The Gurdjieff foundation has a calendar, and we've just reached the end of the "year". The Foundation closes for a few months, and reopens in September. Something like a "summer vacation". I wanted to share a little about my experiences in the last month.
I attended a talk at the Gurdjieff foundation where we listened to a few readings and some music. One of the readings emphasized the need to participate simultaneously in "three lines of work":
Working for oneself
Working for one's companions, the people around you
Working for the bigger picture, the whole world
And in the moment, something in the talk rubbed me the wrong way. The talk seemed to suggest (and perhaps this is just my mechanical association with some of the words used) that serving the Gurdjieff Foundation is a way of working on the third line. There is a thought that all of us doing the movements and work together helps put a little particle of consciousness into the world, an island of self awareness on which others can land their boats.
And it occurred to me that despite coming to these meetings for two years, I know very little about the Gurdjieff foundation itself. I don't know who runs it, or how it's organized. They haven't asked me for money (though they did test us, seeing if asking for money would drive us off) but they do occasionally suggest that we should spend more time volunteering there and participating in foundation events. And I genuinely do not think they are a predatory cult, but I just had to pause and ask myself if my judgment was trustworthy.
It was like some Discordian sensibility sat up within me--a distrust of organized religion. I sat with this feeling for a week. They are old, we are young, they need our vitality to continue. Why should I give it to them? My participation in this group requires a sacrifice of time and energy -- do they deserve it?
And I knew this was a cynical thought, and that I was not being generous. But it's important to be awake, critical, to not regard these old timers as perfected beings, but humans in the raw. Other searchers. And it just seemed strange to me that in two years of meetings, there is so much about the Foundation which hasn't been discussed or revealed. Probably because in these meetings we focus on the Work, and not on terrestrial stuff like the organization. But still, it's a weird little blind spot all of us initiates have.
At my small-group meeting the next week, one of the old timers asked if there was anything about the work we were particularly interested in. I spoke up -- I want to know more about the Foundation -- how it's organized. Who's in charge? What are your roles? How has it changed since Gurdjieff's death, and how is it changing now?
Someone asked me - why do you want to know these things?
and I said because I feel like, despite two years of dutiful participation, we are still in a distant orbit around the center.
And because I don't understand why we haven't talked about these things. And it's impossible for me to know whether it is omitted intentionally or not.
At this, the leaders visibly reeled. They were hurt that I would accuse them of deception. They said that they never told us about that stuff because we never asked, and they didn't know we were interested. ((but -- they initiate the discussions for each meeting, and it doesn't seem like there's space to ask super off-topic questions like that))
Someone else in the group spoke up - that yes, before they had spent a lot of time at the Foundation, it seemed very mysterious, private, and that there is a sense that you shouldn't ask questions about it.
Then someone else said, yes, I've been curious about this too, but it doesn't feel like there's ever an opportunity to talk about it.
So the leaders answered all of our questions. They answered thoroughly and patiently and I smelled no whiff of deception or misleading us.
They said that after Gurdjieff died, the "shareholder" of the foundation was his protege, Jeanne de Salzmann, and when she died in 92(?), it passed on to four people, and now it's eight people. There is a separate "council" that makes group decisions, and two of my group's leaders are on that council.
I was told that since Gurdjieff's death, there's been an ongoing discussion about how to keep the teaching alive, and not just mechanically repeating the bits that were left to us. This pleased me. They said that for a while, they were not recruiting or proselytizing, but in recent years, they've started to hold public readings as a hook for those that want to get involved. All of us in the meeting originally came in from one of these readings (see the first page of this thread).
I was reminded that there are a lot of "work days" where people gather at the foundation on a Saturday and work together all day. And that sometimes there are work weeks at a campsite upstate. And that if I came to any of these, I would see that there's nothing secret, really. If I came to the foundation closing ceremony - which is mainly about cleaning before the building shuts down for the summer - I could explore the whole building and poke in every closet. (although that was my anniversary, couldn't do it!)
They also mentioned the library. On the second floor, the foundation has a library of special books, and all members of the foundation are welcome to visit it and read. It's not a "lending library"; books cannot be removed. A lot of them are about mysticism, or other esoterica. As you can imagine, this piqued my interest.
In conclusion to this little discussion... I came at the Gurdjieff leaders kinda directly, perhaps confrontationally. In part, this was to see how they would react.
If they really were keeping things secret from us, there would be clues in their reactions. And as I've said before, if this really is a predatory cult that's playing a long con, then I trust Eris to save me. So I hurled a golden apple, and I saw people react, and frankly, it increased my trust.
Corboy can only ask, why did the Upper Management get upset when C first asked about leadership and finances?
They could have been frank and forthcoming as soon as C asked those questions.
(Somber) I was entangled in something for 19 years that was bad for me. An unequal energy exchange.
I kept waiting, waiting for indications that it might become unsafe.
The problem was, I changed while I was being observant. Because I thought I had a sober attitude, I was fooled.
What I did not recognize was that I was developing a split perspective - something I already had as a result of growing up in an abusive family.
What transpired during my 19 years of entanglement with an abuser was that my mind and emotions
developed an internal, vertical split - a split between my observing self
and a disownment of evidence that screamed "this guy is invalidating you, insulting you, and messing with your values and your boundaries!"
Perhaps developing a powerful observing self by doing G work might, just might
mask a vertical split within the mind of a student, in which misgivings are
disavowed and split off.
All this will be disguised by G's teaching that we are a multiplicity of selves.
A G student may lose whatever self coherance he or she started with.