Archive for the ‘Esoteric’ Category

The Fourth Way

April 20, 2019

“The Fourth Way” is the title of a 1957 book by Russian esotericist P. D. Ouspensky that is supposed to be about the self-development methods of the mystic/philosopher/teacher G. I. Gurdjieff. Ouspensky was a student of Gurdjieff for a significant part of his life until there was a parting of the ways. This book was published after Ouspensky died in 1947. A substantial amount of it is constructed in questions and answers, as a teacher might answer their student’s questions.

Ouspensky’s first book in 1909 was about the fourth dimension, which was much in the public consciousness in the first few years after Einstein published his theory of special relativity. His second book was titled “Tertium Organum”, or the third canon of thought, after Aristotle’s first and Francis Bacon’s second. Ouspensky’s third book “A New Model of the Universe” continued in this way, linking science with spirituality, or at least consciousness.

What is a person or what are the aspects of a person? Is a person a machine? A physicalist thinks that a person is their body, and the mind is what the brain does. A dualist thinks that a person has a body as well as a separate mind, but we know that the mind is dependent on the body for operation and it can be diminished by injury, neglect, or abuse. There are other aspects of the person, such as the emotions or “heart”, which are somewhere between the body and the mind.

And if you search on the web, “soul” or “spirit” are often shown in images along side body, mind, and mood, but these terms are imprecise. Sometimes soul is defined as spirit, sometimes spirit as soul. It is difficult to determine what is meant by them, but they are usually of a higher-order nature than the physical or mental or emotional. It is usually what remains the same for a person, the still point of a changing self, regardless if that endures after death.

  • Body
  • Mind
  • Mood (Heart or Emotions)
  • and Spirit?
  • or Soul?
  • or Balance?

Various schools of spiritual people concentrate on the control and discipline of different aspects of the self: the physical for the Fakir, the mental for the Yogi, and emotions for the Monk. These are the first three historical ways for self-development, but they require separation from the normal social world, and neglect the other aspects of the self. The Fourth Way was said to require no extreme separation, and to develop body, mind, and mood in a balanced way.

Gurdjieff thought that most if not all people were machines because they were “asleep at the wheel” (my metaphor), the wheel being the control of their own consciousness. Similar to the practice of lucid dreaming, these teachings (also called “the work” or “the system”) purported to develop the conscious self into something much more than ordinary awareness. This aware self would have access to all sorts of abilities that remain hidden or dormant in most of us.

The Fourth Way is also said to be the way of the “sly man”, but to be sly is to be crafty, cunning, and tricky. If you are sly you are deceitful or a charlatan, dishonest and evasive, a “rogue”. You take advantage of people, or you game the social system. Are there any truth to these teachings, or were they merely a way that Gurdjieff found to make an easy living? If not, why call it the way of the “sly man”? On the other hand, who doesn’t want to develop their best selves in the most efficient and clever way?

  • Fakir: Physical
  • Yogi: Mental
  • Monk: Emotions
  • Rogue: Balance or ?

I also read that “sly man” is a translation of the French “le ruse”. The idea behind this name is for a person that takes advantage of opportunities in their normal life to development their awareness, rather than just their attitude towards others. And so it’s a posture towards the broader world, not just towards people. If I had a short word to substitute for “rogue” in the above diagram, I might do so, to prevent the negative impression I might be giving. But the term “rogue” is probably less offensive that it used to be, so I’ll keep it for now.

Yet people do love to be deceived. They love to be entertained, and they love a good story with charismatic characters. They also love to hear what they want to hear. Perhaps that’s all these teachings really were and are. And yet, many artists, writers, and thinkers have embraced the ideas of this fourth way. Certainly to enhance one’s consciousness is a positive thing to do, or to eliminate erroneous or harmful thought, or to “know thyself”. Socrates taught that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Perhaps there is some worth to these teachings after all, but a person may have to determine this for themselves.

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourth_Way_(book)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._D._Ouspensky

Tertium Organum online:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/to/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum_Organum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centers_(Fourth_Way)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_thyself

Some videos to entertain found by searching for “fourth way” and “sly man”:

[*10.168, *11.48]

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Seven Sermons to the Dead, V2

March 19, 2019

We must, therefore, distinguish the qualities of the pleroma. The qualities are pairs of opposites, such as—

The Effective and the Ineffective.
Fullness and Emptiness.
Living and Dead.
Difference and Sameness.
Light and Darkness.
The Hot and the Cold.
Force and Matter.
Time and Space.
Good and Evil.
Beauty and Ugliness.
The One and the Many. etc.

