Gurdjieff’s Meditations- Aphorism #1: “Take the understanding of the East and the knowledge of the West—and then seek”

This aphorism doesn’t state only the need to mix the ancient Eastern wisdom with the technical- scientific mentality acquired by modern Western men and women. I don’t state, here, that it’s not possible to “translate” the ancient wisdom belonging to the Eastern traditions in a way that could be understandable, useful and workable for Western minds. Indeed, with a sincere, kind, sober knowing, consciousness and understanding. It is more than possible. But the aphorism quoted here refers to another meaning that is deeper than the words that represent it.
In order to understand this statement, we must use a “different language” or, better said, a different meaning to the same words – an esoteric meaning.
The first term, “the understanding of the East”, indicates the understanding of (or through) the heart, which the ancient Egyptians represented figuratively with the physical organ. The physical heart was not intended, but a “metaphysical” field of the same: the place where true understanding arises.
From this subtle zone originates specific forces that, with appropriate practices, could be joined with another specific subtle area placed in the center of the head, specifically some inches behind the bridge of the nose. This is the place of the intellect, represented in this aphorism with the second term, “the knowledge of the West”. Only the union of the heart and head will be able to produce a “clear vision” which will be the impetus to seek the Truth.
But, what could be deceptive, is the term “heart”. It is not related to any sentimentalism or emotion, at least as usually intended, but it is the place where “forces” arise – the same forces that many ancient Christian monks sought through the hesychast prayer, better known as the “Jesus Prayer”.
But, the work of the “pondering meditator” can’t begin from the “heart”, because this field today is almost totally contaminated. What one must do, is to reach this field in an indirect way – through pure thoughts and impressions.
Only in this way will the practitioner be able to benefit from the force of the heart. This is the reason of why, this aphorism suggests to make use of the “knowledge of the West”, which is a clear reference to the new constitution of modern men which has been gained in the last few centuries. This “knowledge” could only refer to the intellect- the intelligence of contemporary humans. But the reality of Being cannot be discovered using only the intelligence/intellect as the mean, such as it can’t be discovered through practices which imitates the ancient practices. The heart is also important and fundamental– indeed, a path without heart doesn’t bring one anywhere.
The main question of the seeker for Truth (to use Gurdjieffian terms) is: “What is Reality?” And the answer can only be found in the individual seeking those who have found the proper way to join their personal East and West.
Just to make an esoteric comparison with the Gospel story: the Wise Men (the Magi) followed a star which came from the East, and even the magi represented the Eastern wisdom itself. But the man-god, the individual “I” that is born from the humble structure of the psycho- physical being, is born in the West. Now, it would be good to remember that we don’t speak in the physical geographical, but in esoteric terms.
It’s the individual “I” that will receive the gifts of “Eastern understanding” – the forces of the heart. But first, this “I” must become independent from what conditions it, even the legacy of the collective past of the society in which it manifests itself.
It is a self-conscious principle which emerges in the human constitution – the child of the Soul, the Virgin that gave it birth. This same principle must become able to absorb the forces of its own primordial nature, the Soul that now is vivified from the real “I”, the “Master” who will take control of the various fragmented parts of the human- animal nature.
It’s very interesting that even geographically, the west is the place when the Sun sets, and this is just what must happen in the practitioner’s mind: the sunset of the old, conditioned, bound thought, in order to allow the birth of a new, individual thought. A “my” thought, not a thought conditioned by the environment in which I live.
And, just in this unique, emancipated and pure thought, lies the latent strengths of the new “I”.

About mr Sarmoung

Andrea Dandolo je pisac i istražitelj razvoja svijesti i duhovnosti uključen u razotkrivanje drevnih učenja s ciljem olakšavanja unutarnjeg razvoja ljudskih bića. Jedan od načina kojima se time bavi je i kroz blog koji je preveden na engleski, španjolski i od nedavno hrvatski. Od rane mladosti je u svijetu duhovnosti i rada na sebi sudjelujući u radu grupa koje potječu direktno od Gurdjieffa, tj koje su bile vođene od strane samog Gurdjieffa U skladu sa drevnim znanjima, naglašava razvoj svjesnosti kao primarno sredstvo za psihološku transformaciju i duhovnu osvještenost individualaca. Karakteristike sistema koji predlaže su jednostavan jezik i moderni prijevod drevnih učenja kao i njihove praktične primjene u svakodnevnome životu. Njegov blog čitaju ljudi iz svih krajeva svijeta. Samorazvoj je ne religiozni i ne dogmatski put; sastoji se primarno od naprednog dostizanja viših stanja svijesti, p prisustva i konačno od ostvarivanja svoje prave intimne prirode, koja je poznata u mnogim tradicijama pod imenima poput esencija, duša, biće. Kroz takav razvoj individualna osoba ulazi u nove dimenzije svijesti koje mu omogućuju da vidi stvarnost sakrivenu iza iluzija. To mu omogućuje kreiranje osobnosti neovisne i otporne na vanjske situacije i vanjska uvjetovanja. Posljedice takvog razvoja su oštra inteligencija, izvanredni kreativni kapaciteti, ravnoteža i smirenost u svakoj situaciji i stabilno stanje višeg stanja svijesti koje je poznato u drevnim tradicijama pod nazivom “buđenje”.
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2 Responses to Gurdjieff’s Meditations- Aphorism #1: “Take the understanding of the East and the knowledge of the West—and then seek”

  1. funkyjournal says:

    It is very simple for a Westerner to pursue the development of the mental and intellectual side.
    There are great many ways and sources for taking in information and knowledge.
    However, there isn’t much said about the cultivation of the heart.
    How in your opinion should a man pursue the strengthening of the heart, or in other words, to awaken the heart center?

    • mr Sarmoung says:

      Today there are so much many ways and sources for taking in information and knowledge that a person could lost itself in such an ocean of informations. When, in the early nineties I begun with my active engagement in this field, the sources were far less achievable (at least where I live). It’s true, there’s not too much written about the cultivation of “heart” (intended as a higher emotional function). I wrote several posts on this blog concerning the “heart” and mentioned the teaching “I-shin-den-shin” (from heart to heart) such as one of the most valuable (sincerely, the most valuable).
      How to develop the Heart center? It takes time, however a person can begin to develop it through the development of the skill of compassion, towards itself and the others.
      With Love,

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