perhaps, is this more true than of we who have learned the morning preparation, but do not use it, or do not pass it on. Gurdjieff said of one version of the preparation: “Do this ten minutes every day for the rest of your life and you will live to bless my name.”
This explains two things: why it is necessary to use the preparation and exercises as Gurdjieff gave them, and why Gurdjieff, de Salzmann, Mrs Staveley, the Adies, all these people, insisted upon the value of trying the exercises in groups. First, the Gurdjieff exercises, and only the Gurdjieff exercises, include this teaching of higher being bodies and integrate it into the entire system in an organic manner. Bennett remarked that exciting as the Subud latihan was, he and others found that they had to go back to the Gurdjieff exercises because a strange sort of will-lessness had developed in them. Second, the more people who use these exercises together, the greater the concentration of higher hydrogens. Gurdjieff placed a lot of knowledge, very concisely and very precisely into the formulation of his exercises.
We will value Aiëssirittoorassnian-contemplation more if we study and value the teaching on higher being bodies. And of course, this takes us straight to Beelzebub which is filled with references, both direct and indirect, to these higher bodies and their cosmic destinies. As Gurdjieff stated, his pupils should regularly read his book, and they should read it in the manner he indicated: three times, passively, actively and bringing the reconciling scrutiny which can lead to digestion, transforming our knowledge of the book into our own understanding.
This all has an important corollary: the art should, I think, be related to daily efforts in life. We do try this, but perhaps there is scope for more concerted and ever more conscious efforts along these lines. Gurdjieff and his pupils persistently encouraged us to find ways of making connections between the morning preparation and efforts “in life”, so to speak. There is very little exchange on the exercises, and maybe that is prudent. Yet, nonetheless, perhaps it should perhaps be allowed for, even if only once a month or so, amongst those making a study of the art.
Joseph Azize has published in ancient history, law and Gurdjieff studies. His first book “The Phoenician Solar Theology” treated ancient Phoenician religion as possessing a spiritual depth comparative with Neoplatonism, to which it contributed through Iamblichos. The third book, “George Mountford Adie” represents his attempt to present his teacher (a direct pupil of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) to an international audience.