— Carl Jung, from Seven Sermons to the Dead

I previously mentioned two fourfolds which are perhaps better combined as an eightfold. These concepts or entities are from Carl Jung’s “Seven Sermons to the Dead”.

To the left are the “principal gods”, who are said to be in one-to-one correspondence with the “world’s measurements”. What then are these measurements? Are they the coordinates of relativistic Space-Time or something else?

  • The God-Sun: The beginning
  • Eros: Binding of two together, outspreading and brightening
  • The Tree of Life: Filling space with bodily forms
  • The Devil: The Void, opening all that is closed, dissolving all formed bodies, and destroyer of everything

And to the right we have:

  • The Pleroma: The spiritual universe as the abode of gods and of the totality of the divine powers and emanations.
  • The Creatura: The living world, subject to perceptual difference, distinction, and information
  • Abraxas: The supreme power of being transcending all divinities and demons and uniting all opposites into one
  • Philemon: Jung’s spiritual guide and the narrator, also said to be Simon Magus or Basilides

Further Reading:

http://gnosis.org/library/7Sermons.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sermons_to_the_Dead

https://jungiangenealogy.weebly.com/seven-sermons.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleroma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraxas

http://philemonfoundation.org/about-philemon/who-is-philemon/

https://equivalentexchange.blog/2018/02/11/seven-sermons-to-the-dead/

https://equivalentexchange.blog/2018/02/14/seven-sermons-to-the-dead-p2/

[*10.76, *11.49]

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The Visions of W. B. Yeats

March 8, 2019

William Butler Yeats published two editions of his book, “A Vision”, the first in 1925 and the second in 1937. They are interesting amalgamations of metaphysics, poetry and esoteric speculations. After years of neglect I return to mention these works briefly.

Previously I showed the fourfold of the Faculties (Creative Mind, Body of Fate, Mask, and Will), but ignored the complementary fourfold of the Principles (Spirit, Celestial Body, Passionate Body, and the Husk). Here I present an eightfold of both Faculties and Principles, and it makes a bit more sense with all its accompanying structure.

Each of these eight elements has certain dual properties which I have indicated by the second diagram: Primary (+) vs. Antithetical (/), Solar (Sun) vs. Lunar (Moon), Static (=) vs. Active (~). Primary is also called Objective, Antithetical is also called Subjective, Solar is also called Core, and Lunar is also called Changing.

In my diagram I have the Faculties as down-pointing triangles (+ and /) and the Principles as up-pointing triangles (Sun and Moon). Elements that are Active (~) are in the upper-left and lower-right squares and those that are Static (=) are in upper-right and lower-left. Since explanations of these elements usually involve interpenetrating cones and gyres and such, whether this diagram has any value is left for a later time.

I also just found out that Neil Mann, the author of the excellent and enduring web site about “A Vision”, has a new book out. It’s called “A Reader’s Guide to Yeats’s ‘A Vision'” and is published by Clemson University Press. It’s a bit pricey but I’m sure it’s full of valuable insights into these works. Perhaps I’ll just have to raid my piggy bank.

Further Reading:

http://www.yeatsvision.com/

http://www.yeatsvision.com/Yeats.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Vision

https://blogs.clemson.edu/press/2018/02/13/forthcoming-a-readers-guide-to-yeatss-a-vision/

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/a-readers-guide-to-yeatss-a-vision-9781942954620?cc=us&lang=en&#038;

https://equivalentexchange.blog/2013/10/23/a-vision-by-w-b-yeats-faculties/

[*7.199, *7.200, *8.1, *11.56]

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Seven Sermons to the Dead, Part 2

February 14, 2018

Here with inadequate description is another fourfold of entities from Seven Sermons to the Dead.

  • The Pleroma: The spiritual universe as the abode of gods and of the totality of the divine powers and emanations.
  • The Creatura: The living world, subject to perceptual difference, distinction, and information
  • Abraxas: The supreme power of being transcending all divinities and demons and uniting all opposites into one
  • Philemon: Jung’s spiritual guide, the narrator

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sermons_to_the_Dead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleroma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraxas

http://philemonfoundation.org/about-philemon/who-is-philemon/

[*10.76]


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