Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gurdjeiff and Feldenkrais

Gurdjieff is the last name of a man who was a big deal for awhile and still has a powerful influence. He studied and synthesized and maybe even came up with new ideas about man’s spiritual and psychological development.

In my way of seeing things, his main thrust was seeing that humanity is asleep, that most of us are, most of the times, going through our days in some sort of daze. That we are creatures of habit, with no coherent sense of ourselves. That we have a bunch of “I”s going around taking turns ruling the roost: one day the I who wants to save money, the next the I who wants to impress people with a fancy car, one hour the I who wants to learn a new skill, the next hour the I who just wants to get drunk and forget everything.

We are not real people, Gurdjieff says, but by “remembering ourselves,” which is to say, remembering that we are beings and alive and have an effect on others and the world around us, we can wake up and start being worthwhile human beings.

In an essay at Denis Leri’s Semiophysics site ( Moshe Feldenkrais and G.I.Gurdjieff,), he describes the relationship of Feldenkrais to Gurdjieff, how Feldenkrais is purported to have said that Gurdjieff is the strongest influence on what he was trying to do.
If we realize how much of Feldenkrais work is about undoing our slavery to our habitual ways of using ourselves poorly and inefficiently, and reconnecting to a way of being that can have an intention and explore and discover clear ways of achieving that intention, we can see how Feldenkrais is a natural extension of the Gurdjieff work.

I spend many years in the Gurdjieff work, and though I was thrilled to discover that carpentry and garden making and floor washing could be profound and useful meditations, the underlying push of the Gurdjieff work was a subtle or not so subtle: “Thou Shalt Remember Thyself.” Good advice, but if you can’t do it, is trying harder at something you can’t do the right path?

This seems a rhetorical question, eh?

And so, the Feldenkrais work, where you don’t try harder, but try smarter and with more variation and sense of learning: this is a way to wake up that is fun and delightful and gets results and feels good all at once. Because it is how human beings are meant to be.

According to whom? Me, I guess. You decide for you.


Thetruth said...

I agree with you its not a question that you cannot remember yourself its more that the whole idea of remembering yourself is just a big joke. For people that enjoy these kinds of new age clubs and haven't got a life it might sound quite convincing yet if you have some common sense you can see right trough the stupidity of these organizations and writers, and philosephers they write books, make some money and the people that pursue these things find themselves in the same place they were in before they started, or worse yet get robbed or raped by the organization president, abused or down the road there's a big court case that proves they are nothing but a bunch of frauds. This being the perfect case. It's not the first and it won't be the last.

Karl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl said...

Hardly a big joke: states of consciousness are *scientifically measurable* with EEG readings.

Self-remembering is a state and at the same time a practice of achieving the state, in its simplest description, being *equally* aware of the inner and external world, not too caught up in either; in the balance, something new is created. In a physical corollary, if you were to stand off balance for a few minutes and then, finally, stand would feel a certain rightness and freedom of movement; a strength from things working in that right, natural order, and with that, a higher capacity of functioning.

Just look at how different your ability to function is between the state of "sleeping" and "waking!" If you have not ever experienced a life more lucidly, yourself with deep intimacy, then this will never make sense. But I think most people have had at least a few moments.