Monday, May 24, 2010

No one can taste an apple for you.

One of the many scholarly references in The Risen is Psychological Commentaries on The Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (6 volumes) by Maurice Nicoll — not the lightest of reading — and only a very small percentage of those interested in awakening from the imprisoned sleep of ego-mind might find these along the way. August is currently re-reading another of Dr. Nicholl's little-known works, The Mark, (1954) and would like to share a few paragraphs of powerful notions. Readers of The Risen may sense a recognition of some of the inward significances here.

"Consciousness is unshareable. Your consciousness is your own, mine is my own. Since consciousness is unshareable, the whole direction of one's life should be towards experiencing everything for oneself, to be conscious to oneself of oneself, to see for oneself and to be able to do for oneself. Only in this way is anything created in oneself, and once created it is one's own and is permanent and real. So everything is fresh, everything is new, everything is untouched and unspoiled by previous explorers ... no one can taste an apple for you. A description of how it tastes is useless. Just in the same way, in everything that really matters no one can really help you. Only your own power of seeing the truth of anything can help you — and it is exactly this power which we seek to throw away in the hopes of finding something easier. In every situation and problem, if we could go deep enough into ourselves — away from habitual reaction — we would know what to do, because we would light upon new meaning, and see the situation transformed."

"We rarely can pursue our own thoughts. The traffic in the mind prevents us. We do not individually join one thing with another, or see the truth of something for ourselves. The rush of associations, the continual reactions to life, are too powerful. Few of us will say we have built much inside. We have not recreated — re-represented — the world but left it in the form of a confused sensory image."

"The facts of life do not penetrate us deeply. The listener is continually misled by them. But some ideas can penetrate to depths that we have not previously known, and stir energies that we have never experienced ... Ideas different from the ideas one acquired from brute-life enter and awaken one's mind. And, listening, the meaning of these ideas gradually unfolds in his understanding. The first stage of a development of his whole being is set in motion. In his intimate conversation with himself he talks to himself in a new way, and the listener in him hears and begins to stir."

"But before any such thing is conceivable, man must feel that there is an internal side of the universe drawn in through the inner senses: that he lives outwardly in nothing but a world of effects whose hidden causes lead into the mysteries beyond all human solution and that in himself there are states unknown to him. For if a man is sense-governed, he is the wrong way round. He thinks sense prior to mind. Nothing internal can then belong to him: he has inverted the natural order. He will then deal with everything, ultimately, by violence. For the sensory object, taken as ultimate and highest reality, can be smashed, injured, blown up or killed. That is why materialism is so dangerous, psychologically. It not only closes the mind and its possible  development but turns everything the wrong way round, so much so that man seriously explains the house by its bricks or the universe by its atoms and is content with explanations extraordinarily poor of this quality."